Loneliness is characterized by constant and unrelenting feelings of being alone, separated or divided from others, and an inability to connect on a deeper level and left with the returning question: ‘ why am I so lonely?’. It can also be accompanied by deeply rooted feelings of inadequacy, poor self-esteem, or even self-loathing.
Most people from outside seem relatively happy, live in a busy city, have over 1000 Facebook friends, work in a place full of people, but inside they may feel empty asking themselves: why am I so lonely?
How do you overcome feelings of loneliness?
Everyone feels lonely sometimes and there’s nothing wrong with that. But if these feelings consume you and follow you everywhere, even in the company of other people, something has to change.
Sometimes in life, there are situations when feeling lonely is normal—when you lose somebody that’s close to you or when you are grieving the loss of some other relationship. However, when loneliness becomes an overwhelming feeling that keeps you from happiness and from being who you want to be, it becomes unhealthy.
Sometimes even when family and friends surround you, you can still feel completely alone asking yourself ‘why am I so lonely?’ You may get the impression that nobody really understands you, and that everyone else is happy and living the lives they want. If this crushing sense of loneliness comes to you out of the blue for no particular reason.
Feelings of loneliness and isolation affect people of all ages, although adolescents and the elderly may be especially likely to be impacted.
If you are feeling lonely for no particular reason, you probably don’t understand these five things:
1. Alone doesn’t have to mean lonely
I really believe that loneliness is a state of mind that comes from within, a sort of soul sickness, that doesn’t have a lot to do with external circumstances. Some people can be totally alone in a rural area and feel tranquil and complete.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are people that can live in an overcrowded city, have over 500 Facebook friends, work in a place full of people, and feel absolutely lonely.
There is a significant difference between being alone and being lonely. Most of the difference depends on your attitude towards whatever situation you may be in. You have to accept that being alone with yourself is an important part of life. It’s okay to be alone, even if it’s been a while, it doesn’t have to make you feel uncomfortable.
Feeling bad about being alone is your CHOICE.
Imagine this situation. It’s Friday night, you’re home alone, and there isn’t anything going on, nobody has called you. You called your best friend, but today he’s going out with his girlfriend. You’re not involved with anyone at the moment, and so you start to feel lonely…You could waste some time on Facebook or playing video games, or finally you may end up sitting miserably on the couch feeling unhappy and desperately lonely.
Think of your situation positively, like this: “I don’t have plans and it’s Friday. Seems like everyone else is doing something fun. That’s awesome! Now what am I going to do myself fun? Tonight’s my night!’ You turn on your favorite music, take a nice bath, cook or order some take out. Maybe you’re always complaining that you don’t have enough time, then you should use being alone to your advantage and get some things done or whatever else you want.
Do you see the difference between those situations? The first person felt lonely, the second one CHOSE TO BE HAPPY ALONE. The external circumstances didn’t change at all.
2. Be your own best friend
You have to believe that there is no better companion than yourself. Who knows you better? Who understands your needs better than you? You have all that’s needed to be your own best friend. And you better like yourself because you are going to spend a lot of time with this person inside you!
Often feeling lonely has a lot to do with your self-acceptance. You have to work on ways to boost your self-esteem. Take some time and think about, or even write down some positive traits that you possess.Maybe you have a good sense of humor or relate to people easily? Try the small steps method and take a couple minutes each day to focus on positive affirmation sand the goodness you bring to those around you.
3. Better alone than with bad company
Treat being alone as a personal choice. Be confident with your situation when you are alone. Sure, you may see people together in a restaurant or the movies while you are sitting alone, but who cares! Perhaps, you wanted to go there because they had the best steaks or you wanted to watch the latest movie from your favorite director. Will the steak taste terribly or will the movie be boring because you were alone? Of course not!
There is nothing wrong with doing things alone. I would say the more often the better! Believe me, after you’ve been alone for a while, you’ll find it much easier to meet people than you would have if you were with someone. When you are confident being alone you become more attractive for people to socialize with. When you look and feel happy inside, you send out positive vibrations and you automatically become more attractive to others.
