Why do so many adults have so few friends?
Episode 110: Countless studies have shown that there has been a steep drop in adult friendships over the past decade, and this decline is more serious that it might first sound. Research shows that being lonely can have negative effects on public health, and has been compared to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
Hosts Richard Kyte and Scott Rada discuss what's behind this trend and what can be done to reverse it.
Links to stories discussed during the podcast:
How to find authentic connections in a digital world, by Richard Kyte
Americans more than ever have no friends. Here are 5 steps to make more friends, by Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Think
How having five friends boosts the adolescent brain — and educational performance, by Barbara Jacquelyn Sahakian and Christine Langley, The Conversation
Ditching a friend who is not like you can deepen social inequality, by Mark C. Paschucki and Anthony Palk, The Conversation
About the hosts:Scott Rada is social media manager with Lee Enterprises, and Richard Kyte is the director of the D.B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics in Leadership at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wis. His forthcoming book, "Finding Your Third Place," will be published by Fulcrum Books.
Note: The following transcript was created by Headliner and may contain misspellings and other inaccuracies as it was generated automatically:
There has been a steep drop in adult friendships over the past decade
Scott Rada: Hello, and welcome to episode 110 of The Ethical Life, a place where each week we talk about the intersection of ethics and modern life. I'm Scott Rodda, social media manager for Lee Enterprises. And as always, I'm joined by Rick Kyte, who is the head of the Ethics Institute at the Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Hello, Rick.
Richard Kyte: Hi, Scott.
Scott Rada: Countless studies have shown that there has been a steep drop in adult friendships over the past decade, and this decline is more serious than it might first sound. Research shows that being lonely can have negative effects on public health, and one study even compared it to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Rick, this trend has been going on for the past ten years or so, but it seems to have been made worse by the isolation required at, the start of the pandemic. How optimistic are you that we can find a way to fix and turn this around?
Richard Kyte: My optimism stems from hearing so many people talk now about the importance of social connection. We're finally paying real attention to something that's actually been kind of an ongoing problem. We've tracked a real decline in number of friendships over the last 30 years. We got pretty good data on this. And so you can use something called the Google Ngram viewer to look at word usage from 1800 to the present day. If you compare two words, friend and self, what you find is, like, in 1800, the word friend occurred roughly twice as often as the word self in print.
Scott Rada: I have a prediction, but go ahead.
Richard Kyte: Today, the word self appears about three times as much as the word friend.
Scott Rada: Yeah.
Richard Kyte: And they cross paths around 1900. This isn't a new thing, and it seems to be a result of industrialization. As we become more prosperous, we become more independent, but we're at a point now where we're starting to really see the effects of not just loneliness, but all the things that happen. When you have more social fragmentation, you have increased polarization, you have real lack of trust in kind of businesses and government, all kinds of institutions. you have more conspiracy theories. All these things that we're seeing that are kind of, like, at the root of our great social dissatisfaction seem to be due to our loss of friendship.
You say the start of the pandemic made people think about isolation more
Scott Rada: And I started off by saying that there was obviously a dip in a lot of connectedness at the start of the pandemic, and you also expressed some optimism, saying that people are talking about this more. I wonder if those can maybe be stitched together a little bit is at least for a lot of people. I think the isolation and the disconnectedness people felt, in the worst months of the pandemic really almost made them appreciate more when you could get back out and could reconnect with friends and go on a trip or just be out among people. And do you think that sort of in some ways made people think and talk about this more. The pandemic that is, I know for.
Richard Kyte: A fact it made people think and talked about, it more because people were talking about their isolation, they didn't like it, and they were talking about the effects. The problem is it also changed a lot of habits. Yeah, right. And it ended up closing a lot of businesses that were public gathering places.
Primary way in which people make friends today is in the workplace
Richard Kyte: What comes to our attention is really important, what we talk about, but also our daily habits and kind of what sociologists refer to as social infrastructure. Like, what are the patterns of life that we've developed that allow us to have connections and interaction? And in a way, the pandemic disrupted a lot of these usual patterns. For example, a primary way in which people make friends today is in the workplace.
Richard Kyte: We have a lot more people working from home. Yeah.
