TODAY   |  March 07, 2012

Why people are finding the joy of living alone

TODAY’s Ann Curry talks with psychologist Dr. Dale Atkins and Huffington Post’s Laura Schocker about why more than 30 million Americans are choosing to live on their own.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> back now at 8:44 with a growing number of americans living alone , one in seven adults now do it. in fact, time magazine is reporting that the group is now tied with childless couples as the most common type of american home . many of those singles are saying they would not have it any other way. 38-year-old terri has lived alone for more than a decade and loves it. watch what you say about her and her cat.

>> crazy cat lady has to be one of the most insulting things.

>> reporter: with the freedom to live how she wants she finds comfort in the fact that she can do things at her own pace without stepping on anyone else's toes.

>> i get to do a lot of things at once. make dinner for myself, or e-mailing and reading something. i feel i can move around and i find it comforting.

>> reporter: about one of seven adults in the u.s. lives alone. it's mor common among women . 17 million live alone versus 14 million men.

>> we often think of people who live alone as isolated and lonely. we worry about them. but the truth is that the typical person who lives alone is quite social. in fact, more social than the typical person who's married.

>> reporter: " going solo , the extraordinary rise and appeal of living alone ," eric clinenberg is the author.

>> you have to get out and see other people.

>> reporter: pop culture sings the praises of going solo .

>> before i was married i would study my pores in a mirror for an hour each night but i'm afraid trey will think it's weird.

>> reporter: it gave seinfeld the ability to shower and prepare meals at the same time. singles are weighing in saying, i have the tv to myself. no one knows how many thin mints i eat. and so i can eat ice cream in the tub. a recent feature in the new york times found similar testimonials.

>> when you live alone it magnifies your personality and the quirkier parts of your personality.

>> reporter: trespisio is open to living as a couple some day but says it won't come easily.

>> i would have a hard time giving up the space i have, i would. i don't see myself doing it any time soon.

>> reporter: here to talk more about it is psychologist dale atkins and laura shocker, senior editor from the huffington post healthy living . good morning.

>> good morning.

>> in 19504 million americans lived alone. today, 33 americans , 28% of the population are living alone . what accounts for the dramatic increase, dale?

>> there are so many issues that have to do with it. one is that people are feeling much more comfortable living on their own and our society is kind of saying it's okay and it's been a large rise in the divorce rate . people who are between 34 and 54, mostly women , are feeling they can take care of themselves well. they work hard. they want to come home to a situation where they are the master of their own home.

>> significantly, a lot of young people are choosing to live alone. i wonder if it has something to do with the social internet media aloneness we have as part of our culture now?

>> i agree. i think we are living in a society where we're together, together, together. group work, team work , brainstorming together. we're never alone. i think it accounts for part of the rise. people want time to go home, recharge and spend time regrouping without other people around.

>> some people used to think as living alone as sad and lonely. you're talking about living alone being joyful. what are the joys of living alone ?

>> there are a lot of them. and it has to do with recharging and being able to get to know yourself and be able to pursue a passion to really be at a place in your life where you can pursue something with meaning and also be ready to be your true self, go out and socialize. so many people who live alone have active social lives and they create great social lives.

>> is there a reason why men are less likely to live alone than women ?

>> i think women have been socialized to find their support networks and recognize when they are feeling lonely. being alone doesn't have to be the same thing as being lonely. i think they recognize when they need time alone and when they need to reach out.

>> you have an answer, too, dale.

>> i do. in our culture men are used to being taken care of by some of the women in their lives.

>> you said that very diplomatically. it could have been said far worse.

>> i think women are used to taking care of people. when it comes to living on our own, i think we all have positive and negatives about how we care for other people. i do believe it's one of the reasons men are more likely to get married after divorce or after they are widowed than women . the support network is mostly at work and women 's support networks, although at work, are also within the social realm. it's easier for women to live alone.

>> thank you so much, both of you, for putting a