Before seeking a partner to feel less lonely,
A few days ago, I came across a newly married couple’s photo on Facebook with the caption, “Two less lonely people on this planet.”
The caption made me ponder for a minute: are relationships really the end of our loneliness?
I lost count how many times I heard my single friends say that they feel like dating again. Then, they proceed with, “I just feel lonely.”
I’m not sure how we’ve gotten here, but what I know is that we always associate love with loneliness. If you have a partner in your life, then you’re not so lonely anymore.
But, if you don’t…ouch. We feel sorry for you.
While we think that relationships solve loneliness, the truth is, relationships expose it.
You see, love is dependent at its core since it involves another person. That said, love is unpredictable. It doesn’t matter how much we know our partner. We might know them so well, but we can never know what emotions they will reveal in us. In addition, we can never know which turn our relationship might take.
And love is not only unpredictable, it’s also conditioned. The same person who can make us laugh today has the power to make us weep tomorrow. And the person who is here with us now might not stay for long. That’s the very nature of romantic relationships—they’re associated with good and bad feelings. So when one thing goes wrong, our whole set of emotions go wrong.
Having experienced this, I know what it feels like to lay in bed with a partner yet feel so lonely. I stayed in a relationship for two years with a partner who exposed the loneliness within me like no one has ever done. The fact that we laid on the same bed or ate at the same table didn’t mean “two less lonely people in the world.”
Consequently, it’s about time we shift our perspective on love and loneliness. Just because we’re dating, in a relationship, or married doesn’t mean that we’ll feel any less lonely.
I’m convinced that relationships are not the cure for unhappiness or loneliness. Relationships only reveal the unhappiness and loneliness lurking within us. All the personal problems that we have with ourselves don’t vanish when we find love. In fact, they will be magnified. Having said that, if we’re looking for a relationship to fix us, that’s also likely the wrong approach.
The relationships that we enter, only to stop feeling lonely, soon become the problem rather than the solution. In addition, our love to our partner ceases to be genuine if we’re with them only to feel less lonely. In no time, the relationship becomes a destination rather than a journey. And when our partner fails to meet our expectations of making us feel less lonely, we leave and seek another partner to fill our empty voids.
The fact is, a relationship is the perfect union of two imperfect human beings. No partner ever can fix the other. However, they will (and must) trigger our past traumas, childhood issues, and push our buttons. And we should be willing to work on them together.
The only solution that relationships offer is willingness to work on the issues that our partner reveals in us. In a relationship where we feel lonely, we might realize that the problem is us—we might have fear of abandonment or lack of self-love issues. In other cases, we might realize that our partner is the problem and the relationship we’re leading with them is unhealthy.
Consequently, instead of looking for a relationship to end our loneliness, we should be in a relationship and stay receptive to learning new lessons about ourselves and our partner.
The most important thing we can learn when it comes to love, is that it triggers us to fix ourselves.
Before seeking a partner who makes us feel less lonely, we must learn how to be okay with our own aloneness. Instead of trying to fill our voids through other people, we must work on our issues from the inside out.
Know that love is a beautiful thing, but we shouldn’t confuse it with happiness.
It’s very risky to perceive relationships as an escape from our own self or misery. Our unhappiness will soon resurface especially if partners break up. We should be realistic with the fact that relationships aren’t a place where we’ll find everlasting joy. But they will certainly help us reach inner wholeness and get us in touch with our real nature.
Emotional dissatisfaction doesn’t mean we have to find love.
Love finds us at the right time.
Until then, we must learn how to be happy on our own so we could be authentically happy with our partner later.
“When I get lonely these days, I think: So BE lonely, Liz. Learn your way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life. Welcome to the human experience. But never again use another person’s body or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilled yearnings.” By Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love