Alone. Ahhh. Sigh.
May 19, 2001 7:51 AM   Subscribe

Alone. Ahhh. Sigh. 27 Million Singles Do Whatever They Want. All by Themselves.

The problem with census data is there's never space for a longer answer to the question. (Yes, I live like this but I didn't plan to. See, here's what happened . . . ) This week's newsy trickle across the national spreadsheet reveals, among other things, that more Americans than ever live alone. Twenty-seven million people, give or take. That's a lot of air guitar being played in private. That's a lot of bowls of cereal eaten over the sink around 1 in the morning.....

Do you fit into this scenario? I know I do.

posted by perogi (33 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
That article was weird. I couldn't tell whether the author was cracking endless jokes making fun of people who live alone, or just being desperately cynical about it.

Living alone does not mean living lonely.

posted by Mars Saxman at 8:03 AM on May 19, 2001

What an odd article. Great paragraphs, but they shouldn't have been stitched together.

The candle thing hit home for me. I love candles, and have a lot of them. I sometimes turn off everything, light a few candles in the livingroom, and just sit and enjoy my apartment. My apartment. Yeah.
posted by frykitty at 8:36 AM on May 19, 2001

Hmm.. it's 11:44 in the morning on a saturday morning, and I'm in here posting on Metafilter. If I weren't living alone, I'd be a prime candidate for a broken relationship based on alienation of affections.
posted by resigned at 8:43 AM on May 19, 2001

I'm still in college, still have roommates, but I already alphabetize my cds and congratulate myself on owning such great albums, then rearrange them. Sweet merciful crap, is this all I have to look forward to? No! No! No! N... eh, oh well. *shrug* Now where'd I leave those Spaghetti-O's...
posted by shinji_ikari at 9:02 AM on May 19, 2001

there's a great book of photographs by adrienne salinger, a professor at my university. it's called "living solo" and it has some really striking pictures of people living, well, solo, and text regarding how they feel about it.
posted by sugarfish at 9:15 AM on May 19, 2001

1. Living alone does not mean no relationship.
2. Living alone can be a choice, there's not always a reason (....Florida widows? Bridget Jones cliches? Toxic bachelors? Toxic gay bachelors? )
3. Why would you want to live together with another human being? What's the fun of having to do things you don't want to do? What's the attraction on having another person hanging around you all day and all night?
posted by nonharmful at 9:32 AM on May 19, 2001

I don't find it surprising that more people live alone nowadays. A lot of women are choosing to remain single (and some even relationshipless) until late in life so they can focus on their careers and such. So, part of the reason why there's more single people is because of selfishness and a 'lack of time'.

There are others, like myself, who do not actually want to have a relationship at this time. That's not because I'm too busy for one (I'm not) or because I don't like women (I do), but because that's just my choice. I don't think settling down and having kids is something you 'have to do', just like owning a house or buying a car isn't something you 'have to do' either.

nonharmful: re your point 3, I'm not sure that's how you should really view a relationship. ;-)
posted by wackybrit at 10:04 AM on May 19, 2001

Plus the fact that people are demanding, perverse, selfish, manipulating cretins drowning in their own pathology that spend every minute trying to tear you down and tear you apart, either to bring you down to what they perceive as their level in order to feel better about themselves or to remake you in their own twisted image of who and what you should be.

But I'm not bitter...
posted by rushmc at 10:16 AM on May 19, 2001

When I was living alone (which I did for a long time), I often found myself to be a demanding, perverse, selfish, manipulating cretin, drowning in my own pathology, spending every minute trying to tear myself down etc.
posted by argybarg at 10:24 AM on May 19, 2001

My point exactly, argybarg! Why do we need added assistance in this? ::grin::
posted by rushmc at 10:32 AM on May 19, 2001

I've found something interesting in my travels. The people I know who have brothers and sisters cannot stand to be alone. From my own mom to my best friend, the thought of being alone for more than a few minutes can almost drive them nuts. When I told people I was moving out from my roommates and moving cross country to live by myself, they ask "what's wrong, don't you like living with people?" To which I answer: "not really right now".

Maybe it's because I'm an only child and like to have "alone time", but in my mind I don't really want to live with people around until they happen to be that "special someone".

Have you guys noticed this split among those with siblings vs. only children?
posted by owillis at 10:59 AM on May 19, 2001

More or less an only child here. But a point of clarification: yeah, I like living alone, and I do so by choice--but my most recent experience with having a roommate was also quite good. I was pissed when he moved.

