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8 Solutions for Loneliness That Don’t Require a Romantic Relationship

Lonely woman

“People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges.” ~Joseph F. Newton

The epiphany has finally occurred. Why on earth has it taken so long? I ask myself this as I look back on the last nine years, which I have spent trying to cover up my real issue. Loneliness.

After getting married at twenty and then leaving nineteen years later, it took another two years before I met another man that I fell in love with almost instantly. He told me from the very beginning it would never be a relationship, and yet I have persevered with our friendship in various formats for the last seven years.

During that time, I have also tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to find someone else to be a part of my personal life. I met someone else just five months ago, and after a very difficult dating period of three and half months, I ended it. We had completely different primary values. So essentially, I have been single for nine years now.

To my surprise, the last man taught me that the last nine years have not been a waste. Being single does not mean that I am not of value to society (which is what I had been thinking).

Now that I am on my own again, I realize that this whole process of finding a partner has not been about finding a relationship at all. I have been desperately trying to overcome loneliness—and possibly for a long as twenty years!

Let’s look at what has been happening and see if you can identify with any of these:

Workaholic

Rather than face the real issue of loneliness, I have dedicated myself to my work and various business enterprises.

The people out there in the real world can see and have benefited from my productive endeavor. Alas, I have not managed to keep a reasonable amount of rewards for myself or spend as much time as I would like with my children.

Constantly helping

Yes, I find it easier to say yes rather than no. Oh Sue, you are so great at … could you please…? And the answer is nearly always yes. It's only no when I have something else on that I am doing for someone else.

Neglect

I don’t cut my hair every six weeks, I only get my nails done if required, and I consider the effort it takes to get dressed up a waste of productive time rather than something fun and special to do. It recently took me four hours to get dressed and ready for a Christmas function, and I felt exhausted by the end of it. Isn’t it supposed to be fun to get dressed up? Why do social occasions feel like work too?

Social isolation

I moved from my hometown twenty years ago. Since then, I have raised two children, who are now nineteen and sixteen, without a family support network. I have tried countless times to connect with various people, but somehow they perceive me as too busy and so we hardly ever catch up.

I have had brief moments of companionship and then lengthy periods of getting on with life on my own.

Victimhood

This is the real ugly face of it. I have been very good at disguising it in various forms to attract a bit of sympathy, but if I really want to fess up, then I should admit that I have fallen into the trap of reminiscing and saying “poor me.”

That stops me from doing what I could be doing, and it gives me an excuse to say why my situation is like this and state that a relationship is the only panacea, when it isn’t.

I have lost count of the number of books I have read, personal development courses I have attended, and healers I have sought assistance from. I have tried counseling, psychology, hypnotherapy, pastoral care, energy healing, kinesiology, massage, talking to anyone who will listen, writing, walking my neighbor’s dogs, going to all sorts of events, and more.

I now realize that the root cause of all of this searching for answers or a cure for me is loneliness.

However, I am wise enough to know that some strategies for overcoming loneliness are more successful than others.

I also know that loneliness can occur either inside or outside of a relationship, as I have felt it in both situations.

The irony is that I regularly advise people on how to connect in a new location and have even carried out my own advice, but the safety barrier I have put around myself to protect me from the pain of loneliness has stopped the friendship from coming through.

I have been friendly but not vulnerable enough to let people see the real me. No wonder they have let me fend for myself!

If you have also created a personal protection barrier or are feeling lonely, I can recommend these tips to overcome it:

1. Connect through your sports, hobbies, passions or interests.

Meet like-minded people who share something that you also love. They will make time for you; other people already have full calendars.

2. Borrow or adopt a dog and go walking.

People talk to people with dogs.

3. Talk to senior citizens.

They have plenty of wisdom, time, and advice that they can share. By listening, you are also validating them as well as yourself.

4. Expect it to be challenging.

It may be difficult for you, but don’t give up. Keep going but start with the easiest options first.

5. Find out why you feel lonely.

Perhaps there is some bitterness, resentment, or guilt that you are carrying around. It is time to forgive yourself and others so that you have the best chance possible to connect with yourself and others.

6. Celebrate.

Develop new routines and rituals to celebrate special occasions and reward your new healthy behaviors.

7. Be brave.

It takes courage and persistence to overcome your bad habits—but it all starts with you, not someone else. Ask for help, seek some guidance, but take full responsibility for your happiness.

8. Dream big.

Visualize what you want in the future and watch it materialize. Keep your vision sharp and clear.

Can you see how none of these suggest finding a partner or fixing the one you have? Isn’t that liberating? By connecting through various people, activities, or regular commitments, you are no longer dependent on a partner to complete you or help you overcome your feelings of loneliness.

And you may just find that when you are no longer lonely, you will be happy—with or without a partner.