Scott Rada: When you say in the workplace, you mean like in the office or in the factory or in the retail environment where they work, not across zoom phone calls.
Richard Kyte: Yeah. People really don't establish meaningful relationships, in that way. Meaningful relationships kind of develop when you share information about yourself. And so, like on a zoom call for work, you're sticking to an agenda. You're not just visiting. Right. But usually find times in the workplace. There's times and places to do that. And so we've done things to our society not really intentionally, but just what has happened that make it harder for us to make social acquaintances. Here's the real problem. We have fewer daily interactions with strangers. Right. So if you think of your life as these circles, there's all these people you don't know, then there's a pretty big circle of acquaintances. People you know, you recognize, you recognize, they recognize you, you know their names, that sort of thing. They're in that acquaintance. Then you have this other area of friends, or kind of loose friends. You spend a little bit of time, you have some things in common, but they aren't really close. Then you have circle of close friends or good friends, and then your best friends. Right. So it's these concentric circles. Or we're changing all the things that allow us to have a lot of people in that acquaintanceship circle, like acquaintances or companions, that sort of thing. That outermost circle of friendship that is shrinking for just about everybody.
Scott Rada: And that's sort of the conversion funnel, in some ways, of getting those people from the outer rings into the center ring.
Richard Kyte: Right, absolutely. Because the only people that make it into that center ring are the people that you find a lot in common with. So you really want to because you have shared interests or something else. You spend a lot of time and then you kind of get past the shared interest inwards. You're really sharing really kind of intimate information about yourself. You're sharing stories and your history and everything else. We can talk about that later, like how really close friendships develop. But the key thing is you need a lot of people in those outer circles just to find, like, who of all those 100, 200, 300 people, do you really want to do some activities with and spend a little more time with?
Scott Rada: In most cases, and I think probably for both of us, when you're young and you're in school, that's really the time, because you're around a bunch of people about your age, and that's where it's really easy to make friends. It's also when friendship becomes maybe the most important thing in your life. Right. Because I don't know of many high school kids who would say their family or their schoolwork is more important than their friend group. I'm sure there's exceptions, but I bet if you surveyed and broke it up into those three chunks, most high schoolers would say their friend group is the most important. Yeah, and I'm not sure that's the right order at that time. And maybe it is and maybe it's not. But we certainly quickly reorder things over the next 510 years of our lives. And I just find that interesting and kind of too bad.
Richard Kyte: Like, this is one way in which you can describe friendship. Friendship. I think C. S. Lewis said this. Friends are people who go on a journey together. Like during that time, say, in, say, middle school, high school, and then into college, it's really up. And for most people, up until about age 25, when your life really kind of settles down into some kind of predictable patterns.
Scott Rada: Yeah, right.
Richard Kyte: You're pretty fluid. That means you're meeting a lot of different people, but you're also going through a transformative period of your life where you're becoming the person who you're going to be. Now, friends are people that go through that with you. That is, your very closest. Friends are people that go through something transformative with you so that you kind of become who you are going to be together. And that's why with old friends, you can pick up the phone with somebody you haven't talked to for a year. And if you've been through those transformative periods of your life with them, you don't have to go through the process of getting reacquainted. Whereas if it's like a high, school classmate that you really didn't spend much time with, and you kind of meet somebody out there, like you meet them at a bar or restaurant or something like that, you have no idea what's going on with their life. And it's like meeting a stranger. You know their name, but you have to get reacquainted. Right. We even have a word for it.
Scott Rada: Old friends.
Richard Kyte: You don't you know who they are because they're kind of part of you. This period up to about 25, so we find some really interesting things about it. So, like, young people who have a pretty large circle, that outer circle, that acquaintance, they're going to end up probably having more close friends later in life because they had kind of more raw material to drop.
Scott Rada: Yeah.
Richard Kyte: And also we find some evidence that people who go to college, especially people who go to college and stay in dorms, like that sort of thing, they tend to have more friends later in life because they have a longer period of time where they're in that transitional period of their life where they're making friends. And it's something that we often forget about. What is the purpose of college? It's not just job preparation. It's kind of this process of maturing in life. And so extending that period out building.
Scott Rada: Your social fitness in a way.
