By Christine Raccuia
Women over 50 years old, who are single either by choice (divorce) or due to loss are often presented with an ambivalence of what they feel they ought to do and want, what friends and family expect and what they truly want for themselves.
“Did you meet someone yet?” is a question often posed to women who are single and often for the first time in their lives. Society puts pressure on single women to find a new partner and eventually domesticate again, because isn’t that what women love to do? To nest and be the eternal caregiver. The adult children often worry about their single mothers because she may be lonely, but also selfishly as they do not want to sit with the burden of being the only caregiver as mom ages. To put the adult children at ease you can look into long-term life insurance.
Few people consider the benefits of living alone as we women are programmed early on to be homemakers as well as having a career and raising children. Basically, we are expected to be self-sacrificing and not to consider what we really want.
However, living alone have a host of advantages that can lead to an incredibly liberating and enriching life.
I was married for 25 years and raised two daughters while educating myself. Eventually, I divorced and soon after entered into a new relationship thinking I wanted to cohabitate again. So, when he asked if I wanted to live together, I was thrilled, but it wasn’t what I had envisioned and living together lasted just three months. I still wanted to eventually domesticate again despite that experience. Met another man and when he was hit hard by Covid I moved in to care for him. As time passed, I started losing myself as my focus was on him, his health, my job and his issues with his children. The thought of living alone became more and more foreign to me as I had lost myself. It was at the time unimaginable to picture myself without that other person. The relationship ended and the same day I felt an overwhelming but surprising sense of relief. I spent the following year rediscovering myself and loved what I found. Over the course of this last year, I have discovered how much I enjoy my independence and all the benefits of living alone.
Here are the great benefits of living alone….
• You will gain an independent routine, which is great for your mental health.
• Doing exactly what you want, when you want—without being restricted by someone else—is a big luxury. You can come and go as you please, visit places you always wanted to see, or simply have a relaxing night in with a long soak and no interruptions. What’s more, you will then be completely in control of how you spend your time and can create a routine that works for you. Research suggests that those with structured schedules have better quality of life.
• Single people are less likely to skip the yoga class or gym as they don’t have someone to laze around with and as a result are usually more active than their coupled counterparts.
• Having your own space allows you to indulge in and develop your own interests, be they hobbies you want to try or new skills you want to learn. Without somebody else’s needs to worry about, you can be completely selfish and book that cooking course in Italy that you always wanted or finally learn French.
Living alone by no means has to mean you are lonely. In fact, often exiting a relationship enables friendships to really blossom. Now is the time to reestablish links with old friends and reach out to new ones. Living alone means you can invite people for weekend visits, stay out late having dinner or take the opportunity to stay with others in interesting places.
Feeling free to do what you want, is one of the great joys of being single. You can finally have things exactly the way you want them: decorate your home to suit your tastes, cook the meals you enjoy and watch the shows you like. But freedom also gives you the power to change, so why not start a new career or move to a different city? It’s never too late to pursue a dream!
Often when we are in demanding relationships, we spend all our time pandering to the needs of others and little time listening to our own needs. Being alone can be incredibly restorative for your mental health and well being as you have the time to focus on your own needs. Spending every waking hour with someone else can ultimately mean you lose sight of your own sense of self and personality.
It can be difficult to think creatively if you are never alone. Solitude enables you to think deeply and is crucial for introspective, creative thoughts to come into fruition. Being alone is often a prerequisite for those sparky ideas you might otherwise never have had.
Without a significant other, you will be more likely to really work on your career, without worrying that you are neglecting anybody. Without a relationship to distract you, you might find more meaning in your work and feel more passionately about pursuing your career.
This may sound odd, but women who decide to live alone could actually end up being far less lonely that those in relationships. This is because, as a general rule, singles tend to have wider social circles and support systems—as opposed to those in relationships who often have only one person, they feel they can confide in and rely on.
What about sex? Living alone doesn’t exclude being in a relationship with someone and you can be “live apart together” (LAT) partners, which gives you the freedom but also companionship and intimacy without giving up any of the above mentioned benefits from living alone.
I am not implying that all marriages are doomed, however I am pointing out that women or men for that matter, who decide to live alone can have wonderful enriching lives.
Christine Raccuia is a psychotherapist with a private practice in the Village, Christine has been practicing for 12 years. A native of Denmark, she has lived in the West Village since arriving here 30 years ago. She has two adult daughters, both residing in New York