The most important key to solo flourishing is often ignored.
All around the world, more and more people are living alone. Included in that demographic are untold numbers who are living alone because they love living alone, have chosen that way of living, and are doing everything they can to be able to continue living alone for as long as they possibly can.
Most people who live alone are single. People who are Single at Heart—they live their best lives by living single—are even more likely to live alone than people who are not Single at Heart. But even among people who are coupled, some cherish solo living. The number of couples who are committed to each other and still want to live separately—they are “living apart together”—seems to be growing. That, too, is a testament to the powerful appeal of a place of one’s own.
I could tell you that people who love living alone value the freedom that comes with that way of living. If you live alone, then everything is under your control, from your sleep schedule to your dining and snacking habits, from the control of the thermostat to the control of the remote. You get to arrange and decorate the space as you like and use it as you like. All those things are true. And yet, the appeal of living alone can run much deeper than that. People feel more authentic when they are alone than when they are with other people. Those who are drawn to solo living for positive reasons are unlikely to feel lonely. They are not afraid of having time to themselves; they flourish in solitude.
When Other People Look at Older People Living Alone, They Often See More Risks Than Rewards
Living alone is not just for the young. Many middle-aged adults live alone, too. The rise of solo living is especially striking among older people, and that increase is likely to continue as more people are staying single for life, or not remarrying after their marriage ends.
For some, that is seen as a cause for concern. Take, for example, a popular article published recently in the New York Times: “As Gen X and Boomers Age, They Confront Living Alone.” The title of the article gives a big hint as to how living alone is going to be characterized: It is something to be “confronted.” No one who lives alone and loves it would say that they were “confronting” living alone. They might instead say that they were embracing it or luxuriating in it.