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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. singlethirtysomething - September 9, 2009

I love, love, LOVE living on my own. I can do whatever I want to in my house without have to explain it, ask permission to do it, or contend with raised eyebrows. My home is my sanctuary – a place of calm, peace and quiet. I’m a slight secret slob – yes, I’ll leave the dishes for a few days and then wash them all up together. But nobody need know except me 🙂 I also absolutely love that when I get home, my house looks exactly like I left it. I don’t have to content with anyone else’s mess. When I do meet The Man Of My Dreams, I’d quite like him to buy the house next door. Never used to get why some couples do that – now I can totally see the value in it!

Onely - September 9, 2009

YES! Coming home to a house exactly how you left it! I never thought of that, but you’re spot on.

2. autonomous - September 9, 2009

What a terrific post- yay Onely!
While everyone was out at Burning Man and elsewhere last weekend, I enjoyed the total solitude of my cozy old house and porch. I had a chore-list a mile long, but could do as much or as little as I cared to, and in my own time. I purposely made no plans and so could go for twice the distance on my morning runs because I had time. It was such bliss my little house holiday, and after the yard and house were deep-cleaned, I dressed up for myself and had a lovely dinner of homemade cobbler I made from scratch and from local fruit. No-one to tell me it was wrong to eat dessert for dinner. No twinges of “oh, wish I could share it with someone”. Heck no, it was all mine to eat straight out of the pie dish.
(Okay, I did share some the next day only so I wouldn’t eat it all in one go.)

I do live with a housemate, but we occupy separate residences (upstairs/downstairs of old house). She is a new housemate and so extremely quiet compared to my old friends, I hardly know when she is home- I think she prefers solitude more than anyone I know, yet is in no way unsociable. In fact, she’s married- simply prefers to live alone. So weird to finally know someone who lives this way after joking about it for two+ years!

Onely - September 9, 2009

How interesting that she’s married but lives alone! Not knowing the whole situation, I would have to say that on the surface it sounds great… though if I were going to do that, I’d want to love alone-alone, not with a roommate. I think I would prefer my husband to be my roommate. But that said, good for her.

autonomous - September 10, 2009

We’re not actually roommates, so she does live alone-alone. We only see each other in passing if we both happen to be outside in the yard. I can’t speak for her spouse, but she gushes that she has the best of both worlds and is very happy. But you’re right about “on the surface”, one never can know the whole story.

Onely - September 10, 2009

Ah ok. I can definitely buy the gushing. . . CC

Singletude - September 17, 2009

I too knew someone in this idyllic situation. In fact, she was also my former roommate! She had two homes, one in the city and one in the country. Her husband eventually decided that he didn’t want to be in the city on a regular basis anymore. That coupled with their very different personalities (they loved each other but could only take each other in small doses) led her to split her time between the country with him and the city with me. She got a roommate to help her pay the bills and because she was one of those people who didn’t like being alone. I couldn’t relate–I love being alone–but it worked perfectly for her.

3. Lauri - September 9, 2009

I think I commented earlier that I was trying to move in with roommates after 7 years of living alone- unfortunately it fell through. I say unfortunately because I can’t afford to live alone anymore, and I’m stuck in my lease for another year. However, it’s fortunate because it’s a great apartment, and I really don’t know if I could handle not living alone. I’m willing to try it- and to be honest around where I live where rent is so unbelievably high, if you live alone or claim not to enjoy roommates, you’re pretty much considered a spoiled brat.

I just feel like it’s a privilege to live alone because whether studying or watching TV or showering, you really don’t have anyone bothering you, and you can’t bother anyone else. You never have conflicting space issues. I don’t have someone trying to watch a movie while I’m listening to music. And, I’m not confined to my bedroom. That actually really scares me about shared living. Even when I lived with my parents for a while after college, I always had to hang out in my room (with no TV!) because I didn’t feel like there was any place else to go. Living rooms are meant to be lived in, and I get to use mine because I live alone.

4. autonomous - September 9, 2009

I just have to add this link I found about why sleeping alone is healthier:


Though it’s always been a no-brainer for me….

Onely - September 9, 2009

shoot–I already have tons of trouble sleeping. Imagine if I had to share a bed with someone and my sleep was cut by 50 percent! I would be a zombie.
thanks autonomous!

5. Onadrought - September 9, 2009

What a wonderful post and I can relate to everyone (mess, dessert for dinner etc). I love walking through my front door at night, it’s always a home sweet home feeling. I work with people all day long so that I can’t wait to get home and even miss yoga classes and such, so much is my feeling to be home.

