I’m lonely so society must change

I first started properly thinking about all this around the summer of 2017. I had recently come out of a 12-year relationship and, not unrelatedly, had moved to Ireland to work on my PhD, that most solitary of endeavours. After years of coupled domesticity, I was living alone. Solitude is not the same as loneliness, of course – as Nelson puts it, “loneliness is solitude with a problem” – and some of this was OK: I read, I walked, I wrote, I went out and made new friends. But my isolation, coupled with the rawness of a recent heartbreak, frequently was a problem.

OK.

For me, as somebody living alone, lockdown has meant dealing with a relentless and often grinding solitude and so I’ve returned to the alternative living arrangements I pondered back in 2017 with a new seriousness. At the age of 41 I have decided that I no longer want to live alone, but what do I do about this?

Well, why not not live alone then?

Loneliness, then, is partly produced by the way we organise the world – and to address it we need to seriously rethink how we approach our public spaces, housing arrangements and relationships. This includes questioning our dependency on certain forms of relationship – the couple and the nuclear family – as units of social organisation.

Oh, it’s everyone else that must change, not you alone then, is it?

30 thoughts on “I’m lonely so society must change”

  1. See also: I’m a porker so we must change how we look at fatness and I’m not making any money out of my gender studies degree and blogging so we must end capitalism now.

  2. This is all the fault of health fanatics banning stuff like smoking.

    After all you’re never alone with a Strand.

  3. TBF Julia, the Graun is so ban-happy these days that there’s little point commenting even when allowed. I gave up after the fourth email address.

  4. So Much For Subtlety

    I had recently come out of a 12-year relationship and, not unrelatedly, had moved to Ireland to work on my PhD, that most solitary of endeavours.

    So a failed 12 year relationship? From 20-ish to 32-ish? Her peak fertility years? A PhD? (And who the f**k moves to Ireland to study?) Yeah, buy some cats. I foresee a great deal of loneliness.

    It is interesting that the Guardian is opposed to larger families in every possible case. Even existing nuclear families they are none too keen on. Unless they are Muslim of course.

    But the self-absorption is impressive. Me! Me! Me! If a man, not one, doesn’t want to live with this woman – and who can blame them? – why would half a dozen? Who even may or may not be getting any sex out of it. They are to give up their independence because her conversation is so sparkling?

    In the meantime I demand equal time in the Guardian’s pages. I have an article ready to go on the difficulty of solving my “loneliness” problems because of the injustice of Alesha Dixon’s on-going refusal to move in with me. Or at least come around for a quick shag twice a week. Maybe three times.

  5. “I have been trying, for some time now, to find dignity in my loneliness,” wrote the poet and critic Maggie Nelson in her 2009 book Bluets.

    The historian Fay Bound Alberti, who has written a “biography” of the condition

    I had recently come out of a 12-year relationship and, not unrelatedly, had moved to Ireland to work on my PhD

    Huh, it’s almost as if there’s a connection between terrible feminist life choices and misery. Who could possibly have foreseen this happening to a sexually dimorphic mammalian species that has lived in family groups since our wild and wooly ancestors were drawing rude pictures in caves?

    Many second-wave feminists thought hard about how to organise homes and communities in a way that uncouples caregiving from essentialist ideas of family and distributes it across communities; there have also long been efforts in the LGBTQ community to develop alternative family models on similar principles in response to the challenges they have faced. These ideas are revisited and updated in the recently published, collectively authored Care Manifesto, which imagines more expansive models of kinship than traditional family models and aims to reclaim “forms of genuinely collective and communal life”.

    Wheels are sexist, so let’s drive on triangles and blame the Patriarchy when it doesn’t work.

    I’ve had some extremely rewarding cohabiting relationships in house and flatshares in my life,

    This is like a fedora incel boasting about the particularly rewarding wanks he’s enjoyed with his Japanese body pillow. You’d need a heart of stone not to laugh 🙁

    But I don’t want to depend on a romantic partner to avoid solitude

    Probably wise, because not only has that ship sailed, it’s hit an iceberg, broken in two, and Billy Zane has long fucked off on a lifeboat. Romance is a young people’s game for cute girls and lusty lads, doesn’t work so well when you’re knackered and daredevil balloonists can get lost in the canyons under your eyebags because you’ve started resembling Zelda from Terrahawks:

    https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/1301945662934786048/3cBv7SqD.jpg

    Eli Davies is a writer and academic researcher, and the co-editor of Under My Thumb: Songs That Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them, an anthology of women’s music writing

    I’m sure this will be of great comfort to her when she dies alone and is eaten by cats.

  6. Someone to add to the leads for a Cat of the Month club startup (I think I have to credit Tim Newman for that idea).

  7. Solitude is not the same as loneliness, of course – as Nelson puts it, “loneliness is solitude with a problem”

    Like being stranded 50m up in the air on a column.

  8. So Much For Subtlety

    These ideas are revisited and updated in the recently published, collectively authored Care Manifesto, which imagines more expansive models of kinship than traditional family models and aims to reclaim “forms of genuinely collective and communal life”.

    In fairness I think many of us would agree these people need some form of genuinely collective and communal life. With padded walls.

    As with jails, we see the problem with mental health facilities is letting people out.