My point, and I do have one, is that living alone gave me the peace and equilibrium to successfully handle having a roomie. And to cope when he found his own place. I think there is a lot of value in learning to live with yourself and like it.
posted by frykitty at 11:04 AM on May 19, 2001

I have a sister, and we both live alone at the moment and like it (though we have both lived with roommates in the past). As far away from each other as possible, on opposite coasts, and both hundreds of miles away from our parents. I think that last fact may be the key. Our parents are basically good people, but by the time I got out of school (I lived at home and commuted to school each day), it was definitely time to be alone for a while. I never even looked for work in the city where I lived, I knew I wanted to get out of town as quickly as possible and so I grasped at the first out-of-town job I was offered. Unfortunately that means I ended up in Detroit for a decade...
posted by kindall at 11:16 AM on May 19, 2001

owillis, I totally agree. I'm an only child and CRAVE my alone time. (Of course, being a raging geek doesn't help that since programming isn't exactly a spectator sport...yet)

My ex- and my current (and many other people I know) are both sibling-disadvantaged. They can't stand to be alone. This makes, of course, for interesting relationship politics as you can imagine.

And I think many more people would be living alone in America if it weren't for San Francisco busting the curve. Who the hell can afford to live alone?

I love my roommates, but oh how I would love the peacefulness of my own apartment. Of course, I've created such a thing in my room, but that's another (hermit-related) issue.
posted by fooljay at 11:29 AM on May 19, 2001

Okay, I can't get this question out of my head. What does everyone have to drink?

V8 Juice
Apple Juice
Orange Juice
Diet Coke
Mt. Dew

Okay, I might be overdoing it. But when I actually do have guests, I forget to offer them something.
posted by frykitty at 11:31 AM on May 19, 2001

In my fridge:

Bottled Water
25 different kinds of condiments
Marachino Cherries
Half of a oversized Hershey's bar (for stovetop s'mores)
posted by thebigpoop at 11:47 AM on May 19, 2001

I usually have a couple 2-liters of Pepsi One in the fridge, or for a change sometimes I'll have some generic lemon-lime soda (I tend to like the generics better than Sprite or 7-Up). When offering a drink to a visitor I always make sure to open a fresh 2-liter, since I've in all likelihood already drank directly from any opened 2-liters... (Here, I'll say it for you: eeeeew.)
posted by kindall at 11:48 AM on May 19, 2001

1. Siblings:
I have 3 younger siblings. I live alone some 5,000 miles away from my family (they're in Texas, I'm in Austria) in a way too big apartment, and I like it. My younger brother lives with two roommates and my younger sisters still live with my parents. Interestingly enough, my little brother will be moving to Austria to live with me next month. I would guess that oldest children are similar to only children in wanting their time alone. I have never needed constant companionship, but my younger brother is much less of a loner.

2. To drink at my house:
6 - 1.5 litre bottles of Vöslauer Prickelnd mineral water
1 - 1 litre bottle of Sprite
1 - 1.5 litre bottle of Schwepp's Tonic
2 - 1 litre cartons of lowfat milk
various bottles of wine
1 - 6 pack of Ottakringer beer
1 - 1 litre bottle of Bombay Dry Gin
1 - 2 litre carton of OJ that is probably too old to drink
posted by syzygy at 1:43 PM on May 19, 2001

I think we need to setup a "what's in your refrigerator?" website. Right now.
posted by aramaic at 1:47 PM on May 19, 2001

I'm a rarity. I've been in a relationship with the same woman for over a decade. We got married last year, but neither of us believe in monogamy or want kids. We didn't come to grips with all of this when our relationship started, but the process of getting to where we are has made us much closer than just about any couple I know. We know each other so well that we can practically have complete conversations through a series of shrugs, gesticulations, and smirks...

We have a lot of single friends, and, frankly, we kinda feel sorry for them. Half the time they are advocating being alone and not needing anyone, the other half the time, they are down in the dumps about being alone, and the fear of being alone for ever.

They want to have a longterm relationship, but they have a lot of unrealistic expectations about relationships. Contrary to popular opinions, relationships don't just automatically work... they take effort and time and you have to make them work. You also don't always have to agree with someone on every little thing... people are a package deal. You take the good with the bad.

Oftentimes, our single friends get into short term relationships with people where they cannot talk honestly about themselves, what they want, their interest in and attraction to others, their fantasies, their expectations, etc. Many of them are demanding, perverse, selfish, manipulating cretins drowning in their own pathology... but they all want Mr./Ms. Right. Heaven forbid that a relationship inconvenience them or require them to think, feel, or (gasp!) communicate with another human being.
posted by markkraft at 1:48 PM on May 19, 2001

My fridge:
filtered water,
coke (for mixing with jack),
and usually some sort of cheap beer, which never lasts long.

