Dave Beans

I Want To Be Alone: The Rise And Rise Of Solo Living

Recommended Posts

Interesting article in the Grauniad...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/mar/30/the-rise-of-solo-living

Human societies, at all times and places, have organised themselves around the will to live with others, not alone. But not any more. During the past half-century, our species has embarked on a remarkable social experiment. For the first time in human history, great numbers of people – at all ages, in all places, of every political persuasion – have begun settling down as singletons. Until the second half of the last century, most of us married young and parted only at death. If death came early, we remarried quickly; if late, we moved in with family, or they with us. Now we marry later. We divorce, and stay single for years or decades. We survive our spouses, and do everything we can to avoid moving in with others – including our children. We cycle in and out of different living arrangements: alone, together, together, alone.

Numbers never tell the whole story, but in this case the statistics are startling. According to the market research firm Euromonitor International, the number of people living alone globally is skyrocketing, rising from about 153 million in 1996 to 277 million in 2011 – a 55% increase in 15 years. In the UK, 34% of households have one person living in them and in the US it's 27% – roughly one in every seven adults.

Contemporary solo dwellers in the US are primarily women: about 18 million, compared with 14 million men. The majority, more than 16 million, are middle-aged adults between the ages of 35 and 64. The elderly account for about 11 million of the total. Young adults between 18 and 34 number more than 5 million, compared with 500,000 in 1950, making them the fastest-growing segment of the solo-dwelling population. Unlike their predecessors, people who live alone today cluster together in metropolitan areas.

Sweden has more solo dwellers than anywhere else in the world, with 47% of households having one resident; followed by Norway at 40%. In Scandinavian countries their welfare states protect most citizens from the more difficult aspects of living alone. In Japan, where social life has historically been organised around the family, about 30% of all households have a single dweller, and the rate is far higher in urban areas. The Netherlands and Germany share a greater proportion of one-person households than the UK. And the nations with the fastest growth in one-person households? China, India and Brazil.

But despite the worldwide prevalence, living alone isn't really discussed, or understood. We aspire to get our own places as young adults, but fret about whether it's all right to stay that way, even if we enjoy it. We worry about friends and family members who haven't found the right match, even if they insist that they're OK on their own. We struggle to support elderly parents and grandparents who find themselves living alone after losing a spouse, but we are puzzled if they tell us they prefer to remain alone.

In all of these situations, living alone is something that each person, or family, experiences as the most private of matters, when in fact it is an increasingly common condition.

When there is a public debate about the rise of living alone, commentators present it as a sign of fragmentation. In fact, the reality of this great social experiment is far more interesting – and far less isolating – than these conversations would have us believe. The rise of living alone has been a transformative social experience. It changes the way we understand ourselves and our most intimate relationships. It shapes the way we build our cities and develop our economies.

So what is driving it? The wealth generated by economic development and the social security provided by modern welfare states have enabled the spike. One reason that more people live alone than ever before is that they can afford to. Yet there are a great many things that we can afford to do but choose not to, which means the economic explanation is just one piece of the puzzle.

In addition to economic prosperity, the rise stems from the cultural change that Émile Durkheim, a founding figure in sociology in the late 19th century, called the cult of the individual. According to Durkheim, this cult grew out of the transition from traditional rural communities to modern industrial cities. Now the cult of the individual has intensified far beyond what Durkheim envisioned. Not long ago, someone who was dissatisfied with their spouse and wanted a divorce had to justify that decision. Today if someone is not fulfilled by their marriage, they have to justify staying in it, because there is cultural pressure to be good to one's self.

Another driving force is the communications revolution, which has allowed people to experience the pleasures of social life even when they're living alone. And people are living longer than ever before – or, more specifically, because women often outlive their spouses by decades, rather than years – and so ageing alone has become an increasingly common experience.

Although each person who develops the capacity to live alone finds it an intensely personal experience, my research suggests that some elements are widely shared. Today, young solitaires actively reframe living alone as a mark of distinction and success. They use it as a way to invest time in their personal and professional growth. Such investments in the self are necessary, they say, because contemporary families are fragile, as are most jobs, and in the end each of us must be able to depend on ourselves. On the one hand, strengthening the self means undertaking solitary projects and learning to enjoy one's own company. But on the other it means making great efforts to be social: building up a strong network of friends and work contacts.