Richard Kyte: Right. that's why I love things that we sometimes talk about. Should we bring back the Civilian Conservation Corps, something like that, from the New Deal, M or what? Like things like, AmeriCorps different projects that you can serve in. These end up being really important, not for the work, only for the work they do, but also for the way in which they develop our relationships well.
Scott Rada: And I want to pause on that for a second. And I've never served in the military, but I know people who have. And it seems like that is one place where you can really form those strong bonds, especially when you're young. And it seems like and again, thank goodness we don't have this much at the moment, but people who have served in wartime even build those closer bonds. You hear stories about, Well, I serve. You'll hear 80 year old men talking about somebody they're still in touch with, who they served in Korea with, or wherever it might be. Because those clearly very dangerous and life altering experiences, when you share that with a person or two, that's a connection that really is strong, I would imagine.
Richard Kyte: So we call these formative experiences, and the word is a really good one because they form your personality, they form your character. And when you go through a formative experience with somebody else, they form your character together. So Augustine says, like a friend has been called, half my soul. There's something like you kind of share a soul. You share something that's quite deep together because you've been through an experience together.
12% of Americans report having no friends, according to a recent study
Scott Rada: And I think it's also worth pointing out, and we'll link to some of these stories on our website, but as we talk about sort of the problems as we see it, a recent study in 2021 said that 12% of Americans report having no friends. That's, compared to just 3%, back in the 1990s. But what stood out for me is that these numbers are even worse for men who tend to have more friends early in life but experience a steeper decline. Do you have a sense as to why that might be?
Richard Kyte: I think a lot of it has to do with less, social interaction for men, because I don't think that this is true in all cultures, but in American culture, certainly our history has been, that men are less likely to join social groups and spend, like, what we call sociable time or leisure time with others. They'll spend time especially, like, say, in high school, in organized sports. But there's not that many men who are doing the kind of sports activities, the way that they used to.
Scott Rada: Like a softball league, softball league, bowling.
Richard Kyte: Golf, those sorts of things. It turns out men are much more likely to make friends in those kinds of active social pursuits. Women are much more likely to form themselves into different kinds of social groups in which most of what they do is talk. Well, it's the talking in which we really get close, where we share things about ourselves and share stories. many men need some kind of like a sporting activity or some other pursuit in order to engage in the talk. Women, just for whatever reason, seem much more able to just get together and start talking right away.
Scott Rada: I heard somebody talk about this issue once, and I don't know what their source was. And maybe this was you that said this. I don't remember but saying that there was a study that the best way for women to again, we're generalizing here, but the best way for women to talk and get to know each other is when they're facing each other over coffee or just talking about whatever is going on in their lives, but they're facing each other. For men, it's often side by side activities, whether they're golfing or out for a walk or out for a more active thing. And I guess studies have shown that that is, a better way for men to communicate with other men. And I found that interesting.
Richard Kyte: So you certainly see that you see this with especially fathers and sons, have a hard time talking. That's a notoriously fraught relationship between fathers and sons, say, in high school, as the sons are getting more independence. But they can often have a talk when they're driving somewhere in a car where they're side by side. I think with men is face to face is too confrontational. It's competitive. Whereas when you're side by side, you're in a cooperative mode and take some of that competitiveness out of it. By the way, we're sitting face, to face right now.
Scott Rada: We are. Although, yeah, maybe we should do a podcast side to side. That would be interesting. Although I guess we've done a couple of zoom ones. And that is a different experience too, I suppose.
Richard Kyte: Yeah. But I think we want a little competitiveness here. There we go.
Over the years, adults have spent fewer time with their friends
Scott Rada: you mentioned the father son thing, and one thing that in some of the reading, I did for the show that really jumped out at me talking about these trends where over the years, adults spend fewer time with their friends. And there's lots of reasons, sometimes because of work demands, sometimes demands around the house. But what really jumped out at me is that adults parents spend much, much more time with their kids than they did just a few generations ago. And again, as I've talked on the show, I don't have children. But just from the people I know and just from observing out in the world, that just seems true to me, that you see kids with their parents so much more. Is that a good thing in that it makes those relationships stronger? And if it's at the cost of other friendships, then so be it. Or is that maybe not a great thing? Because you're sort of stifling your own growth because the kids won't be in the house forever, and also, you're not letting the kids sort of figure out who they are, away from the watchful gaze of a parent.
