Dear Candace, What If Living Alone is Better Than Marriage?
What if I love living alone so much that I may never want to get married or other such domestic partnership?
Here’s the short answer: that’s cool, dude.
Marriage, domestic partnership, sexy roommates, whatever you want to call it…it’s not actually essential to human happiness, no matter what your mom tries to tell you. In an age when people are getting married and having kids later and later in life (or shockingly, gasp, not doing either), you’ve got the freedom of choice to live basically any kind of life you want. There is no rational basis of judgement that should hold you to any standard other than your own joy of solitary habitation.
Alternately, you could consider that the two are not mutually exclusive. You can be in a committed relationship, or even marriage, and not cohabitate. This is actually more common than most people think, and not just among the dreaded “American Millenial” who is always so eager to disrupt traditional Conservative values. In China, it’s called a “walking marriage”. It’s even got a popular term, with its very own Wikipedia article: living apart together. This New York Times article from 2013 explores the unsurprising research that for some couples, it’s actually healthier. It likely has something to do with the reduction of daily living minutiae, an increase in experiential encounters vs habitual encounters, and an intentional alignment of schedules and location that can reflect the agility needed in basic relationship building. Basically, the romance starts to wither the more times you have to watch your lover Q-tip their ears.
Relationships take work and having the ability to both separate yourselves in tense situations and force yourselves to check in with each other during other times might be a best case scenario.
Plus, real estate. If you’re both lucky enough to own or have a rent-controlled home, in a big city, that is not something to give up lightly. Of course, that is its own kind of sacrifice if you’re not making much money. So like any kind of compromise, what are you willing to sacrifice?
The state of modern romance is changing and has the ability to expand and include just about any definition of respectable living, whether that’s a 4-person relationship where everyone sleeps together in a giant bed, a man and a woman rent a brownstone together, or you stay in your cool bachelor(ette) pad with the occasional strange. It’s all good and you have the right to make your decisions. You also have the right to change your mind in the future if you do want to mix your weird shit with another human being. What a time to be alive.
“Dear Candace” is a weekly advice column about people: meeting people, talking to people, dating people, working with people, pretending to be people, etc. If you have a people problem you’d like Candace to help you solve, send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow Broke-Ass Stuart’s tumblr to “ask me anything”. Disclaimer: Candace is mostly just a know-it-all.