Loneliness is something everybody deals with, even in the most crowded of flats. So how do you deal with loneliness when you have found yourself living alone? Charlotte Jiggins shares her experience of finding herself without flatmates, and discusses the intersection of her single life with her new living arrangement.
I recently found myself in a situation, with about an hours’ notice, that I was going to be living alone. Yes, me, myself, and I just hanging out for the next four months. Some may think that sounds like the dream: no annoying flatmates, being able to host as many parties as you want, and being able to walk around naked. In reality, it’s not been the best, and has taken a lot of getting used to. In particular, it brings the whole idea of being single to a new reality. Bear with me…this is not going to be as depressing as it sounds!
Lesson six: Sex is not the cure to feeling lonely.
The first thing I did when I found out I was going to be living alone was cry - a lot. I felt that I had absolutely failed at the university experience. You come to university with a simple expectation that you’ll live in a flat with other students and bicker about cleaning dishes, being too loud and paying bills - but you’ll still live together. My flatmate situation didn’t exactly work out that way, resulting in me now living alone and them living together in another flat. Being the one left behind triggered a kind of identity crisis that made me think that I was a terrible person and the world hated me.
However, my good old mother helped me get over that phase, leading me into a kind of liberation phase, which was temporarily great. I invited loads of people round to dinner, hosted a couple of pres, and started showering with the door open. Life was looking up.
Through these phases I was so preoccupied with trying to keep my life together that I hadn’t really had time to think about my ‘single’ lifestyle. Well, the other night, all that came to a head. I was at a ball and for the first time in a very long time, maybe because I was wearing a new bra (actually definitely because of the bra), I hooked up with not one but two guys in the space of ten minutes. My word, how hilarious is that. The second guy was Argentinian and kept calling me ‘Latina’ – I am as far from Latina as anyone would ever imagine, so that was a whole experience.
Inevitably, it drew to that point in the night when he wanted to take me home. Now, this was the ‘hallelujah’ moment that I live alone, and didn’t have to worry about sneaking past flatmates. However, it was also a massive lesson. In the moment I felt strange. I thought that, because I live alone and felt slightly lonely, I had to take this guy home as a kind of ‘loneliness’ cure. To stop people feeling sorry for me and to confirm that I still had social skills. Luckily, my rational, empowered self kicked in and boy number two did not end up in my flat.
Living alone has definitely been a rollercoaster. It goes from being a bit depressing to massively liberating. Yet my night out at the ball taught me that although having a boyfriend at the moment would be great (still accepting applications), taking someone home from a night out to feel temporarily less lonely is not a good reason to take someone home. So, when you feel lonely and want a temporary release, just take a minute to consider if you’re going home with them for the right reasons, i.e. you know they have an impressive tea collection for your morning brew or they promise to make you avocadoes on toast.