4. Get comfortable with being alone
Being able to be happy when you are alone is an integral part of self-improvement. Sometimes we are so busy with school, work and everyday life that when we are alone, we feel that something is wrong.
Look at hermits, monks, and religious gurus; they all walk their spiritual paths alone, making it a source of pride and a source of their wisdom. Practice being alone as well! Try spending some quality time alone focusing only on you every day and see what happens. You can find joy spending time with just yourself.
5. Take a break from your online life
Last but not least, you should switch off your virtual life. Nowadays it’s easy to create our own double life. We can easily sign up anonymously on all kinds of forums, support groups, and social networks. But if you’ve read this article so far, you probably feel lonely in REAL life, so focus on it more. I don’t underestimate Internet relationships. They are very typical these days. But if you feel lonely despite having 500 Facebook friends, it means that you should probably focus on developing REAL human relationships.
I suggest limiting the time you spend commenting, chatting, and viewing pictures of people you don’t really know. Make a list of the people whose relationship you really value and bring something important to your life. Spend quality time with them and stop wasting time in the virtual world.
These days it’s really easy to forget what’s important in life—maintaining valuable relationships with people and focusing on your most important relationship, your relationship with yourself. Take care of your needs and focus on self-improvement, and you will always feel comfortable and happy being alone.
9 Powerful Reasons Why Dating As a Millennial Has Become Messed Up and Can Leave You Even More Lonely
A lot of us want the same old-school love of the 70s and 80s. But none of us is willing to work like it.
We want to spank our woman but we also want to love and preach her, what’s aka the millennials dilemma of Dr. Jekyll and Hyde.
The truth is, most of us really don’t know what we want from our girl. If you know what you want from your relationship, you are pretty much on the right road; you are one lucky dawg then. Romantic relationships were so simple and easy in the past, weren’t they? You liked someone; you told them; and if both the individuals felt the same, they got together. But these days, for a millennial, things have become frustrating and a great deal complicated.
1. Strategic Approach to Responding
The biggest problem of millennials is that they think that if we respond to everything right away, we will be considered “always available” and “too desperate.” The thing is, even after being bestowed with the convenience and ease of instant communication, we prefer to use it with utmost care. Instant messaging is instant for a reason. So you can reply right away not to withhold your responses to show how unattached or busy you are.
2. We Rather ‘Ghost’ Than End Things Normally
Ghosting – another annoying habit of almost all the millennials, be it men or women, is that we would rather choose to stop responding rather than admit that the spark is no longer there. We could tell in a civilized manner. But, no. As most of the conversations take place over text messages or chat, we think it’s perfectly fine. It’s NOT!
3. We are More Focused On Sex Rather Than Having an Actual Relationship
Nowadays, people rarely make an effort to get to know each other first before getting intimate with each other. Sex is available rather easily. Millennials are living in a generation that is not in love. We are knee-deep in the hookup culture where sex is of more value than love. We prefer temporary relationships are over life-long commitment such as marriage. Most of the time, sex does not lead to a relationship rather it leads to confusion, heartaches or just a one-night stand with someone new.
Everyone is hesitant and beyond scared to get close and open up to the person they are dating or sleeping with.
4. Option Overload
It’s been said that millennials do not really settle on anything. The reason? Because there is always a new option available; someone better looking, with better interests/hobbies, or more money.
We move from person to person and even if we find someone who makes us feel great, loved, and appreciated, we never stop searching. As a result, we screw things up for ourselves. This never-ending quest is more adventurous and exciting than the treasure of a loving relationship.
5. It Is A Competition Of Who Cares The Least
Showing your real emotions and telling exactly how you feel, is a big no-no. Because, if we tell how we truly feel and act like we are interested, the other person will run in the opposite direction because being in a committed relationship is not the goal. There is none or little appreciation for being honest nowadays.
6. We Don’t Want To Be Responsible
If we hurt someone’s feelings, it is not our problem but theirs. That’s the millennials’ present-day mantra. We don’t feel the tiniest bit of remorse or the need to apologize for hurting someone or making someone feel bad (not true for everyone, I agree. Many millennials still care and love). For us, it is not our problem to resolve someone’s emotions even if we were the cause behind it. We feel entitled to act that way because we do not want to take responsibility.
