Archives for Relationships

Love & Affection

World’s Meanest Valentine’s Day Story

Like I said in the title, I'm going to tell you about a really mean Valentine's Day story. But before I get there, I want to tell you a very uplifting story, based in findings from research, about single people and Valentine's Day. Here's the thing: the disparaging story I'm going to rip apart was a story about those very positive data on single people. The bigger point here is that this sort of sliming of single people happens all the time, and it can be triggered even by (or especially by) indications that single people are doing great. The rise of single people, especially happy single people, is a threat to the worldview that you have to be married to be happy, and that to get married is to become a better person than you were when you were single.

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Answers to All Your Questions about Single People and Single Life

I have been writing about single people and single life for many years. During that time, I have probably written on just about every relevant topic (except dating and other attempts to become unsingle). I put together collections of links to articles about more than 30 different topics. You can find all of them here, or you can go directly to the particular topics that interest you by clicking the relevant links below.
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Two’s a Crowd: Living Together When You Really Want to Live Apart

During the years I spent interviewing people about their lifespaces, and what they loved most about how they lived, I expected to find the most compelling accounts of the joys of living alone from single people living by themselves. And they did have some insightful things to say. But also among the most elegant spokespersons for what makes a place of one's own so attractive were the people I interviewed who were committed couples (sometimes married) who were living in places of their own. They were doing so not because external circumstances (such as jobs in different cities) forced their hands, but because they just really wanted their own space. Their stories are in How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century.

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What Are the Personality Characteristics of People Who Like to Be Alone?

Psychologists, researchers, and pundits are obsessed with loneliness. They worry about it, write about it, and issue dire warnings of what might befall people who experience it (which is probably just about everyone, at one point or another). That's reasonable, up to a point – loneliness is painful and extreme doses of it can have troubling implications.

Some of the current preoccupation with loneliness is probably attributable, in part, to the fact that the number of people living alone has been growing for decades. But linking loneliness to the rise of solo living misses one of the most important motivators of the trend – huge numbers of people are living alone because they want to. They aren't stuck with it, they chose it. In fact, in an arrangement known as "living apart together," some people who are committed couples, including even married couples, choose to have places of their own.

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50th Wedding Anniversary: Is It an Accomplishment? Guest Post by Kristin Noreen

[Bella's intro: It has always bothered me when people heap such high praise and applause on people who stay married for a long time when other significant relationships are not similarly valued. I wrote about one example of that here previously. Recently, in the Community of Single People, Kristin Noreen asked whether a lengthy marriage should qualify as an accomplishment. I thought Kristin's post was written in a careful and a compelling way. I liked it a lot. But it got a lot of push-back. I asked Kristin if she wanted to share her argument here, and respond to the reactions it elicited. Happily, she agreed. Thanks, Kristin!]

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Is There Anything Good about Loneliness?

Loneliness has a prominent place in the news these days. As the number of people who live alone continues to grow, as does the number of seniors, concern swells. Studies suggesting all sorts of dire correlates of loneliness increase the worry to a state of near panic.

Neither living alone nor growing old means that you will end up lonely. Loneliness is different from living alone or spending time alone. Many people, including most who are single at heart, savor their solitude. Loneliness is not about savoring, it is about pain. It is the distress we feel when our social relationships are not what we want them to be. People can feel deeply lonely when they are in a marriage and when they are in a crowd.

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Single by Choice and Single at Heart: Is There a Difference?

The name of this blog, "Single at Heart," refers to a set of single people who, culturally, are almost entirely invisible. They are the single people for whom living single is how they live their best, most authentic, most meaningful lives.

You may have heard people say that being single is better than being in a bad marriage. Well, for people who are single at heart, being single is better than being in a good marriage.

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If You Live More Than a Few Hours Drive from Mom, You are the Exception

When I traveled around the country to interview people for How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century, I met quite a few people who lived very close to their mothers, or lived with them. My sample was not a representative one, so at first I didn't know what to make of that. But when I did research into nationwide trends and statistics, I found that one of our popular beliefs – that America is a mobile society that is only becoming more mobile over time – is actually a myth.

The New York Times took a look at some of the same kinds of data, and came up with some intriguing conclusions. For example:

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Why Study Single People?

For nearly two decades, I have been researching and writing about people who are single. It is a real passion for me. Yet some people – including some single people – recoil at the thought. Why should single people be examined as if they are some bug under a microscope, or some exotic species separate from other humans?

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