A few months ago my future daughter-in-law Montana brought her best friend Arden over to see my new house before I moved in. After we'd walked through the empty rooms she asked me, "Who's going to live here with you?"
I said, "Nobody. I'm going to live here by myself."
"What? You can't live here in this big house alone! Won't you be scared?" she asked.
I wasn't sure what the size of the house had to do with my living alone. Houses aren't like jeans or rings or shoes or condoms. They don't have to fit a certain way. A house can't be too big to live in alone. "No," I said, "I've lived alone for several years now. I'm not afraid to live here alone." I was turning off the lights so we could leave and go out dancing at a club.
"I would be," she said. "I would be afraid to live here alone. It's so big."
"You'd probably get used to it," I said. "It's one of those things I find easier than I would have thought when I was married and living with my kids and husband."
"Hmmm," she said. I don't think she was convinced.
"Even if you're not scared, won't you be lonely?" she asked. "I couldn't live here alone because I'd be lonely." We walked out the front door into the frigid winter air.
"Yes, sometimes I'll be lonely. Sometimes I am now," I said, pulling the heavy front door shut.
"I couldn't take that," she said.
"I was married for decades," I said, "and I was often lonely. I'd rather be lonely by myself here in my own house than lonely in the same room with someone who is close enough to touch. Also, it's much easier to do something about feeling lonely if I'm alone. It never lasts long now."
"Ahh," she said. "That makes sense. See you at the club." She and Montana headed to her car, and I toward mine. Alone, but not lonely.
Someone sent me a message about the post I wrote recently about dating. More on that conversation soon, but that conversation reminded me of the conversation with Arden.
And it reminded me that a lot of people date or stay in relationships because they think they can't stand to be alone. Possibly one of the reasons I don't date is because I'm fine alone. Not that I don't miss certain aspects of being in an intimate relationship. I do .... and sometimes that missing is sharp and insistent.
But I really would rather be alone than enter into the wrong relationship, or into a relationship for the wrong reasons. I won't settle for that just because I'm alone, or even because I'm lonely.
One friend suggested I haven't dated in a long time because I'm not ready, but nothing could be further from the truth. I haven't dated because I'm not willing to let the wrong guy onto my island .... again -- not that the shores of my island are teaming with willing victims suitors.That, though, is the topic of another post.
The real reason I haven't dated in so long is because I feel no urgency to do so. The worst loneliness doesn't come from being alone. The worst loneliness comes from needing someone who is emotionally unavailable. I've watched too many people tilt at that windmill, and done it myself too many times too. I intend to avoid that, even if it means I'm alone in my big house.
What are your thoughts on being alone? Does the idea make you lonely? Or is it your normal, like it is mine?