I realised this week that I’ve never lived alone.

I moved from home and boarding school to university halls and flat sharing.  Flat sharing merged seamlessly into co-habiting followed some years later by marriage and children.

The longest I’ve been alone is about five weeks.  Twice, both times when travelling.

This is a fact that really surprised me. I realise that I have known it all along, but it’s clearly not something I’ve ever thought much about.  I am bucking the trend.  Twice as many people live alone now than when I was a child and the graph is rising ever higher.

It makes me wonder how I’d cope.  I like my own company, but in small doses.  I don’t like sleeping alone, with no one to nag me about going to bed I stay up far too late.  Rubbish TV is somehow less appealing when there’s no one next to me on the sofa rustling a newspaper in disapproval.  And if I ate everything I baked, I’d be the size of a very considerable house.  Besides, if I lived alone, I’d have to get out of bed and make my own coffee in the mornings.

It’s a good thing I’m not likely to be living alone in the near future.  But I might one day.  It does happen.  A significant proportion of Britain’s single dwellers are widows and widowers.

For now however, I’ll be grateful for the time I get to myself when the children are at school and make the most of cuddles and coffee in bed while I have them.

  1. PippaD said:

    I was actually thinking something similar the other day. I lived alone for a whole School year whilst at Uni. Well you know apart from the visits from friends and family and visits home and… I think I will find it very hard if I ever find myself alone. Maybe we should live together if the need arises?!

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily said:

      Sounds like a plan!

  2. Beautifully expressed. I love being alone and can manage several days on end quite happily, but that, presumably, is because I always know people are waiting for me at the other end. The worst aloneness is those funerals of an elderly person where noone turns up to mourn. Hopefully, when we are old our children will still be out there for us so that we know that we are not forsaken

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily said:

      That would make me very sad indeed, being at a funeral with no mourners.

  3. Interesting post. You know I’ve never lived alone either and have always lived with family, flatmates or my other half. I do sometimes wonder what it would have been like. I’ve also been in relationships pretty much constantly from about the age of 16. I can be a bit of a loner sometimes and am perfectly content in my own company but I guess that’s because I always know there will be someone there.

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily said:

      I think you’re right, it scares me a bit how I’d cope with the aloneness if there wasn’t anyone coming back.

  4. This really made me think. I too have never been alone. I went from living at home to living with my Other Half and I can count on my fingers the number of nights that we’ve spent apart. I sometimes long to be alone though. I actually love my own company. But like others have said, maybe that’s because I have the security of knowing that I’m not really alone? Great post x

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily said:

      When we were travelling, I longed to be alone. I had no personal space whatsoever. Now I’m home, I’m luxuriating in the small spaces I have.

  5. I love your posts. They’re always really thought provoking. I too crave time on my own but wouldn’t want longer than a day. I did live in a flat on my own for a couple of months when an ex-boyfriend and I split up. I invited people round all the time and had loads of parties..went a bit mad actually ..good times though!

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily said:

      I think it would be nice to have a time like that to look back on.

  6. I have only ever had a small period alone. My mum was the one left alone and it was really hard and made me very sad. I selfishly would not like to be the last one in my relationship

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily said:

      I think I’d be OK with that actually. Of course the reality may be very different to how I imagine it.

  7. I lived on my own for 14 years, and for most of that time I was happy. When I met my then husband he moved in and I haven’t been on my own since then (17 years ago). I now share a house with my two daughters and my younger brother, and sometimes I do look back wistfully at that time alone, but oddly enough I don’t want to be on my own again even though – inevitably – my daughters will leave one day and I’ll move to a smaller house without my brother.

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily said:

      It’s funny that although you look back wistfully at your time alone yet you wouldn’t want it again. Sometimes we don’t fully appreciate what we’ve got until it’s gone.

  8. I lived alone for a short time, although D and I had just started seeing each other and so were in that phase when you want to see each other all the time. I loved living alone though and am glad I did as it makes me less scared of having to do it again. A friend of mine who did after a break up said that she found it easier knowing she didn’t have to be alone, that she could always come to mine or her family for dinner and company.

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily said:

      I don’t think I’m scared of it exactly, but I’m not sure I want it either.

  9. Paula said:

    Other than traveling i don’t think I’d ever officially lived alone until this last year. And of course I don’t live alone – you’re never alone with 3 children, and head lice (or something). But in the sense that once the kids go to bed I’m alone, and I sleep alone, then I do live alone, and I’m content, or something approaching content, with that. There’s something satisfying about making the bed and knowing it will stay made until you unmake it, and tidying up takes half the time because it’s only ‘your’ stuff. I’d recommend it – maybe you should get yourself a little hideaway?

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily said:

      I love the idea of only tidying up my stuff, but I’m not so sure about referring to head lice as company…

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