That evening, as I walked home after a session of netball with more than 42 people playing across two courts, I felt a stab of pain. I saw people around me talking with their friends around the water coolers, discussing dinner plans, and I was there standing awkwardly, alone.
You’ve been there.
Where you’re in a roomful of people, and you’re alone.
And you wonder when you will ever meet the one.
You’ve been on dates. But somehow or rather, something doesn’t seem to click.
Or when things have clicked, you’ve ended up texting heavily, only to be ghosted.
Worse still, you’ve been in places where both parties seemed willing to continue, only for things to break off two dates later. You barely hear from the other person despite double, triple-texting.
You’re single, and you’re feeling lonely.
I’m afraid there’s no easy advice here.
The traditional advice of ‘working on yourself’ is erroneous because it assumes you’re the problem.
But you’re not.
How can it be, when you’ve done all you can to put yourself out there, to exercise, and be the best version of yourself?
Accept that loneliness is okay
Accepting loneliness as an inevitable, and not necessarily a bad emotion can help you to become more ready to accept love into your life.
What is loneliness?
Dr Vivek Murthy, the former US Surgeon General, in his book ‘Together’, wrote,
Loneliness is the absence of emotional connection.
When you don’t feel emotionally close to someone, you start feeling lonely. You might be physically together with someone, but because of the inability to share openly and honestly about what you’re facing, you find yourself lonely.
But first accepting that loneliness is okay, rather than pathologising it is a useful first step.
Don’t do what I did.
Earlier in my youth, whenever I felt lonely at home, I would make an hour’s trip to a friend’s home to sleep over, so I could avoid the uncomfortable feeling of being alone at home.
Running away from your feelings and stuffing yourself into the company of friends may not always be the most helpful thing you can do for yourself.
Take some time to be curious about what you’re feeling.
And rather than trying to get over it, why not just try sitting with it? One thing that helps is labelling it. Each time you find yourself feeling lonely, say,
I’m feeling lonely.
Not pathologising it can help.
Build something that matters (to you)
Always had a side hustle you wanted to try?
Too many people try chasing the life of passionate love first, rather than building something that matters to them.
If you find yourself freer after a long time trying to chase love, then build something. A project. A business.
Whatever matters to you.
Find organic groups
We are not going sour grapes here. We are not going to say,
Oh, those couples have it tough too.
Comparing is the mother of discontent.
Doing it for yourself is not going to help.
Instead, finding yourself organic groups can be a useful way.
One of the hardest thing when you grow up as an adult is 3 things:
- Spontaneity – people need to be booked in their diaries 3 weeks in advance
- Regularity of meetings – unlike school, people outside of work do not meet that often, and there need to be an active effort for someone to organise meetings
- Tiredness – everyone is tired. Period.
Some of these organic groups can come through places like Meetup. I recommend Meetup over Eventbrite because Eventbrite tends to be more event based and less regular. You meet once, and you disappear.
Meetup is far more of a community.
|Organising events, and making sure that as many people come as possible
|Tends to be weekly
|Tends to be once-off
|People who turn up
|Tends to be more regular and consistent
|Random assortments looking for some way to kill some time on the Weekend
Focus still on getting dates through the door
If you want to be attached, you need to do the work of getting ready leads. Oops.
I meant, dates.
Don’t use those dating apps
My advice is not dating apps, because they can often throw up a very different assortment of people who may not be looking for what you’re looking for. Many people have had success with it, but you may find yourself leaving with a false misconception that there will always be someone better out there.
It can also leave you unwilling to commit to the person you have in front of you, thinking that there is 20 more matches for you on your phone.
Rather, going for activities where there is a higher likelihood of meeting singles in a organic, unforced manner may work better.
I far prefer and suggest activities such as:
- Exercise classes
- Group sports like netball
And if you want to continue the conversation after that, you can simply say,
Hey do you mind if we keep in touch?
If you’re an evergreen like me…
It can be easy to see people holding hands, and going,
I wish I had that.
You would hardly see the fights that happen behind the scenes, the lost love, and the times when each party screams,
I never want to see you again!
We always get enamoured with the idea of romantic love, without realising that for much of history, we’ve been having love that is not romantic.
It’s been convenient.
The modern idea of love, that you will find someone you will stay passionately attached to for the rest of life, who will intimately understand you, is well, modern.
It’s more likely that the person will come with flaws.
I’m not asking you to settle.
Nor am I asking you to stuff your loneliness, ignore it, and stay single all your life.
Rather, I’m saying that much of our discontent may come from being unable to appreciate what we truly, fully have, here in front of us. A patch of emptiness, where we can truly discover who we are, and who we are not.
I’m not glossing over the very painful part of being single. But I’m saying that sometimes, it can be important to recognise that you’re growing through this.
Don’t neglect the growth, just to get hitched (and ditched).