Eric Klinenberg, a professor of sociology at New York University, has written a book titled “Going Solo”- in which he attempts to debunk all the old negative stereotypes about single adults. For his book, he interviewed singles from both sexes and all ages, income groups, careers and even folks who are retired. The only commonality was their single and solo lifestyle. Many talked about the positives of living alone and having the freedom to make choices, focus on their own interests and never having to compromise.
However, the expected downsides were also brought up. Loneliness, the lack of a partner to be there when things go wrong and in their old age, and not having children were some of the concerns they raised. Many of these overlap with those expressed by people in relationships- because being coupled is not a guarantee that someone will never be lonely or go without support and companionship. The common thread the author highlighted is the need for a supportive and connected environment in which all people, regardless of their relationship status- can get their basic needs met and meet the needs of others around them.
Mr. Klinenberg came to the conclusion that policies fostering interaction and community are needed. That is one way we could try to go about this.
However, when I read his conclusions, I thought about the urban tribes that have sprung up in many communities among young singles. I also thought about the wonderful book, “Katie up and down the hall,” in which a dog named Katie connected five neighbors in a high rise building in Battery Park, Manhattan- and together, they formed a family. Maybe establishing more policies is not what is needed. Maybe slowing down, talking to our neighbors and trying to get to know them, suggesting community get togethers and celebrations- and maybe even getting an outgoing and lovable dog- could make this happen.