If you have followed our platform (KeepingIt100LA) for any time, one of our organization’s value pillars is to encourage men and women not to settle for less than what they want in a relationship. This, of course, is not referring to managing outrageous and utopia-like standards of potential partners that don’t exist in the first place. However, we share a great deal of information regarding what might be signs of a potentially healthy relationship option based on reality and verified by people you know who have your best interest at heart. So, for the sake of argument, let’s say that you are THAT person—you’re in a relatively emotionally healthy place, and you possess typical attributes that make you a suitable partner for someone. And because you’re in a healthy place, you are more likely than not to go for the oh-key-doke—and you are someone that can make the reasonable leap that an inquiring person is or isn’t fit for exploring an exclusive relationship with. You’ve done a stint of therapy, resolved the residue from your previous relationship heartbreak, and all is good.
Nope. It is not all good.
Because while you are fortunately in a better place to gauge a healthy relationship might be doable or not, you find that not everyone has done the work of being in a better place for an exclusive relationship. And though you are optimistic that the person you are praying and hoping for is out there, it still has not manifested. Moreover, to make things worse, you are genuinely struggling with loneliness.
Ah—the “L” word. But before we go further, let’s provide a working definition of loneliness to make sure we are all on the same page.
Webster defines loneliness as Affected with, characterized by, or causing a depressing feeling of being alone; lonesome. Destitute of sympathetic or friendly companionship, intercourse, support, etc.: a lonely exile; solitary; without company; companionless, remote from places of human habitation; desolate; unfrequented; bleak: a lonely road. Standing apart; isolated.
Then there is the clinical definition of loneliness, which provides riveting insight:
“Loneliness is not necessarily about being alone. Instead, it is the perception of being alone and isolated that matters most and is a state of mind; The inability to find meaning in one’s life, feeling of negative and unpleasant and a subjective, negative feeling related to the deficient social relations. A feeling of disconnectedness or isolation. etc., are the other ways to define loneliness.”
Pretty sobering, right? I know. And if that wasn’t enough information for you on loneliness, a recent Harvard study gave this clinical definition to its study group (a longitudinal study over several years), and their finding discovered that 3 out of every 5 Americans characterized themselves as lonely based on, again, the clinical definition.
Let me make that information even plainer for you—if you were at a party with 200 attendees, 120 of the 200 people are clinically lonely. Whether you know it or not, most people that you know are clinically lonely AND see themselves that way, not matter how great their lives may appear. Furthermore, the pandemic that we are in only exacerbated this startling trend. People want to politicize wearing a mask, being isolated, and taking the vaccine or not. I would argue people are going stir crazy and bonkers and refuse to continue to live quarantined lives due to their pre-existing state of being lonely.
Now let’s get back to you, the reader—who’s probably dealing with loneliness as well on some level.
While loneliness is practically an American staple, if we don’t find a way to manage it, it will negatively impact us mentally and physically. Moreover, it will be a significant catalyst behind a variety of unhealthy decisions.
Let us make clear—just because you know several people or live in a big city with lots of things going on—like Los Angeles, doesn’t exempt you from loneliness. Millions of people live in the City of Angels, and many would testify that unless you have a close circle of friends and family, Los Angeles can be one of the lonely places on Earth. Many would attribute it to the commonality of not being authentically connected with people or the people you are connected with you conditionally. Over the past few years, we have had many wealthy, notable celebrities take their own life. How is it—being rich and famous—and everyone “loves” you, that would make someone commit suicide? I think Jim Carrey said it best: “I wish everyone had an opportunity to be rich, so they could see that money doesn’t make you happy.” This is because we all long for genuine and authentic connections with other people. It is as essential as the air that we breathe.
Consider these suggestions for managing loneliness, especially after all the diligence you’ve invested in arriving at a remarkable place emotionally, physically, spiritually, and socially, for your next (and hopefully, last) relationship:
· Meditate daily (Positive affirmations, Scriptures in the Bible, self-help books, etc.).
· Exercise daily (hire a trainer if you can afford it).
· Determine when and why you’re eating (we often feed the inner void rather than the hunger).
· Plan to do something social at least once a week either with friends or go solo.
· Have an accountable person or small group where all of you can be mutually vulnerable and supportive during this time of singleness.
· Check in with your therapist and your medical doctor at least twice a year.
I’m not saying this is a silver bullet way to combat loneliness, but if you take this advice and heed to most of it, you’ll manage that loneliness so well that you’ll no longer have to succumb to it. It’s not complicated—it’s just not easy.
Picture Courtesy of @Lauren.Lea