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LONELY... OR LIBERATED? 26 SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2013 WALES ON Sarah Symonds The straight talking relationship expert Twitter: @SARAHJSYMONDS.

Byline: Sarah Symonds

OVER the past few weeks I've written about marriage, relationships, break-ups, divorce and infidelity, so today it seems only fitting to talk about the topic of loneliness.

While being alone certainly doesn't have to mean you are lonely, anyone who has ever suffered loneliness, whether through loss or life circumstances, will know it can be hard, hence why I want to try to show an upside to it.

And as we enter the festive season, where everything is so family-focused, spare a thought for those who will be alone this year, for whatever reason, and whether happily or not. But never ever forget my mantra, that it's "far better to be alone and lonely, than in the wrong relationship and lonely".

I think it's time we took the stigma out of being single, and the lonely out of being alone. Today I hope to inspire anyone who is feeling low, lonely or contemplating getting out of a relationship, because there are many upsides to living alone. The freedom and liberation you can feel is incredible.

The Department of Health recently issued figures showing 800,000 people in England are chronically lonely. Health Minister Jeremy Hunt made a speech, saying: "Loneliness is as bad for one's health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day."

He also went on to say that as a person living alone you might eat poorly and drink too much! I find it hard to believe that living alone could ever equate to filling your lungs with 105 cigarettes per week, plus, I happen to know many single people who live alone and don't have a drink problem.

Conversely, I also know a few married ones who have a secret smoking or drinking habit and keep it hidden. There's an upside right there. When you live alone you have nobody to report to!

BBC Radio 2 followed up this by doing a whole week on loneliness, called Living Alone Well.

They interviewed everyone from an elderly woman adjusting to being alone after losing her husband of 50 years, to a young man complaining of being single and lonely, then to divorcees proudly indulging in single living. This trend apparently is higher in women divorcees than men. It proved that you can live alone well.

For anyone living alone, the important part is to try not to let loneliness or depression creep in. Stay busy. Whether you are working, retired or unemployed, make sure you have some kind of daily routine, even if it's just going for a brisk walk, or visiting an elderly neighbour or relative. Having someone who needs you will not only uplift you but keep you focused and balanced.

And, for the record, it really is OK to do things alone. I'm a huge fan of going to the cinema alone.

I will never forget a few years ago I helped a woman get out of a horrendously messy affair. She was scared to be alone and was clinging on to this parttime man for pseudo company.

I suggested she go to the cinema alone. She thought I was mad. Said she couldn't possibly do it.

Until this day she still writes to tell me how it empowered her so much, and when she's not with her new boyfriend, she still catches a movie by herself. I've been a loner most of my life, so I've never let being alone hold me back. I've mostly travelled alone, and twice went on holiday alone to Mexico and Kenya. It was great. But it's also important to have friends and family, and, if you are a singleton it is important to make the effort to keep them in your life. I am a huge fan of balance. For example, after an intense social time, there is nothing I like more than coming home, closing the door and having some solitude. In relationships people need space and alone time. Otherwise it is suffocating.

I was never a fan of the Bridget Jones books and films, as when I was young and single, living in London, I was so busy working in a fast paced job during the day, and partying at the latest venues at night, I welcomed coming home to my empty apartment to decompress. Many celebrities live alone. Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter are married but have houses next door to each other. And Jack Nicholson has been eternally single for as long as I can remember.

Now I'm not suggesting we become a nation of singletons, all I'm saying that if you are alone, it isn't the end of the world!

If you'd like advice on your relationship dilemmas, contact Sarah directly on or All emails will be treated confidenially and names changed if printed.


Long-time bachelor Jack Nicholson

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Nov 10, 2013
Next Article:'I'm stuck in a loveless marriage... and I started an affair' Sarah Symonds The straight talking relationship expert Twitter: @SARAHJSYMONDS.

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