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 Living Alone or Lonely? 
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Joined: July 16th, 2010, 12:48 pm
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Location: Birmingham, England
Recently on a panel game show on TV the panel were asked if they’d ever lived on their own, and if so, what they made of it. To my surprise, all six of the celebrity panel admitted to living alone for some part of their life. I found this a surprisingly high percentage.

I have never lived alone, nor would I want to. I understand that, if a loved one dies, it may be that one ends up living alone, not out of choice but out of necessity, and if that ever happens to me, I guess I may learn to live with it, but up to now in my life, I have never, ever lived on my own, anywhere, at any time. Therefore it’s difficult for me to imagine why anyone would want to, or why they would embrace such a lifestyle. I love sharing my life and world with another human being – sharing the cooking, planning, holidays, walks, chatting, watching TV, discussing the news – everything in fact. I cannot think of one thing that I would embrace about living alone.

I have never lived alone, but back in 2000 and 2001 I used to have the month of August off, because I owned my own business and could do that sort of thing. I used to go and stay at our cottage for the month and my wife would come and join me for two weeks, which was the maximum time her holiday entitlement would allow. I hated the other two weeks, the two weeks when I was on my own. I’d get up with good intentions, intending to walk or write or read, or planning to prepare myself a nice extravagant meal, but I never did any of these things and by tea-time I’d be so morose that I would just drag myself up to the local chip shop (in nearby Machynlleth) for a nice fish and chips. Some evenings I’d go to the local pub, but if there was no-one there to talk to, I’d have one lonely pint of beer and then go quickly home. I hated it; I couldn’t wait for my wife to arrive. I’d phone her every evening and be on the phone to her for an hour or more, just because it was so nice to hear her voice.

How do others feel? Does anyone like to live alone? Do they not mind the loneliness?

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August 22nd, 2011, 6:00 pm
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Let's say elements of my childhood encouraged me to avoid my parents' company and other physical aspects made me a target for ridicule and bullying. Both encouraged a tendency to be counsel one's own company.

Joining the RAF was not a good idea, I moved out into a bedsitter as soon as the regulations allowed. After the RAF I shared twice and shacked up with once. All caused problems - I had got out of the habit of living in close proximity with others, had become somewhat intolerant (yet had a great deal of empathy, patience and forbearing so long as I did not have to live with the need for it.)

Now I have lived alone for about 30 years, but there's always a cuppa waiting a few doors up or down the road or a walk round the corner (or a bottle of wine if I take one with me) and there's always a partner for a meal out or just a natter, or a visit to an ancient monument, or . . .

The rest of the time I get one with my projects and voluntary work undisturbed. Sort of best-of-both for me - almost total freedom of action (can sit around in just my shreddies in hot & humid weather) and company available when my friends or myself feel the need. Got used to it now!

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August 22nd, 2011, 6:24 pm
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Joined: April 4th, 2010, 8:06 pm
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I lived alone from 83 when I moved to Kendal and got a flat of my own I enjoyed itcooking what I wanted when I wanted playing what music I liked. Then 84 I got married end of the bliss cant cookm fish the wife as a phobia about fish cant play to mutch music AHHHHH wish I was still in the flat


August 22nd, 2011, 6:26 pm
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stevenw888 wrote:
I hated it; I couldn’t wait for my wife to arrive. I’d phone her every evening and be on the phone to her for an hour or more, just because it was so nice to hear her voice.
I used to feel that way, Steven. It was so good when Maureen came home. But she died three and a half years ago and living alone is sometimes absolutely desperate.

TH and the good people there is one of the things that keeps me going, along with my three grown up children and my one (soon to be two) grandchild(ren).

