It’s Research Wednesday! Where I share the latest, or most fascinating, in the science of friendship.
“Living alone no longer suggests an isolated or less-social life. After interviewing more than 300 singletons…during nearly a decade of research, I’ve concluded that living alone seems to encourage more, not less, social interaction..” (“One’s a Crowd” ; New York Times 2/4/2012)
A couple of years ago a friend was talking about an old pal of hers, and how she thought that pal wasn’t ready to get married. “She’s never even lived alone,” she said. I’ll never forget that comment because I, too, have never lived alone.
After college I moved back in with my parents for six months. Then I moved in with a college friend for three years. Then I came to Chicago, where I moved in with Matt.
I like living with other people. It makes me feel connected. In New York, even on the nights when I was too tired to go out, I could sit and watch Law & Order: SVU with Brooke and at least have someone to laugh with. But I’ll admit that there have definitely been moments in my life where I’ve thought fondly about what it would be like to live on my own.
Turns out that living solo makes a person more likely to be social. Simply being single might actually make you more connected. “Compared with their married counterparts, single people are more likely to spend time with friends and neighbors, go to restaurants and attend art classes and lectures,” according to the General Social Survey.
When you think about young people, this research seems to make sense. Single 20-somethings are out dating, socializing, trying to find their other half. But not so fast. It’s not an age thing. According to this article, “single people 35 and older were more likely than those who lived with a spouse or a romantic partner to spend a social evening with neighbors or friends.”
In MWF Seeking BFF, I talk about this phenomenon of “cocooning,” when a married couple gets so comfortable spending time together that they forget (or just don’t care) to make plans with friends, see family, or say hi to neighbors.
The lesson here? Don’t let living with someone–a husband, a sibling, an old-fashioned roomie–keep you from going out and socializing. Yes, you’re less likely to be at home alone, but you’re plenty likely to be lonely.
Ever lived alone? Were you more social when you lived alone or with someone else? And do you think everyone should live solo at some point?
Remember friendship bracelets? They are awesome, and I’m bringing them back, ’90s style. If you and your BFF (near or far) are reading MWF Seeking BFF together, let me know and I’ll send you two bracelets. You can rock them together like Six and Blossom or the BSC. Like, totally.