There are some women who are known for hopping from relationship to relationship. They wear their hearts on their sleeves and fall in love with everything and everyone. Then there are women like me, the perpetually single. We date, meet potential partners but nothing ever lasts long enough to make a footnote. In full disclosure, I’ve never been in a real relationship and romantically I was a late bloomer. I have always been the single one. The woman who everyone is concerned will magically turn into a spinster cat lady. I’ve never been afraid to do things or go places alone and I have no shame in being the third wheel.
As the eldest of the family, growing up I became a natural leader. Embracing being self-sufficient, assertive and my independence was never a problem. It seems however that by your late-twenties it’s expected that you’ll have found a life-long committed partner. The ideology is a beautiful concept but it’s easily implied that life as a single woman is less fulfilled and meaningless compared to others. Being subjected to the negative societal perceptions of how sad life must be without a man has become a frequent occurrence. Receiving comments like, “Why haven’t you found a man?” or “You’re too pretty to be alone” is the new norm.
Most often the comments can be dodged with a wise reply but every so often it makes its mark. The truth is that being single, like many other life phases, is what you make of it. You’ll have both good days and bad. Days where being in your own company is the perfect antidote and days where loneliness creeps in. There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging your personal needs, we all need to feel loved and wanted but being alone is not the same as being lonely.
Loneliness does not discriminate and rather old, young, married or single it affects us all. It’s the gateway to depression that thrives on the notion of isolation. It hits in the moments when you’re surrounded by people but disconnected from them all. It’s the feeling that you’re emotional needs are being unmet, the feeling that you’re by yourself.
Recently, I went on a girls trip. Our days were filled with mini adventures and lots of girl-talk. Conversations over fruity-drinks discussing love, family, and careers. Eventually, as always, my singleness came to question.
Have you tried online dating?
I’m a millennial, who hasn’t?
Why are you so picky?
If it was you, would anyone do?
Aren’t you lonely?….
This surprised me because it’s far from the usual line of questions. As a single woman, you learn to be irritated yet prepared for all the interest in your love-life. Most people want to know how you plan to change your relationship status from single to married. Until that moment the thought of loneliness had been far from my mind. Not knowing what to say, I gave an honest yet vague answer.
Sometimes I go to bed and with no one around, I feel lonely. Sometimes I notice that couples are everywhere and yet I have no one to call mine. Sometimes my phone is filled with unanswered text messages and snapchats and in that moment I realize that there’s no one I am excited to talk too. These sometimes are only a small part of my singleness. Building meaningful and strong relationships with friends, family and more importantly myself have become the main focus.
Knowing that loneliness is neither shameful or a weakness but instead, a chance to reconnect has been an unconscious conclusion.
Identify Why You’re Lonely
Are you lonely because you truly feel alone or is it because others give the impression that you should be lonely? If it’s the former then in order to cope with genuine loneliness you have to understand the reasons behind it all. Are you socially isolated? Do your friendships lack substance beyond small talk? Whatever it may be, knowing why you’re lonely is the first step in combating and understanding your personal needs.
Sometimes being open about a lonely mindset can be overwhelmingly vulnerable. Remember that seeking help is not shameful. If you have a close friend, reach out to them for any assistance you might need. In other instances, loneliness can contribute to depression and other mental health issues. Talking to a professional counselor or therapist can be an amazing tool for understanding both why you are depressed and how to further combat any feelings of loneliness.
Disclaimer: I am not nor do I claim to be a licensed professional therapist or counselor. Should you require help for a mental illness or issue, please contact the appropriate channels. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
Reconnect Outside of Social Media
Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat are among the various platforms we use to connect with other people but what about phone calls and in-person meetings? We’re all products of the “technology generation” and unfortunately social media has become our main source of communication. It lacks both intimacy and a genuine connection, however, ask any millennial and they’ll most likely tell you they prefer text messages to phone calls or meetups. For us, building relationships without social media is somewhat of a challenge. We’ve become more reachable to the world but have failed to build deeper relationships. Disconnecting from social media and spending more in-person time with others could help to fight the feeling of loneliness.
Pursue Personal Interests
Often we become lost under the pressures of our careers, families and other responsibilities without making ourselves a top priority. We live busy lives and juggling all the tasks makes it easier to forget that the most important person is you.
When you’re lonely social events and meeting new people quickly turns into an unwanted chore. While wallowing in insecurity and self-doubt is unhealthy, forcing yourself to attend is also unwise. Instead, focus on YOU, build a balance among the things you have to do and want to do. Travel the world, start a sewing club. Basically, evaluate what makes you happy and incorporate more of those activities into your daily life.
It’s a hard thing to do when everyone else says you should be unhappy. But being single isn’t a curse or a test of self-worth. I know it’s cliche’ but use this time to become your best self. , you’ll learn to make decisions without any self-doubt and you’ll know that being single isn’t a lonely sentence.