Now, as for the living alone thing, I have an older brother but I still crave my alone time. It's the difference between being an extrovert and an introvert (im the latter), extroverts feel uncomfortable when they are not around people, introverts feel the opposite.

I read an interesting study once that suggested that most first borns in a family of multiple children tend to be extroverts, while the second born tends to be introverted. Something to do with how parents shift their parenting practices with the second child. Wish I could rememeber where the study came from, anyone know which one Im talking about?
posted by Hackworth at 1:51 PM on May 19, 2001

My fridge:
One bottle of Tobasco sauce.
One 9v volt battery.

Also, I like to sleep on the floor. Try doing that with other people in the house and have them believe that there's nothing wrong with you.
posted by dong_resin at 2:41 PM on May 19, 2001

Hmmm. Maybe this situation is what got the Vatican wound up on this trip again. And it could explain goings on in a Broward County library.
posted by Twang at 2:48 PM on May 19, 2001

I grew up with a little brother, and I generally prefer being alone (or with a few close friends) to any kind of mass socialization. Plus, my brother is more extroverted than I am, and I'm the one that had my Mom around when I was a kid.
posted by dhartung at 3:51 PM on May 19, 2001

Coke (drink it like water)
Mountain Dew
Milk (only for cereal and NesQuick)
posted by owillis at 5:55 PM on May 19, 2001

Oldest of eleven. Living alone and planning to stay that way. Sorry to poke a hole in your theory, owillis!

The issue you're discussing lies perpendicular to cohabitation vs solitude.

To all: English is an inconvenient vehicle for the discussion of modern love-relationship issues.

posted by Mars Saxman at 8:29 PM on May 19, 2001

Hmm. Sounds like Mars is looking for a fight. Get him, my pretties!
posted by aramaic at 8:47 PM on May 19, 2001

Actually, I agree with Mars; at least to the point that the eddys and currents of any love relationship is incredibly complex, and, matched with the demands of modern life, language - of any nationality - is probably not only inconvenient but inadequate.

That being said, our language is excellent for simplifying complex conceptions without losing the more subtle nuances. William Blake was able to define attraction, repulsion, dissatisfaction and conflict in romance in two simple lines:

"What is it men in women do require? The lineaments of Gratified Desire.
What is it women do in men require? The lineaments of Gratified Desire.
posted by resigned at 9:21 PM on May 19, 2001

2 litres of britta filtered water
1 litre of unsweetened soya milk

2nd oldest of 4 guys.
extroverted introvert.
english is a dull instrument.
single for more reasons than i have time to get into. in less than an hour, i'm going out looking for someone who'll wiggle her butt for me..if i meet someone more than that great..if not, i'm sure we'll atleast have fun.
posted by giantkicks at 10:04 PM on May 19, 2001

I'm home now after a night out with friends and my girlfriend and I'm here in my sanctuary -- my house, my stuff, my own damn problems... I grew up with two brothers and two sisters but always loved having time to myself. I've also co-habitated with a couple of girlfriends over the years (separately, natch) and that was fine for awhile but it really got old, definitely made me think twice about whether marriage was for me. Maybe someday I'll change my mind again, but it won't be tomorrow or next week or next month. Right now, I'm not pissing anyone off by posting at 1 a.m. and I don't have anyone looking over my shoulder wondering what I'm up to. Beautiful solitude!

In the fridge:
Bottled water
Orange juice
posted by schmedeman at 11:05 PM on May 19, 2001

To drink:
Carrot juice,
Orange juice,
Hot chocolate,

Only child.

Alone, and therefore can post at ridiculous hours of the morning.

Strongly agree that there should be a What's In Your Refrigerator website.
posted by moss at 2:43 AM on May 20, 2001

Color me Steppenwolf. I love living alone.
Fridge beverages:
1/2 carton Vfruit juice questionably old
1/2 carton grapefruit juice
1 last bottle cider from sixer
[gulp]scratch that last bottle
2/3 liter red mountain dew
1/2 bottle green heinz ketchup - not really a bev, but it turns your poop green!
1 bottle moet champagne (for when I finally meet someone worth bringing home)
It may not sound like paradise, but after living in a derelict mansion with 14! others, I take much solace knowing that when I wake to find the last of my fruit loops gone, I know whodunnit.
posted by roboto at 3:49 AM on May 20, 2001

This is especially interesting in that 14! is something like ten times the current population of the world. I must say, I'm impressed.
posted by moss at 4:50 AM on May 20, 2001

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