I am old enough to remember that once upon a time, a man – or heaven forbid, a woman – living alone was frowned upon. There were all kinds of explanations or rumors as to why they may be doing so. We now know that there are millions of people in this country and elsewhere who choose to live by themselves and enjoy every minute of it. There are also those who for different reasons end up in the same lifestyle but are not happy about it.

It definitely creates much consternation when one does not have a choice in one’s life circumstances. Losing a partner, alienation by one’s family, and many other situations may make for a single occupant in housing. How to adjust? How to reframe it as a choice and not one that is imposed on us? Is it possible to come to like something you initially disliked or even feared?

Some of the concerns about living alone do involve fear and anxiety. I remember a neighbor, a young man who had been divorced, ask me for help because he was absolutely panicked about using a washing machine to do the laundry. Yes, I can hear the laughter from you all but some relationships reward dependency to that level. Then there is a legitimate concern over getting sick when no one is around to help. These are all issues any human being has to cope with and find ways of connecting with others and maybe creating a family of sorts with friends.

But let’s focus more on those who love living by themselves. I talk with many people who have relationships they cherish but feel equally committed to not sharing housing. In fact, some partnerships survive on long-term basis because there is no shared abode. Given that no human is an island, do we look at those people and think something is wrong with them? Is living together some kind of a natural norm? Wanting to be close, physically and emotionally, is what we look for, in mind and body, but there is nothing that dictates it should be on a 24/7 basis. People differ in the amount of space they need. Some like to be joined at the hip and if the partner feels the same way, life is good. Or, if both want more space, same result. It is when we have differing needs that conflict is the result.” I want you with me except maybe for work, but you may want more time to yourself, and when you are at work, you better keep in touch too.” How to reconcile that? It is those kinds of dilemmas that can strengthen the love, if resolved with compromises at each end, or dissolves the love, if one insists on getting their needs met at the expense of the other.  

“Space and light and order. Those are the things that men (and women) need just as much as they need bread or a place to sleep.” – LeCorbusier

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Author Profile

Janan Broadbent, PhD
Janan Broadbent, PhD
As a psychologist in private practice since 1979, Janan Broadbent, Ph. D. offers individual, couples, group and family therapy, in addition to conducting workshops on topics such as stress management, communication skills and assertiveness. She writes about current issues relevant to relationship building and conflict resolution in LGBTQ and minority populations, with emphasis on health, fitness and education.

Born in Turkey, Dr. Broadbent earned her undergraduate degree in psychology in 1965. At that time, first as a Fulbright Scholar, then as a CENTO Fellow, she received her master's and doctorate degrees in psychology and education from the University of California at Los Angeles. She has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in psychology at St.Mary's College of Maryland, Mt. Vernon College in Washington, D. C., Johns Hopkins University and the College of Notre Dame in Baltimore. From 1981 to 1988, she was also the Director of Counseling at Notre Dame College.
While in graduate school, Dr. Broadbent worked for the Voice of America radio program, writing and recording materials on the cross-cultural college experience. She has been interviewed on various news programs on TV and has received media training.
Dr. Broadbent is a member of the American Psychological Association and has served as the chair for the Public Affairs Board and as a member of the Executive Council of the Maryland Psychological Association.
Dr. Broadbent's office is located at:
Village of Cross Keys, 120 West Quadrangle, 2 Hamill Road, Baltimore, Maryland 21210-1847 phone: 410-825-5577