February 14, 2012

For the first time in my life, I am quite happy about being single on Valentine’s Day. There’s no whining, no resentment. No sadness or fury either. I am actually seeing my solo state as a blessing, a privilege and…..a status symbol? Yeah. Singlehood, believe it or not, is becoming trendy. 

That last notion comes courtesy of a new book, “Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone.” Author Eric Klinenberg says that more people than ever are making this choice. Since living alone takes money, the ability to afford this lifestyle shows a degree of affluence. Even more importantly — the expanding population of solo souls is redefining relationships, family, the aging process and our culture. 

The number of households with only one occupant now accounts for one out of every two homes in both Manhattan and Washington, D.C., says Klinenberg. In big cities like Atlanta, Denver, Seattle, San Francicso and Minneapolis, 40 percent of all homes are one-person dwellings. While the largest segment of singles living this way are middle-aged, increasing numbers of of over-65 folks are going it alone too.

The New York Times made nice charts to go with its story. Had no idea that living single was such a global trend that impacts so many of us.

Maybe the terror and stigma of being uno is finally diminishing — and with good reason. Here are three of  Klinenberg’s quotes from the Times article. I like all of them:

Living alone comports with modern values. It promotes freedom, personal control and self-realization — all prized aspects of contemporary life.

In fact, living alone can make it easier to be social, because single people have more free time, absent family obligations, to engage in social activities.

Those who decided to live alone following a breakup or a divorce could choose to move in with roommates or family. But many of those I interviewed said they chose to live alone because they had found there was nothing worse than living with the wrong person.

Does that last phrase hit home for anyone else besides me?!

The prospect of nesting with the wrong guy scares me more than living alone. My shrink says that I may feel differently if I meet someone wonderful. Still, an 18-year marriage, a divorce and more than a decade of middle-aged dating have worn me out. These days, I am content with doing my own thing. Being single feels safe.

Of course, that’s not the same as living alone. But my daughter  is going away to college in less than two years. Once she leaves, Mommy, the dog and three cats will be rattling around a bunch of empty rooms. Even though I’m a bit worried about loneliness and becoming too set in my ways, those are things that I can worry about later…

For further reflection, I recommend the Wall Street Journal’s review of the new Klinenberg book. Also worth checking out is his New York Times opinion piece, which includes some nice charts. I’m also very fond of my earlier post: How to have romance in your life when you’re not dating.

So let’s hear it for creating lives, routines and moments that actually please us. Taking good care of our own selves is an act of true love.

P.S. — Thanks for being my special valentine.  xox