How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century


A close-up examination and exploration, How We Live Now challenges our old concepts of what it means to be a family and have a home, opening the door to the many diverse and thriving experiments of living in twenty-first century America.

Across America and around the world, in cities and suburbs and small towns, people from all walks of life are redefining our “lifespaces”—the way we live and who we live with. The traditional nuclear family in their single-family home on a suburban lot has lost its place of prominence in contemporary life. Today, Americans have more choices than ever before in creating new ways to live and meet their personal needs and desires.

Social scientist, researcher, and writer Bella DePaulo has traveled across America to interview people experimenting with the paradigm of how we live. In How We Live Now, she explores everything from multi-generational homes to cohousing communities where one’s “family” is made up of friends and neighbors to couples “living apart together” to single-living, and ultimately uncovers a pioneering landscape for living that throws the old blueprint out the window.

Through personal interviews and stories, media accounts, and in-depth research, How We Live Now explores thriving lifespaces, and offers the reader choices that are freer, more diverse, and more attuned to our modern needs for the twenty-first century and beyond.


How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century was named one of the 12 Nonfiction Books Every Woman Needs to Read, alongside books by authors such as Maya Angelou and Gloria Steinem. It was also one of Kirkus’s Best Nonfiction Books of 2015.

For How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century, I traveled around the country asking people to show me their homes and tell me about their lifespaces – the places, spaces, and people who are most important to them. I combined their personal stories with relevant research from the social sciences and some historical context to show the innovative ways in which contemporary Americans have moved beyond living in a nuclear family home in the suburbs. There are chapters on living in community (including cohousing communities), sharing a home, solo living, multigenerational households, couples living apart together, not-so-single parents, and seniors. A place to live is also a way to live, and Americans have never had as many choices as they do now.




“An eye-opening survey of the different living arrangements Americans have come to embrace….An informative and inspirational guide to the myriad ways of making a home.” (Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review)

“DePaulo’s cross-country survey of living arrangements shatters the illusion that the average American belongs to a nuclear family living in a single-family home in the suburbs….DePaulo’s descriptions of these living arrangements are punctuated with quotes from her extensive interviews with ‘the people who let me into their homes and their lives,’ providing the book with a wide range of voices.” (Publishers Weekly)

“The nuclear family never worked for everyone, and today it doesn’t have to, because we’ve embarked on an unprecedented social experiment in how to live. In this inspiring book, Bella DePaulo reports on the innovative ways people are settling down, creating communities, and remaking the home and family in the 21st century.” (Eric Klinenberg, author of Going Solo )



I’m Bella DePaulo. I’m a 60-something year old and I have always been single. I love my single life. But I do not love all of the ridiculous assumptions people make about me when they first meet me and learn that I am single. (No, I do not spend my evenings crying in my beer.) I’m also a social scientist (with a PhD in social psychology from Harvard). I write about singles with a passion. My work on this topic (and others) has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Washington Post, Time magazine, and many others. There have been feature stories in Psychology Today and the AARP magazine. I’ve also been on the Today show and other morning shows, CNN, NPR, and many others. I’ve written op-eds for publications such as the New York Times, Newsday, the San Francisco Chronicle, Forbes, and the Chronicle of Higher Education. I have been a visiting professor of psychology at UC Santa Barbara since 2000. I think that makes me a permanent visitor. Get in touch if you would like to hire me to speak at your event.

My first book on singles was “Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After.” My second is a collection of 89 essays, “Single with Attitude: Not Your Typical Take on Health and Happiness, Love and Money, Marriage and Friendship.” After that, I published “Singlism: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How to Stop It,” then “The Best of Single Life,” and most recently, “Marriage vs. Single Life: How Science and the Media Got It So Wrong” and “The Science of Marriage: What We Know That Just Isn’t So.”

I am also an expert on the social psychology of lying. I wrote a short book, “Behind the Door of Deceit: Understanding the Biggest Liars in Our Lives.” I also published a collection of professional papers, “The Lies We Tell and the Clues We Miss” and a number of other deception books after that.

In August 2015, my new book will be published by Beyond Words, a partner imprint of Simon & Schuster. It is “How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century.”



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