Photo by Hartwig HKD

About Sue Ellson

Sue Ellson BBus AIMM MAHRI is the Founder and Director of Newcomers Network, a socially responsible business providing information, events and advocacy for newcomers and networkers in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth. Sue started this enterprise in 1999 as a result of her own difficult transition from Adelaide to Melbourne. Connect with Sue via LinkedIn or learn more at SueEllson.com.

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  • luigi

    interesting, I’ve been single almost all my life and I thought so often I was somehow not worthy enough to be in a relationship with anyone. This year I’ve been putiing my efforts on online dating and I must admit that despite being disappointed by the outcome, I’ve learnt something important: I don’t need a relationship, I’m still alive without it, after all, and I’m lucky enough to have found ways to overcome loneliness and unhappiness, just like you. But still, I ‘want’ to be in a relationship, I want to share experiences and grow together with someone who can be alone but freely chooses to join me because I add something meaningful to her life. In the meantime I will try to enjoy the trip as much as I can and I won’t force anything that is not spontaneous or sincere. A big hug! 🙂

  • dharmabob

    Being alone and being lonely are 2 separate things. Loneliness is a concept of our “small mind”, it’s an illusion.

  • jan

    Thank you sue. I often feel lonely and not really sure why. This article helped me alot 🙂

  • Talya Price

    I have been feeling lonely for quite some time now. It has been 3 long years since I was in a relationship. And almost 2 year since I have been on a date or have received any romantic affection from anyone. I was thinking about this last week. I kept asking myself why has it been so long for me. I sometimes think there is something wrong with me. There are times when I think that everyone is “getting some” while I am not. And it makes me feel depressed. And sometimes the depression becomes unbearable. I would like to find someone who I can connect with and be fully intimate with. I just don’t know why it is so difficult.

  • DE

    I like all the suggestions to live life as single without the need of a partner, but it seems they are temporary solutions. Sharing with someone special and grow together might be a better alternative.

  • Joy

    choose to be alone but not lonely. when you do feel lonely observe the moment and everything around you, feel the love of the universe. i’ve lived a whole adult life unattached. i feel privileged and happy 🙂

  • Allison Rogers

    Everything you just said is me to a tee as well. I often wonder why is meeting someone so difficult for me and so easy for everyone else?
    Then I realize that it’s because I have put up walls around me that literally no one can breach- not even myself sometimes. That can scare people off quick!
    I think allowing myself to be more vulnerable and opening up to the moment would help a lot. It’s just that it’s not so easy to make that happen. Usually the easiest explanations are the hardest to achieve. I also think that everything happens for a reason and when the time is right it will happen.

  • Noctu Sova

    I realized that what’s really missing from my life is my sense of the off beat and absurd.
    I let myself be too afraid of being different and misunderstood.

    My dreams are crazy things that would make me happy for the pure artistic humor of it.
    And really a lot of them involve me feeling feminine

  • dharmabob – It may be an illusion, but I think for many people, it is still something that they feel or perceive and it is something they have to overcome.

    Just today, I was told that ‘even though I live in a city of four million people, I felt lonely and that online dating was really helpful to allow me to meet other people.’

    I agree that finding other people in a similar situation can be a good technique for dealing with the current situation, but ultimately, I believe that it is multiple action steps that can move us forward…

  • Hi Talya – I can hear the disappointment in your words. I know that having connection and intimacy with ‘one’ person seems to be ideal. After supporting many individuals who have moved house over the years, one person cannot be ‘everything.’ Can I encourage you to value all of your friends a little more and tell them what you appreciate about them. By increasing your intimacy with your existing circle of friends, I think you may find that this ‘need’ will not be so prevalent.

    I used to hate the expression ‘when you least expect it, someone will turn up.’ To a certain extent, this is what has happened to me since writing the above article. But I will qualify that statement by saying, when I was actually happy with my life as it is, that is when someone turned up.

    Sue Ellson

  • Hi Allison – it seems to me that you are becoming very aware of how you operate – bravo for acknowledging that!

    The walls are often very hard to see and so subtle, it is hard to believe that they exist. I think their bricks are made of past disappointments, experiences, guilt and challenges and that what it takes to break them down is happiness, positivity, laughter and relaxation.

    The male friend who goes walking with me has a great attitude to life. He has decided that neither his ego or money will stop him from doing what he wants in life. He will not be a victim even when something someone does is disappointing to him. He lives with the motto of ‘love and logic.’ I like the idea. Love is essentially about acceptance and logic is much better than reaction!

    As I look back, I can see that all of my experience has brought me to a much better place, but at the time…yuk…it was AWFUL.

    Have faith and believe that your walls will come down…you sound like a very nice person to me!

