Being #Single vs. Social #Isolation: Benefits and Costs of #Solitude


Headlines and talk show jokes pervaded last week, screaming about the latest research in the USA claiming that being #single is now the “norm” for adults for the first time. What are the benefits and costs of this #solitude? What about increasing social #isolation, especially for #Seniors?

from Bloomberg news, we get these insights and facts:
“Single Americans make up more than half of the adult population for the first time since the government began compiling such statistics in 1976….[That is] 50.2 percent of those who were 16 years or older, according to data used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in its monthly job-market report.”

single stats

image from: http://www.nbcnews.com

More specifically: “The percentage of adult Americans who have never married has risen to 30.4 percent from 22.1 percent in 1976, while the proportion that are divorced, separated or widowed increased to 19.8 percent from 15.3 percent…”

Among other results of this change, “this exaggerates income inequality…” This worries and affects me and should concern us all in the USA. When so many for so long are un- or under-employed, living on fixed incomes that are unable to cover necessities and bills, we are ALL living in economically unstable situations and we ALL pay.

Singles Bloomberg graphic

image from: http://www.bloomberg.com

For their full article:
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-09-09/single-americans-now-comprise-more-than-half-the-u-s-population.html

From another source, we get these “spins” on the topic: http://www.feelguide.com/2014/09/11/the-united-states-of-bachelors-single-people-now-make-up-more-than-50-of-u-s-adult-population/

“The United States Of Bachelors: Single People Now Make Up More Than 50% Of U.S. Adult Population” and “…there’s new research which indicates that being single can have enormous benefits on your wellbeing.”

Singles Fox Graphic

image from: http://foxnewsinsider.com

Clicking on that link brings us to this headline and the real link for its list. http://www.feelguide.com/2014/02/17/the-top-5-scientific-reasons-why-being-single-is-good-for-your-mind-body-and-spirit/

“The Top 5 Scientific Reasons Why Being Single Is Good For Your Mind, Body, And Spirit” [with its own sources for each of the points in the article; link below this list, here]:

  • 1. Healthier Heart: “…rates of heart disease were lowest among those who had never been married. The difference between those who had been married the whole time and those who had been single the whole time was not significant, but those who were ‘remarried,’ “divorced,’ and ‘widowed’ — all statuses that can come from getting hitched — were significantly worse off.”
  • 2. Fitter Body: “…the ones who had never been married exercised more each week than those who were either married or divorced.”
  • 3. Stronger and more Diverse Social Network: “…’married people are less likely than single people to help, support, visit, and maintain contact with friends, family, and neighbors’…The same is true for partners who are unmarried but living together…. once people get married, they have less contact with their siblings….Single people…may have more emotional energy to share with friends, siblings, parents — and themselves.”
  • 4. “No Settling“: “People who can embrace being single are less likely to end up settling for unhappy partnerships, feeling stuck and unfulfilled.”
  • 5. Enjoy the Benefits of Solitude: “…[T]he solo state has been linked to ‘freedom, creativity, intimacy, and spirituality.’ Singles — especially those who live alone — may have more time for solitude and its many psychological benefits.”

http://www.businessinsider.com/why-its-better-to-be-single-2014-2

One of the correlations to being single, and in my and others’ opinions, a chief reason that being single is more popular, feasible and enjoyable now than ever? The use of social networking sites, especially via internet accessing devices such as phones and tablets, is higher than ever and rising among adults in the USA. Can’t be a coincidence.

Social-Network-Demographics 2014

image from: http://www.linkedmediagroup.com

I am astonished by these stats, which are the highest for FACEBOOK: 76% of adult females and 66% of males online use Facebook! In the age group of 30 – 49, that total is 79%! Even in rural and suburban areas, that figure stays around 70% and higher. In older age groups, that percentage is still quite high: among those ages 50 – 64, 60% are using it, with 45% of Seniors using Facebook.

There has been a meme going around that shows various faces or graphics with these words: “I just spent the day on Facebook instead of being with people” or words to that effect. Truer than ever, now, for most adults, it seems.

Singlehood may be beneficial for many, especially women (many research studies have pointed this out repeatedly in recent years) but social isolation is not beneficial and is increasing, with extremely negative results for Seniors (mostly women) in the USA.

social-isolated-seniors

image from: http://nassembly.com

Being alone does not equal being lonely. Being single does not equate with being unhappy. Okay. Got that. I and many others could fill many blog posts with personal stories of poor relationships’ escape stories, relief at being single, joy in alone time, happiness while on our own.

I have been saying for years that my “chooser” must be broken and therefore, I’m finished with choosing an intimate partner and happier being on my own than in another wrong relationship. If a suitable partner finds me, that might work. But my being the chooser? not going to happen again. I therefore firmly agree with the “not settling” part, above, for myself.

In a major life change spurred by many factors (personal, economic, familial), currently, as many of you know, my mother and I started sharing her condo a few weeks ago. This takes care of many of both of our social and other interpersonal needs just fine. We have our own time and our together time. We help each other and we leave each other to our own devices. We are fortunate to have rhythms and personalities that mesh well.

But, there are actual social and other needs for many adults in the USA that require interaction and assistance from live humans that are largely going unmet, especially for Senior women. What are we as a nation going to do about this? Comments and suggestions, here, please.

Senior woman alone

image from: http://www.goodtherapy.org

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