Solo Life

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Eric Klinenberg, NYU sociologist and author of Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone, discusses why living alone is on the rise--and why it is so appealing.

LISTENERS: Do you live alone? What do you find surprisingly appealing about living solo? Do you feel more plugged-in to the city or not? Tell us the pros and cons of living alone. Call us or comment here!


Eric Klinenberg

Comments [52]

Beth from near Morristown NJ

i began living alone at the age of 35, but not because i chose to live alone. my husband died (over 10 yrs ago now), and i have become used to living alone. i am in a serious relationship (previous relationships have failed) and we are talking about moving in together when the time is right, but because i have lived alone for so long, i am a bit apprehensive about sharing my home with someone. he knows my feelings and was a bit aback when i shared them, but i feel honesty will go a long way in helping to pave a smoother path. i hope! the other thing about being a fairly attractive 40-something woman who lives alone in suburbia is that your married female friends slowly distance themselves from you, which is quite painful. you can tell yourself that they were never really your friends, and know deep down that it's true, but it still hurts.

Feb. 07 2012 04:30 PM
solo on uws

My first 16 or so years in NYC, I lived with a roommate for financial reasons. The set up of my apartment dictated that the roommate space was for a young person (sleeping loft). It got to a point when I was just a few years younger than my last roommate's parents & I've been living alone ever since the last 20 year old moved out. I love it, even though it is a financial strain. No one deletes things off my DVR, eats my food or leaves messes except me!

Feb. 07 2012 02:16 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Henry from Elizabeth: Where did you hear that inmates are healthier? They aren't. Diseases like AIDS, hepatitis C, & TB are rampant in prisons.

Feb. 07 2012 12:03 PM

jaggerbuttz:koo koo

Feb. 07 2012 12:00 PM
Brenda from New York City

This was simply a wonderful segment. Thank you

Feb. 07 2012 11:59 AM
Jude from Brooklyn, NY

I love that you are having this conversation.
I live in Park Slope and love the families but am single and live alone...the downside is the feeling, sometimes of not having much real daily substantive conversation besides in my friendly corner store or I love my own apt. but wish, sometimes that I had some more interaction...

Feb. 07 2012 11:58 AM
Robin from Queens

@Danny Kapilian from Gowanus: The term "singleton" is used a lot in those Bridget Jones movies (British). That's where I first heard it.

Feb. 07 2012 11:57 AM

I LOVE this caller "Ernie"!!

Thank you for sharing your touching story!!!

Thank you!

Feb. 07 2012 11:57 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

To Dboy

Who raises children? Single mothers with the help of the state? Who pays the state, unemployed single men? I'm against marriage too, but I don't see any alternative but children being produced in test tubes and raised ala "Brave New World." If not that, what is the alternative to traditional marriage and patriarchy when it comes to raising children. Or is there to be no next generation at all?

Feb. 07 2012 11:57 AM
The Truth from Becky

Solo = Freedom

Feb. 07 2012 11:57 AM
Ed in Little Italy from NYC

Solitude is addictive. And sometimes painful.

Feb. 07 2012 11:56 AM


So it's not the anti-Semites, it's really the feminists??

Feb. 07 2012 11:56 AM
Robin from Queens

Why do I get the feeling this is a UNIQUELY NYC topic? Could this be a New York phenomenon?

Feb. 07 2012 11:55 AM

I'm so happily divorced for 36 years and I LOVE LIVING ALONE! I love being totally responsible for myself.
If I need company I pick up the phone and/or visit a friend.

Feb. 07 2012 11:55 AM
Jon from West Village

You can't experience personal growth unless you lived alone.

Feb. 07 2012 11:55 AM
Mia from Manhattan

I was an only child, raised by a single mother, I've had boyfriends, two live-ins (the latter who seemed to be "the one" but proved very much to the contrary), and I love being on my own. I just bought my first home a few years ago, and now, as a single woman with my own property, even if the man of my dreams appeared tomorrow, I doubt I would ever marry or even co-habit with him.

