Living Alone as a Woman

So recently this article on loneliness and living alone as a woman showed up on Metafilter and created quite the ongoing argument between those who really like and appreciated it, and those who really, really didn’t.

You’re about to find out which side I fall on, really damn fast.  The first two lines of the article are

I am terrible at sharing the bed. When my boyfriend travels out of town, my first thought is how much space I will take up in the bed while he’s gone.

Well then.  This is where my sense of disappointment pops in.  I went into this article expecting to find a woman who shares my lived experience of living alone, being lonely, and being single.  And to be fair, nowhere in the title of the article does it mention relationships.  It was purely my assumption.  But the fact that the author mentions her boyfriend in the second damn line pisses me off.  It reads as if she needs to validate the fact that she isn’t *really* alone, someone desires her, she has a boyfriend after all.  She’s not like those spinster women.

But I try to power through the article, because as others on metafilter pointed out, you can write about the loss of being alone, and maybe that will speak to me somehow.

In popular culture we have “the bachelor pad,” and “the bachelor lifestyle,” but no such phrases for women. Women who live alone are objects of fear or pity, witches in the forest or Cathy comics.

And this is very true and it is my own fault for projecting but I wanted to hear from someone currently in that situation.  I wanted something to relate to and I don’t have that with this piece.  And let’s be honest.  I’m not alone by choice.  I would like a partner and it just doesn’t seem like it’s meant to happen for me.  I could be all tough and say it doesn’t matter, that I’m perfectly content, but that would be a lie. “Women who live alone are objects of fear or pity” Helena Fitzgerald says, from the comfort of the sidelines.

Living alone as a woman is not just a luxury but a refusal to bend into the shape of patriarchal assumption and expectation.

Why thank you. My loneliness as a bastion of feminism – I like it.  I’d like to say that’s why I enjoy my lifestyle, that I leave the dishes in the sink too long and never put my shoes away as a fuck you  to Patriarchy, but the fact is, and “refusal to bend” on my part is purely unintentional. There is a difference between those of us who live alone because life forces them to, and those who actively make that choice.  Although in the end I suppose I do make that choice though.  If I really wanted a roommate I could find one.

Loneliness felt like a project to which I had to commit all of myself.

Either Fitzgerald is mistaking loneliness for aloneness, or she is romanticising loneliness, because loneliness fucking sucks, let me tell you.  It does not feel romantic in the moment.  It does not spawn creativity for me, it does not feel, as the author states, “luxurious and comforting”.  Being alone gives me those feelings, absolutely.  Loneliness does not.

No matter how committed I am to the life I’m building with the person I love, some part of me reaches back to the fierce triumph of loneliness.

Again, I feel she conflates being alone with being lonely.  I get that she misses being alone in life.  I feel like if I ever did find a partner I would feel the exact same way.  But to write an article romanticising it when you’re no longer in it is like writing about war from the safe sidelines and not the trenches. Yes, her viewpoint is valid, but it is skewed by the fact that she is now outside looking in.

3 thoughts on “Living Alone as a Woman”

  1. I so agree. Alone is not the same thing as lonely.

    I generally prefer to spend my time alone, and I rarely ever got lonely, even when living alone, but I have been there, and it sucks.


      1. I agree and would have been frustrated reading the article. Being alone can feel like you’ve given yourself space but it is misjudged and mistaken in general society for loneliness. You can’t be alone without being lonely because we are not whole if not partnered. And even during those times of loneliness i try not to reveal it to others in fear that I will have proven them correct in their assumptions. Because alone is not lonely in the same way as married is not happy …. (I’m told). It’s late, hope I made sense ;)

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