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August 22nd, 2011, 6:31 pm
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Joined: July 6th, 2007, 8:29 pm
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I lived for 5ish years in a commune with 149 other folk, where I learnt to maintain my privacy to ensure good mental health. I love being alone, and have spent much of my life so. One of the most important things I've learnt over the years is the difference between being alone and being lonely, and embracing the former. Admittedly, I don't live alone all the time. My youngest spends a week with me and a week with her Dad, and currently I have a Mum and Daughter staying who are escaping a violent relationship. But the times I am alone I relish with great enthusiasm. As long as I have a phone and internet I can chat with whoever I like. I have some great friends who I can trust to support me when I need it, but that support is not required for loneliness as I just don't feel that any more. I love the freedom of not having to consider others needs and wants, and pander to my own :D

However I completely understand that, especially after the death of a partner, the enormous gaps in the day to day life of rubbing along together like a well-oiled machine can be excruciatingly painful and my heart goes out to those in this situation.

crossposted but probably no matter...


August 22nd, 2011, 6:41 pm
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Lived alone for most of '81 to '85, after having moved out of a commune (which is the exact opposite of living alone in every important respect!). Liked it, didn't think I'd be able to adapt to having to consider the needs of another in permanent close proximity. Then I fell in love -- and the rest, as they cliché, is history. Still like to have a bit of time on my own every now and again, but I now really miss being with my partner when one of us has time away.

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August 22nd, 2011, 6:48 pm
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I can't live without big chunks of solitude!
My current partner and I have been living together for nearly 18 years. (The last 5 years in a truck with a living space of just 2m by 4m! )
We are totally and happily in love, but I still need my time of being alone, doing nothing but simply existing, thinking undirected rambling thoughts, and just moment-to-moment being. In silence.
I've been addicted to this silent solitude all my life. Maybe because I was the eldest boy in a family of 9 children, and everyone thought I knew everything!


August 22nd, 2011, 6:54 pm
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My experiences have been very much like Steven's. Home with mum and step-dad, who I hated. Late teens in RAF with no privacy at all., but I loved the communal life. A total of forty years with three different partners, the last one for 30 years until she died. I went to pieces alone and my daughter and son-in-law asked me to come to Scotland and live with them and I lack for nothing except occasional solitude and I go out in my car to nature reserves whenI want that. I have lots of friends and aquaintances and much to keep me involved and busy. New girlfriend, (bragging again) but she lives 133 miles away so we can't meet much.


August 22nd, 2011, 7:49 pm
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ludite wrote:
I lived alone from 83 when I moved to Kendal and got a flat of my own I enjoyed it cooking what I wanted when I wanted playing what music I liked. Then 84 I got married end of the bliss cant cookm fish the wife as a phobia about fish cant play to mutch music AHHHHH wish I was still in the flat

er, does your wife know what you feel? I know I have no right to ask, but I am glad Steve started this thread - to put us on the spot. Funny that Steve said he hates drinking alone, even though he has never really been alone; but now I have had 37 years of non-loneliness with a lovely person, I can enjoy going to a pub alone (except for my book of course) and I actually enjoy the loudish camaraderie around me. I love to see happy people, and I don't need to be part of it; I find socialising in pubs or parties challenging because of the noise, though. Everything in moderation, maybe that's it, but what is "moderation" varies from one of us to another.


August 22nd, 2011, 7:50 pm
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I was brought up with six siblings plus mam and dad, nine of us in a three bedroom house, then my older sister got married, 10 in the house! Then Mary' mother kicked her out aged16, 11 in the house :shock:

I could not live alone, the longest I've been "home alone" is three weeks when Mary was in Alaska but even then I had two dogs for company.
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I hated the other two weeks, the two weeks when I was on my own. I’d get up with good intentions, intending to walk or write or read, or planning to prepare myself a nice extravagant meal, but I never did any of these things and by tea-time I’d be so morose that I would just drag myself up to the local chip shop (in nearby Machynlleth) for a nice fish and chips. Some evenings I’d go to the local pub,
I'm with Steven here, except we don't have a local chippy............Or a local pub :)

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August 22nd, 2011, 8:30 pm
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stevenw888 wrote:
(in nearby Machynlleth) for a nice fish and chips.

Been to the Centre for Alternative Technology?
I keep meaning to go, but Machynlleth is so out on its own... I'm never going past there on the way to anywhere else.
I'll just have to make a specific journey. After all, I'm only in Cardiff...


