authors | December 27, 2012

Going It Alone: Kate Bolick On The History Of Singlehood

In 2011, Kate Bolick wrote a blockbuster piece called "All The Single Ladies," which landed on the cover of The Atlantic (marking only the third time that a woman has received that honor).Over a year later, the fervor around the article's subject matter has yet to die down. In fact, many other authors are now speaking about the rise of solo living (as Eric Klinenberg does in his book, Going Solo) and the decreasing marriage rate. More people are choosing to live alone, and choosing to delay marriage (or foregoing it entirely) than ever before—and Bolick has the research to explain why.

In a discussion panel on, Bolick draws from her widely popular article (which has now been optioned for a show on CBS and landed her a book deal) to discuss the dramatic shift from coupledom to singledom that has occured over the past few decades. "To go through adult life as a single person rather than a married person is a very different thing," Bolick says, and she explains that once she removed the expectation that she was supposed to eventually get married—she was ultimately happier in her "single state of mind." She says that there are more and more people choosing to remain single than ever before, and that many of these people are embracing the lifestyle and are happy with it. Opportunities for men and for women are drastically shifting, upsetting the traditional nuclear family that has been the model many strived for until recently. This shift, Bolick suggests, has lead to changing expectations as well. "Entering adulthood has become less clear, there is no roadmap," she says. Women are now finding fulfillment in earning a master's degree or renting their first apartment, rather than using traditional markers such as getting married and having a child as indiciators of their entrance into adulthood—something that is drastically slowing the marriage rate.

Using a breadth of in-depth research, Bolick explains how changing opportunities for women are changing the definition of the family, the workplace, the economy, and society as a whole. In her article (and in her forthcoming book Among the Suitors: Single Women I Have Loved) she explains what this shift means for the future generations. Using lively and engaging anecdotes coupled with hard facts, Bolicks speaks with candor about how the rise of the single person is making waves in society—and what we can all stand to learn from this shift.