As I wrote the last blog post about being an elderly woman and living and dying alone, I get it I really do. I found this article from the Post and thought it was one of the more eloquent articles about what it is like to be "single" and of a "certain age."
I do have loneliness and I have anger and I have all the baggage that adults have. Funny we have no problem with our own carry on's but others we always have to make room in the overhead and we don't do well with that.
I think people alone frighten people as they seem disconnected from the duties and responsibilities that define being "American" and that we are to be prosperous, in defined relationship and with regards to women - breeding and still fuckable - when those two duties are done, well Die Bitch Die!
I’ve been single all my life. I rarely get lonely.
By Bella DePaulo
wasn’t meant to be an experiment in loneliness. I thought I was giving
myself the gift of a writing retreat: I had read about writers who
isolate themselves in a charming beach house in a deserted seaside town,
and it was easy for me to create my own version. I was working on my
latest book, and I already lived on my own in a little beach town. The
isolation took care of itself; conveniently, the friends I see most
often were all preoccupied at the time with traveling or caring for an
ailing parent or some such.
The first week was pure
bliss. During the second, I started to miss meaningful interactions with
other people, but I was still mostly fine. But then I was done.
my day-to-day life, I rarely feel lonely. Instead, I revel in solitude,
savoring long hours of immersion in reading, writing, cooking, Netflix
or whatever else calls out to me. I enjoy my friends, too. I don’t
socialize much with people I don’t care about, so most of my time with
others is engaging and warm, or neutral at worst. Afterward, though, I
love returning to my empty, quiet home.
loneliness is the pain of missing out on the relationship experiences
you wish you had, the remedy should be more quality time with other
people. When my fanciful writer’s retreat turned into a lonely abyss, it
took the return of my friends to pull me out of it.
Yet for less
acute experiences, I can recover nicely in other ways. A long walk on
the beach or bluffs, or some verdant trail, might begin with sadness or
stress, but it will almost always end with peacefulness and calm.
Intellectual absorption works for me, too. When I first moved to
Charlottesville and knew no one other than the people I had met briefly
during my job interview, I spent most of my second evening writing a
scholarly article, surrounded by rooms full of unpacked boxes.
been single all my life. According to prevailing cultural narratives,
loneliness should not have to work so hard to catch me. As part of our research on perceptions of single people, my colleagues and I created
biographical profiles and asked study participants for their
impressions. The people in the profiles were described in identical
ways, except that half the time, the profile was said to be of a single
person, and the other half, a married one. Sometimes we described the
person in the profiles as 25 years old and other times as 40.
Participants routinely judged the single people as lonelier than the
married people, and they thought the single people were especially
lonely if they were 40 instead of 25.
Those impressions are most likely wrong. I’ve scoured academic journals for relevant studies,
and I cannot find even one that shows that people who get married
become less lonely than they were when they were single. But there is research
showing that people who marry become less connected to friends and
family than they were before. Although definitive long-term studies have
not yet been conducted, the available evidence suggests that single people become more comfortable over time with their single lives, not less so.
there are single people who are chronically lonely, just as there are
married people who feel the same way. Yet the stereotypes that insist
that single means lonely gloss over the diversity of experiences among the 107 million
adults (in the United States alone) who are not married.
have examined the psychological profiles of people who are afraid to be single, and people who like spending time alone. Both sets of studies show the same thing: People who are not
afraid to be single and people who like spending time alone are less
likely to experience loneliness. They are psychologically strong in
other ways, too. For example, they are less likely to be neurotic and
more likely to be open to new experiences.
My own interest is in people who are single at heart —
those who live their best, most authentic and most meaningful lives by
living single. My preliminary findings suggest that people who are
single at heart don’t worry about being lonely; instead, they embrace
solitude. What’s painful for all of these different types of people is
not time alone but not having enough of it.
Reports about the dire consequences of loneliness seem to be proliferating, which is curious considering that, at least among high school and college students, loneliness has been declining for decades.
I think the stories are expressing the kinds of fears that always
bubble up in the midst of profound social changes.
As the sociologist
and author Eric Klinenberg has noted, the past half century marked “the first time in human history [when] great numbers of people … have begun settling down as singletons.”
do think that loneliness should be taken seriously. For people whose
loneliness is searing and relentless, concern is appropriate. But be
cautious about swooping in to save those you only
believe to be lonely because they are single or live alone. Those people
may already feel liberated by the life they’ve chosen to live.