|Case Studies Jan/Feb|
By Florence Falk
Alone without Loneliness
Discovering the satisfactions of single-womanhood
More women may be living alone today than at any time in human history. Fifty-one percent of women live without spouses. A quarter of adult American women have never married. The percentage of divorced or separated women has tripled since 1950. Nearly 12 million women are widows.
Yet "aloneness," the state in which each of these women lives, is virtually invisible as a subject of even passing concern in the social and cultural zeitgeist. Shouldn't we, as therapists, pay more attention to it? I believe we need to take a more systematic and comprehensive therapeutic approach to the role that aloneness can play at every stage of women's lives, whether they're single or married, young or old.
After the Bliss
Lisa, a successful set designer in her early thirties, came into my office looking wilted and slightly shell-shocked, as if she'd rushed to a party only to find it was long over. In a way, this was true. Four years after meeting Sam and falling in love, she'd separated from him—an event that seemed to have occurred of its own accord, as apathy and battle fatigue wore romance down. She was struggling to understand how a magical relationship could have fallen apart. She said that in meeting Sam she'd come as close as she could imagine to finding a soulmate. She'd found him the smartest, most exciting man she'd met. They spent a whole year in romantic bliss.
Then slowly things began to change. Lisa began to notice, or imagine, that Sam was gradually becoming more distant, more preoccupied, more restless, more emotionally cut off from her. She felt an empty space inside, a sense of aching disappointment and need—feelings that evaporated during those ever fewer times when he was loveable and attentive.