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The Privilege of Living Alone September 9, 2009

Posted by Onely in Food for Thought, Just Saying., single and happy.
Tags: , , , ,

To our regular readers, it is obvious that one of the main reasons why Christina and I started this blog was to resist and subvert cultural stereotypes that flatten (in mostly negative ways) what it means to be single. Most of our concerns run in either one of two directions — either providing positive examples of people (ourselves or others) who are happily single, or providing examples (and then rebutting them) that illustrate the (dismaying) prevalence of negative assumptions about single people that continue to abound in our everyday lives.

Rarely, however, do Christina and I write about how being single might be understood as a privilege. The reason we rarely describe our lives in this way is because this would promote a value-system that suggests that people who prefer coupling are somehow less valuable than people who are single. We hope it’s clear that our point on Onely is not to promote single living to the detriment or exclusion of others — rather, we simply want to point out that our lives are valuable too — against all the negative stereotyping that goes on around (and about) us.

But I’ve got to admit: I really do think that living alone is a privilege.

Now, I recognize that, in saying this, I am making a distinction here between singles who live by themselves and singles who live with roommates, exes, other family members, etc. I’m also making a distinction between those who can afford to live alone and those who must live with others in order to survive. And I’m also making a distinction between those who prefer to be around people and those who prefer solitude.

These are important distinctions, and ones I’m aware are important. So I’m certainly not saying that, in writing this, I represent all single people. But I am saying that, at this point in my life, I might give up a lot of things, but I would absolutely not give up my solitude.

In this post a week or two ago, I wrote about how I am currently in the throes of studying for my Ph.D. exams (I take three this semester). Over the last three weeks, I have skimmed 50+ texts, and I have about a hundred more to go before I can rest (in fact, it’s a miracle that I’m able to muster up the brain power to compose this post)! And I’ve been noticing — indeed, have been feeling very grateful for — the advantage I have over many of my peers, especially the ones with spouses, children, and/or less than satisfying living situations. Not only have I never been so focused in my life, but I have also never needed (or appreciated) my space and solitude as much as I need it now.

In my current situation, I’ve got to admit: it is a true privilege to live alone.

Copious readers, what else makes living alone (and/or being single) a privilege that make you (occasionally) feel sorry for your coupled friends?

— Lisa

(as a sidenote — my current situation also means that you probably won’t hear from me much in the next few weeks, and Christina has promised to take up whatever slack she can. But please give me [and her] some slack in return if things slow down a little around here — I (and we) will be back in full force once I can think again!)


1. Sam Thneed - March 8, 2012

I live alone part time. I’m fortunate that my job allows me to work anywhere I choose. I could work in the same city where my girlfriend and her three older teenage daughters live but instead I choose to work in a city 2000 miles away. When I am here I live alone. My work is very absorbing and I enjoy giving it my full concentration. My work also involves meeting many other peoples needs so when I am off it is nice not to have to think of anyone except myself. I have come to truly enjoy my alone time.

After about 2 – 3 weeks away I am ready to go back “home”. I spend about 2 – 3 weeks living with my girlfriend and her kids in a home we all share. My girlfriend and I make it a point to do things together. We cook our meals together and eat together and run errands together. We usually get away by ourselves without the kids for a few days.

It’s nice to sleep with someone. I think that is what I miss most when I’m alone. But I have also come to appreciate the simplicity of living alone and it has changed my attitude about it. For a long time I dreaded being alone but I am no longer afraid to live alone and I actually have come to see it as pleasurable.

Onely - March 9, 2012

Sam, that sounds like an idea situation (to me) in many ways. It reminds me of my last LDR, which I found satisfying for much the same reasons. Ironically and unfortunately, my boyfriend did not see it that way. Neither of us wanted to move to the other’s location, and while I was satisfied with the status quo, he was “tired of coming home alone” and so broke up with me. He actually even gave away his *dog* so that he could go out in the evenings right after work and meet women. Lesson: If you want to be a player, get a cat. = )

Thanks for sharing your story.

2. seo specialist - January 23, 2017

This is a topic that’s close to my heart… Cheers! Where are your contact ddetails though?

3. Coming Home to An Empty (Of Humans) House | Onely.Org: Singles' Rights and Invisible Chronic Illness - June 27, 2018

[…] Readers, do you have the privilege of living alone? If so, what’s the very first thing you do when you Come Home To Your Empty […]

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