I realise it’s a complete privelege to live alone and it’s hard if you want to and can’t afford it. I moved out of Sydney (Australia) to be able to afford my own place. It has been so worth it. It’s small, but it’s mine. If circumstances changed and I could no longer afford it, I think I’d downgrade to a
shoebox, still to be alone.

6. Alan - September 9, 2009

For me I think it comes down to simplicty and flexibility.

I live alone, always have since I moved out of home.

I’ve gone back to school more than once once in order to change jobs, and I will probably continue to further my education. Keeping my life simple and solitary has made the time and money available for this.

7. Mel - September 10, 2009

I have lived alone for the last year and a half after ending my marriage and I have to say I LOVE IT!! In fact, I would say it is the highlight of being single. I love the feeling of being completely autonomous. My place is like my little cocoon, the rest of the world ceases to exist and everything is done when and how I want it. Oh, and having a whole bed to myself is pretty awesome too…

Onely - September 10, 2009

I agree about the bed–in fact, I just logged on to write a post about beds. . .

8. PurpleOne - December 3, 2009

I am 28 and also live alone.. There definitely are some positive things about it but for me, right now, I feel that the bad outweighs the good. I’d love to just come home to somebody at night for a hug and a cuddle before bedtime.

Onely - December 4, 2009

I have a cat friend who comes over for cuddles every night before going about his nightly rounds. Yes, I’m a stereotype! = )


Alynn - May 19, 2010

I agree- I am having difficulties coping living alone after living with a boyfriend for three years. It was awesome when I first lived alone before him, but since having gotten used to having someone there, I am finding it almost impossible to live alone. I kind of dread getting a roommate, but it may be a necessary evil. Although, I must add, I moved two hours away from all family and friends to be with this person, and now I’m completely alone, and I don’t really have any coworkers. This has been the worst experience of my life thus far- living alone here. Winter was the worst and most depressing time. I finally got the idea to look up blogs about living alone, and it helps me to hear people who DO enjoy it:)

Onely - May 21, 2010

Alynn — I hope you’re able to find ways to be happier, whether that means getting a roommate or making peace with your aloneness. But remember that there is nothing to be ashamed about if you’re feeling lonely — sometimes it’s just a reality. But I hope you find ways to make being single a way to feel happy!

— Lisa

9. Ann - April 30, 2010

Living alone is so much easier and it has been a big benefit of divorce.
I have a niece who lives inhr own house beside her significant other. Now they have a child who is with her mother. I’m not sure where the child will stay when she gets older.
I miss having a partner in some ways but dread getting in another relationship and learning the person is a hoarder or at least a packrat.

10. kevin blumer - December 10, 2010

i live alone why cause i dont want to get hurt again yer i live with my best mate does that count as being alone but its not with a girlfriend i certaily live a better life this way

Onely - December 11, 2010

It certainly counts as just one of many kinds of living arrangements for unmarried people that need to be seen as equally valid to conventional marriage.

11. how to - July 1, 2011

Lol is the pic of your dog? He is very cute 🙂 funny pic. Yes living alone certainly has its posative sides. I am moving in with my girlfriend this year though and can’t wait. Living alone is good unless you’re like me and have met someone who you want to spend as much time with as possiable as they make you so happy. Good article again 🙂 thanks!

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13. jurneez - October 28, 2011

I also live alone and have for the last 14 years. My home is also like many of you stated “my kingdom”, it’s tranquil and calm. My nest. I probably will always stay this way, now that I have found the relaxing atmosphere of it. I like the statement about how the social market seems to under value living alone or single people. i.e. reservations for two, (new years eve), well, things like that go on and on. We need to increase the publics awareness that living alone does not me living lonely.

14. Critter - November 2, 2011

Im a single 55 year old man.Have lived alone in the country for 14 years too.Was married twice but like it this way better.I spend alot of time alone at home doing chores and other creative projects.I dont care to be around people if I dont have to be.I still work and Im around folks when Im on the job or doing my activism and community happenings.I have a girl friend but she lives about 200 miles away.We get together about once a month and holidays.She lives alone and likes it too.We both have dogs and cats.I dont never get lonely atall.Dont reckon Iv ever appreciated life more then I do right now.

Onely - November 2, 2011

Critter, you sound as if you’re living (one of) my dream lives! I would love to live alone in the country. One day!! And if I had to have a boyfriend, I would prefer the relationship be long-distance in order to more easily maintain my own space and lifestyle. I actually have had two LDRs before. The guys just couldn’t take it, but I really liked the setup. Oh well! = )

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