Living alone and being alone are hardly the same, yet the two are routinely conflated. In fact, there's little evidence that the rise of living alone is responsible for making us lonely. Research shows that it's the quality, not the quantity of social interactions that best predicts loneliness. What matters is not whether we live alone, but whether we feel alone. There's ample support for this conclusion outside the laboratory. As divorced or separated people often say, there's nothing lonelier than living with the wrong person.

There is also good evidence that people who never marry are no less content than those who do. According to research, they are significantly happier and less lonely than people who are widowed or divorced.

In theory, the rise of living alone could lead to any number of outcomes, from the decline of community to a more socially active citizenry, from rampant isolation to a more robust public life. I began my exploration of singleton societies with an eye for their most dangerous and disturbing features, including selfishness, loneliness and the horrors of getting sick or dying alone. I found some measure of all of these things. On balance, however, I came away convinced that the problems related to living alone should not define the condition, because the great majority of those who go solo have a more rich and varied experience.

Sometimes they feel lonely, anxious and uncertain about whether they would be happier in another arrangement. But so do those who are married or live with others. The rise of living alone has produced significant social benefits, too. Young and middle-aged solos have helped to revitalise cities, because they are more likely to spend money, socialise and participate in public life.

Despite fears that living alone may be environmentally unsustainable, solos tend to live in apartments rather than in big houses, and in relatively green cities rather than in car-dependent suburbs. There's good reason to believe that people who live alone in cities consume less energy than if they coupled up and decamped to pursue a single-family home.

Ultimately, it's too early to say how any particular society will respond to either the problems or the opportunities generated by this extraordinary social transformation. After all, our experiment with living alone is still in its earliest stages, and we are just beginning to understand how it affects our own lives, as well as those of our families, communities and cities.

Edited by Dave Beans

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Utter toss, I don't know anybody who lives on their own by choice, most are either looking but haven't found the right partner yet, or they have given up looking but still have the desire to share their live with someone.

This is just typical NWO propaganda, dived and conquer, keep people isolated and dependant on the state, trying to convince us that it's 'normal' to be alone and that we are better off alone.

Edited by awake_eagle

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Utter toss, I don't know anybody who lives on their own by choice, most are either looking but haven't found the right partner yet, or they have given up looking but still have the desire to share their live with someone.

This is just typical NWO propaganda, dived and conquer, keep people isolated and dependant on the state, trying to convince us that it's 'normal' to be alone and that we are better off alone.

A good mate of mine, whom I've know for years, bought his flat three years ago or so...He has categorically stated (many times) that he never wants to marry...He tried the co-habiting malarkey in his early 20s, and she was a nutter..

Many people also like their own space, and don't want to do the whole "cohabiting" thing..

Edited by Dave Beans

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A good mate of mine, whom I've know for years, bought his flat three years ago or so...He has categorically stated (many times) that he never wants to marry...He tried the co-habiting malarkey in his early 20s, and she was a nutter..

I'm quite sure that as soon as he meets the right one he will change his mind (not necessarily marrying, but at least living together). It's in our genes, no amount of propaganda can change that.

Of course there are some people who have been scarred for life, but even those probably still have the instinctive urge to live life together with someone, it's only their fear of another disappointment that stops them from doing it, not because they love their solo life.

Edited by awake_eagle

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm quite sure that as soon as he meets the right one he will change his mind (not necessarily marrying, but at least living together). It's in our genes, no amount of propaganda can change that.

As we live longer, the whole social structure is changing..

Born

Education

Job

Marriage

Babies

Retirement

Death

Not everyone wants this "predictable" lifestyle (especially the marriage / babies bit)... I personally see monogamy as "unnatural"..

Edited by Dave Beans

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Utter toss, I don't know anybody who lives on their own by choice

I know scores, all ages and both men and women.

I agree that many may wish to be in a relationship, but two things get in the way.

Firstly they can afford to live alone, and secondly they're unwilling to compromise. Take away the money, or take away the "me generation" affirmation that we're all unique and special snowflakes, and there'd be more communal living.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Utter toss, I don't know anybody who lives on their own by choice, most are either looking but haven't found the right partner yet, or they have given up looking but still have the desire to share their live with someone.

Self selection bias. People tend to mix with others who have similar lifestyles and interests. A singleton is equally likely to say that they know lots of people who are not looking for a partner.

Many western societies actively discourage men from cohabiting through punitive bias in favour of women with regard to financial arrangements in the event of separation.

