Tag: being single

Myths About Being Single

So this might seem a little random but over the last few months I’ve wanted to write a post on the greatest myths many married people have about being single.

1. Myth #1- “You’re single so you get to hang out with your girlfriends whenever you want”.  Sometimes I think there is this illusion that the singles life is Sex and the City without the sex (well without the sex for the Mormon singles!).  Me and my 3 galpals hanging out and gallivanting around town at our hearts content.  The truth is about 80% of my friends are married with kids and most of the time I’m so exhausted from work and other responsibilities that watching TV or heating up a microwave meal is all I can do.  I would say I get 1-2 (maybe more in the summer) nights with friends in a month, which may be more than those with small kids but still its not like I’m partying it up all the time.

2. Myth #2- “You don’t have kids so you must have lots of extra money”.  I found this attitude pervasive with recent events.  The attitude seems to be ‘well, you’re single so you must have money to hire movers’.  In reality married people statistically are wealthier and healthier than their single counterparts.  Even if you don’t have a two income household, in most marriages you have two people managing the budget and making decisions.  Plus, everything is more expensive for just one person.  Food is more, taxes are more, rent is more etc.

3. Myth #3- “You must have tons of free time because you don’t have kids”.  Well, this may be marginally true but between work and other obligations my time gets full, and I usually can’t skip off at a moments notice just because I don’t have kids.  I try to help where I can and working from home makes me more available than some singles, but my time seems to fly away as fast as anyone else. I’ve actually had people sign me up for things without asking me first- assuming I can do them because I’m single and carefree and can easily find the time.  Not always true.

4.  Myth #4- “You must get tons of sleep because you don’t have kids”.  I deal with insomnia and on a few occasions when I have mentioned being tired to my friends with kids the claws come out.  I have no right to be tired because they have kids and are up all night.  I totally get that, but I sincerely do feel tired.  Really.  Can’t we all be sympathetic of eachother’s tiredness? This one is more in humor as I know I’d be a total grump if I had kids and was up all night.

5. Myth #5- “You’re single. You must travel all the time”.  Now I do travel more than most of my married friends but it isn’t as easy as one might think.  First of all, as a single you have nobody to travel with which means you must either go alone or corral someone to go with you.  The latter can be easier said than done.  A couple of years ago I had tickets to Hawaii and everyone bailed on me so instead of going alone (I had never been before so was nervous about going alone) I visited family.

Going alone is certainly an option but not for everyone and it wouldn’t be my first choice (I’ve traveled alone on several occasions and its fine but a little drab).  Also, you can pay more when traveling alone as single occupancy is almost always more expensive than double.  The other thing is that most of us are working and get limited vacation hours so traveling isn’t as accessible as it may appear.  Last year I had to use my vacation hours to visit my family.

6. Myth #6- “You are so lucky because you get to do everything just the way you want”. This can be a big benefit to being single.  For instance, I got to pick out my own wall color, furniture, light fixtures etc.  If I wanted to have a big party with a cake I could without discussing it with anyone else.  However, this has a bad side too.  You have all the pressure of every decision on you.  There is no partner to discuss situations with or lighten the load.  Something like which loan to get or how much to pay in a down payment had to be made by me and only me. I had to do all the research and get all the inspiration.  Any mistakes lie squarely on my shoulders. That’s tough.

7. Myth #7- “You must hate it when your friends set you up on dates”. Actually the opposite is true. I would love it if people set me up on dates.  Its hard for me to meet people, especially since online dating is not my thing.  I guess if it became an obsession and silly maybe that would be bad but I’ll go on one date with just about anyone. Nothing could make me happier than my friends helping me find good people to interact with and date.

Now, I had a roommate who’s mother would have a date waiting for her at any family gathering including Christmas and Thanksgiving.  That is definitely taking it to the extreme.  Being single does not define us.  It’s a challenge that we may not want to be continually reminded of especially on holidays.

8. Myth #8- “You’re single so I should avoid talking about my family and kids around you”.  No!  I love when people talk about their family.  In fact, I have some ideas that might be helpful.  I may not have kids of my own but I helped raise siblings and cared for babies my whole life.  I’m not totally clueless.  I have opinions on education, homeschool, parenting and child rearing just like anyone else.  Once my friend Adrienne showed me her cloth diapers and how they work and I was actually kind of grateful she didn’t shy away from including me in her life.  You are my friend, so if it is important to you, its important to me.

9. Myth #9- “You’re single because you have chosen to be single”.  Not true.  I’m not actively avoiding marriage or dating.  I’d love to meet someone and fall in love.  I need no encouragement or convincing on that level.  I may have issues about having kids but getting married absolutely.  I’d love it.   Maybe this myth is true for some singles but nobody I know.