The only thing I worry about is my very old age and who I will be able to rely on then? I'm extremely self-reliant, but I do understand that one day I will have to depend on some help from others.

Does your guest have any news about what all us singletons are doing when we become senior citizens? And how do they manage?

Feb. 07 2012 11:54 AM
Greg in BK from Brooklyn

I live alone and my girlfriend lives in the apartment next door–we literally share walls and we love it. I have lived here for 7 years and she moved next door about 3 years ago (to be closer). Some people insist that it's the same as living together, I disagree. We don't have the pressures of sharing things, she has a roomate, we have our own bedrooms. We've decided that if we move in together for real, it'll be when we're married.

Feb. 07 2012 11:54 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Monarchy was once the "natural order" of things, as was Patriarchy. Women were brainwashed to be dutiful and submissive even if they had no love or respect for the husband. That was the only way the family could remain intact. But Monarchy eventually gave way to the American and French revolutions, and seems to have succeeded. But what will transcend Patriarchy? Family democracy? How will children be made and raised, by single mothers? Or by the state or corporations? Orphanages? WHat is the practical alternative to the Patriarchal family structure?

Feb. 07 2012 11:53 AM

...why get married??

What is the sick preoccupation with the patriarchal-women-as-chattle-out-dated-obsurdist institution of marriage??


Feb. 07 2012 11:53 AM
Danny Kapilian from Gowanus


Smacks of "foodie".

Will certainly make it into the script of a future episode of Portlandia...

Feb. 07 2012 11:53 AM
Inquisigal from Brooklyn

Geez, listening to these callers bash living with partners is kind of depressing. I lived alone for 10 years, and greatly nenjoyed it, but living with a partner is an equally important life choice - it teaches you how to connect, negotiate, and deal with people which carries over to the rest of your life.

Feb. 07 2012 11:52 AM
Michael from Brooklyn

When I have guests or extended family stays, I can't wait for them to go home. My apartment is a one bedroom. I need my own personal space. If I had a guest room, it would be easier, but who can afford a 2 bedroom? I like to spend time with friends as well as go to movies and travel alone. Most of my friends are single too.

Feb. 07 2012 11:51 AM
Sylvia Mendel from Manhattan

It's not surprising that the author re Living Alone IS surprised. A woman writer would not be surprised. Living alone for me started with my seeking divorce. That was 1969 by which time I had two children. In my generation (I am 82) men expected women to be subservient to them and knew little about women's sexual needs. The first time I had an opportunity to marry again with a man I'd known for 25 years, he was in many ways desirable financially and sexually and intellectually. But what he wanted ME for was to take care of him when he was old and maybe sick. We were the same age and he was able to afford a care-giver and I could have supervised a home-health care person. But I had enjoyed my alone life and went to college and graduate school which I'd not been able to do before immigrating to the U.S. I love my alone life as an artist. I adore my grandchildren I have a wide circle of friends of all ages including young men who like to talk to an interesting woman. There's a lot more to say, but I am never lonely.

Feb. 07 2012 11:51 AM
Mary from ny

Thank God for Airbnb. I live in a wonderful two bedroom apt in beautiful downtown brooklyn. Instead of getting another roomate, when my roommate moved, I decided to rent my second room. Not only to I save money on rent, I do not have a full-time roommate. Nothing better!

Feb. 07 2012 11:50 AM
Alex from Brooklyn

Is this an urban trend??
It seems those that live in urban areas are more likely to live alone than in other parts of the country??
Is our culture becoming less family oriented and potentially more isolated?

Feb. 07 2012 11:50 AM
The Truth from Becky

Done both and I always wanted the opposite of what I had....get it?

Feb. 07 2012 11:50 AM
marcos from the Bronx

Please look at Solo living and social engadgement by gender and sexual orientation.

My impression is that straight guys depend on the women in our lives to connect to the larger community.

Feb. 07 2012 11:49 AM
John A

Look up textbook narcissism, there a lot of antisocial aspects present. Not trusting people who disagree with your opinion, for starters. It's more than simple trust tho.

