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She renovated, began hosting parties, went freelance, tried Internet dating, and made contact with Single Mothers by Choice, a support organization for unattached women hoping to raise a child. Kimberly confesses, “I didn’t want to hang curtains by myself.I’d always thought I would do it with a partner and a lover.” Yet autonomy as an ideal brought her happiness, she says, partly because it freed her from the shame of falling short.Eric Klinenberg, a sociologist at New York University, has spent the past several years studying aloneness, and in his new book, “Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone” (Penguin), he approaches his subject as someone baffled by these recent trends.Klinenberg’s initial encounter with the growing ranks of singletons, he explains, came while researching his first book, about the Chicago heat wave of 1995.For all these resources, nothing can allay their solitude. Few things are less welcome today than protracted solitude—a life style that, for many people, has the taint of loserdom and brings to mind such characters as Ted Kaczynski and Shrek. Aside from monastic seclusion, which is just another way of being together, it is hard to come up with a solitary life that doesn’t invite pity, or an enviable loner who’s not cheating the rules. Alone, we’re told, is where you end up when these enterprises go south.(Even Henry David Thoreau, for all his bluster about solitude, ambled regularly into Concord for his mother’s cooking and the local bars.) Meanwhile, the culture’s data pool is filled with evidence of virtuous togetherness. And yet the reputation of modern solitude is puzzling, because the traits enabling a solitary life—financial stability, spiritual autonomy, the wherewithal to buy more dishwashing detergent when the box runs out—are those our culture prizes.Plus, recent demographic shifts suggest that aloneness, far from fading out in our connected age, is on its way in.
“For a rising generation of aspiring professionals, the twenties and early thirties is precisely Klinenberg’s research suggests that our usual perceptions about life alone get things backward.reliably as autumn brings Orion to the night sky, spring each year sends a curious constellation to the multiplex: a minor cluster of romantic comedies and the couples who traipse through them, searching for love.These tend not to be people who have normal problems. Eventually, her best friend, who may also be her divorced mother, tells her that something needs to change: she’s squandering her golden years; she’ll end up forlorn and alone.If you’re ambitious and you’ve had to navigate a tough job market, alone can seem the best way to approach adulthood.Those who live by themselves are light on their feet (they’re able to move as the work demands) and flexible with their time (they have no meals to come home for).