The breakdown of a long-term relationship can be one of the most stressful events in life. Aside from any practical implications, the emotional upheaval can be great. Finding yourself on your own, with the prospect of facing the future without a partner, can lead to feelings of insecurity and loneliness.
But the truth is, being alone doesn’t have to mean being lonely. In fact, being lonely actually has less to do with whether or not you are on your own, and more to do with how comfortable you are in your surroundings and with your life in general.
Ultimately, it is about how you feel inside.
Loneliness Is Not Always Down to Being Alone
You can be happy in your own company, or as lonely as if you were the sole person trekking across Antarctica—and that is true whether or not you are on your own or part of a couple. Being at home, pottering about doing everyday things, is where you should feel at your most content. But if you are with the wrong person, the contentment that is intrinsic to your well-being is simply not there. In that situation, every hour, every day, can bring with it tension that can make you feel as though you are the loneliest person in the world.
It is very possible to feel more lonely when you are not physically alone than when you are.
Today, more than 40 percent of marriages in the UK and United States end in divorce. Being a singleton, with or without children, is in no way a personal failing. But sometimes people cling on to relationships that will not improve just because they are afraid of being on their own.
The fear of being alone is very real. Aside from that, many people also fear financial collapse and/ or the prospect of losing their family home, which only compounds feelings of isolation. Another common fear is upsetting children, which often means they try to remain in the relationship for the sake of the kids.
Being on Your Own Could Lead to You Feeling Less Lonely
The truth is, if you are really unhappy in your relationship, then you can become less lonely, not more lonely, following a breakup. Perhaps you have been feeling like a stranger in your own home, as though you are walking on eggshells trying to keep the peace. Perhaps the air inside the home feels tense and hostile, even when you are not arguing, making it difficult to relax. Perhaps something just feels ‘wrong’ – you know communication has broken down, and so life at home feels awkward and uncomfortable.
All of these situations can cause you to feel very lonely inside, even when you have children to look after, and even when you spend part of the day out at work.
Your house is supposed to feel like your sanctuary, a place where you can be ‘you’ and let your guard down. It’s where you revitalize and recharge. And you can’t do that if you are living in a disharmonious environment.
Of course, that doesn’t mean to say that every time you are going through a difficult patch with a partner you should pack it all in and end things. Some situations are repairable, and they can even lead to better communication and companionship. But sometimes that is just not possible, due to incompatibility or a refusal to work through things on one or both sides. Sometimes, situations and partnerships naturally run their course. Some relationships even become emotionally destructive. When that is the case, going separate ways can lead to a more positive pathway in life.
Being on Your Own Can Be Liberating
Being alone doesn’t have to mean being lonely. It can mean liberation, freedom, and the chance to do everything you’ve always wanted to and yet never have. It can mean an escape from bickering, from blame, and from all those uncomfortable moments. In fact, it can mean a better home life for all concerned. If you have children, then being happy yourself is of crucial importance. Happy parents make happy children. Stressful environments lead to stressed, unhappy, and less confident children.
Stepping out into the world as a single person can open new doors and new opportunities. And that is something to embrace.
All you really need is the right perspective.
If you and your partner have separated and you just can’t shake off the feeling of loneliness, fill your time with positive activity instead. Adopt a new perspective—view life as an open book with endless possibilities. After all, life is for living, not for dwelling on what might have been. Who knows what is around the corner? Indulge in your passions and hobbies. Visit places. Take up a new pastime. Enjoy life on your own terms. Spend time with friends—relationships often lead to us neglecting our friendships, even when we don’t intend to. Rekindle old ties. Friends are valuable.
If you are a parent, arrange to meet up with other friends who have children—it means you can enjoy chatting whilst the kids have fun playing. There is a lot to be said for simple conversation – it relieves burdens and opens us up to new perspectives. If you don’t know many parents, and your children are not yet of school age, join groups in your local area—toddler and baby groups are the easiest place to meet new ‘mum’ friends. Conversations can easily strike up just by sitting beside someone, as you all have young children as common ground. No one can ever have too many friends, and companionship like this can last a lifetime.
If your children are older and at school, arrange to have their friends over and meet up for days out in the holidays. Even chatting with other parents at sports clubs, etc. can lead to new friendships, thus helping you to feel less lonely.
And if you don’t have children, or your children have grown up, the world is your oyster. Go places. Immerse yourself in art. Involve yourself in a community project or volunteer work. Join a club. Take up a new class and learn something. Start a small business. Whatever you decide to do, be part of something. Join in.
Sometimes, adverse situations can make us feel very alone. When we close ourselves off to the world, it only makes it worse. But by opening up to other people, you will probably find that there are many others in the same boat as you. Which, consequentially, will help you to feel less alone. Whatever you do, don’t think of yourself as an outsider in a world of happy, busy people. You can have anything anyone else has. It’s perfectly possible. Sometimes, you have to make the first move – not because other people don’t care or aren’t interested, but because they are not proactive or confident enough to take the bull by the horns themselves.
The world is full of missed opportunities. And remember, it only takes a single moment for the beginnings of a beautiful friendship to spark.
Lead a Full Life
Leading a full life—filling it with things you love to do and are interested in—can really help to eradicate feelings of loneliness. When life is rewarding, a natural sense of satisfaction follows. We all have our dreams and our passions—being in a relationship cannot, on its own, completely fulfill us. We are all individuals, and any relationship should complement us, rather than consume us. The same can be said for parenthood. Relying entirely on someone else, even one’s own children, for our own happiness is never a good, or sustainable, idea. What’s more, it’s healthier for the people around us if we take a positive, proactive approach to life. It’s inspiring, and that has a knock-on effect.
When you feel low, it’s also worth remembering that everyone has their ups and downs to work through in life—and when a roller coaster hurtles downwards it comes back up. You can help it by nurturing everything positively.
Let Go and Stop Worrying
In fact, if we chase after our own dreams and stop worrying about whether or not we are part of a couple, we are more likely to meet someone else compatible with us. And then, a special type of happiness can unfold—happiness based on mutual interests, shared aspirations, and real contentment.
Of course, it’s not guaranteed, but then nothing in life ever is. By seeking out our own fulfillment; by doing instead of wallowing; by taking control and getting out there living life, rather than comparing our lives with others; by appreciating what we have or can get, rather than what we have lost; by being open to new people, new friendships and new experiences—by doing all of this, we may find that loneliness is not dependent on whether or not we are part of a couple, but much more about how we approach life and how much we take from it. And then we may never be lonely again.