Feb. 07 2012 11:49 AM
Sandra from nyc

I live alone and the freedom and privacy is great EXCEPT when you are sick or injured!!!
Recently I had knee surgery and only have use of one leg--you cannot do it ALL alone ALL the time!!!
It's important to stay connected and be very social when you live alone.
It's true, living alone does force me to get out MORE and meet MORE people not less and to develop quality friendships.

Feb. 07 2012 11:48 AM
Sue from New York, NY

I've lived alone virtually all of my adult life (I'm in my late 40s) and I've no interest in changing that. When I want to engage with others, I can. I've had great relationships, but have never wanted to not live alone -- and that hasn't been an issue in the relationships. I've had roommates, and even the nicest of them have been intrusive, often interrupting what I'm doing just in order to chatter. Frankly, the only downside is the cost of paying for an apartment for one. Do people judge? My sister-in-law's parents definitely do. All four of their children are married with kids, and they have very explicitly said they believe my "lifestyle" is a sign of poor mental health. You would think it was still the 1950s, when my mother got married because there was no Plan B available. (Divorced, she too now lives alone...)

Feb. 07 2012 11:47 AM

... or narcissism? What about the phenomena of rampant narcissism??

Feb. 07 2012 11:47 AM
ms from Manhattan

I am 35 years old, I have a girlfriend, but I have hard time spending a lot of time with someone. I like being able to go into my "cave" and be myself.

At this point, I am no longer sure it's a choice, I feel like it's a physiological need to be by myself. Not sure if others feel this.

Feb. 07 2012 11:46 AM

Who can have a successful relationship/family when the market requires ridiculous amounts of our time for basic survival??

Feb. 07 2012 11:45 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Wait, what does narcissism have to do w/not trusting other people? That sounds more like paranoia. If there was an "or" between those 2 things, I didn't hear it.

Feb. 07 2012 11:43 AM
Robert from NYC

Look, you live alone but you can invite friends over and enjoy a good time together then they go home and you're peaceful and comfortable with yourself an feeling good from the good time you enjoyed in the company of your friends. Sometimes someone else around all the time becomes, oh, tiring? You have to live within some kind of social respect and that's fine but when you are alone you can enjoy that by having a visitor and then relax when they are gone and just be yourself with yourself enjoying yourself by yourself. Does that make sense? It does to me.

Feb. 07 2012 11:43 AM
Ana from Brooklyn

Decision to not get married does not mean to spend the life alone. It simply means to spend your life with the person you love without the contract with the state. And the fact that so many people now live alone is not a choice for many of us, but a consequence of our busy work-oriented society and a cross on loneliness to be carried throughout years!

Feb. 07 2012 11:43 AM
Ben from Brooklyn

I live alone because I need the time to myself. I am always busy. Most days, I don't get home until 10 p.m. and, by that point, I don't want anyone else in my space. I've spent the entire day interacting with people at work, playing sports, and making music. It's simply gotten to the point where I just don't have room for a girlfriend because I want to focus on me. I spent the last 13 years in a string of long-term relationships and I'm frankly tired of sharing what little free time and space I have with someone else.

Feb. 07 2012 11:42 AM
Michael from Brooklyn, NY

I am a single 42 yo gay man living in brooklyn Heights. I live alone most of my adult life. Filthy roommates in college turned me off roommates. fortunately i could afford to live alone in nyc. my parents are divorced and my father is married 4 times. my mother lives alone after two long relationships. my siblings are married or live with a SO. I am looking for a partner but it is so hard to find other men who are committed to finding a relationship. given my parents history, i dont want to settle or put up with poor sposal treatment. i enjoy my own time and space but i do get lonely sometime and wish i had some company...however as an architect, i like my space just so.

Feb. 07 2012 11:42 AM
Henry from Elizabeth N.J.

CAN YOU ELABORATE on the health risks of living alone?
Does your immune system lowers? I heard that that's why
inmates are healthy, because they're not --alone-- in their cells.

