Living Single

The truth about singles in our society.

The Least Appreciated Perk of Living Alone

What you don’t have to do will free you

If you love your solitude and your own space, no one needs to persuade you of the joys of living alone. There is one particular perk of going solo, though, that seems to get less recognition than it deserves.

I realized this as I was reading a book that is more than 30 years old, Dolores Hayden’s “The grand domestic revolution: A history of feminist designs for American homes, neighborhoods, and cities.” One of the themes is that isolated homes and a gender-based division of labor leave women stuck with a lot of household drudgery. I hadn’t known that there was a whole history of ideas and advocacy for ways of reducing chores. One of the chapters, for example, is titled “Homes without kitchens and towns without housework.”

Enlisting men to do their share of the housework has been a goal of many women for a very long time. Even as traditional gender roles have lost much of their dominance, battles over household chores have not subsided. Popular writings and scholarly articles continue to address this source of conflict and stress.

If you live alone, though, you are blissfully free of such discord. Sure, you might wish that someone else would swoop in and clean your mess, or you might wish that you were more organized or that you had the money to hire a cleaning service. But you are not keeping tabs on what the other people living with you are doing and stewing when you think it is not enough. Nor are you feeling guilty when your own sense of acceptable orderliness falls below the standards of a spouse or roommate.

The freedom to be as neat or as messy as you like is not the most important perk of living solo, but it does deserve its due.

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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