Never having had the experience of living alone, I fear my view of this situation may be more than a little colored by wishful thinking – on a bad day. I imagine that if I lived alone, I could have so much freedom, I could fly. There would be no need to eat the right things at the right time – I could have toast for dinner and chocolate ice cream for breakfast. Alone, nobody would be there to whom I should set a good example, or to tell me off for naughty, unhealthy eating habits. I could get up late, have the bathroom all to myself, make a big mess and play Guns ‘n’ Roses loudly, and dance on the back lawn in the moonlight. I could spend hours on the computer, leave all the lights on, go where the fancy takes me, answerable to not a soul. Those who live alone might recognize all these possibilities and some may even nod their head in agreement, as they enjoy the freedom of a life lived alone. But I know there is a downside; there are many I have known who found living alone to be a hard and lonely way of life.
Human beings need to belong, to interact with others, to be part of a group, community or society. If the individual is forced by circumstances to live totally alone, without any human company, this may be depressing and traumatic. Many who find themselves living alone are elderly or without close relatives, and sometimes are unable to go beyond the confines of home. This is when living alone is not a happy and healthy existence. Relatives may live too far away to just drop in and share a little company and time, bringing that sense of belonging into the lonely person’s life. When nobody comes to visit the person in these sad circumstances, the inevitable result is depression. This is something I have seen happening all too often. That freedom to fly can really bring a person to the depths of loneliness.
Living alone need not be either all highs or all lows. The best way to cope has got to be to take the best parts of the situation, like autonomy, self-responsibility and independence, and mix them with activities that include contact with other people. Joining a club that is of interest, volunteering, visiting others, or even a little part time work are ways to dilute the possible pain of living alone. These enable the person to maintain independence and the pleasurable aspects of living alone, while feeling part of the human race. At least, from the point of view of one who has rarely experienced, but prizes time of solitude, those ways would seem to offer a happy medium. Living alone has much to be said for it, and much against, but it can be a positive blessing for many, so long as it is a pleasure and not a pain.