We are unnecessarily scared of being on our own because we fail to keep in mind the distinction between solitude (a fine condition) and loneliness (a pain). We need to recover a sense of the good sides of being by ourselves – in order to be able to make the right choices around friendship and love.
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“In the privacy of our minds, one thought – highly shameful by nature – may haunt us as we evaluate whether to stay in or leave an unsatisfactory relationship: what if we were to end things and end up in a place of appalling loneliness?
We’re meant to be above such pragmatic worries. Only cowards and reprobates would mind a few weekends (or decades) by themselves. We’ve heard of those books that sing the praises of solitude (the divorcee who relocated to a solitary hut on a bare Scottish island; the one who went sailing around the world in a dinghy). But we can admit that we’re not naturals at this sort of thing: there have been empty days when we almost lost our minds. There was one trip that we took on our own years back that was, behind the scenes, a psychological catastrophe. We’re not really in a position to wave away the dangers of being left alone on our rock…”
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