The art of being alone

What’s the best way to adjust to life on your own when a romantic relationship comes to and end? Journalist Carine de Kooning started by collecting tips from experts and friends.

Why is being alone so hard for many people? According to Dutch lifespan psychology professor Nele Jacobs, the pain of being alone is a drive to action, which is usually an uncomfortable sensation. “Hunger and tiredness can be difficult to endure,” she explains, “but hunger drives us to eat and tiredness drives us to sleep. In the same way, the discomfort of being alone drives us to seek out social contact. Humans are social creatures that don’t really function unless interacting with others.”


So it’s not surprising that I’m doing everything I can to avoid pain of being alone. The sadness stays with me anyway, sometimes surging at unexpected moments. In the middle of a conversation or while I’m reading a book, waves of emotion wash over me and I surface again gasping for air. I’m alive, but still I need to learn to swim a bit better in the turbulent and unpredictable sea of loneliness.

  • You can read the article ‘The art of being alone’ in Issue 19.

Text Carine de Kooning Photography @Good Vibrations Images/Stocksy United