    Sue Ellson

  • Hi Noctu Sova – I wish the world had more people who were willing to truly be themselves, the more off beat and absurd the better (provided they abide by the law of course)…

    And be and feel feminine – go girl!

    Sue Ellson

  • Hi Joy – a great name for someone who feels so privileged and happy!

    Sue Ellson

  • Hi DE – I wrote this article to discuss overcoming loneliness in various ways (just not through a relationship). I hope that it can be useful for people who are in a relationship or not in a relationship.

    I believe that all of the relationships in our life give us the opportunity to feel special and grow. I think that nature has designed us to find it in a monogamous relationship and true intimacy can take many years to develop. But I guess that discussion could go in all directions!

    Sue Ellson

  • Hi Jan and thanks for your feedback. I am really grateful that the article has been helpful to you. I must admit, that greater than any award I may receive on a stage, the idea that something I have said or done has been helpful and moved someone forward gives me the most fantastic buzz. I have been on cloud nine ever since I started reading the posts here. Thanks for taking the time to say thank you.

    I also believe that it is perfectly normal, even in a fantastic life. to feel lonely sometimes. If it is too often, can I encourage you to take action and invite someone to join you? If they say no, ask someone else…

    Sue Ellson

  • Thanks on behalf of all of us Luigi for the big hug! I had a single relative who used to say that when he was young, he wanted to travel and have children. He travelled extensively but never had children. There is absolutely meaning and value in being a friend to others (which I am sure you are), without ‘requirement’ or ‘validation.’

    As a single person, you have the time to maintain many more friendships. I often find that people in a relationship have a lot less time for their friends.

    I wrote this article on 18 February 2014 and it has just been published now (30 April 2014). A lot has changed since then.

    Firstly, I decided that rather than try so hard to find a relationship and feel sorry for myself about the lack of kindness I was experiencing in life, I made a conscious effort to look for kindness in everyday situations. To my surprise, once I started looking for it, I found it everywhere. One particular male friend started walking with me very regularly (up to five times a week) and that made a huge difference.

    Secondly, I started to engage more with my clients and business connections as my social circle would not engage (yes, most of my friends are in relationships). Surprise, surprise, I started to feel as if I was part of a new circle of friends and family and I stopped feeling lonely.

    I ventured back on to online dating, and as I had experienced so many times in the past, bumped into the usual scammers trying to extort money online. However, I also found someone who appeared to be very genuine and I took the risk, spent some more money (after plenty of bad money) and made contact. We met soon after our first email correspondence and within a few weeks, he asked me to be his girlfriend and we are now at day 53 of our new relationship.

    What is different about this relationship is that we are both mature adults (in our 40’s) and as he has also been committed to personal development, we both understand that any issues that come up are most likely to be our own issues and we can claim responsibility for our behaviour and deal with it in our own way.

    My single life has taught me to take this as slowly as possible to make sure that each step is taken consciously and with full consideration. This time around, I am not attached to the outcome of what happens in the future and I am taking each day as it comes.

    So absolutely Luigi, celebrate the fact that you are single! I have no doubt that you have been a great friend and support to fellow life travelers along the way! If a relationship does grow, you have so much experience to share. If it doesn’t, you can have a similar experience through your friends and other people you know.

    Happy to make further comment or answer any questions.

    Sue Ellson

  • Tamira Imondi

    I think sometimes, if you have experienced hurt, betrayal, abandonment, mistrust with someone you loved, you become jaded and put up a wall to protect your heart from going through the pain. But it is true, once you forgive the people/person that has hurt you, and learn to love yourself and be true to yourself, and know what makes you happy, and do what makes your happy you will find someone that will be meant to be from being in a positive state of mind and well-being. You need to put yourself out there, and know that this world is huge, there is someone for everyone! Just keep the faith.

  • Hi Tamira, well put! Faith is essential, thanks for the reminder!

    Sue Ellson

  • Ames

    I recently ended a very toxic relationship. He would try to control every aspect of my life. I couldn’t have male friends, he would get mad at me for staying after school to work on my senior thesis (I’m a senior in college), he would get mad if I ever went out with my girl friends at night without him, and if he drank too much he would text me things like, “you’re a whore, you piece of crap waste of space” etc. We were together for six months and the bad, controlling behavior started at three months. The whole time I knew I never deserved it, I knew he was verbally abusing me, but I just didn’t want to be alone. So, I have been alone for almost a month now and let me tell you! I feel like myself again, I am free. I can do what I want when I want, speak to who ever I want, spend hours on my homework with no one to report to, go dancing with my friends, etc. I am myself again. The point I’m trying to make is that loneliness is not the worst feeling in the world, it is better to be alone than in a bad or dead end relationship just to fill a void. So please, never settle for anything less than you deserve!