With more education fewer people in western societies subscribe to religious myths and are therefore not susceptible to the social stigma associated with the single life perpetrated by the church in order to control the masses.

Modern homes with their plethora of labour saving domestic appliances negate the need for any division of labour to maintain a comfortable lifestyle.

Many people prefer the freedom to please themselves rather than having to compromise.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Numbers never tell the whole story, but in this case the statistics are startling. According to the market research firm Euromonitor International, the number of people living alone globally is skyrocketing, rising from about 153 million in 1996 to 277 million in 2011 – a 55% increase in 15 years. In the UK, 34% of households have one person living in them and in the US it's 27% – roughly one in every seven adults."

Hmm, 277m seems a small proportion - 1 in 30 of the world's population.

I guess most of those are in developed welfare economies, where the state takes over from family and supports women who want to live alone.

Big question is whether or not that proportion increases with austerity etc. And will developing economies follow the pattern? If they do, we're going to need a bigger ...

Edited by okaycuckoo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Many people prefer the freedom to please themselves rather than having to compromise.

You seem to have skipped the elephant in the room: thanks to the welfare state, a family is now a liability rather than a benefit. Our ancestors needed kids to support them when they were old or sick, today you force other people's kids to do so at gunpoint.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

He has categorically stated (many times) that he never wants to marry...

Good for him.

Marriage for men is a disaster waiting to happen.

You get your own place and little bit of money, then a wife.

After the divorce, you end up with none of these. :D

(Not a divorcee BTW, I just know too many who been through this.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm quite sure that as soon as he meets the right one he will change his mind (not necessarily marrying, but at least living together). It's in our genes, no amount of propaganda can change that.

Of course there are some people who have been scarred for life, but even those probably still have the instinctive urge to live life together with someone, it's only their fear of another disappointment that stops them from doing it, not because they love their solo life.

It's not their fear of another disappointment that stops them,. No. It's their realisation that they are much more happier to live alone than to be at the mercy and whims of another person's hormones. It may be hard for some people who are hard wired into conventional viewpoints (these kind of people avidly lap up all those 'million things to have done before the age of five' bullsh1te things) but some people actually prefer the solo life.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sonia once said "Only fools never fall in Love."

Yes, probably correct, but I do believe, as said on this thread, that virtually no one wants to live a life without a partner.

True love is the most overwhelming of all human spirits, and can make any person (no matter how sh1t their life is) ecstatically happy.

But a lot of people end up single, year after year, as they cannot find that person. It probably doesn't help that neo-liberalism has brainwashed women to distrust men and live a life being "who they want to be". But even they, underneath, crave a partner.

I know this from experience. I have lost count of how many people I have met that bang on about how single life is so great, then suddenly after a few drinks open up and state how desperately lonely they are.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, probably correct, but I do believe, as said on this thread, that virtually no one wants to live a life without a partner.

True love is the most overwhelming of all human spirits, and can make any person (no matter how sh1t their life is) ecstatically happy.

But a lot of people end up single, year after year, as they cannot find that person. It probably doesn't help that neo-liberalism has brainwashed women to distrust men and live a life being "who they want to be". But even they, underneath, crave a partner.

I know this from experience. I have lost count of how many people I have met that bang on about how single life is so great, then suddenly after a few drinks open up and state how desperately lonely they are.

Surprisingly, I have met a lot of people in relationships who state how 'desperately lonely they are' and that they 'wish they were single'. They also use words like 'trapped'.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just because a person lives alone it doesn't mean they aren't in a relationship. Not living with your partner gives the best of both worlds - companionship and privacy when you want it. That's the situation I'm in now.

I've shared numerous houses with friends, cohabited, and now live alone. Living alone can be a pain, but it does have its good points and I would say its my preferred option of the three.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A good mate of mine, whom I've know for years, bought his flat three years ago or so...He has categorically stated (many times) that he never wants to marry...He tried the co-habiting malarkey in his early 20s, and she was a nutter..

Many people also like their own space, and don't want to do the whole "cohabiting" thing..

What we are seeing more and more in society is the loss of trust, loss of trust in all areas, be it our parents, our partners, our children, our employers our neighbours and our governments, ourselves.....selfishness and greed is growing....when you think back when people have little in the way of possessions they had little to lose, when they have a lot in the way of genuine support and trust in others they are very rich indeed. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Surprisingly, I have met a lot of people in relationships who state how 'desperately lonely they are' and that they 'wish they were single'. They also use words like 'trapped'.

