Single By Choice
“There’s no real evidence showing that being in a bad relationship or marriage is better for you than being alone or living alone,” says Klinenberg. “In my research with hundreds of interviews with people who live alone, a common theme was that there’s nothing more lonely than being in the wrong relationship.”
Lisa Berkman, an epidemiologist and professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, has found that single people who have strong social ties often have fewer health risks than those “greedy” married couples who isolate themselves. She believes that people who choose to be single can still find emotional fulfillment. “What we’ve pretty consistently found is that people can substitute close friendship or other family ties for being married or being a partner,” she says. “Intimacy doesn’t need to be physical or sexual. It’s the emotional intimacy that is really important.” She’s found that when people get the emotional support from friends and family for being who they are — like how Trespicio’s mother stands by her decision to remain alone — it can be just as beneficial. “It probably trumps the physical,” Berkman says.
For her part, Trespicio has found intimacy, friendship, and a connection to children — only they don’t all come from the same source. “I’ve realized that you can have good connections and a good sex life without having to be married or even on the road to marriage,” she says, “and I don’t like someone telling me that I don’t know any better. My life is a best-kept secret, and I wouldn’t trade it. As a single person, the world is my oyster. I’m just sorry that people who are married don’t have that freedom.”