- Many people begin feeling lonely with they don’t have a significant other to spend time and share in life with.
- That being said, you don’t need another to fulfill you: you can enjoy the single life and find fulfillment without a romantic partner.
- If you’re feeling lonely while single, think about why: Does it have something to do with a past relationship?
- You can engage in solo or group activities that you enjoy and feel passionate about: examples include painting, running, spending time with your siblings, or volunteering.
- Additionally, focus your attention on improving existing relationships in your life, such as those with your friends and family members.
- And don’t forget to explore the perks of being single: capitalize on the newfound time and energy you’d otherwise put into a romantic partner.
I entered my first real relationship in the 7th grade (I know—young) and stayed in this relationship until my freshman year of college. I’ll do the math for you: this relationship took up roughly six years of my life. In other words, at the age of 18, I had spent a third of my life with someone else. As you can probably imagine, this had some tough implications on my life moving forward without him—the most important being that I didn’t know how to function as a singular entity.
When you’re with someone for that long, you forget how to live alone. You forget that there’s life outside of romance. You forget how to be happy without the company of another. And those crippling feelings of loneliness creep in real fast. I struggled with these feelings off and on for about four years. And sometimes I still sense them lurking in the balance, but now I know how to resolve them.
Do you struggle with these same feelings when you’re single? Well, you’re in luck! Not because you’re feeling lonely, but because some mental health professionals are going to help me explain what really works in overcoming these lonely feelings and being happy alone:
1) Reflect on past attachments.
Karen Koenig, a licensed clinical social worker, suggests looking back at past relationships. “If loneliness is of the deeper, existential kind, it often makes a person feel not only unloved but unlovable and longing for belonging. In this case, they will need to reflect on their early attachments,” she explains. “Were they secure or insecure? Did they cause anxiety or a sense of trust and intimacy? If only another person fills the void inside them, they will need to learn how to be enough for themselves or they will never feel secure because they’ll always be afraid of losing someone.”
2) Engage in enjoyable activities.
Another simple, yet effective tip is to spend time doing what you truly enjoy doing—even if you don’t think you feel up for it. “Engage in activities you know you find enjoyable or rewarding, even if you don’t feel like doing those things at the moment,” says Dominique Talley, mental health therapist, and wellness blogger. “Loneliness comes from feeling isolated and unfulfilled, and often, people who feel lonely get caught up making a habit of doing things that keep those patterns of isolation and loneliness going (such as turning down invitations to go out with friends, etc.). Think of the activities and people that have brought you joy and enriched your life in the past. And make an effort to include more of those in your life if you’re feeling lonely. It may be difficult at first to muster any excitement about those previously-enjoyed activities, but if you can force yourself to engage in those activities (or with those people) even when it’s the last thing you feel like doing, soon enough you will start to find yourself enjoying those activities/people.”
3) Build stronger connections with friends.
It’ll also help to focus your attention on other connections—romantic relationships aren’t the only ones that matter, you know! “Humans need connection and in order to connect, we have to practice being vulnerable and sharing our real selves with those we can trust,” Julie Bjelland, licensed marriage and family therapist explains. Start to build closer friendships and spend time with others who enjoy some of the same things you do and give yourself time to connect. Having one or two connections that can be deeper is more important for many than having several more surface-level friendships.”
4) Explore the perks of being single.
Also, put some effort into exploring all that comes with being single! And capitalize on those opportunities… like putting that time and energy into a pet instead of a romantic relationship, if you’re feeling lonely. “Remember, there are many advantages to being single. Explore them! Develop a skill, take on a hobby, reshape your body, enhance your mind. The possibilities are endless,” says Caleb Backe, health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics. “Not for everyone, but adopt a pet! Inviting a living creature into your home (particularly a cat or dog) can make a big difference in your daily life and your mood. It is someone to play with, talk to, take care of, and yeah—it can help you meet other pet owners, too. Bonus!”
5) Make a to-do list for your heart.
Lastly, but just as importantly, consult your heart and make a to-do list for living compassionately. Susan Shumsky, an award-winning, best-selling author of 14 self-help books, will guide you through the process: “In order for you to overcome loneliness, begin by doing what I call the Unlimited Thinking Exercise. Take out a piece of paper and a pen. Make a list of what you would do with your life, day by day, if you had unlimited time, unlimited resources, unlimited money, unlimited helpers, unlimited energy, unlimited stamina, unlimited health, unlimited longevity, unlimited access, unlimited optimism, unlimited courage, and an unlimited support system. Please don’t write what you would buy. Instead, write how you would spend your time. Take 15 minutes to write this list. Then, when you’re done, read it over. This valuable document can be your to-do list to fulfill your heart’s desires and live in alignment with your true passions. Make a clear and final decision to manifest at least one goal on your list, and begin taking baby steps now.”
And remember—if you’re feeling lonely, these sensations won’t last forever. If you’re able to explore the positives of being alone and focusing on yourself, your next relationship will be even more fulfilling.