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Why Are So Many Americans Single?

I frequently blog about dating and relationships, so I figured this would fit right in. After all, I accept all kinds of relationships–and the choice not to be in one.

The New Yorker ran an article today about why so many people are single; live alone. It addresses some of our cultural myths about coupledom, partnerships, and so on, so I thought it’d be good to blog it. Here’s an excerpt:

Few things are less welcome today than protracted solitude—a life style that,  for many people, has the taint of loserdom and brings to mind such characters as  Ted Kaczynski and Shrek. Does aloneness deserve a less untoward image? Aside  from monastic seclusion, which is just another way of being together, it is hard  to come up with a solitary life that doesn’t invite pity, or an enviable loner  who’s not cheating the rules. (Even Henry David Thoreau, for all his bluster  about solitude, ambled regularly into Concord for his mother’s cooking and the  local bars.) Meanwhile, the culture’s data pool is filled with evidence of  virtuous togetherness. “The Brady Bunch.” The March on Washington. The Yankees,  in 2009. Alone, we’re told, is where you end up when these enterprises go  south.

And yet the reputation of modern solitude is puzzling, because the traits  enabling a solitary life—financial stability, spiritual autonomy, the  wherewithal to buy more dishwashing detergent when the box runs out—are those  our culture prizes. Plus, recent demographic shifts suggest that aloneness, far  from fading out in our connected age, is on its way in. In 1950, four million  people in this country lived alone. These days, there are almost eight times as  many, thirty-one million. Americans are getting married later than ever (the  average age of first marriage for men is twenty-eight), and bailing on domestic  life with alacrity (half of modern unions are expected to end in divorce).  Today, more than fifty per cent of U.S. residents are single, nearly a third of  all households have just one resident, and five million adults younger than  thirty-five live alone. This may or may not prove a useful thing to know on  certain Saturday nights.

 

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About Jen

Have been a jack of all trades. I'm a former philosopher who specialized in ethics and political philosophy. I'm a sex positive feminist.

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