  • I received an email directly and wanted to confidentially share the dialogue here:

    Hi Sue,

    I wanted to thank you for taking the time to write “8 Solutions for
    Loneliness That Don’t Require a Romantic Relationship.” I was with my ex
    for 3X years, from the time I was 16. He left 2 years ago because of an affair
    he had with an office coworker.

    >> That must have been devastating, I am sorry to hear it…

    Anyway, my divorce happened at the same time my children got married and moved away, so I’ve really been struggling with loneliness.

    >> Two big life changes at the same time…

    I do agree that I was actually lonelier in my marriage than I am living alone.

    >> Yes, it can happen – particularly if you are thinking about everyone else instead of yourself.

    I also struggle with “something is wrong with me that I’ve ended up alone,” but I try to turn it around to “this is a gift of time to spend nurturing and learning to care for myself that I’ve never had in my life.”

    >> I could not have said it better myself! Yes, it is definitely time to nurture and care for yourself. Remember the aircraft drill – fit the oxygen mask to yourself before fitting
    your companion…

    Anyway, thanks for reaching out to other lonely people through your gift of
    writing!

    >> Thank you for the lovely compliment Xxxx! I feel very privileged to be able to share my writing in a forum that is so well respected by its huge audience.

    I will post your details (slightly modified) on the post so that others can read your fabulous quote!

  • Well said Ames and good on you for having the strength to leave a toxic relationship, especially at such a young age! I am sure you will go forward faster and stronger now. I also hope that he manages to get some help so that he can have a brighter future (but it is not your responsibility to rescue him of course!). Thanks also for sharing the warning to others who fear being alone…

    Sue Ellson

  • Luigi Carosi

    thanks, this is so heartwarming 🙂

  • Another email I received…

    I came across your article on Overcoming Loneliness on Little Buddha last night.

    Thank you for sharing that information. It is a wonderful and useful article that resonated with me greatly.

    I just wanted to pass on a big thank you for sharing your insight in such a well written piece.

    As a single parent of 2 it was exactly what I needed to read last night.

    Thank you.

    Lxxxxx

    My reply:

    Hello Lxxxxx

    Thanks for providing your feedback, it really helps at this end to know that my
    writing has been helpful to you.

    I left when my children were 9 and 7 and I found it really difficult to be a
    ‘part time mother.’ It is a very difficult path to be on your own and have the
    responsibility for children. I encourage you to source any extra
    assistance you may need for the practical matters but also, find ways to feel
    ‘normal’ in your own right.

    I found that I had more in common with other women who worked than stay at home Mums. I guess what I learnt was that it was important to not try so hard with people who did not understand what it was like and be VERY appreciative of the support from people who either did understand or offered to be available. I didn’t want handouts, but I
    did want to know that I could ask for help if I needed it.

    Finally, the only other comment I would make is just do your best. No one, not your kids, your children’s father, family, friends or yourself can criticise someone who did their best with the right intention. I can look back and see that I did make some mistakes, but I did
    do my best, so that’s okay.

    Let me know if you have any other questions and you are welcome to post comments on the http://www.tinybuddha.com website so that others can learn from your experiences.

    Sue Ellson

  • Barricade

    Totally agrees with you. I am a “nice guy” in the recovery process, I have never had a long term relation with a woman because it was impossible for me to connect with someone (I am 33, people!) and I have started doing all these things on my own in the last months. Thanks for the advice! Feel more confident that I am on the right track 🙂

  • Barricade

    Luigi, have you read “No more Mr. Nice Guy” by Robert Glover? Take a look at it, you may find it useful.

  • Hello Barricade
    It is so nice to hear from a ‘nice guy.’ I am curious as to why you cannot connect with someone…maybe it is time to stop labelling yourself this way…you have just connected with me! You are brave to get out and about on your own.

    Thanks for your feedback and it is fantastic that you feel more confident and now on the right track. 33 is still young. In some cultures, they say that a man is not a man before the age of 26, so you are not much older than that.

    Keep living, learning and loving all the people you meet…it can be an interesting journey as you have already discovered!

    Sue Ellson

  • Another comment and answer:

    Hello Sue,

    I have read: “8 Solutions for Loneliness That Don’t Require a Romantic
    Relationship” several times now. I receive your Newsletter and have just
    ended a relationship and find myself alone. I am really bad at it (who is good
    at it?). So I am wondering, what it means to be in a relationship and if the
    advise you have given would sound different if given from someone in a
    relationship. As much as I understand that one has to have their own (and I
    have many) friends, hobbies, projects, I have all those, and still feel alone
    when I am alone and great when I am in a loving relationship. So I am wondering
    if this applies to everyone. I am currently in Therapy to find out some of
    these things about me, but am also looking for exchange with more experienced
    people.

    Many thanks for taking the time to put the article together!

