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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, September 15, 2006

Why be attached?

Reader poll: Are you single? Tell us about it

By Catherine E. Toth
Advertiser Staff Writer

As singles take over America, many in the Islands will tell you: life's pretty nice flying solo.

BRUCE ASATO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Jerusha Stewart, author of "The Single Girl's Manifesta: Living in a Stupendously Superior Single State of Mind"

2 p.m. tomorrow

Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Ala Moana Center


4 p.m. Sunday

Borders, Waikele Center


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Jerusha Stewart

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Singletons have long listened to the advice — sometimes unsolicited — of married friends who feel compelled to "help" them. But here are three things coupled folks can learn from the happily single sect:

1. Focus on yourself: Singletons often put their own well-being near the top of their priority lists. "Married people ignore what they can get out of life," said author and self-described professional dater Jerusha Stewart. "That's the one thing singles do. We take care of ourselves physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially. We’re really getting to know what defines success for ourselves."

2. Have more friends: Singles tend to have more relationships than coupled people, Stewart said. They've got friends for every interest, from working out to shopping to traveling. "We don't look to one individual to provide all our emotional and physical support," she said. "If married people were to broaden their network, it would put less strain on their primary relationships."

3. Just be: Being alone — even if you're in a relationship — can help you feel comfortable with just yourself. "Singles have a better sense of themselves as individuals, which sometimes gets lost when you're part of a couple," Stewart said. "It's OK to not go everywhere with somebody. Sometimes you just want to exist in the world by yourself."

— Catherine E. Toth

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Above, Kaleihikina Akaka, left, and Malia Surell party at a singles event at Palomino.

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www.thelastsinglegirl intheworld.com

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There's one word — one she made up — that sums up why Kaleihikina Akaka loves being single:


"There's so much maintenance to relationships," said the perpetually single 23-year-old from Nu'uanu. "You have to put in a lot of effort, and I've seen the downside of it. It's a turn-off. ... What really matters to me is having fun."

Ah, the joys of singlehood.

Not feeling tied down. Not having to "check in." Not worrying about anybody but yourself.

Sure, there are downsides — going to weddings alone or enduring coupled friends gushing about their Valentine's Days — but for many singletons life is pretty nice flying solo.

So much so singles have a whole week to celebrate.

National Unmarried and Single Americans Week, which started back in the '80s, kicks off on Monday.

As if singletons needed another reason to party.

"I relish in my independence," Akaka said. "That's everything to me."

Singles are no longer alone.

For the first time, single adults outnumber couples with children as the most common type of household in the U.S.

In Hawai'i, more than 450,000 residents older than 15 have never been married, or are separated, divorced or widowed.

These singles make up 47 percent of the state's over-15 population, according to the U.S. Census.

Nationally, there are roughly 100 million singles and unmarried Americans, making up 40 percent of the population.

"Being single is fast becoming the lifestyle of choice," said Jerusha Stewart, local-born author of "The Single Girl's Manifesta: Living in a Stupendously Superior Single State of Mind," who's in Honolulu for a book-signing this weekend.

"Most (single) people perceive it's only them," she continued. "It's like we're an invisible minority. We don't click into the idea that there are others just like us. We need to rise up!"

The stigma of being single — particularly for older women — has lessened, Stewart said, due in part to celebs such as George Clooney and Teri Hatcher who make singlehood look oh so glam.

"There's nothing you can't do being single," said Stewart, 48, who grew up in Wahiawa but now lives in San Francisco. "You can have children, you can buy your own home, you can run companies. ... Now, baby, we can have it all."


Derin Derego, 27, loves the freedom that comes with being unattached. If he wants to work late, he can. If he wants to party at NextDoor tonight, he will. If he wants to hop on a plane to Vegas with his best buds, he's gone.

"You can come and go as you please," said Derego, who calls himself "eternally single." "And I get to spoil myself twice as much."

He's not thinking about marriage and doesn't worry about losing his friends to coupledom.

"I'd rather be single for the right reasons than be in a relationship for the wrong ones," he said.

While most people envision singlehood to look like the liberated and unfettered lifestyles of twentysomethings, that's certainly not the case anymore.

Singles can be divorced, raising kids, living with roommates, widowed or grandparents. They can swear off dating or post personal ads on Web sites. They can be open to marriage or against the institution altogether.

"There are just so many different definitions of being single," Stewart said.

There are 14.9 million unmarried and single Americans older than 65, comprising 14 percent of all unmarried and single people, according to the U.S. Census.

Last year there were nearly 13 million single parents living with their children.

And 40 percent of single Americans are divorced or widowed.

"People tend to think of singles as these young, nubile, free-floating units," Stewart said. "Well, in today's world ... you're more likely to be single and your mom be single at the same time."

The image shift has changed the needs and expectations for a group of Americans who are finding pride in being single.

Once married and now approaching 50, Stewart feels no shame in being single — or any pressure to find a husband.

Stewart loves meeting new people — she goes on several dates a week — and finds she has more time to pursue her goals.

"I discovered it was all about choices," she said. "It all boiled down to being single is a choice. ... There are so many ways to meet people today, it's ridiculous. It's almost like, why be married?"

Reach Catherine E. Toth at ctoth@honoluluadvertiser.com.

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