August 22nd, 2011, 8:41 pm
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Dave B wrote:
...or a visit to an ancient monument..
Is that when they come round to your gaff, Dave? :D


August 22nd, 2011, 9:32 pm
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Joined: January 3rd, 2011, 4:53 pm
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I had never lived alone until my husband died in Oct 2006. I spent the next year on my own, slowly redefining myself. Then disaster struck. My daughter and her 6 mo old son were left, by her abusive husband, at the American border - a 4 hr drive from here. Everything she owned was either on the moving van or in his SUV. When I picked them up at Coutts, she had not as much as a toothbrush.

She is now divorced but the SOB kept everything...no child support, no belongings...nothing was shared.

1 1/2 yrs later, she developed 3 herniated discs and was basically incapacitated for 6 months with a relapse 6 months after that.
Meanwhile she has finished an accounting certificate but has not been able to find employment in that field.

Four years later they still live here and I am their sole support. She does have a summer job but I need to babysit on the week-ends when the daycare is not open.

Oh how I long to be on my own again. My life is in limbo and I seem to be giving up hope that my life will ever be my own again. Because they are dependent on me for childcare backup, I have not even been able to take a wee trip for over 3 years. AARGH

And now I would like some cheese with that whine. :D

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August 22nd, 2011, 10:41 pm
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Lived (happily) alone from 1988 to 2000 and now happily with Ninny wife. We both like our own space as well as our shared space.

Before that it was different. Brought up in family of 6. Then National Service, Uni, first marriage (2 kids), second marriage (2 adopted kids) - then the above.


August 23rd, 2011, 6:11 am
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I have been astonishingly lucky. I met my wife in 1970, aged 23; we were engaged within a few weeks and married in six months. We've just passed our fortieth anniversary and have been very happy indeed. We had two kids and are now grandparents. We resent every moment we have to be apart.

If she died before me I would have no reason to live further. It's the old story - He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune.

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August 23rd, 2011, 9:21 am
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stevenw888 wrote:
I have never lived alone, nor would I want to ... [U]p to now in my life, I have never, ever lived on my own, anywhere, at any time ... I have never lived alone ...
Can I just get something straight, Steven, as you haven't been entirely clear. Have you, or have you not, ever lived alone? :wink:
stevenw888 wrote:
How do others feel? Does anyone like to live alone? Do they not mind the loneliness?
Hmmm. I note that most of the people who have replied so far are not people who live alone, and none, as far as I can tell, have lived alone for most of their adult life. I'm sure you didn't intend it, Steve, but the wording of your questions doesn't exactly invite people who do live alone to open up. Come to think of it, neither does the forum you chose to ask them in. I'm certainly loath to reply in any detail unless/until the thread is moved to the Private Club. These matters are inevitably rather personal.

Meanwhile, however, some general points. I suspect that most people would ideally like to live with people they love, like and respect, and who love, like and respect them, and with whom they are, for want of a more precise phrase, domestically compatible. (One might love, like and respect someone but still find them extremely difficult to live with.) When that's not possible, for whatever reason, if the choice is between living alone and living with one or more people with whom one doesn't particularly get along or whom one just doesn't know, many of us would and do choose to live alone, if we can afford to. People who live alone are not necessarily lonely, just as people who live with other people are not necessarily not lonely.

I feel I'm stating the obvious here. And I confess I was surprised at your surprise that six out of six celebrities admitted to having lived alone at some time in their lives. It doesn't seem at all surprising to me. If one is not in a serious relationship and one doesn't have children (or they've left home or are living with one's ex-partner), and if one can't or doesn't want to live with family or friends, let alone strangers, and if, perhaps most importantly these days, one can afford to live alone, then why on earth wouldn't one do that?
stevenw888 wrote:
[B]ack in 2000 and 2001 I used to have the month of August off ... I used to go and stay at our cottage for the month and my wife would come and join me for two weeks ... I hated the other two weeks, the two weeks when I was on my own ...
Well, of course you did. You missed your wife and you didn't have good friends nearby and you didn't have much to do to keep you occupied. That's not what living alone is. At least, not necessarily. But if one is not experiencing the loss of a loved one, and if one has work that involves contact with people, and/or if one has friends and acquaintances that one sees and speaks to regularly, the experience can be very different. Just because one lives alone, that doesn't necessarily mean that one never cooks or eats meals with other people, goes for walks with other people, plans or takes holidays with other people, watches TV with other people, chats or discusses the news with other people, has sex with other people. One might not interact with others every single day, but then one might not want to. There are plenty of things that people do, even people who live with others, that they do alone, and prefer to do alone. And people who do live with other people don't necessarily do many things with those people, or even any things at all.