    ANSWER:

    Hi xyz

    Thanks for reaching out to me, that takes courage.

    I am the one who ‘left’ my marriage and in January this year, I left the boyfriend I had for three and a half months. I think that many people think that when you are the leaver, you
    are ‘better off’ than the person who has been left and I completely disagree.
    It took me years to get over the ending of my marriage and it too a full month
    where I really couldn’t concentrate after the ending with the boyfriend.

    I also went out with another guy (but we were never in a relationship – his
    request) and again, I still don’t think I am really ‘over’ that.

    So firstly, I need to say up front – I am not a counsellor or an expert on all of this – I will just give you my thoughts and experiences for what they’re worth.

    Firstly, my cultural family DNA was, you grow up, you get married, you have kids, you grow old, you die. Anything outside of this ‘mantra’ feels odd. Even though I got married at
    20 and was ‘single’ 19 years later, I still felt like I was married. Even to
    this day, I realise that I am technically ‘single’ but still behave, in my own
    mind, as if I was married.

    The other thing that came to my mind recently was why do I procrastinate with my work? I really love my work, but I still find that I procrastinate. Bingo, I realised that my cultural DNA was interfering again. Spending a bit of time pottering around the house
    seems to feel more ‘aligned’ to what I ‘should’ be doing.

    In my marriage, I spent many years ‘pretending’ that I was happy. Now that I have another boyfriend, I can sense how much calmer I feel simply because I am having physical contact again (not just sex, but lots of hugs, lying in bed, hand holding etc). So after nine and half years of very intermittent contact, I can imagine that some of your loneliness would be from missing this aspect of a relationship. As I was lying in bed last night,
    I did reflect on how much I had been missing this aspect of a relationship.

    So whilst life can have many other wonderful qualities, for me, the sense of closeness and peace I have when I am relaxed in a man’s arms is like nothing else.

    Also, what I have learnt after spending many years talking to various health professionals, is that the one thing that has been most helpful to me has been hypnotherapy – because it can bypass the conscious mind and work with the subconscious. As you are well
    educated and I am sure very savvy in the workplace, I can imagine that your mind could rationalise many things, but I suspect your subconscious has other ideas, perhaps not known to your conscious mind!

    I have gone in ‘waves’ with therapy. I usually get to a certain point with each person and then feel that my progress hits a plateau and it is time to source someone else. I admire
    you for seeking help and being prepared to do the ‘hard work’ that is sometimes
    necessary to live a peaceful and contented life. Remember that none of the time
    you spend sorting all this out is wasted. Although I am 48, I feel in chronological terms that I am only 38 but when I talk to a 38 year old, I realise how far I have come emotionally in the last 10 years.

    You may like to read the book ‘Navigating Midlife’ by Robyn Vickers-Willis. The writing is a bit patchy, but the concepts are good. Midlife starts at age 35 when we decide that we don’t want to live by everybody else’s rules any more, we want to live by our own. But hey, wait a sec, what are MY rules? Figuring these out can take time.

    Try not to be too hard on yourself as to why you are in or not in a relationship. Enjoy the extra flexibility you have for a while. Get some physical contact through dance classes or mixed sports etc if you need it.

    But above all, honour the progress you have made in your own life. Don’t compare it to anyone else’s. You are doing the best you can at this moment. No need to justify it or apologise for it. And when you can accept each day as it comes (I am yet to get there!), I
    believe that life then is not about being lonely or not lonely, it is simply about living it…

    Try not to judge yourself, be critical of what has happened or worried about the future. There is a line in the movie ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ that says something like ‘
    Everything will be all right in the end… if it’s not all right then it’s not yet the end.’

    With best wishes to you and everyone in your daily life

    Cheers, Sue Ellson

  • Reid Moore

    It’s actually scientifically proven that loneliness from lacking a romantic partner is a separate type of loneliness to not being around friends. That type of loneliness is based around craving what’s called an “attachment figure”. For instance, with children, that’s one of their parents, usually their mother. As we get older, we tend to crave a different attachment figure, usually a romantic partner. If you have that type of loneliness, a million friends or a million dogs or a million hours of work won’t make it go away.

  • Thanks Reid, that is very interesting – do you have more information available on this research? I think it is important even if we do feel lonely to get out and do these things as a starting point – a romantic partner is not always immediately available and an unsuitable one could be worse…

  • neethu nath

    is this really possible?

