If you are a single person, do you think there are pillars of support you need in order to lead a satisfying life? For her book, The New Single Woman, sociologist E. Kay Trimberger (who has written guest posts for this blog) interviewed long-term single women, 35 and older, in depth. Her initial interview with each woman was followed up with another one, seven to nine years later.
Based on the life experiences of those women, as well as her own, Professor Trimberger posited 6 pillars of support that are the foundation of a fulfilling single life. Although she focused on single women in her book, I think her ideas may be relevant to single men as well.
“The new single woman has a home that nurtures her, whether she lives by herself or other people.”
“She has satisfying work that provides her with economic autonomy and a psychological identity but is not her whole life.”
“The new single woman is satisfied with her sexuality.” In her research, Trimberger talked to single women who led active sex lives and did “not see a permanent partner as necessary to their sexual satisfaction” as well as others “who were content with celibacy.” Still others found “other outlets for their sensuality.”
“A new single woman enjoys some connection to the next generation, which can take many forms: relationships with her own children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews, stepchildren, and younger protegees and volunteer work with the young.”
“A new single woman finds intimacy within a network of friends, or of family and friends, that provides companionship and people she can rely on in times of trouble.”
“A new single woman creates and maintains a community primarily through her friendship networks. Friends made in diverse organizational settings (at school, college, work, church, politics) are linked together to form the basis of a contemporary community. Thus, the single woman is not alone, not on her own.”
What do you think of this list?
I think it is very insightful, but I’m not sure that all single people need to have all 6 kinds of supports to live a single life that works for them. For example, some single people have little interest in children. Some – perhaps those who are introverted – may be content with just a few important people and have no desire to create or tend to a whole network or community.