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Living Alone Doesn't Mean You're Lonely

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LONELINESS SHORTENS LIFE
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Britain is home to a load of sad, lonely singletons if recent headlines are anything to go by. Since a UK study has revealed that 16% of Brits now live alone compared to 9% in 1978, mental health charity Mind have expressed their concerns over the state of mind of people living alone.

However what they have failed to address is that for many of these people, living alone is a choice.

These people aren't all desperate loners incapable of forming friendships or with no social support. If anything, they're just as likely to be busy, independent people who enjoy the freedom of living alone, and I should know - I'm one of them.

As someone who has been living alone for the past six months, I would dispute the inference that all single inhabitants spend their evenings hiding away and crying themselves to sleep.

For me living alone is a choice, and if you'd met some of the people I've shared a home with over the years, you too would be signing up for a studio quicker than you can say dinner-for-one.

Living alone doesn't mean you're a social pariah. I love going out, seeing friends and doing everything else 20-somethings do, it's just that at the end of the night I go back to my own home instead of somewhere I share with strangers. Does that make me sad? I don't think so. In fact I've lived in shared accommodation where I felt lonelier than I ever have living alone.

Beth Murphy from mental health charity Mind said that loneliness can have a 'significant impact' when it comes to mental health, and that 'people who are socially isolated experience more stress, have lower self-esteem and are more likely to have sleep problems than people who have strong social support'.

I'm not denying that this is true, but loneliness is not an emotion that is exclusive to single people. A person living with their family may well feel more lonely than someone who lives on their own.

I can see that some people may use living alone as a means to hide away and escape from the world, however for many others it's simply an expression of independence and a means to escape from someone else's annoying habits rather than human interaction altogether. It doesn't mean they can't and don't have normal relationships with other people.

Another thing that the Metro article 'The Rise of the Lonely Single' fails to see is that it's not just our living arrangements that have changed over the last 40 years. So too have our careers, lifestyles and ways we interact with other people. Many of us are working longer hours and spend longer commuting to and from work, so for some, home needs to be little more than a place to unwind at the end of a busy day.

The advances of social networking also mean we never have to feel isolated even when we are alone. Of course, face to face conversation is better than FaceTime, but it's a condescending notion to imply that single people are lacking basic social skills and spend all of their time on their own.

I'm looking forward to living with other people again in the future, whether that's friends, family or a partner, but for now I'm content as I am. So leave us singletons alone!

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