All-day long, you’re busy, occupied, and/or focused (aka: distracted). Then, night falls, loneliness creeps in, and the phone goes quiet. You imagine your coworkers and coupled-up friends snuggled up with their partners, watching a movie or TV show. They must be enjoying a romantic, intimate and comfortable evening. You even imagine your single friends in the arms of someone fabulous and fun. Or, engaging in #selfcare with a book in a bubble bath. Right? Of course, this is where your brain goes!
Our “highlight reel” culture focuses on filtered selfies and sharing the best parts of our lives. But, this can be part of a toxic comparison trap. Even the most well-adjusted among us can fall prey to it. Meanwhile, you’re sitting there, bored, alone, and lonely. All-day, things feel demanding and overwhelming, but that silent phone is almost deafening. It’s as if it’s screaming at you, “no one cares!” Of course, you know this isn’t true. But, that doesn’t make the “No Notifications” screen feel any less disappointing. Especially, when you’re feeling extra vulnerable. Social media can make this feel less suffocating, of course, but only for a short time. Remember what I said about those distractions from earlier?
Other people don’t get lonely, right?
Let’s be honest about those idyllic visions you have in your head about other peoples’ evenings. Yes, some of your friends may be having those beautiful, Instagram-worthy nights of #relationshipgoals. And, how great for them! The sad reality of our world is that it’s not as pervasive as we want to assume or want to believe. You may be divorced, separated, or have been in a committed relationship before. If so, you know what I’m talking about. In fact, you may even be happy with your partner while reading this. But, you still feel that profound loneliness. Sure, you’re watching the same show or movie, but it feels like a full canyon between the two of you. Or, one is on their phone while the other is struggling to even stay awake. But, even more likely, one or both partners is:
Cleaning the kitchen
Picking up from the day
Watching something solo
Zoned out on their phone
Or somewhere else altogether
As much as we want to pretend this doesn’t happen in households all over California, we know it does. In fact, it’s been a nationwide epidemic for years. Add a global pandemic to this trend, and we’ve got a rapidly-growing problem, begging to be solved. All I’m saying here is that, in this feeling of loneliness, you are not alone. #Alonetogether was trending for a long time during 2020, which made sense. But, loneliness isn’t simply something you can solve by being more social. Have you ever felt alone in a crowd or group? At a party, event, or other social gatherings? Yes, it is possible, and even “normal” to feel like this, even if you’re being social and engaging. Who knew?
There’s a lyric by Ingrid Andress in her song “Life of the Party” that sums this up pretty well.
“Look at me, I’m the life of the party
Round here, everybody loves me
But they don’t know that I’ve been hurtin’
‘Cause, baby, ever since you left me
I’ve been the life of the party”
So, what can you do about this? Is there a way to feel less lonely, without settling for less than you know you deserve? Can you avoid rushing into something you aren’t actually ready for? I don’t have a magic wand or a super quick fix for this. But, I do have some proven strategies for you to try. Mix and match. Use some. Dump others. Use them as a springboard to develop your own. Whatever! You do you, boo.
Tips for Women to Combat Loneliness in California
Yes, lean into loneliness. Well, not the loneliness, exactly. More the fact that you ARE, in fact, alone. Celebrate it. Let yourself be okay with this! Quit trying to fight your reality. Instead, start to embrace this status of “single”, “alone right now”, or however you’re experiencing this season of life. Things may stay like this for a while. They may not. But, the reality is that you are in this season right now, so there is no productive reason to fight it.
Establish a routine.
Nature abhors a vacuum. You may have often spent your time with others and no longer do. If so, allow yourself to fill that time with things that make YOU feel good. For example, say you are now sharing custody of young children. Give yourself a buffer of 20-30 minutes after they leave for your co-parent’s house to clean your own house. Establish your space as “with children home” and “without children home”. It doesn’t have to be a dramatic HGTV-style transformation every time. But, those crumbs, cups, and crayons don’t have to live on your kitchen table all weekend. Or, if you know you’re going to be alone on Friday night while “everyone else” is out, save a brand new show or movie for that night and plan a favorite meal. Or, order some take-out to enjoy without distraction, disruption, or compromise.
Take yourself out.
This may be tough for my introverts, but it’s doable. A friend of mine, recently separated, loves going to this fun, outdoor spot with live music and beautiful scenery. She’s met online dates there (public, safe, chill), but also go there on her own pretty often! Try that new restaurant or activity! It may feel odd at first, but once you’re there, you can let yourself enjoy. Or, leave! That’s the beauty of this solo lifestyle. You are in control. You get to decide how to spend your time and who you do or do not spend it with.
My hope for you: Fall in love with being alone.
Discover the joy of being with yourself. You are fun. You are creative and lovely. Someday, the best person for you will discover that too. Then, you can choose to make space in your life for them. But, if you don’t take the time to actually believe it, why should anyone else?
Start Combating Loneliness in Orange County, CA
We can be our own best friends, or worst critics. Loving our solo selves can take time, commitment, and support. Our caring therapists would love to support you from our Orange County, CA-based therapy practice. To start combating loneliness, please follow these simple steps:
Meet with a caring therapist
Start combating loneliness, and love who you are
Other Services Offered at Moxie Family Therapy
Therapy for loneliness isn’t the only service offered at our Orange County, CA-based therapy practice. Other services provided include counseling for young adults, teens, children, and couples. In addition, we also offer LGBTQ therapy, clinical supervision, online therapy and therapy for therapists. Learn more by visiting our blog or contacting our team today!