  • Sarita

    This was most certainly enlightening. Only until you pointed it out did I realise I created a safety barrier to either keep people out or prevent the ones who have penetrated that barrier from getting close to me. I somehow find faults and look for reasons to end the friendship when things get too serious or too close for comfort or boring. Then sometimes I’ll feel lonely (but not regretting my decision to terminate the friendships) which contradicts everything I said before. I push people away and if someone new comes into my life I get really excited and sometimes get way in over my head. I don’t know why I do this and I was hoping you could help me understand my situation and advise me on what to do. I’m single and I have no problem with that but on rare occasions when I see couples in the mall it makes me wonder when that will happen for me. Is it really loneliness or is that normal? To not think about it I try to keep myself occupied with work and other things but that only works about 90% of the time. Can you please help me?

  • Hello Sarita and thanks for sharing your story. I read a fascinating article today that said that we are most likely to end a friendship at the moment when we are ready for a deeper connection. I am not a psychologist, so I can’t give you an answer from that perspective. I can only suggest that you take things a little slower and gradually get closer to people in steps that make you feel comfortable. Our modern society encourages us to rush into everything. When you feel it is going too fast, just let the person know that you need a little space to get used to all of the new feelings and that when you are ready, you will be back in contact. This could be just one day or maybe a week. Perhaps you just need to text message for a couple of days before you see each other again. Do things that are relaxing, not stressful. A whole dinner together is a lot more confronting than a fun walk in the park and an icecream. Find ways to be happy outside of work too – perhaps take up a class you like? That way you can meet some like minded people. Hope it goes well! 🙂

  • I believe so. Our happiness is not dependent on a romantic relationship. In my view, so many things can make us happy. When we want a romantic relationship, it is sometimes harder to see those things…but that doesn’t mean they are not there…

  • James Jesson

    Thank you for sharing this. Reading through this I found several things that struck a cord in my life. I guess what I’m trying to say is I know I’m putting up some sort of barrier up but I just can’t recognize what it is yet. I struggle a lot to express my thoughts on this through conversation – even with people in my life who I trust or therapists I am working with and so it’s nice to be able to read your thoughts and connect with them.

  • Thanks James for sharing your feedback. Many fears are caused by not knowing what could happen – what is unknown. Let me assure you that someone, somewhere has probably felt exactly the same as you do right now. That means it is perfectly normal and not something you need to hide. The people you trust and professional therapists enjoy being able to help people – they don’t want to ridicule you or make you feel worse. When you learn to trust them, you will probably learn to trust yourself as well. Be kind to yourself and trust that in time, you will discover what the barrier is, why you are holding yourself back – and then you will start to feel true freedom. All the best!

  • Garrett nagle

    I’d say I had this problem since a child, with no siblings or father. A latch key kid, now seventy years old, it’s part of who I am.There are worse things; and today the moral system is sinster, a nightmare, so a shell I wear similar to the tortoise.

  • Yes Garrett, I agree. There are worse things. I believe that the only way we can influence the moral system is to keep upholding the good morals and continue to be an example to others – please don’t hide under that shell too long!

  • Jules

    Interesting article.
    I can relate to every points that you have written above.
    But that doesn’t mean I am cured from my loneliness automatically.
    I’m an only child (both parents deceased), adopted, ambiverted and I do crave more from every interactions I have with people.
    I find my expectation is my wall. Sometimes it is hard to tore it down as it is has been a part of me. It takes a lot of mindfulness to do so.
    Every time I get into the zone where I am enjoying being single, someone came along and then ruined my peace. Or rather my expectation ruined it.
    Any idea what I should do?

  • kyraa

    thank you so much for writing this post. it really helped me a lot.
    i couldn’t understand that since the time i’ve come to college and seen all of my friends getting into relationships and i feel left out, i start cribbing on my poor state which never used to happen earlier. my mind has been occupied with the feeling of being unwanted and dejected.
    I’ve become less productive, my confidence has zeroed down. then i assure myself everynight after checking the social media that i will not be depressed about it, but this doesn’t seems to go away. next morning whenever i see someone with their partners i start complaining.
    i don’t know why this is happening to me, i know this isn’t good but still i am feeling this. help.

  • Hello Kyraa and thank you for reaching out. I will start by saying I am not a counsellor or a psychologist, but I do have a lot of experience working with people who have moved to a new place. When you leave ‘home’ and the people who love and care for you, it is really important to make new friends (of both sexes and not necessarily romantic friends). These people will help you recreate your ‘identity’ by acknowledging you and giving you feedback – just the usual things like ‘you have a nice smile’ or ‘you gave a great answer in class’ or ‘I like talking to you.’ Many people rely on a romantic partner to provide this type of feedback, but it is unrealistic to rely exclusively on a romantic partner.

    I would encourage you to find things that you enjoy doing with other people. Ask people to come with you to the movies or for a meal. If they say no, ask someone else. As soon as you start making more friends, you will start to relax.

    Checking social media and what your friends and family are doing back home doesn’t always help. Talk to some of the tutors or teachers and ask them for tips and tricks on what to do around college and be brave and do it!

