Doyou Have FOBA ?* UPDATE ADDICTION
Whether we’re cramming our diaries with nights out or Tweeting the time away, Cosmo investigates our *Fear of Being Alone.
When did you last enjoy a few minutes alone? Or are you constantly refreshing Facebook whenever your boyfriend goes to the bar, or sulking because your flatmate’s been out three nights solid? A recent report on lonely women revealed that, while 55% of women our mothers’ age are comfortable on their own, just 17% of 20-somethings enjoy their own company.
FOBA is currently something Ruby Singh, 26, understands. “I get bored on my own—i can’t bear it for even five minutes,” she confesses.
It’s a similar story for 28-year-old Anisha Khanna. “I run my own PR company, so most nights I’m out socialising,” she says. “Even when I have a night in, I’m constantly messaging friends on my Blackberry.”
Life coach Shamash Alidina believes there’s been a cultural shift towards filling our time—a woman constantly on the go is respected, while ‘doing nothing’ is seen to be lazy. “We’ve become addicted to the adrenaline that comes with achieving things, but this is draining as we’re not allowing ourselves to relax,” explains Shamash.
Psychologist Leila Collins agrees: “We all need psychological space to recover from our day—whether that’s a work deadline or a fight with a boyfriend—but few of us are getting it.” Experts agree that a part of the reason we’re not getting this space, is our permanently plugged-in status. It’s estimated that young women spend almost half their waking day glued to social media. This constant need to feel connected means we believe we can be validated only by other people, argues social psychologist Sherry Turkle in her book Alone Together. And weirdly, social media is making us feel more lonely—research shows the under-30s are most likely to feel isolated.
So how can we master our collective FOBA? “It’s possible to be alone without feeling lonely. Remind yourself that your friends and family are there if you really need them,” says psychologist Professor Robert Edelmann.
It’s an approach 29-year-old Mansi Sharma has learnt to master. “I bought my own flat and, after years of having roommates, I was scared about living alone. I filled my diary with nights out, but it soon became exhausting,” she says. “My job as an HR manager involves talking to people all day, so now when I get home, I want to shut out the world. My boyfriend lives around the corner, but I only let him come over twice during the week—he calls my flat ‘the fortress’.” So, repeat after us: “All by myself, I wanna be all by myse-e-e-lf...”