Richard Kyte: Yeah, I think it's not good for all those reasons. We know that there's been a real decline, especially for young kids, in unstructured playtime, and they really need that. That's really good for them. And we're not giving them enough of it in our culture because the parents are too involved in structuring their time and oftentimes being with them and supervising, and then it's not good for the adults. Because what happens is this is a pretty common phenomenon at the time when kids social life is increasing. They get old enough, they're going out and doing more things. The parents who are, like, spending a lot of time with those kids have to give up their own friend relationships. It turns out, like a lot of parents of middle school and high school kids, most of their adult social interaction is with parents of other kids the same age. At sporting events or clubs or wherever it happens to be, that's who they're hanging out with. Then their kids go off, they graduate, they go off somewhere, and they've got no friendship circle. They're alone with each other. Right. so that's a really common phenomenon. That wasn't such a common thing. Like, when I grew up, my parents, they had their own friends, and they might interact a little bit with the parents of my friends, but they weren't in their social circle. And now you were finding adults completely change their social circle after they have kids, and then when their kids are.
Scott Rada: Gone one other piece I read that said and obviously we kind of painted a little bit of a dire scenario here, but it's not at all true to say that people don't have friends. Most adults do have friends, and maybe not as many as they'd like.
Richard Kyte: But in 1990, the same survey you quoted, 33% of adults reported having ten or more friends, ten or more good friends in 1990. And today, I think the number is 13%.
Scott Rada: Yeah. So it's dropped significantly.
Richard Kyte: Significantly.
Scott Rada: But I guess the question, though, is that I read somewhere that said there is a benefit to when you have friends to make sure they're not all like you, that they may come from different backgrounds, may come from different socioeconomic parts of your community who may have a bunch of kids and you have no kids or whatever the case might be. And I think it is easy, just like you said, to sort of, find people around you who you have things in common with. And you even said earlier that you sort of have this when you were talking about the circles, a group, an outside group of people, and you sort of maybe identify folks you have something in common with, and you have some common, interests, and they sort of march their way toward the center of that circle.
Richard Kyte: Is.
Scott Rada: It good, though, sometimes to try to and maybe this is too intentional, but to try to identify people who are in that outer circle but you think might add a different or interesting perspective to your life than you may not have otherwise. And to try to, even though it might take a little more, build a, connection there.
Richard Kyte: If you joined some groups of, people that are involved in different kinds of activities, I'm talking, like, oftentimes churches, service organizations, like the Big Three, Rotary, Kiwanis and Lions, bowling leagues, right? any kind of groups in which you have large numbers of people participating, then spending time together, you are going to meet people very different from yourself and people with very different backgrounds, very different interests. This is the important thing about joining something, is that when you join, you spend repeated time, sometimes over a period of years, with people, and you get to know them beyond the superficiality, which makes you think, like, yeah, I don't really have much in common with this person. I'm not going to pursue that kind of relationship. But if you join a group where you're sitting down or you're engaged in activities with a group of people every week, for, say, a couple of years, two or three years, you're going to slowly realize that there are people that you really like, that you share some deeper connection with beyond kind of the superficial differences. And if you hadn't spent those years with them, you would have never discovered that. And this is, in some ways, the real key to friendship. It's not so much like what it brings to you. So I've been researching friendship quite a bit for this book that I'm writing on Third Places, because I think this is the main function of third places in communities is, they are where we meet people different from ourselves that we're introduced to them. So then we form deeper relationships. And when we form these different relationships with people quite different from different economic backgrounds, different cultural backgrounds, different political kind of, alliances or sympathies. We start to feel like actually, it seems like I'm living in a world with all these people, all these strangers, all these people are very different, but it's just that I haven't spent enough time with them. I could potentially become friends with anybody. And the 18th and 19th, century Scottish philosophers like Adam Smith, David Hume, Francis Hutchison, they talked a lot about sympathy as being the grounding of, ethics, also the grounding of politics like sympathy. The other word they used for it was fellow feeling, from which we get the word fellowship. Right. It's spending time with others, you find that you're able to take kind of imaginatively experience, what the other people do, what they experience, what they're going through, and that becomes really lively in your mind. And so that you are literally pained when something bad happens to a friend. Right. Even just hearing bad news about something that happened to a friend, you will feel pain as a result, or joy.
