We were all born single, yet we all come out with an innate desire for companionship. We see it in a baby’s desire to be fed, held, carried, played with, etc. This child like desire never leaves us, it only matures and takes on different forms and when it feels like these desires are being neglected by the people in our lives, we end up feeling lonely.
Loneliness that goes unaddressed can become depression or lead to a plethora of actions that can be detrimental to our health. In this article I endeavour to communicate how I have addressed loneliness at various points in my life.
A first time for everything
Believe it or not I experienced my first “romantic relationship” when I was in grade 1. Her name was Raven and she was the prettiest girl in my class at the time. We did not go out on any dates or did anything sexual but simply attached the labels of “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” to each other.
Decades later I still remember how that made me feel. I felt loved, accepted, wanted and better than all the other boys. The relationship ended under circumstances that were out of our control, and so as young as I was, I understood and felt no feelings of hurt or abandonment. We remained acquainted until we graduated from prep school. She and her family migrated, and I have not seen or heard from her since.
The positive feelings I felt in that relationship set me on a quest to have that again and again. So, much of my life has been spent seeking the love and attention of the fairer sex. Sad to say but not every girl I liked, liked me back and I believe that is a reality that most if not all of us have to face at some point in our lives. No matter how good looking or cool you are, not everyone you are attracted to will be attracted to you.
We often beat ourselves up and make various adjustments to be the type of person that the person we like likes. This often doesn’t work for the creation of long-lasting connections, because either the person realizes we are being fake, or we get frustrated with the new version of ourselves. We all want to be accepted and loved for who we are, and there is nothing wrong with that but when it becomes hard to find someone to meet that need, loneliness starts to set in.
What does loneliness feel/look like?
Most of us have experienced love in the various ways it can be packaged. Whether by a hug or kiss, someone giving us food or a gift, someone complimenting us on our appearance or some work we have done, someone talking to us for hours on the phone or spending time with us doing activities we are interested in, someone forgiving us for a mistake we made or guiding us in areas where we are uncertain and lack confidence. Love is expressed in a plethora of ways and we are hard wired to desire more and more of the specific ways we appreciate the most. We need that constant flow of love in order to feel valued, respected, needed and desired.
Whenever we stop receiving these acts of love, after some time, we inherently start to think that nobody loves us or nobody cares, and if we were to die right now no one would miss us. We feel empty and lethargic, we may start to think of ourselves as unworthy, ugly and undesirable which in turn affects our confidence. A lack of confidence shows up in how you approach relationships. If not addressed prior to entering a romantic relationship, it will only be made harder to cope with once you are in a romantic relationship, for both you and your partner.
As lonely as you may feel as a single person who can’t seem to make a connection with someone who loves and accepts you for you, I implore you to do what I did during my season of singleness. Preoccupy yourself with activities, whether they be sports, community based service, church ministries, career endeavours and other hobbies. Not only will you surround yourself with other people who are of like mind and are working toward the same goals, you won’t have time to zone in on your loneliness which will preserve you from falling into depression or into a toxic pattern of serial dating and sexual promiscuity.
You need to fully love and accept who you are. Do not compromise for anyone because being alone and lonely is rough but being married and lonely is much worse. I don’t say this to kill your desire for marriage, rather I say it to strengthen your resolve to accept yourself but allow God to show you the aspects of yourself that are truly unacceptable. Embrace your singleness, be with yourself without seeking a romantic relationship for at least a year and find joy and peace in being single. Then not only will you be much more attractive to others, you will be better prepared to determine who is right for you and who isn’t.
We all desire companionship which is why most people have an affinity toward marriage. People often make the mistake of believing that marriage will make them happy and fix their loneliness and self-esteem issues, but it doesn’t. Not even if you are with an awesome spouse who loves you with all their heart. You must address your own loneliness by fully embracing yourself just as you would expect a spouse to embrace you and by giving your life meaning through actively seeking to serve others with your time, energy, gifts and talents. Then true joy and inner peace will be yours whether you remain single or get married someday.
Darren Salmon is a 28 year old young man from Kingston, Jamaica where he read for his Bachelor of Science degree in BioTechnology at the University of West Indies. He became a follower of Jesus when he was 10 and has since developed a ministry of Christian Poetry for which he has gained a godly reputation. Darren is husband to the lovely Mrs. Kimberley Salmon (previously Morgan), another talented young writer with Christian Today. Darren is a joint 1st place recipient of the Tronson award for international young writers with Christian Today for the year 2019. To read Darren’s previous articles visit his weebly site at https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/darren-salmon.html