  9. SMFS – Sure, but there’s a lot more Crazy floating about than ever before.

    That Care Manifesto, for example: A caring government must promote collective joy, not the satisfaction of individual desire.

    I can’t wait for Lisa Nandy to promote our collective joy.

    This means the transformation of how we organise work through co-operatives, localism and nationalisation.

    Because of course it does.

    It’s performative af tho. I’m pretty sure these middle class academic leeches don’t actually want to live in Romania circa 1987 or North Korea circa now (both much more robustly patriarchal societies than ours).

    What they really want to do is complain about the excesses of late-stage capitalism while consuming its fruits.

  10. I *you* want to rearrange how *you* organise your family and work, go ahead. It’s a free country.

    Oh, you want to rearrange how *I* organise *my* life? ffok cuf.

  11. At the age of 41 I have decided that I no longer want to live alone, but what do I do about this?

    You . . . you rent out part of the house to someone else?

  12. Here she is, in all her splendour. Still doing a PhD at 41 and single – hard to fathom why there isn’t a queue of fit young men round the block, innit?

    (The only Eli Davies known to WikiP played stand-off for Wigan in the 1900s. Nah, couldn’t be.)

  13. It was no less a luminary than the the great feminist icon herself – Dame Edna – who said ‘I was born with the gift of being able to laugh at other people’s misfortune.’ And the sad (not sad) truth is that bitter, aging and single Strong Independent Women such as Ms Davies are the butt of a thousand jokes. Google “WAATGM” for some choice examples.

  14. What they really want to do is complain about the excesses of late-stage capitalism while consuming its fruits.

    What they really want to do is complain.

  15. A caring government must promote collective joy, not the satisfaction of individual desire.

    What the fuck is collective joy?
    The closest i can come up with is the summation of our individual joy. Which is surely a result of satisfying our individual desires…?

    But still, collective joy? wtf?

    @Steve
    Wheels are sexist, so let’s drive on triangles and blame the Patriarchy when it doesn’t work.

    Triangular wheels are actually a thing.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oobpwxMKD0s
    They use Reuleaux triangles and bearings.

    We could use square wheels, and we’d only have to resurface the entirety of the road network…
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlvjWpWu99A

  16. We know all about square wehhels, thanks to Hengist and Horsa

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qopCQSWmpM

    A while after my missus passed away, I thought “I really ought to do something about this, I feel a bit lonely.”

    I dated a few women, whom I knew as ex-colleagues or friends from the past and were roughly my age. Approaching the subjects with a more critical eye than heretofore, my conclusion was that if a lady is single at that age and is not a widow or no-fault divorced (eg traded in for younger model), there is probably a pretty good reason for her being single.

    I bought a cat instead, who provides all the physical violence a chap could want from a relationship.

  17. Person whose entire work output is women, women. women wants man to be interested in her.

    There are lots of men whose only interests are male things. Our author does nothing but pour scorn on them. You reap what you sow.

  18. What they really want to do is complain.

    No, what they really, really want is to fuck up as many people’s lives as possible, millions of them, because they are unable to function in normal society and despise it as a result.

  19. After all you’re never alone with a Strand

    Indeed, after the failure of Strand and that particular advertising campaign they changed the branding and their entire marketing approach to create “Embassy” which rapidly became a top seller in the 1960’s and 70’s.

    Lesson learned I would have said.

    As for the Grauniad’s “Lonely Cat Lady” (one of very many I suspect), you reap what you sow. She’s pushed the self-defeating and divisive narrative of Feminazism her entire life and now wonders why men consider her to be a toxic misandrist too tiresome for any man to deal with and with more red flags than the Chinese Army on a May Day Parade…but it’s all everybody else’s problem, apparently

    Get thee to a nunnery

    …even the nuns don’t want these toxic bitches.

  20. What the fuck is collective joy?

    An impossibility. Although with enough guns and death camps people can be persuaded to pretend they feel it.

  21. So Much For Subtlety

    What they really want to do is complain about the excesses of late-stage capitalism while consuming its fruits.

    It is Evolved Parasitism. Women have evolved to persuade men to take care of them. They have discovered that they can shame weak men into taxing other men into taking care of them without having to blow anyone.

    Chernyy_Drakon January 5, 2021 at 6:24 pm – “Triangular wheels are actually a thing.”

    A key plot point in an early Poul Anderson story. Part of his very good Polesotechnic League series. Can’t remember its name though.

    In other great Guardian moments: Fried chicken as racist shame

    https://www.theguardian.com/food/2020/oct/13/ive-always-loved-fried-chicken-but-the-racism-surrounding-it-shamed-me

  22. So Much For Subtlety

    Chernyy_Drakon January 5, 2021 at 6:24 pm – “But still, collective joy? wtf?”

    I don’t know. When the British people voted to leave and Trump got elected, I felt the joy of hearing the lamentations of soy bois and their transwomen. I am pretty sure that was share by a great many people. A collective joy if you like.

  23. If you’re lonely, go to the pub or the library. Plenty of people are eager to latch onto you and talk about anything under the sun.

    My solution to this is my favourite rant; the Greens are wrong, a simple cheap technical fix for climate change——-oops, perhaps some other time. However it’s guaranteed to work.

    No doubt the lady simply wants someone to pay her for providing her with the entertainment she prefers.

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