Open Question: Does living alone position people for having a broader social support network?
“I don’t want to take care of anybody. I want to take care of me,’ said Nadell, who divorced her second husband two decades ago. ‘You want to be friends and get together, when I say it’s okay to get together? Fine. But to be in a relationship where I have to answer to somebody else? Been there, done that, don’t want to do it again.'”
As these solo dwellers age, the question becomes what happens when they grow frail and need someone to lean on. DePaulo argued that those who live alone often maintain broader networks of support than married couples do, pointing to a raft of international research. Partners who live separately for some portion of the week still tend to each other in sickness, and are well-positioned as caregivers because “we have our own place to recharge our batteries and avoid the all-too-frequent caretaker burnout,” said Hyman, 57, who has lived away from her partner for 20 years.”
Blue Zones is a good place to start. However, if I were to give advice to my younger self, I’d focus on:
Sleep: Get a full night’s sleep and take a midday nap for a total of eight hours.
Food: Limit eating to four consecutive hours a day. Eat mostly plants. Drink powdered psyllium and water to stave off hunger feelings in the off hours.
Exercise: Walk/run for 16,000 steps a day or 8 miles, incorporating a full range of movement. Include some weight-bearing activity or physical training twice a week.
Social: Cultivate a social environment for flourishing among family, friends and your larger social circle. Be a positive, creative person and look for the same in others. Relentlessly prune relationships that are predominantly negative.
Being & Doing: Find something to do that leaves the world slightly better than you found it and promotes good sleeping, eating, exercise and social habits. The Buddhist idea of the Noble Eightfold Path is a useful model of how to be and what to do.
“More people than ever are pursuing polyamorous, open, or swinging relationships. With the growing number of polyamorous relationships, we need to get serious about analyzing the costs and benefits of polyamory—not just for individuals, but for families, cultures, and nations…
…Polyamory, at best, offers a new ethical vision of sexual relationships that prioritizes radical honesty, sexual sovereignty, freedom of association, and social networking.”
So uncommon a term, polyamory wasn’t in my dictionary. On the surface, it sounds like a good idea. Trying to get most of our needs met by one person over time is a difficult proposition. But, on the other hand, more people means greater instability and more complex social dynamics. The result might very well be more people choosing to be alone.
Two flyers, on the same pole. Text of the second reads:
“OMG! I finally got out. My two-year long nightmare is over! I’m a free cat!
Looking for a new home in the area. No old people. A family would be nice. At least someone with a girlfriend. That’s no joke. Amy is not your girlfriend. She thinks you’re not relationship material. She’s gonna hook up with her neighbor as soon as he gets back from Peru. You better reactivate your eHarmony account, you sad motherfucker.
Anyway, if anyone’s looking for a cat email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s meet up! I’m super chill, no drama, and hope you are too! Please have HBO.
“The fastest, easiest and most inadvertent technique for messing up one’s life remains that of getting into a serious relationship with the wrong person: with very little effort, and without any innate taste for catastrophe, one can end up – by middle age or earlier – contemplating wholesale financial ruin, loss of parental rights, social opprobrium, homelessness, nervous exhaustion and shattered esteem, to begin a lengthy list of harrowing side-effects.”
True, but at the same time, I’m wondering what the Book of Life suggests we do. It’s one thing to know common mistakes. It’s another to go from where you are now to somewhere better. Going to go a little deeper here and see if there’s anything useful.
“Mutually caring relationships require kindness and patience, tolerance, optimism, joy in the other’s achievements, confidence in oneself, and the ability to give without undue thought of gain. We need to accept the fact that it’s not in the power of any human being to provide all these things all the time. for any of us, mutually caring relationships will always include some measure of unkindness and impatience, intolerance, pessimism, envy, self-doubt, and disappointment.”
“If you are disagreeing with someone you don’t trust and don’t value (e.g. because you think they’re a jerk or out to get you), your disagreement isadversarial. Your goal is to manipulate them into a desired outcome, not resolve the disagreement per se. You don’t need them to agree with you, just to do what you want.”
Never quite thought about it this way before, but the questions of trust and value are central to every relationship.
There are many reasons to not trust someone. If someone is selfish, they will almost always put their interests above others. If someone is incompetent, you cannot trust them to do what they say they will do. If someone doesn’t like you, then you cannot trust them to pursue your best interests.
Most of us probably don’t think about it systemically. If we decide to trust someone and they habitually or seriously violate our trust, then we don’t trust them again. If we are in a low trust environment, where we have extended trust to different people and had them violate it, then we learn to be less trusting of other people in general. Same is true when someone we have extended trust to keeps that trust and when we live in high trust environments we learn to be more trusting.
There is also the question of instrumental value. Why spend time disagreeing with people of no consequence in your life? Why spend time in an adversarial relationship with someone who doesn’t add value to your life?
Trust and value can be a useful lens to think about not only disagreements, but relationships as well.