Some people prefer to live alone. Others enjoy sharing a house with family or friends. Which option do you think is better?
It is regularly pointed out by social commentators that we live in an increasingly isolated world. A significant number of us live on our own. This would have been almost unthinkable just a couple of generations ago. Although some individuals claim to enjoy their somewhat solitary lifestyle - and there are undoubtedly plus points - the vast majority of us would rather share our homes and our lives with others.
Most experts would agree that living with loved-ones or even with flatmates who you do not know intimately is healthier and that living alone can be psychologically damaging. It is essential that we have warm human contact and that we interact and share our experiences with fellow-humans. Coming home to an empty house can be miserable and dispiriting.
From a practical viewpoint, sharing makes sense. You can save money by splitting utility bills, rent and food costs. Equally you can save time by dividing household chores such as cooking, dusting, washing up and ironing. Obviously a house with more inhabitants is likely to be occupied more of the time and is therefore at reduced risk of burglary or break-in.
Yet we should not pretend that living with others is a totally positive experience. Your room-mates may behave in ways you find annoying: they might play loud music when you want to sleep, leave a mess in the kitchen or spend hours in the bathroom when you need a shower. However, with some tact and diplomacy, these issues can usually be overcome.
Another apparent disadvantage of sharing is that you have to take other residents’ wishes and opinions into account. You cannot simply please yourself. Yet focusing solely on what you want can lead individuals to become self-obsessed and egotistical. When you have to consider the needs of those you share with, you probably become more sensitive, caring and a generally kinder and more likeable person.
Overall, although I cannot deny that there are moments when I wholeheartedly wish I had an apartment of my own to do exactly what I wanted in, these occasions are few and far between. For the vast majority of the time, I am incredibly grateful that when I open the front door, there is someone there with a greeting, a smile and possibly a cup of tea for me.
social commentators = people who talk about what is happening in society
the vast majority of us = most of us
dispiriting = causing someone to lose enthusiasm and hope; disheartening
utility bills = the amount a household is expected to pay for electricity, water and/or gas each month
tact and diplomacy = the ability to assert your ideas or opinions, knowing what to say and how to say it without damaging the relationship by causing offence
egotistical = excessively conceited or absorbed in oneself; self-centred
few and far between = scarce; infrequent
the vast majority of the time = most of the time