An eye-opening survey of the different living arrangements Americans have come to embrace.
As a proponent of living alone, DePaulo admits, “I don’t want to live with any other humans of any age.” Yet she finds high levels of satisfaction among those whose living arrangements deviate from what was once considered the social norm. That norm might be an aberration at a time when people are marrying later (if at all), living longer and healthier, and trying to strike a balance between privacy and community. “Americans are living the new happily ever after,” she writes. “They are living with people they care about, sharing meals, indulging in the comforting ritual of how-was-your-day exchanges and spending holidays together. The ‘new’ part is that the people with whom they are sharing homes and lives may not be just spouses and romantic partners.” They may be single parents who have come together through “CoAbode, an online matching service for single mothers looking to share a home with other single mothers.” They may span multiple generations of the same family. They may be older people, widowed or divorced, who seek community and perhaps even romance but without marriage. They may be communities that share common areas—dining, lawns—but have individual living spaces and finances that distinguish them from the communes of old. The author admits that her book is “biased” toward those who have found happiness and that those who seek out such arrangements are a self-selected lot to begin with. But if those who have found tension or trouble in sharing space with former strangers are given short shrift, the book nevertheless builds a compelling case that “in twenty-first century America, individuals are freer than they have ever been before. They are no longer tied to predetermined courses in which marrying, having kids, and staying married are obligatory.”
An informative and inspirational guide to the myriad ways of making a home.