Would you agree that there are few places lonelier than being in a loveless relationship? Spending time with someone who's clearly bored, disinterested, perhaps even angry at your mere presence slowly destroys your confidence, self-esteem and faith in yourself. You may even question your ability to sustain future relationships.
Then there are those who've had long, successful relationships which perhaps ended naturally through health issues or unexpectedly out of the blue, so leaving them lost, desolate and grief-stricken. They're faced with doubts as to how they'll heal, recover and start anew. Being single and alone never really featured as an option for them.
Some people are on a constant mission to find partners for their single friends, seeming to feel that they've something missing from their lives. They want everyone comfortably settled in happy relationships so that they're not alone at social events or holiday times. But are their own relationships so fantastic or are they always compromising and rarely doing what they'd like to do?
Let's look at being single and alone and ask how that's working out for you.
Being single and alone doesn't automatically equate to being lonely, but equally let's reflect on the dangers of being on your own for too long.
- Have previous relationship(s) left you feeling alone and somehow lacking or unsure as to what to say or do? Are you fearful that being alone means 'everyone' will look at you in a negative way? If that's the case you may find yourself feeling apprehensive at the prospect of even walking into a room by yourself, filled with self-doubt, low in confidence and constantly reinforcing a negative mindset.
- Maybe you're becoming increasingly insular, self-protective and defensive. Being vulnerable, exposing too much of yourself can feel counter-intuitive. Whilst the need to take care of ourselves is understandable we should also appreciate that forming relationships means being open and receptive to others. It's an important part of life and a valuable skill when we're wanting to have any kind of successful, interactive relationship with others.
- Some newly single people prefer not to live alone at first. A house share can be a good stepping-stone as it's a means of having both private space as well as knowing there's some company nearby. It can be a less expensive option and not as binding as buying or renting, giving breathing space in which to consider which next steps are best to take.
- Being on our own can become a habit. How often do we hear someone say they're too set in their ways to change or commit to a new relationship! But if they met someone and were really attracted I doubt they'd think twice about adapting their routine or habit patterns. They'd be prepared to have a go, try something new, enjoy the excitement and look forward to being more flexible in their outlook.
- A comfort zone tends to become smaller the longer we spend in it. Over time doing what we've always done becomes easier, whilst making changes or effort can become less and less appealing. Staying there for too long can ultimately become boring and unsatisfying. But eventually, it becomes second-nature to settle into an, 'I'm too old to change', 'I've had my life' mindset, even though some adjustments and a little effort could reinvigorate the present and the future for you.
- Are childcare responsibilities a deterrent to you finding a new partner? Making the time to go online or go out and negotiate the dynamics of a new relationship can seem like an unnecessary hassle, but small steps can make a difference to easing yourself back into a new social scene. Could you alternate childcare with another single parent; you have their kids one afternoon, evening or maybe an occasional sleepover and they then return the favour. Doing that might free you both up for a few hours and give time to go shopping, have a leisurely lunch or an evening out.
- Booking a different hairdresser to style your hair can introduce a whole new look and reinvigorate your confidence levels. Making a few modifications to your wardrobe can put a spring in your step and inspire you to get out and about, to make new friends. Even if you're happy being single, are not looking for romance and a new partner, a few simple steps can add some zest into life so you feel even more positive about being single and alone.
- What to talk about can be a serious issue if we've been single and alone for a while. Casual chat doesn't come easily to everyone, especially if recent interactions have tended to be more formal, work-related and purpose-driven. But we can make an effort to remedy that by keeping up-to-date with local news, popular TV, interesting shows and events, so ensuring that we're equipped to join conversations about topics of interest.
Being single and alone can be fine and is certainly better than settling for a wrong or second-best relationship. But also remember the importance of maintaining a balanced approach to life and ensuring your relationship choices are positive for you.
Susan Leigh, Altrincham, Cheshire, South Manchester counsellor, hypnotherapist, relationship counsellor, writer & media contributor offers help with relationship issues, stress management, assertiveness and confidence. She works with individual clients, couples and provides corporate workshops and support.
She's author of 3 books, 'Dealing with Stress, Managing its Impact', '101 Days of Inspiration #tipoftheday' and 'Dealing with Death, Coping with the Pain', all on Amazon & with easy to read sections, tips and ideas to help you feel more positive about your life.
To order a copy or for more information, help and free articles visit http://www.lifestyletherapy.net