Feeling lonely is a terrible thing. The ache is like nothing else. If you’re like me you’ll do just about anything to distract yourself from it.
Being a woman, with access to the Internet, it’s not too difficult to find company. The problem with that kind of company is it increases the ache rather than alleviates it.
The question of how to successfully manage loneliness must start with the answer to a different question- why? Why do you want to be alone, but not lonely?
There’s a famous illustration of the power of why from Darren Hardy.
If I offered you $20 to walk across a plank on the floor you would likely do it. Now if I raised the plank and placed on the roofs between 2 buildings, then offering you the same crisp $20 to walk across it, you would likely decline. Now, imagine your family was in a burning building located on the other side of that board. You’d be much more likely to cross the then.
This is the power of why. If your “why” is strong enough, it makes any “how” possible.
I had several reasons for self imposed singledom. My Why’s are what motivated me when times got tough, which they surely did.
A little history on my past would be beneficial to share at this time.
I was 30 and had spent the better part of 7 years in back to back relationships. Engaged once. I was dismayed to find that it seemed so many of my exes shared similar undesirable characteristics, and in any event, none of these relationships worked out.
Deciding then to avoid relationships, and contract out my sex life proved only to increase the great ache of loneliness.
I realized the common denominator was me. I believe you attract what you are, and I was not attracting the right kind of guy because there was something undesirable about me!
I really wanted to improve myself in order to finally find a compatible partner with whom I could have a healthy relationship. That was my big why. Other why’s were that I’d never been single on purpose before and I was kind of afraid of it. I wanted very much to be able to keep my own company. And I wanted even more to avoid the kind of relationships that I’d been having.
Writing out my list of why’s kept it fresh in my mind, and helped me to remember that I was doing this for a good reason.
Then I set about entering into a committed relationship with myself. I started dating myself. As weird as that sounds I have had a lot of fun with it, and it’s kept loneliness at bay.
Here are some ways I dated myself:
Made an effort to dress nicely every day, do my hair and makeup and wear perfume, as if I was going on a date- just that made me feel better!
I’d do nice things for myself that typically I’d rely on guys to do for me. I took myself out for dinner, bought myself flowers,gave myself foot rubs and routinely asked myself ” what do you want to do?”
I’d send myself encouraging and loving text messages, saying the kind of stuff that I’d want to hear from someone I was dating.
In addition to dating myself, I also took the opportunity to revel in all the less than pleasant parts about being in a relationship I was free of.
In my case that meant not having to check in with someone, turn down the music, eat gross boy food and all the other behaviors my exes encouraged in me. What a relief! I made a list of those things too.
Then I started trying to get to know myself better. I explored new places, ideas and activities, trying them out and seeing what appealed to me. I was surprised by what I learned.
I got and rekindled hobbies, like growing plants, blogging, reading, dancing, meditating, baking, hula hooping and more. I also took a lot of comfort from my dog, if you can get a pet do so, they’re great company!
I also spent a lot of time with different girlfriends. I realized that if I could build better friendships, I’d be better at all relationships. I started to notice the difference in my behavior, comparing how I acted in relationships versus with my friends. How easily I compromised, how much time I spent with them and other things were all interesting things to learn about myself.
I began to journal every night, and in that way I gained a better understanding of how my mind and emotions work, and what I need out of myself and others to be happy.
At the end of the 13 months I had a very clear understanding of what patterns I’d been repeating in past relationships that caused the same outcome. I had a better understanding of myself and I liked myself a lot better than when I was contracting out my happiness to another.
I’m not saying it was easy, but I wanted it bad enough, and the ways I just outlined helped me live single and happy for the first time in my life.
I hope this helps!