‘Let Your Loneliness Make You Brave’

Take It From Carly Rae Jepsen (and a Bunch of Scholars): This Ordinary Emotion Can Be a Beautiful Thing

Can the 21st century forge a better relationship with loneliness?

It’s a question that feels especially appropriate on Valentine’s Day, the holiday most linked to the lonely-hearted.

Over two decades since Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone sounded the alarm bell on social isolation, and almost three years since COVID lockdowns began, we regularly speak about an epidemic of loneliness in the U.S.

But for all its ubiquity, loneliness remains relatively taboo. As psychiatrists Jacqueline Olds and Richard S. Schwartz observed in 2010’s The Lonely American, this nation, especially—and its obsession with self-reliance—has created a …