    Start with just one new thing each week and you will get more confidence as you go along. See this time as an opportunity to discover the real Kyraa and learn more about who you are becoming as an adult. This will also prepare you for a healthy relationship in the future.

    I have been single for over 11 years now and I have found many ways through different friends to find a good balance in my life. I would prefer to have a partner, but my life doesn’t depend on it any more. There is so much you can learn, do and experience, I encourage you to go forward in courage – you can do it! Feel free to share the details in the future! 🙂

  • Hello Jules. It is great that you are so aware of the factors affecting you as this is the first step in finding ways to overcome it! Can you try doing some small things without any expectations? Can you smile more often and just observe what happens? Can you say thank you every time something good happens – out loud, to the person that was involved? When you meet someone new, can you take things a little more slowly and not go so quickly to the ‘relationship’ stage? Can you find some extra platonic friends of both sexes and do activities that you enjoy with several people rather than just one? I think that everyone, even people in relationships, feel alone and lonely at times. Life is not something that is happy 100% of the time, but the media advertising we see makes us expect it to be! When I have a bad day, I have to repeat to myself that this is only right now, it will pass and another good time will come. I wish you many happiness moments in the future and the ability to let the not so good moments pass and fade from your memory. Feel free to share what happens next with us!

  • Lindsey R

    Never been in a relationship and I’m trying to distract myself and improve other areas of my life. Kind of hard when everyone around you is finding love

  • Hello Lindsey – thanks for sharing – rather than think about distracting yourself, try finding ways to enjoy yourself! If we give out the vibe that we ‘need’ love it seems elusive. If we already have ‘love’ for ourselves, then we become more attractive. Remember to value the relationships with everyone you already know and one day, love from someone else will find you!

  • howard tick

    Social fitting in seems to be the key. So what about we cut the shit. What if your ugly? If your awkward? If your mental illness is depression?. What about if you were abused? Or what if your treated as a weaker species or raised to a role as a child like playing with skinny perfect dolls n u would do pretend weddings?
    I truly feel solution 5 of forgiving yourself is the start. I think we need to know that our social behaviour is chemical. I am alone now. I stop others from getting close because i hurt people. I type this opinion and now i feel better. I am part of this conversation through typing alone yet the chemicals in my head will now be satisfied i am nit as lonely as i previously felt…
    Not going to respond but some good thoughts i just wish a m k re creative quick solutions could be found. Tommorrow i will go to a hospital n wait for a person who just needs someone to listen. I will in turn be rewarded with not feeling alone again. Maybe the key is before we complain or try to improve ourselves we should ask how others around us how they are doing…

  • Thanks for your comments Howard. If you are ugly, awkward, have depression or were abused or liked playing with dolls, I think it is important to remember that even the beautiful, confident, well or not abused also have challenges with getting through each day. For example, sometimes people who really are beautiful, don’t feel beautiful. I absolutely agree that forgiving yourself and perhaps not beating yourself up can make a huge difference. If we have had a bad experience, our body can remember that and it aims to help us avoid that bad experience again, when sometimes what we need to do is have the courage to try again.You may think that you have hurt people sometimes, but did you check to confirm that you really had on every occasion?

    Maybe other people have hurt you too? It sounds to me as if you have given comfort to others, and that’s a wonderful thing! When we feel bad, it is so easy to think, ‘but we are not as badly off as others,’ but in a way, that denies us the opportunity to be upset, disappointed or frustrated and be in that moment.

    I think about my own history and it is when someone else has been around me and just listened that I have been able to share the immediate grief and move on. I don’t have a huge circle of friends, but I have a very good circle of friends and they are my source of inspiration, comfort and sometimes challenge. But they help me on this journey of life.

    I encourage you to spend more time with the people you like and connect with. It takes time, but it is so worthwhile…best wishes to you Howard! 🙂

  • Yash R

    Hmmm very interesting article and I agree with all your points. However, I want to illustrate an important aspect of “loneliness” and romantic love. One that I have been contemplating and discussing with my friends a whole lot lately.

    In nature, the basic needs of a human being are air, water, food and shelter in that order. Right after this comes “mating”. With our many layers of cortex and grey matter acquired through evolution, our need to “mate” translates to a powerful need for romantic love. So love is not a commodity, it is a NEED.

    There are 2 falacies that society constructed for us:

    – That we can be perfectly happy without romantic love once we’re independent; and

    – we need someone (anyone) in a romantic way once we’ve reached a certain age.

    Both false… You can be happy and independent without having a romantic relationship with someone. However, there will ALWAYS be a void even in the best of times (other than having mindblowing sex or doing a highly thrilling activity such as playing a concert in front of a crowd. Activity done, “loneliness” resumes). The second falasy lies in the fact that you don’t just need someone, you need true love with THE RIGHT PERSON. Again you can be a happy person, have many friends, have a positive outlook in life and keep busy but none of this will fill the void that the lack of true love leaves in your heart and soul.