10. Myth #10- “You’re single so you should be treated like a college student forever”.  Ok nobody has actually said those words to me but sometimes I feel like that impression is out there.  For singles that are over 30 we resent when it is assumed we are still the same as 20 year old singles.  While I have friends of many ages I have learned a lot in the proceeding years and hopefully have become wiser and better.   I loved my college years so in a way its kind of flattering to be looked at as younger than I am but it can also feel a bit patronizing. Just getting married does not make a person more mature or more of an adult than someone who is unmarried.

11. Myth #11- “You’re single so I’ll send important information to your parents”.  What I mean by this is some still consider me as under the umbrella of my parents family group.  I certainly am proud to be their daughter and perhaps am more dependent on them than my married siblings, but I feel like I am my own family group of me.  Its sort of frustrating when I have to hear news or updates on things through my parents while my married siblings get notified.

The truth is whether you are married or single we all are different, unique individuals that don’t fit nicely into boxes or labels.  Our lives may follow some vague patterns but even if they do we like to be understood for who we are not what category we fit into.  We can all work on that, myself most of all.

So there you go.  You’ve now been demystified.  Now have a great day!

What do you think of these myths?  Have I missed any?  What are the myths singles have about married life?

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Social Singles

Does that look like 3 antisocial girls to you? They are all 3 single.

I normally don’t post entire articles but I liked this one so much I decided to do it.  It reinforces what I’ve tried to say on this blog and on facebook.  As someone who lives alone I can feel defensive about the assumptions and stereotypes that go along with my lifestyle.  This idea of the old maid with a collection of cats just isn’t a reality any more.  I’m not sure if it was ever a reality.

I liked 2 points in particular.  First,  when he says “There is much research suggesting that single people get out more — and not only the younger ones”. On one hand this seems like an obvious point but you’d be surprised how often I have to reassure people that living alone does not mean I am a social hermit.  In fact, I believe it forces me to try twice as hard for companionship since I don’t have it with me in my home.

Second,  I liked when he said, “New communications technologies make living alone a social experience, so being home alone does not feel involuntary or like solitary confinement. The person alone at home can digitally navigate through a world of people, information and ideas. Internet use does not seem to cut people off from real friendships and connections.”.

I have  found this to be the case in my life.  While the internet can definitely be a time suck, on the whole, it has been a tremendous blessing in my life.  It has allowed me to keep in touch with friends from high school, college and my mission, and most importantly to receive support from them on a daily basis.  My trip to Maryland in September would never have happened without Facebook and my blog.  There is no way I would have kept in touch with all those people.

Plus, I’ve received so much support from people located all over the country as I’ve battled to lose weight, diabetes, PCOS and fibromyalgia diagnosis and all the other chaos in my life.  All in all the internet has been an overwhelmingly positive social tool in my life.  My circle of friends and support is way larger  than it ever would be otherwise.  I don’t know how I would have gotten through the last 2 years without it.  Seriously.

My blog has also given me a voice in the world.  It is a chance to communicate my feelings and learn how to write those feelings in a coherent way.  If I die tomorrow there will be a record of my life for all to see.  A record of my thoughts, wishes, opinions and struggles.  There is something beautiful about that.  I hope that it is a way I can make a difference, maybe inspire a few people or give them a laugh.  Such a difference might have been more difficult for singles in the past.  I am SO grateful to have a voice and a platform to speak.  Thanks!

Single ladies on the single cruise I went to in 2009
A group of us girls going out for Camille's birthday. I think this was in 2010?

One’s a Crowd

By ERIC KLINENBERG

MORE people live alone now than at any other time in history. In prosperous American cities — Atlanta, Denver, Seattle, San Francisco and Minneapolis — 40 percent or more of all households contain a single occupant. In Manhattan and in Washington, nearly one in two households are occupied by a single person.

By international standards, these numbers are surprising — surprisingly low. In Paris, the city of lovers, more than half of all households contain single people, and in socialist Stockholm, the rate tops 60 percent.

The decision to live alone is common in diverse cultures whenever it is economically feasible. Although Americans pride themselves on their self-reliance and culture of individualism, Germany, France and Britain have a greater proportion of one-person households than the United States, as does Japan. Three of the nations with the fastest-growing populations of single people — China, India and Brazil — are also among those with the fastest growing economies.

The mere thought of living alone once sparked anxiety, dread and visions of loneliness. But those images are dated. Now the most privileged people on earth use their resources to separate from one another, to buy privacy and personal space.

