Minimalism Alone Or The Loneliness Of Minimalism?

Some people say that minimalism is a lifestyle that only works for people who live alone. I somewhat agree. To truly practice minimalism takes a huge effort. When people live together, they bring differing levels of commitment to the table. That makes things complicated. Is it best to practice minimalism alone?

Photo by Dan Erickson

When I think about the most minimalist life I could live, the picture is always one in which I live alone. Living alone allows a person more leverage to limit the things they own to the bare minimum.

My Picture Of Minimalism Alone

My perfect vision of living the minimalist life looks something like this:

  • Live in a small studio apartment in the city.
  • Use public transportation, bicycle, and walking for my only forms of transportation.
  • Own one bed, one table with two chairs, a small sofa, a small end table, and not much more for furniture.
  • Own one musical instrument.
  • Use only a computer and a cell phone for media and entertainment. 
  • Have three sets of clothes.
  • Only have enough in the kitchen for two place settings.

I think you get the idea. Minimalism alone would make it easy to live with the bare necessities. I’ve lived this way before. Through most of my 20s, and into my 30s, I lived in trailers and studio apartments. Life was minimal and simple.

1 x 2 = Twice As Much, Or More

When you add a second person it complicates things. You need more space. You need more stuff. Disagreements over what makes up necessities arise. You have to compromise. Before you know it, you have two cars, a TV, a microwave, and much more.

I’m not saying that couples and families cannot strive to live the minimalist lifestyle. They can. I am suggesting that practicing minimalism alone might be the easiest way to live the minimalist lifestyle. But at what cost?  

Minimalism Alone Can Be A Lonely Life

What good is living if you can’t share you joys and sorrows with others? What’s the point in setting goals and striving for success if you’ve got no one to celebrate with?

Living alone just so you can become the ultimate minimalist feels like a very lonely endeavor. Personally, I don’t mind living alone. After my daughter goes off to college, I could become the perfect minimalist. I can see it now. 

But what about companionship? What about intimacy? What about marriage? And what about happiness? Being a minimalist alone could mean sacrificing these things. What’s the answer?

The Decision

I’m not sure where my minimalist journey will take me. Time will tell whether I seek out my ultimate minimalist lifestyle or whether I sacrifice minimalism for relationship.

I can’t say if one road is better than the other. I don’t have all the answers. But I do know that each one of us will have to make the decision as to how far we’ll take minimalism. 

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James Ewen
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