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How Should I Live?

Have you found your “lifespace” – your place, your space, and your people? Are you living where and how you most want to live? Are you living with or in connection with the people you care about the most, or on your own if that’s what feels most authentic to you?

Regardless of how you feel about how you are living now, do you fantasize about (or worry about) how you will live in the future?

These are the kinds of questions I asked people when I traveled around the country doing the research for my book, How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century. I was honored to be interviewed by Vicki Larson about the book. (Thanks, Vicki!) The full Q & A was published at the Huffington Post.

The first question was about my inspiration for the book. Because I had way more to say about that one question than could be included in an interview with many other questions, Huff Post published a shortened version. Here I’ll share with you my complete answer. For my answers to the other questions, take a look at the rest of the interview at the Huffington Post if you are interested.

Question:The inspiration for the book came from a blog post you wrote that got a huge response. Why was it so important for you to write this book?

Answer: The blog post was called, “Not going nuclear: So many ways to live and love,” with the tag line, “Increasingly, households and personal communities are not anchored by couples. Right away, readers started to tell their own stories. Some had shared a house with people who were not relatives or romantic partners – and not just when they were young adults just starting out. Others described “families” that were actually networks of friends that extended across households; those families were a consistent and reliable and supportive presence in their lives, just like conventional families are supposed to be (but aren’t always). Single parents and married parents invited friends to live with them, who ended up playing important roles in their kids’ lives as well as their own. Other readers described the kinds of living situations they only wish they had – for example, having a committed relationship in which both you and your partner get to stay in places of your own (the “living apart together” relationships you describe in your book).

What was telling about that blog post was not so much the number of people who viewed it or commented – I’ve written lots of posts that racked up higher numbers – but the tenor of the discussion and the way it continued over time. So instead of writing snark, readers reacted to each other’s stories by saying things like, “Your comment brings tears to my eyes.” The discussion continued beyond my “Living Single” blog where it started [before I began blogging here at Psych Central], as readers sent emails telling me how they lived and how they wish they could live.

Those reactions by themselves would not have been enough to inspire me to write a book. What really caught my attention were all the stories in the media about the innovative ways people were living. Some people were sharing homes, some were creating their own neighborhoods and communities while living in homes of their own, others were participating in contemporary versions of multi-generational or extended family living. Some stories were so unique and unexpected, they did not fit into any obvious category.

What was also interesting about these stories is that they appeared in so many different kinds of publications and so many different sections. They were in sections on lifestyles, homes and gardens, and aging. They appeared on the opinion pages and in stories about finances. They were in newspapers, magazines, blog posts, and on TV.

I think I realized that if I launched into this project, it was going to take years – and it did. I traveled around the country asking people to let me into their homes and tell me about their lives. So I really wanted to be sure about committing to it. I think the last piece that fell into place is when my agent said to me, “Everyone is talking about this.” Then I started noticing that, too. Who doesn’t like to think about and talk about how they want to live?

[Notes. If you are interested, you can learn more about How We Live Now at this page of my website, where I post updates. I also have a Facebook page for the book. I’m on Twitter now, too.]

Women having breakfast photo available from Shutterstock

How Should I Live?

Bella DePaulo, Ph.D

Bella DePaulo (Ph.D., Harvard; Academic Affiliate, Psychological and Brain Sciences, UC Santa Barbara), an expert on single life, is the author of several books, including "Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After" and "How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century." Her TEDx talk is "What no one ever told you about people who are single," Dr. DePaulo has discussed singles and single life on radio and television, including NPR and CNN, and her work has been described in newspapers such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and magazines such as Time, Atlantic, the Week, More, the Nation, Business Week, AARP Magazine, and Newsweek. Dr. DePaulo is in her sixties. She has always been single and always will be. She is "single at heart" -- single is how she lives her best and most meaningful life. Visit her website at

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APA Reference
DePaulo, B. (2015). How Should I Live?. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 20, 2020, from


Last updated: 18 Aug 2015
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