Yes that is very true.

If there is no chemistry then a relationship will provide more loneliness, heartache and miserableness than being single.

That is why I am currently single. Recently have dated a few women and had no chemistry with them whatsoever. So I did the best thing and always broke off.

As a bloke, I find that when I meet a girl, straight away I can tell if she is right for me just by looking at her appearance, behaviours and mannerisms. I do not care what people say, you cannot bring yourself to love someone. No way. That is why it is always best to find someone suitable, even if you are single for years.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes that is very true.

If there is no chemistry then a relationship will provide more loneliness, heartache and miserableness than being single.

That is why I am currently single. Recently have dated a few women and had no chemistry with them whatsoever. So I did the best thing and always broke off.

As a bloke, I find that when I meet a girl, straight away I can tell if she is right for me just by looking at her appearance, behaviours and mannerisms. I do not care what people say, you cannot bring yourself to love someone. No way. That is why it is always best to find someone suitable, even if you are single for years.

There is no such thing as a perfect relationship....that is what makes it so interesting...we look for things in others that we see lacking in ourselves....we grow closer by learning from each other. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As Jean-Paul Sartre said "Hell is other people."

+1

the special person is not hell but lots of single people have ended up that way because they lost the 'special person' (thru death or divorce) not through a lifestyle choice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

People live on their own because you cannot fit another person it that tiny cardboard new-build "home"! :huh:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's not their fear of another disappointment that stops them,. No. It's their realisation that they are much more happier to live alone than to be at the mercy and whims of another person's hormones. It may be hard for some people who are hard wired into conventional viewpoints (these kind of people avidly lap up all those 'million things to have done before the age of five' bullsh1te things) but some people actually prefer the solo life.

+1

Utter toss, I don't know anybody who lives on their own by choice, most are either looking but haven't found the right partner yet, or they have given up looking but still have the desire to share their live with someone.

This is just typical NWO propaganda, dived and conquer, keep people isolated and dependant on the state, trying to convince us that it's 'normal' to be alone and that we are better off alone.

I've been without a partner for over 20 years now and haven't been looking for anyone. It isn't a case of having given up and I have no desire as such to share my life with anyone I'm just not that bothered.

I'm quite sure that as soon as he meets the right one he will change his mind (not necessarily marrying, but at least living together). It's in our genes, no amount of propaganda can change that.

Of course there are some people who have been scarred for life, but even those probably still have the instinctive urge to live life together with someone, it's only their fear of another disappointment that stops them from doing it, not because they love their solo life.

I haven't ruled out marriage or having a partner if I should happen to meet someone. There is one condition I'd put on the relationship however - we'd have to live in our own places, I really could not be doing with enforced co-habitating 24/7.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Utter toss, I don't know anybody who lives on their own by choice, most are either looking but haven't found the right partner yet, or they have given up looking but still have the desire to share their live with someone.

This is just typical NWO propaganda, dived and conquer, keep people isolated and dependant on the state, trying to convince us that it's 'normal' to be alone and that we are better off alone.

Then you need to widen you social circle. I know a lot of people that have always lived alone and would never change it. The introvert cannot tolerate company for more than short periods. They find it drains all their energy and they recharge by being alone. Even when they live in a shared house, they choose to spend a large part of their time alone. Of course you are less likely to meet such people because they don't want to meet you. They avoid social venues.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good for him.

Marriage for men is a disaster waiting to happen.

You get your own place and little bit of money, then a wife.

After the divorce, you end up with none of these. :D

(Not a divorcee BTW, I just know too many who been through this.)

Absolutely spot-on. I'm married, and if I could afford to give all my assets to my wife I'd go and live on my own too!

I have a son and a daughter. I would advise my son to never get married. I would advise my daughter to marry the richest nice person she can find! :)

A couple of my friends have divorced and got fleeced, they now live alone, with their kids visiting and are in relationships, but they both have said they will never share their home again-they've learned the hard way.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

the article is nonsense:

(1) even if people do live alone these days, they tend to go to work with many people; living alone could be a balanning-response to the hyper-stimulation we receive at work, but poeple still spend more time with others during waking hours

(2) there WERE loaners in earlier times, funny old women, hermits, monks etc

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.