    Case in point: I have 6 or 7 close best of bestest friends who variably share different interests I have. I love them to bits and would do anything for them. I also have 4 or 5 (other) friends with benefits who mostly satisfy my sexual desires and we share mutual respect, friendship and kindness. I have wonderful parents and sisters. I have various hobbies which keep me inspired, intrigued, challenged and most of all are highly enjoyable. I can quickly integrate in new groups and establish my presence and meet new people (however at this point I feel no inclination or desire in making new friends). So I consider myself successful and more importantly very happy. But I always have the “void” and it’s very real and present. I’m confident I will find her but nothing is a guarantee in this life. I feel I owe it to myself, to her (even though ahe doesn’t know it yet :-D) and my unborn children to keep looking and persevering to find true love. It’s not easy to find but nothing else will replace the void… Nothing.

    I perfectly agree with all your advice. However, these are all components of a happy life parallel to a romantic relationship. You need all you mentioned AND love. You need health, friends, respect, hobbies, inspiration, purpose (career) AND true romantic love.

    A few points:

    – Friendship is as important and as basic a need as romantic love in its own right. The WORST punishment you can give someone is solitary confinement or exile from society. We all have different needs as to the number of close friends. But if one doesn’t have at least one or two close friends, there’s something that’s really, terribly wrong. The exception to this is that you have a loving and happy family of your own and your family’s happiness means everything to you.

    – My life is not perfect. I was abused physically and sexually as a child. It has its repercussions with depression and anxiety on a daily basis which I’ve been struggling with since I was 10 y.o. (I’m 35 in a month). Yet despite this, I forged ahead and built my “empire” of happiness and positivity. It’s very possible and doable as long as you have a brain and a functional body (which reflects your victimisation point you made in the article).

    – Despite being clinically depressed (severely at times), my symptoms disappeared almost completely for 3 years when I was in the best romantic relationship of my life. It was very passionate… This is the power of romantic love, nothing can replace it. If you’re wondering, we had some issues of dynamics and it didn’t work out but she and I are best friends now 🙂

    – Romantic love is a need for true happiness, it’s not just a commodity or a bonus.

    – Friendship is definitely NOT free of requirements, validation and judgment. It’s sad but true. We select friends, often subconsciously, based on what value they bring to our lives. Beyond characteristics such as similar interests and honesty, intelligence, socioeconomic class, resources, skills and looks are all things we quickly evaluate as we seek to befriend a new person. If there were no such requirement, I (and everyone else) would be friends with Bill Gates. After all, I love computers and business hehe 🙂

    – At any point where a partner tells you there will be no relationship, just end things and maybe become friends at most. Nothing you do will change their mind and make them fall in love with you. Having sex with someone you love who doesn’t reciprocate your feelings can be absolutely devastating emotionally and spiritually. And you’re making yourself too vulnerable to someone else’s whim. They could snap your heart in 2 with the snap of a finger. And many will. Most people are very heartless and inconsiderate when it comes to their sex partners when they’re otherwise kind people. I never understood that.

  • Hello Yash, Thank you for sharing your story. I am so pleased to hear that you have found multiple ways to add love and friendship to your life. I cannot imagine how challenging it would be to recover from abuse. I have a friend who was in the ‘best romantic relationship of his life’ and three years later, he is still missing that experience. He says that it is worse to have had it and lose it than to have never had it at all. I often wish I could take away his pain.

    I have had moments of exquisiteness but never anything that has been continuous. I have come to the conclusion that for me, this is enough, and I live in faith that what I perceive to be the ‘real thing’ is also possible in the future. This way, I accept all of the joys life has to offer and I don’t feel as if I have missed out on anything. I also have a lot of friends who are single and have never had children – they are the best ‘aunties and uncles’ that any child could ever want.

    I can’t really comment on why people are ‘heartless and inconsiderate’ in certain situations. I think some people just live in the moment and want to feel good right then and don’t always think about the consequences for the other person. Perhaps consider how you will feel before agreeing to their suggestions in the future.

    Finally, remember that there are various people that can help you overcome any challenge, with time and the right assistance. Yash, I sincerely wish you every opportunity for peace, happiness, love and romantic love in the future!

  • Lex –

    Exactly. It’s ego (the false self) getting in the way of the real self. So much is placed on the value of relationships with other people. When it should be the relationship you have with yourself. If self image (ego) is out of whack or needs some work, so to will personal relationships with other people suffer.

    Just as seeking kinship or friendship isn’t lonliness, it’s a desire to connect with another person. However, these types of people are fine with being alone.

  • Thanks for sharing your thoughts Lex! 🙂