Scott Rada: If something good happens.
Richard Kyte: Joy if something good happens. You don't have to see them experiencing that emotion to have that emotion yourself, because you have what they called fellow feeling. When you have this within a whole community or within a nation that we share something like fellow feeling, that is the basis to be able to collaborate, to work together. And right now, our politics is just contaminated by the idea that we define ourself by our differences. And there's no way to move together to any sort of, agreement or compromise any understanding of working towards the common good. But if we have a sense that, yeah, not only do we have something in common, we actually feel what we have in common together, and that's deeper than our superficial, then then we're going to have a really healthy democracy.
Replika allows customers to custom design their own virtual companion
Scott Rada: Rick, I know this is an issue like you mentioned you're writing quite a bit about, and you were doing some research over the past few days, and it led you down kind of a strange path. Maybe you could tell folks about that a bit.
Richard Kyte: I came across a website called Replika, which, is a, site that uses AI or artificial intelligence to allow customers to custom design their own virtual companion, and give it all kinds of characteristics exactly what they would imagine a good companion would be. And so, inevitably, what people do, they design somebody who is happy and helpful and pleased to talk to them. Available 24 hours a day whenever they need somebody to listen, who is never disagreeable, never puts their own demands and their own interests upon the person. Right. I was amazed to find how many testimonials there are, in some ways, got a really moving testimonials of how great it's been to create this kind of virtual dream companion that people have. And I find it really kind of eerie.
Scott Rada: I think I know the answer, but I'll, of course, ask because so.
Richard Kyte: I think what's happening is we're using AI to create something that wasn't possible before without AI, because, like with Chat GPT, we can create these bots, these chat bots that simulate real people. So well, you can't really tell the difference, like when you're texting with one of these chat bots in real person. And so they're taking advantage of that technology to really fool us. So people develop these real, quite profound, deep, sincere emotional connections with these chat bots. Right. They name them. There's even a report that was in the Daily Mail of a woman who married the chat bot that she created after falling in love with it over a period of a couple of years. Right. And I don't think it's a joke. I think that was really sincere. And what she said in one of the interviews is, well, I love this person that she created. He doesn't come with any baggage. Right? Well, people come with baggage.
Scott Rada: Okay, well, but isn't that the problem in a way? Because you just got done saying it sounds like when you kind of create this character and I'm guessing again, I've not done this, but I'm guessing you can say, I want this person to be kind, or I want this person to be intelligent or witty or whatever these things is. I mean, unless you're just doing it as sort of a joke, you're not going to go and say, I want to create some dumb, racist idiot who, says inappropriate things all the time. I mean, nobody's going to do that. And not that we'd want to be friends with someone who is, but at the same time, none of our friends, no matter how close and good they are, are perfect people. And in some ways, dealing with those people's imperfections is part of what being like human is all about. And isn't that sort of also part of the problem here is that you're creating this idealized character that might even make it more difficult than to go into the real world and encounter people who are far, far from perfect because of how much time you've spent with someone who is just the way you'd like him or her to be.
Richard Kyte: yeah, that's it exactly. And when we're talking about the real world being full of these imperfect people that we wouldn't really choose to be friends with, well, we're one of them. Yeah. Right. And the real benefit of friendship is, I find, like, none of these websites talk about this in a way disturbingly. Very few of the articles that I've been reading that are in the popular press and that you can find on various websites that talk about the benefits of friends and all the, like, how to make friends. They never talk about. What I think is the most important part about it is that they make demands upon us. we become useful to somebody. We become meaningful to another person. And this is really the key to loneliness, is not just that we're alone. It's that we feel that nobody needs us, right? And so who needs us? Only imperfect people. Perfect people don't need us. The gods don't need us. It's like imperfect human beings that need a friend. And that's why I need friends, because I'm imperfect, too. And it's the mutuality of friendship that takes us out of a, very kind of narrow conception of the self. So if I could have said, like, at age 22, this is my ideal life, this is the kind of person I want to be and all of that, I would be a much more kind of shallow, superficial, impoverished person than I am today.