Having said that, there are plenty of people who live alone who would rather not. And plenty of people who live alone who do get lonely, and who do "mind the loneliness". It doesn't help that living alone and being single, especially if one has always been single, still carries quite a powerful social stigma, and often seems to invite pity. As much as I hated the Bridget Jones films, I think Helen Fielding, who wrote the books, was a fairly perceptive social commentator. She exaggerated, of course. Not all happily married people are smug. But sometimes, Steven, without meaning to, they can come across that way. :wink:

Emma


August 23rd, 2011, 12:42 pm
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Emma, I’m sorry if i came across as smug. I did not mean to be. I guess, that, like all of you, I have a social circle, and, within that social circle, many or most of the other people live similar livestyles to me. I guess thats probably because most people are drawn to other people who live a similar lifestyle to them. Out of all my friends and relatives, all, save one, are living with someone else (a partner or husband or wife or children or parents). Therefore it’s quite hard for me to understand why someone would want to live outside of this social grouping. I certainly understand that some people do live outside this grouping (ie on their own) but what I struggle with is why. When I was 18 I lived at home with my parents. I met a girl, she was lovely, we got on really well together, so we went to live for a while in Belgium together. We came back, saved up, and bought a house together.
I guess if I had not met her, then, either a) I would have met another girl, or b) I would not have met anyone and would still be living at home with ma and pa. For me, I don’t understand the incentive to leave home unless it is with someone special. This is what happened with me, my brother, my sister, my wife and my two daughters. What I am trying to do here is firstly understand, and secondly empathise with someone who might make such a decision.

And Thundril – Yes, I have been to the Centre for Alternative Technology many times, so many in fact, that I have a pass to get us in for half price! It is a fascinating place, full of exciting new ways to conserve and replenish energy sources and I never tire of visiting it.

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August 23rd, 2011, 1:46 pm
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I know you didn't mean to come across as smug, Steven, and I was teasing you a little rather than meaning to be too critical. We can all come across as smug sometimes, anyway. I know I do.
stevenw88 wrote:
For me, I don’t understand the incentive to leave home unless it is with someone special. This is what happened with me, my brother, my sister, my wife and my two daughters. What I am trying to do here is firstly understand, and secondly empathise with someone who might make such a decision.
Ah. Now your question is a lot clearer. You're probably right about tending to be part of a social circle where people tend to live similar lifestyles. I know very few people who fit the description of you, your siblings, your wife and daughters. I left home at 18 to go to university, 300 miles away from home, and that was an important part of growing up, for me. I moved back briefly after university, then into a rented flat, shared with two friends, just as soon as I could. It was what people I knew did, in London, in the early 1980s. It was what my parents expected. Moving away from home enabled me to live an independent life. It enabled me to do things that I wouldn't have felt able to do if I'd stayed living with my parents. As much as I loved my parents, I can't imagine choosing to stay under their roof, abiding by their rules, when I had the option of living with friends, making my own rules (or agreeing them democratically with my friends), having fun, experimenting. It wasn't always fun, of course. But there were some great times, and I think it helped me come out of my shell a little. If I hadn't left home when I did, I might never have done. And I suspect that I wouldn't have had such a good relationship with my parents.

Does that help a bit?

Emma


August 23rd, 2011, 3:42 pm
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Living alone does not equal loneliness - necessarily.


August 23rd, 2011, 5:07 pm
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I'm sure that it doesn't but I'm interested in finding out why.

Emma - to return to your post - after leaving home and going to university, did you not at some time, while at uni or shortly after, meet anyone who you thought was really special and made you you think - "Wow - I love this person a lot, I'd really like to spend the rest of my life with this person."

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August 23rd, 2011, 6:00 pm
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