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The High Cost of the Fear of Loneliness

Humans are not supposed to be alone - we are social creatures wired to live in communities. Modern-day trends are forcing us out of our natural habitat. Urbanization and technology mean we spend more time with ourselves and commonly feel isolated and disconnected. Social communities like churches are witnessing declining membership. In the 1980s, 71 percent of American households were members of a church according to Gallup. In 2020, for the first time ever, this number fell below the 50 percent majority to 47 percent. People are withdrawing into the world of social media and looking there for connection and validation. But this is the worst place to look for connection and validation. It is fickle and judgemental. It is not possible to transmit your true self via this medium which leaves people frustrated and lonely. It also can lead to resentment. As you feel more marginalized and misunderstood, you start to resent the people that appear to have it all. What happens as a result of all this is concerning. There are seven potential paths.

Path 1: You lower your standards and latch to anyone that is prepared to make themselves available to you. You do not require the person to be interesting, attractive, kind, thoughtful, or any of the usual things we look for in a partner. You are so desperate and impatient, that you are not prepared to wait for the 10th or the 100th candidate. In fact, you doubt you will even have the luxury of being exposed to ten candidates. You irrationally think this is your first and only chance at finding a connection so you jump right in. The only person that will end up with the person they deserve is the person are those that have properly reconciled themselves to the prospect of never being with anyone at all!

Path 2: You come to terms with the following: being with the person that is not quite right for you is like having a pebble in your shoe - it is irritating but it is not going to kill you so you keep walking. The problem is that the pebble taints every experience you have. That small amount of discomfort will take the shine off your annual holiday, and the irony is that you start to feel more alone than you would be if you were not in a relationship at all.

Path 3: You will not be equal in the relationship. Your desperate need to avoid being alone makes it impossible for you to communicate your needs, or reveal your true self in the relationship. Your partner will sense this vulnerability and weakness and could use it as a means of getting their own way, which in turn could lead you to feelings of helplessness and resentment.

Path 4: You become completely helpless and dependent on the other person. You can find no happiness in yourself - all your happiness is generated from your partner and you cannot imagine a life without this symbiosis. You could never imagine going to a movie by yourself or having dinner by yourself. You develop no skills to fend for yourself, fill the hours of a lonely weekend, or find pleasure in doing something alone like walking, reading a book, or cooking.

Path 5: As you become more trapped in this restrictive relationship, you start to regret the freedom you have sacrificed and the missed opportunities to meet new people. You realize there is a large number of charming people you will never get to meet because you are so terrified of sleeping alone for a few more months or years.

Path 6: It isn't just other people you will not get to know, it is also yourself. The constant presence of other people means you never get to know yourself. You fail to develop your own identity because it is constantly tied to the identities of others. Whenever you are faced with a challenging personal issue, you immediately gravitate away from spending time alone to deal with it and find contact with others as a way of avoiding having to think and deal with it. There ends up being so much you won’t ever really feel or understand about yourself, so many big questions about your ultimate purpose that you will ignore, because there is always someone else on hand to chat to about what to watch on Netlfix.

Path 6: You may completely avoid being miserable and you will become inordinately comfortable with a life of mediocrity and comfort where you are never challenged or curious. You stop learning and exploring because there are no deep questions you need to answer. You are not constantly asking questions like “what is my purpose in this life” or “am I living my best life” because you have become so comfortable wallowing in your own mediocrity.

The lesson you need to learn as quickly as possible is that if you are alone, it does not mean there is something wrong with you. Instead, it means you are being appropriately patient and waiting for that which will truly satisfy you. Also being alone romantically does not mean you should cut yourself off from all humanity. You need to go out and make meaningful social/non-romantic connections. Join a church, a sports club, or a charity, and make an effort to make genuine human connections.


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