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Where’s Your Sanctuary?

Do you have a special place you can go where you feel comforted and calm? A place that is almost sacred, where no one else is likely to intrude?

I have recently started interviewing people for a new project on how we live today (alone? alone but near others who are important to us? with others? which others?) and how we find just the right mix, for each of us as individuals, of time alone and time together. (I’m finding some people from an online survey, which is here if you are interested. Referrals, including self-referrals, are also welcome.)

At first, I thought that a sanctuary would be especially important to people who live with other people – especially if they live with a whole group of other people. One person living with roommates told me that she goes in her bedroom and shuts the door. Another person living with a friend described as her favorite place a cozy room with a comfy couch and ottoman and a big pillowy chair.

A musician who lives in a multi-generational home described the time she spends in a music room, a lush room with plants on just about every windowsill and shelf and table top, fresh flowers here and there, and windows on three sides looking out to verdant expanses of grass and bushes and trees.

A week after I interviewed the musician, she sent me a follow-up email. As much as she enjoys her time in the music room, she said, the practicing she does there is akin to work. Her real escape – her true sanctuary – is the bathroom! There she can draw a hot bath and just relax and meditate for 15 or 20 minute a day. No interruptions, no intrusions.

Your sanctuary does not need to be inside your house. A person who lives with four other humans and four dogs described the contentment of picking out the best-behaved of the dogs and going for a long walk.

I should have realized this sooner since I live alone myself, but even people who have a place to themselves sometimes have particular rooms or places that are special to them. One solo dweller whose front porch is just steps from a street has a back yard with a two-tiered deck nestled in the bountiful hues of springtime blossoms and vegetation and a view that goes on for miles and ends with a peek of the Pacific Ocean. I’d call that a sanctuary.

So how do you live and what’s your sanctuary?

Where’s Your Sanctuary?

Bella DePaulo, Ph.D

Bella DePaulo (Ph.D., Harvard; Academic Affiliate, Psychological and Brain Sciences, UC Santa Barbara), an expert on single life, is the author of several books, including "Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After" and "How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century." Her TEDx talk is "What no one ever told you about people who are single," Dr. DePaulo has discussed singles and single life on radio and television, including NPR and CNN, and her work has been described in newspapers such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and magazines such as Time, Atlantic, the Week, More, the Nation, Business Week, AARP Magazine, and Newsweek. Dr. DePaulo is in her sixties. She has always been single and always will be. She is "single at heart" -- single is how she lives her best and most meaningful life. Visit her website at

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APA Reference
DePaulo, B. (2012). Where’s Your Sanctuary?. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 17, 2020, from


Last updated: 29 May 2012
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