7. Unrealistic Expectations of Perfection
The thousands of dating profiles and social media “relationship goals” make us believe a fairytale that does not really exist. We watch people posting about their seemingly perfect love lives on Facebook and Instagram and believe that this is what defines a relationship. But well, it doesn’t! Not at all! We come across the smallest detail about someone which we may not like and then quickly reject the person for the next best thing. Nothing is ever good enough for millennials.
A balance of perfections and imperfections alike make a relationship, a reality we have forgotten.
8. Always Doubtful
The millennial version of commitment is a relationship with no strings attached sex. We have no idea where the relationship is going and we least care to find out whether the relationship has a future or it’s just a temporary stopover for sex and all. In some cases, both partners keep on wondering if it’s a real relationship or just two people having sex. No one is clear about their intentions while some lie just to boost their ego.
Currently, there is no trust in millennial dating culture that makes it all the more difficult to get into a relationship. The communication is nonexistent. Then, there is the constant nagging feeling: “What if the other person has an intimate relationship with someone else, too?” Our answer to this enigma is to simply out Xnspy or other monitoring apps on our partner’s phone and see if they are truly loyal or banging someone else.
9. We Are Rather Content On Our Own
We are better off on our own and that is why we are not really ready to leave our comfort zones for anybody else. In all honesty, we are happy with things just the way they are. We have committed our lives to ourselves. And for us, it is both happy and rewarding even without getting into a romantic relationship. All of this makes it really hard to get romantically involved with someone and start a relationship.
All in all, dating as a millennial is not going as good as we had hoped. Most of us have lost all our trust in love and relationships because we constantly come across bad luck or disappointments. The behaviors have become rather predictable and, that is why a very small percentage of relationships today last for long or end up in marriage even. Hope the dating scenario changes for the better in future, but it calls for a change in the way we millennials do things.
Having said that, I guess we also should try to be particular about what we want from these relationships. When a person knows exactly he wants, he has more chances to have a healthy relationship. Yeah, it is cool to know your partner’s best feature and compliment them on it but do you know what is best in you? It takes guts to look at yourself in the mirror and understand what holds you back and what your strongest point is. So, if you really want to settle down now, and want to be happy, you got to learn to do that my friend.
It is that one key which is essential for both the parties. Honesty is the best policy. It’s time we remembered this age-old philosophy. It might do us some good! It all boils down to you really wanting to have a meaningful relationship. Research says that romantic relationships have better chances to long-term and fulfilling if one of them is an optimist. Seeing the glass is half-full rather than half-empty, optimists see their partners more supportive and, as a result, they try to be less needy and less supportive too. So, always look on the bright side of things. You never know how it can brighten up your love life in more than one ways.
Dr. John Gottman, a famous researcher, and psychologist who has been studying couples for the last four decades. Over the years, because of his extensive research, he has been able to understand why some relationships are literally like ticking time bombs. Lucky him! Dr. Gottman was able to find out that these kind of relationships are the norm today that lead to stress, constant unhappiness, and divorce in case the couple is married.
Although social scientists haven’t really been successful in predicting individual behavior so far, millennials have become quite predictable in their actions. If you know what to look for, then you can predict relationship behavior easily. Let’s have a look at the findings of Gottman’s research.
3 Key Steps to Connect Easier
We are all social creatures. Sometimes because of our fears and anxious thoughts, we miscommunicate with others instead of connecting with them. How to change that?
- Express Interest
Yeah, you are too busy doing our own thing, finding your true self, following your passion, building your business or career etc., but if you want to have a solid relationship in the future, you’d better start now. If you feel something special around the person you are with, don’ neglect that. Learn about what is going on in your partner’s life. Show some interest in their lives and ask questions. Everything is not, and cannot be about you. So try to check in with your partner and know what is going on in their lives.
If it’s someone you want to get to know better, don’t play it. Put your honest, best version on the table, if you are expecting to get the same.