Feb. 07 2012 11:41 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Nothing wrong with living alone, if you can handle being alone. But the feminists destroyed the patriarchal family structure, and men have no benefits in being married anymore. They have no guarantee of keeping anything: children, assets, or their sanity. Ask your guest to explain what benefits men today get out of marriage, so that I too can understand.

Sooner or later, we have to do as Aldous Huxleys Brave New WOrld suggested if we are to produce the next generation. We can no longer count on the old patriarchal "family unit" which is now as dead as Monarchy. Democracy in the family is still a theoretical concept.

Feb. 07 2012 11:40 AM
John A

I'm living alone by choice - Hers - is the joke here.

Feb. 07 2012 11:39 AM

A question for Eric:
How does the long term living alone arrangement later affects the elderly? Elderly abuse is increasing in the US and around the world where life expectancy grows.

Feb. 07 2012 11:39 AM
tom from astoria

Benefit of being alone? One word : Solitude. (DaVinci said, when you're alone you belong entirely to yourself)

Feb. 07 2012 11:38 AM
Erika from Brooklyn

I was an only child and I couldn’t wait to live alone as an adult. When my roommates moved to California I finally got my own tiny Brooklyn apartment. But I was shocked by how incredibly lonely it was.

Feb. 07 2012 11:37 AM
Suzinne from bronx

I lived alone for ten years, and in many ways is was BLISS. Too bad I cannot afford this anymore.

Feb. 07 2012 11:37 AM
Cate from Brooklyn

I'm a thirty-something single female who loves her single-hood but finds it frustrating that this is such a couples-centric world. Being raised by a single parent as an only child, I think I may be predisposed to the solo life - but there are really so many benefits, especially for women. You definitely become more self-reliant, and perhaps more self-realized, by going it solo. And in a city like New York, well, yes, Helen's so right, you're surrounded by people anyway. It's nice to be able to retreat to one's own abode at the end of each day and, to quote the old song, be "all alone when I lower my lamp." Am I a tramp? I suppose it depends on who you ask!

Feb. 07 2012 11:31 AM
Robert from NYC

Well we now live in an age where we can entertain ourselves in so many ways cave men and women couldn't. With our computers and entertainment centers and food delivery and video games and whatever else you can think of we no longer sit in a cave or castle or hovel or dingy room with only a hearth or candles or gal light or open fire to stare at. The "ancients" required someone to be near for so many reasons but probably mostly for companionship. I'm sure it was lonely to sit in a predominantly dark surrounding with little light and nor much social stimulation. Ours is real yet virtual but it doesn't require someone else be in the room.

Feb. 07 2012 11:22 AM
oscar from ny

I live alone because im divorced and also ive waisted my whole life making otger people happy and uve waisted or thrown everyrhing i ownd..i coulve been rich and famous artist by now but satan has lead me to drugs and hate myself because he tells me im i rent a room, i have three frens left a family thats scared of me and a god thats still waiting for me to change.. only god knows of my potential and my abilities...

Feb. 07 2012 11:07 AM
mark in manhattan

It's often stated that married people live longer than single people. Actually,that's not true. It just seems longer.

Feb. 07 2012 10:27 AM
Maxwell Smart from C.O.N.T.R.O.L. HQ, Washington, D.C.

...aaaaaaaaaand loving it!

Feb. 07 2012 10:18 AM

I think this is this saddest thing ever. Have u thought this through. Have u thought, who will change my diapers when I get old?

Feb. 07 2012 10:15 AM
Helen from manhattan

I love living alone, I can't imagine living with a boyfriend unless we had a child together. In new york, we are constantly surrounded by people. Its nice to be able to 'get away' even if it is just for a few hours after a long day at work. I had roommates for years to save money and I liked them very much, but I am much happier living alone. Now that there isn't so much stigma on an unmarried woman, I'm not surprised that living alone is on the rise.

Feb. 07 2012 10:05 AM

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