Scott Rada: Probably richer, maybe.
Richard Kyte: Yeah. Right. Yeah. But I wouldn't, because all the people I've met in my life have changed who I am. and they've kind of, in some ways, forced me to grow. And this is what, like George McDonald says, it's the love of neighbor that takes us out of the dungeon of the right, because the self is a dungeon. Websites like Replika and Project December and some of these others, what they do is create a really attractive dungeon, and then we pay them to be able to go into it and to furnish it their dungeon the way we want it. But we're still entering a dungeon. That virtual companion that doesn't help me grow, doesn't get me out of myself, out of the narrow self that I am, into something larger.
We end each show by tackling an ethical dilemma
Scott Rada: We end each show by tackling an ethical dilemma. And Rick, what is your question for me?
Richard Kyte: Well, Scott, let's say that you have your eye on a motorcycle. It's not a brand new one, but it's a late model motorcycle. It's going to cost you a little money. you know that your partner is not going to be very keen on this idea. For one thing, it's going to be kind of dangerous. The other thing is, it's a real big expense. And generally in the past, you and your partner have always talked over big expenses together. But you're worried if you bring up that you want to take out a loan to buy this motorcycle, which is something you really want to do, it's just going to cause an argument. but it's your money. You and your partner, you both have your own jobs. You keep separate checking accounts. And so what do you do in a case like this? Do you just go ahead and buy the motorcycle and then realize, okay, there might be some hurt feelings, but you'll get over it? And that's a lot easier than creating a big argument to begin with and then going ahead and buying the motorcycle anyway.
Scott Rada: So a couple of things. I'll try to answer this dilemma as best I'm able, but, I will admit and. I think this is probably because I spent a long time working in newspaper newsrooms and reading about motorcycle crashes so often. But I would never want to get a motorcycle because I personally view them as extremely dangerous. And, I think I have probably spent in my life 2 hours on a motorcycle, and that might be the last 2 hours I ever spent on a motorcycle is my guess. So it's hard for me to exactly fit into this scenario. And also, you bring up a point, too, is that buying a motorcycle is in this case, a financial decision. But it's also like the risky part of this too, right? Because you are it's more dangerous than going out and spending that same money and buying a piece of fine art that hangs on your wall, which has virtually no risk. But to, put myself in that position, I think there's two things from everything I've read, that couples argue about the most, and it's either kids or money. I'm lucky, and I guess Travis and I are lucky that, first of all, we don't have kids, so it's hard to argue about that. But we don't really argue about money. We were pretty good about that. And I think part of it is because we do obviously have some shared expenses, but we do, have some autonomy for each other to sort of spend money how we're able. And luckily, we're in a position where not every nickel we scrape together has to go to a bill or the house payment or something like that. So maybe here's the closest to a real life situation, as we've talked about on the show, that, I'm a big baseball fan. And, as we're recording this, we're just days away from the baseball playoffs starting. And I sort of made the decision and I had enough flexibility with work that I'm going to take much of a week off and go to Minneapolis and watch the Twins hopefully win a, playoff game, which they haven't done since I think, like 22,002 or something awful like that.
Richard Kyte: So you're planning to go to multiple games in the multiple games? Win one, yeah, hopefully they'll win one.
Scott Rada: And obviously there's an expense involved in that, not only for the tickets, which are more busier playoffs, but you have to get lodging and all that. And we talked it over and I said I told him how much it was. And it's like, hey. And he's like, yeah, that's your thing.
Richard Kyte: Unluckily.
Scott Rada: I don't have tons of expensive Hobies, so it's fine. And I'm actually to go to our conversation, or our topic earlier in the episode, I'm actually going to the game with a friend of mine from high school. And we went to dozens of games back when we were in high school. And we have reconnected and have gone to a handful of games since.
Richard Kyte: So let me interrupt. Would it be different if you were thinking, I'm going to go to Las Vegas and gamble for a week, would that be a different kind of, mean?
