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Singletons are Living Alone ... and Liking it

Published: April 25, 2013

It used to be a stigma: bachelors and spinsters sadly missing the pitter-patter of tiny feet and the companionship of a spouse. But that was then; this is now.

Singletons - as those who live alone have been described - are now choosing this lifestyle, and "going solo" has become statistically significant in North America, according to Eric Klinenberg.

Klinenberg, sociologist and author of Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone, says that almost half the current population in the US is unmarried, representing 28 percent of American households. And many of the singletons he interviewed for his book highly value this lifestyle: "It allows us to do what we want, when we want on our own terms," Klinenberg commented in a recent Globe and Mail interview.

For the most part, his singletons are alone, not lonely: "Many people ... said there was nothing more lonely than living with the wrong person," he noted. And they're not bored. Single people populate gyms, clubs and coffee shops, where they can mingle with a purpose.

However, there are downsides: Living alone may be fulfilling, but it can also be frustrating. There's only one income to pay the bills, and statistics show that solos are at higher risk of accidents or crime. As well, the majority of Klinenberg's singletons are young.

What will happen as they age?

Ah, says Klinenberg, living alone is a "cyclical condition, not a permanent one." So chances are his young singletons will follow the traditional path - eventually.

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