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We may crave time alone the way we crave time with others

When we feel lonely, it's because our desire for company exceeds our ability to find it. This process can work in reverse as well: If our desire for solitude exceeds our ability to find it, we can also struggle with feelings of discomfort.

"If we're not satisfying that need, there might also be a cost, just like there's a cost of being lonely if you don't satisfy your need to belong."

What constitutes the right amount of solitude varies person to person, Coplan says, but when you aren't getting enough time on your own, you may begin to feel more irritable, anxious or put out.

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And if even this does not help you obtain a separate space of your own, even for a little bit, remember that in many ways, solitude is what you make it. According to Salmon and his wife, Susan Matarese, a political scientist, also at Louisville, one doesn't need to be physically alone to experien...

Over the past few years, researchers have devoted significant study to the concept of solitude — its potential benefits, its role in our lives, even its basic definition.

Where is the line between "together" and "alone"? This question isn't easy to answer, and to date, psychologists haven't settled on a single definition of solitude or the nature of its "active ingredient".

But that bolt from the blue need not arrive for solitude to show some psychological benefits. And you don't need to emulate a medieval hermit to get the kind of time and space needed to feel those effects either.

Funny as it may sound, pursuing your solitude may help develop your sense of community. By asking others for the time to yourself, and explaining why this is no reflection on their company, Salmon says you are bringing others into your trust, which they may appreciate.

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