- Be Gentle
It is easy to blame others in conflicts, isn’t it? Focus on what you need. Do you need your partner’s help with the house chores? Ask nicely and that you would appreciate their help rather than taunting them that they don’t help ever. Be gentle in conflicts and avoid becoming defensive, critical or superior. Handle the conflicts with mutual respect and openness.
- Repair the negativity
As mentioned above, millennials aren’t too good at taking responsibility. If you truly want to make a relationship work, then you must learn to take responsibility. You have to repair whatever the negativity your relationship is going through. It is one of the most important relationship skills. You cannot avoid conflicts.
Having conflicts in a relationship is normal. And sometimes, it is healthy even. We are humans and, we are bound to make mistakes. When couples have any disagreements, it is important that they (or one of them) leaves behind a way to repair the relationship. In some cases, conflicts actually bring the couple closer and intensify the intimacy.
In order to do all of that mentioned above, it is necessary that the couple shares a strong friendship too. So, rather than just finding someone to call as your partner, see that they are your partners in the true sense. Couples with a friendship tend to work longer and have a healthy relationship because they feel accepted, safe, and close to each other.
May we find ourselves in fulfilling relationships in the future, amen!
Why Sex Is Not The Answer To Loneliness
The emotional toll of using sex to fill a void.
Maybe you’re newly single and feeling uncomfortable without your ex partner, maybe you’ve been single for a long time and are needing validation of your attractiveness or value. Heck, maybe you’re in a relationship and your partner isn’t either emotionally or physically available and you’re feeling alone. Whatever your current story is, if you have found yourself looking to sex to fill an emptiness you are feeling, know that you are not alone.
As human beings, we share a need for connection and intimacy, both of which come in multiple forms. Sex can feel like a great instant gratification way to feel less alone in the world, more connected, more wanted, and needed.
The problem is that, as a therapist, I have not yet had a lonely person who has had a one-night stand or has a habitual non-romantic sexual partner answer yes to the following question, “So did you feel better, satisfied, or happier after that sexual encounter?”
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with casual sex (when emotional and physical safety are all taken into account), and I strongly believe that meeting new people and having sex in general is a wonderful thing. I can share plenty of stories of sexual adventures outside of a committed relationship that was taken for what they were and thoroughly enjoyed by the participants in all ways.
Seeking true intimacy
Sex for the sake of sex is a different thing than sex in search of intimacy. If you have a casual sexual encounter, be honest with yourself as to what it is. Never lie to yourself that this is any more than what it is at face value. Please resist the urge to set yourself up for disappointment, guilt, shame, hurt, even a sense of betrayal, by pretending this is the beginning of something emotionally intimate.
What we’re talking about here is replacing true connection and real intimacy with a band-aid. Loneliness is very uncomfortable, even painful. We begin to doubt ourselves in loneliness. We begin to catastrophize our situation and begin to believe that we will die alone.
All kinds of distorted thoughts start flooding your brain when you are lonely – especially in the middle of the night. When you are in this vulnerable place and someone shows sexual interest in you, it is easy to be drawn toward the mirage of connection that sex provides.
When we have sex with partners who are not committed to us or interested in more than sex we enter a dangerous area that can lead to connecting the amazing experience of sex with negative emotions instead of connection and intimacy.
Casual sex can increase the feeling of loneliness
We can start to question our own value when we see that people will spend an hour or even a night with us, but nothing more. Sex itself can even become distasteful, and it is far too important to the human emotional experience to tarnish it with such things. Also, you are too important to risk your emotional health and sense of self-esteem and confidence for a mirage.
At this point, you may be asking me, “Okay, so, what? Am I supposed to just spend the rest of my life alone and sexless?” Not at all.
I ask you to be patient. Engage in your life. Do the things you enjoy. Spend time with people you feel good around. Set and work toward goals. And, while you’re doing all of that, be open to the possibility of a new partner coming into your life.
If you truly know that you have a sexual need that requires meeting with something more than masturbation go ahead and have a casual experience, just remember to see it for what it is and get yourself back on track to finding what you are really looking for – someone to love, who will love you in return.
Illustrations by marzena.biel