Woman sitting alone in a field
Mental Health & Wellbeing

Feeling Lonely? How To Connect And Keep Your Boundaries

Read Time:4 Minute, 15 Second

We all crave a meaningful human connection. Yes, even you introverts. Research tells us that loneliness is a significant contributing factor to mental ill-health. Because of COVID, these restrictions, lockdowns, self-isolation, and quarantine put us in uncharted territory. And this new territory creates more opportunities for loneliness.

Loneliness takes many forms. Loneliness is created from loss, isolation, having no family, being single or making bold moves to a pack up and start a new life in a different town or country. Whatever creates loneliness is individual, and the feeling is very real.

Loneliness Makes Us Do Crazy Things

There is a difference between being alone and being lonely. Quality, deep and supportive relationships surpass the fickle and the temporary ones. Gap-filling relationships are superficial and risk you feeling even worse when they don’t fill that gap you need.

To feel connected is to feel valued, supported and validated. The feeling of loneliness takes away these feelings and leaves a gap that is eager to be filled. Despite your own best judgement, the people who fill this gap may not be the best people for you. The ex, the estranged parent, the former best friend?

Perhaps you are creating new connections with people you would otherwise not – people you know are not good for you. And now you’re torn because, at the same time, these people ease your loneliness.

You know yourself, and these relationships are not a great idea, but sensibilities go out the window when you crave human connection. Seeking connection creates familiarity, safety, and the feeling of being wanted and needed – and these are all very lovely, but not when they are actually toxic for you.

We go ahead and convince ourselves of all the reasons why this is going to work:

Perhaps he misses me too?

Maybe my sister won’t dismiss me this time?

Maybe all of those genuine reasons why we broke up weren’t all THAT bad, right? 

Perhaps it will be different this time?

What we are doing is making our boundaries selective. The feeling of loneliness has caused us to lower our boundaries, and when we don’t feel lonely anymore, we will feel better. Surely, right? Maybe?

The reality may be very different: Perhaps the ex is not a safe person – physically, emotionally or psychologically.  But now, you need someone who has lessened your ability to put your needs first and keep your boundaries firm.

Keep Your boundaries And Stay Emotionally Safe

Perhaps pause and think about your relationships and connections and the impact on you when you are at your most lonely, most vulnerable. Check-in with yourself to make sure you make the decisions right for you.

1. Look to those who already love you

Those already in your life will be there for you no matter what. Creating friendships or relationships that are not good for you and are part of a knee jerk reaction to lessen loneliness is not sustainable and can be damaging.

2. Be curious and question your decisions

Ask yourself questions, and be curious about why you make individual decisions. Ask yourself why you want a particular person in your life at this moment.

Understand yourself and your motivations for the decisions you make.  You will have a greater understanding of yourself, what you need and why you are doing what you are doing.

3. Work on yourself first to become whole

Taking time to really work through your stuff is empowering. It is ok to be alone. Being alone is very different from being lonely. Find ways to be well on your own and accept that you are all you need first.

Find those friendships and relationships that compliment you when you are whole, not fill gaps when you are empty. Establish your boundaries while you are on your own so that you have awareness and can better reinforce these.

4. Let go of shame

I have a single friend who was asked: “what do you do with all your time?”. The insinuation is that my friend has no fulfilling life as a single person, and the only worthwhile experiences are filled with a significant other.

This view clearly says more about the person who asked the question than the single person. People feel quite uncomfortable with being on their own, and they often project this to single people. It is not shameful to be alone.

5. Embrace challenges

You are challenging yourself in ways that you may not have done with others. We become used to our lives with other people. When the opportunity arises to challenge ourselves when we are single or without others, this has the power to create a new strength. Embrace the scary bits and extend yourself.

Finally

Being on our own is an opportunity for change and growth. It is a chance for us to find who we are without others, which can be very empowering.

You may only be by yourself for a limited period, so embrace this time to grow and become the person you want to be.


Photo by Edu Grande on Unsplash

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