Living Single

The truth about singles in our society.

Did You Miss the Debate Shout-Out to Living Alone?

How to live: Getting to choose
This post is a response to The Presidential Debate Was Introvert vs Extrovert by Sophia Dembling

In the latest post to her blog, “The Introvert’s Corner,” Sophia Dembling outlined an introvert vs. extrovert perspective on last night’s Presidential debate. She also explained the appeal to introverts of President Obama’s style, while also noting that it cost him:

“I liked Obama’s low-key energy. I liked the way he seemed to think about stuff, and I liked that his answers tended towards the philosophies behind his decisions rather than focusing on concrete numbers, which are often a lot of hocus-pocus in political banter. I liked his occasional smiles and jokes. 

Do you see what I’m getting at here?

Obama behaved like an introvert and he got steamrolled by the extroverted energy of Mitt Romney.”

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I think there was something else in last night’s debate that introverts – and anyone else who would like the opportunity to choose how to live – might have liked. I’ve been skimming blogs since the debate ended and so far, I have not found any that have underscored this significant point.

In last night’s debate, President Obama came out unambiguously in favor of choice – the choice to live alone. He called it a matter of independence. The opportunity to have that choice of living alone, he said, is why Social Security and Medicare are so important.

Here’s the transcript of the relevant section:

“But -- but I want to talk about the values behind Social Security and Medicare, and then talk about Medicare, because that's the big driver of our deficits right now.

You know, my grandmother -- some of you know -- helped to raise me. My grandparents did. My grandfather died a while back. My grandmother died three days before I was elected president. And she was fiercely independent. She worked her way up, only had a high school education, started as a secretary, ended up being the vice president of a local bank. And she ended up living alone by choice.

And the reason she could be independent was because of Social Security and Medicare. She had worked all her life, put in this money, and understood that there was a basic guarantee, a floor under which she could not go.

And that's the perspective I bring when I think about what's called entitlements. You know, the name itself implies some sense of dependency on the part of these folks. These are folks who've worked hard, like my grandmother, and there are millions of people out there who are counting on this.”

Social science research backs up the argument that over time, “Seniors chose to live on their own once they could afford to do so, and Social Security was a huge part of that growing economic empowerment.” As I wrote in the post, “Will you get to choose whether to live on your own,” demographers have shown that “a 10 percent cut in Social Security benefits would lead more than 600,000 independent elderly households to move into shared living arrangements.” I’m not at all against shared living arrangements. For some, they can be just the right way to live. What I am for is choice.

[Note:  My latest blog posts from elsewhere are below.]

Bella DePaulo, Ph.D., is author of Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After. She is a visiting professor at UCSB.

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