Scott Rada: I guess it know, unless you're going to spend the whole thing on the penny. Mean yeah, I think that probably so. But again, I think what your question is about is how much autonomy should financial autonomy should people have in their private relationships and how should you talk about it? How should you talk about it? Yeah, I think you talk about it in advance. And I think if I were to suddenly decide that a motorcycle, was the best thing for me, that I would try to make my case. But I think we'd make that decision together not only for the money part, but also for the other part. So I think yeah, but I guess I come at this with sort of a, bias, because I don't necessarily have a problem talking about these sort of things. So, to me, this would be an easy conversation to have, because maybe this is going to sound ridiculous, but I've really never come across something like this where it has been a, huge, significant purchase that I want to make that I know is going to be, unpopular. But if that were to come up, obviously, I think what's the old saw is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. In this case, probably is not a good way to go.
Richard Kyte: Yeah, I think that's probably right. When my wife and I were much younger and money was much tighter, even small purchases, sometimes we had to really talk them over because, we had to pool everything just to make ends meet, those conversations. We had to make sure that we had every conversation right to maintain our relationship really well. Now, as we're older and the kids are gone and so forth, I find that we have a little more autonomy. But the big purchases, still need to be discussed.
Scott Rada: Yeah, there's been studies on every single thing in this world. So I'm sure there's been a study on this, but I would be curious to know. My guess, it probably tracks a little bit by age and generation, but in married couples, how many of them have separate bank accounts? And it's like, I remember I'm thinking of my grandparents. Not only did they have just but one bank account, my grandmother signed her checks, Mrs. And then my grandfather's name. I mean, that was just that generation. And I think certainly there's not many 25 year old women signing their checks mrs and then their husband's name, that's sort of gone out of favor. And that's probably a good thing. But I think there is more autonomy when it comes to finances. Again, assuming that, again, not every nickel has to go to meet your basic needs. And I don't know, I sense that that's generally probably a good thing. But yeah, you don't want to show unless you're just ridiculously wealthy, showing up and saying, oh, I bought a new car, I hope that's okay. Or I bought a new motorcycle or a boat or whatever it might be. That seems to not show a lot of respect.
Richard Kyte: You mentioned boats. this was a running joke. In our house, we at one point had lots of boats, like most of old junkie boats. Right. Small like that became an issue one time when a friend gave me an old canoe and then I show up with yet another boat and put it inside the house.
Scott Rada: But that's a storage issue at some point.
Richard Kyte: Actually, it was much more of a storage issue than an expense issue because.
Scott Rada: I think I've been in your garage. You don't have a lot of high end boats.
Richard Kyte: None. Yeah, so this only came up because I was at a yard sale recently and this guy had this motorcycle for sale. it was about a 20 year old bike, but it had really low miles. It was in great shape. I was thinking, oh, that'd be really cool. I really have no serious interest in buying motorcycle. And for one is the accident rate is just too high. And I think that would put a strain on a relationship, like starting a hobby. That was really it just, it went through my head, like, what would that conversation be like saying, hey, Cindy, here's what I'm thinking. And I was thinking like, that would be a tough.
Scott Rada: So I'm just curious. I think I can probably count the number of times I've been on a motorcycle on one hand. And it probably is like a total of 2 hours. How about for you?
Richard Kyte: Yeah, probably. So when I was in high school, dirt bikes. That's not like street bikes. Very only twice that I can remember. And they were like, once on our friends and once on our relatives. and a long time ago. I ridden a motorcycle for decades.
Scott Rada: Yeah, sort of the same here. and I think at least for me, it's going to be, like I said, a long time till I rhyme. What? Again?
Richard Kyte: I'm pretty sure I'm going to die of something else.
Scott Rada: Well, hopefully that's a long time from now. And assuming it is a long time from now, we have a whole lot more podcasts to record.
Richard Kyte: How many more do we have to record?
Scott Rada: Oh gosh, I would feel really awkward starting the show.
Scott Rada: Welcome to episode 4367 of The Ethical Life. That would be a lot to say, so we'll stop before that.
Richard Kyte: Okay.
Scott Rada: Somewhere between 111 and 4367.
Richard Kyte: Yeah. Okay.
Scott Rada: So there's a lot more to come. So make sure, good listener, that you subscribe to The Ethical Life on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, or Spotify. And be sure to check out Rick's column about ethics. And that can be found on all Lee newspaper websites. For Rick Kite. I am Scott Rata. Thank you for joining us.