Home Sweet Home Alone: The Psychological Benefits To Living On Your Own

More Canadians than ever before are living alone — yes, choosing to live alone.

Gone are the stereotypes of solo living as lonely, cat-filled days spent drowning at the bottom of an ice cream carton.

READ: Why More And More Couples Are Living Together, Apart

The modern idea of living alone carries connotations of financial self-sufficiency, freedom, and flexibility. There’s no denying we’re social creatures that need connection with others for our health and well-being.

But there are several reasons why living alone might offer some unique psychological benefits:

Freedom from constraints

As you might expect, living alone frees you up from responsibilities, expectations, and norms that might otherwise be in place when you live with someone.

Want to drink champagne in the shower at 9 a.m.? Never close the door to the bathroom ever again? Have an all-Phil-Collins-all-the-time music policy? All this can be yours in the paradise of your own making.

Solace in solitude

To state the obvious, living alone naturally affords you more time alone.

It turns out that time-outs can be instrumental for well-being long after your parents last subjected you to one.

Solitude offers opportunities for self-reflection, problem-solving, creative pursuits, and spirituality. All of which can foster personal growth and life satisfaction.

READ: The Cohabitation Effect: Does Living Together Lead To A Sexual Slump?

Here’s the kicker though: it’s the intention that matters.

Productive solitude is deliberate and purposeful. It’s not passive and aimless. Solo time spent ruminating about things outside of your control or scouring your ex’s social media presence is not as likely to be helpful as journalling, meditating, or getting back to that photography project you started.

More social pursuits

Loneliness is increasingly recognized as a risk factor for mental and physical health difficulties — and even premature mortality.

But just because you’ve chosen to reside with your fantastic self, doesn’t mean you’re doomed to a life of loneliness. Far from it.

You may be socializing more than your coupled counterparts in fact. As a solo-dweller, you also have more opportunities to create a diverse social network and pursue these connections at your leisure.

Sure, you may not have a trusted companion around to save you from yourself when the extra large pizza arrives at home. But you have plenty of pizza-loving comrades to help you destroy a pie any night of the week.

Identity development

Your sense of self is significantly influenced by the social groups you spend time with.

Spending time alone can also help in knowing and refining more of your own preferences and interests.

Maybe you don’t actually like pizza and Phil Collins as much as your friends and it’s actually tacos and Lionel Richie that get you going. Very important self-knowledge, I’d say.

READ: A Single Person’s 5-Step Guide To Buying A Home

Living alone also allows for exploration of your emotional responses (especially the negative ones) and fine-tunes your ability to self-soothe after a bad day. This type of self-knowledge can be empowering and set you up for greater stability in interpersonal relationships.

The risk of living alone …

Now, I hate to interrupt this party for one with some possible risks. But …

A life of setting your own rules and having oodles of self-reflection time can also come with the risk of becoming inflexible and self-focussed.

So to all solo-dwellers, please take full advantages of freedoms afforded to you. But also remember that turning outward for connection and inward for introspection is important, regardless of whether you’re living alone or with others.

As is cultivating flexibility — except those champagne showers. Those are non-negotiable.

More from Dr. Julie Erickson

The Cohabitation Effect: Does Living Together Lead To A Sexual Slump?

To cohabitate or not to cohabitate? It’s a question many couples ask....
Read More