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

It is less feared, too, for the crucial reason that living alone no longer suggests an isolated or less-social life. After interviewing more than 300 singletons (my term for people who live alone) during nearly a decade of research, I’ve concluded that living alone seems to encourage more, not less, social interaction.

Paradoxically, our species, so long defined by groups and by the nuclear family, has been able to embark on this experiment in solo living because global societies have become so interdependent. Dynamic markets, flourishing cities and open communications systems make modern autonomy more appealing; they give us the capacity to live alone but to engage with others when and how we want to and on our own terms.

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.

Compared with their married counterparts, single people are more likely to spend time with friends and neighbors, go to restaurants and attend art classes and lectures. There is much research suggesting that single people get out more — and not only the younger ones. Erin Cornwell, a sociologist at Cornell, analyzed results from the General Social Survey (which draws on a nationally representative sample of the United States population) from 2000 to 2008 and found that single people 35 and older were more likely than those who lived with a spouse or a romantic partner to spend a social evening with neighbors or friends. In 2008, her husband, Benjamin Cornwell (also a sociologist at Cornell), was lead author of “The Social Connectedness of Older Adults,” a paper in the American Sociological Review that showed that single seniors had the same number of friends and core discussion partners as their married peers and were more likely to socialize with friends and neighbors.

SURVEYS, some by market research companies that study behavior for clients developing products and services, also indicate that married people with children are more likely than single people to hunker down at home. Those in large suburban homes often splinter into private rooms to be alone. The image of a modern family in a room together, each plugged into a separate reality, be it a smartphone, computer, video game or TV show has become a cultural cliché.

New communications technologies make living alone a social experience, so being home alone does not feel involuntary or like solitary confinement. The person alone at home can digitally navigate through a world of people, information and ideas. Internet use does not seem to cut people off from real friendships and connections.

The Pew Internet Personal Networks and Community Survey — a nationally representative survey of 2,512 American adults conducted in 2008 that was the first to examine how the Internet and cellphones affect our core social networks — shows that Web use can lead to more social life, rather than to less. “Social Isolation and New Technology,” written by the Rutgers University communications scholar Keith Hampton, reveals that heavy users are more likely than others to have large and diverse social networks; more likely to visit parks, cafes and restaurants; and more likely to meet diverse people with different perspectives and beliefs.

Today five million people in the United States between ages 18 and 34 live alone, 10 times more than in 1950. But the largest number of single people are middle-aged; 15 million people between ages 35 and 64 live alone. Those who decide 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.

In my interviews, older single people expressed a clear preference for living alone, which allowed them to retain their feelings of independence and integrity, and a clear aversion to moving in with friends or family or into a nursing home.

According to research by the Rutgers sociologist Deborah Carr, at 18 months after the death of a spouse, only one in four elderly men and one in six elderly women say they are interested in remarrying; one in three men and one in seven women are interested in dating someday; and only one in four men and one in 11 women are interested in dating immediately.

Most older widows, widowers and divorced people remake their lives as single people. A century ago, nearly 70 percent of elderly American widows lived with a child; today — thanks to Social Security, private pensions and wealth generated in the market — just 20 percent do. According to the U.C.L.A. economist Kathleen McGarry: “When they have more income and they have a choice of how to live, they choose to live alone. They buy their independence.”

Some unhealthy old people do become dangerously isolated, as I learned when I researched my book about the hundreds of people who died alone in the 1995 Chicago heat wave, and they deserve more attention and support than we give them today. But the rise of aging alone is also a social achievement. The sustained health, wealth and vitality that so many people over age 65 enjoy allow them to maintain domestic independence far longer than previous generations did. What’s new today is that the great majority of older widows, widowers and divorced people prefer living alone to their other options, and they’re willing to spend more on housing and domestic help for the privilege. Some pundits predicted that rates of living alone would plummet because of the challenged economy: young people would move into their parents’ basements; middle-aged adults would put off divorce or separation for financial reasons; the elderly would move in with their children rather than hold on to places of their own.

Thus far, however, there’s little evidence that this has happened. True, more young adults have moved in with their parents because they cannot find good jobs; but the proportion of those between 20 and 29 who live alone went down only slightly, from 11.97 percent in 2007 to 10.94 percent in 2011. In the general population, living alone has become more common — in absolute and proportional terms. The latest census report estimates that more than 32 million Americans live alone today, up from 27.2 million in 2000 and 31 million in 2010.

All signs suggest that living alone will become even more common in the future, at every stage of adulthood and in every place where people can afford a place of their own.

Eric Klinenberg is a professor of sociology at New York University and the author of “Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone.”