Don’t let loneliness cause you to compromise who you are or compromise your values.
There are a lot of lonely people in the world, whether they let on or not. You won’t necessarily know it by looking at them or talking to them. If you are lonely, sometimes you can be lonely even in the midst of a crowd of people. Perhaps you simply desire to find good friendships. Finding quality friends can sometimes be difficult. Maybe you’ve had some good friendships that ended or faded. Maybe you’ve had friends who were never really friends and always tried to use you for their own gain.
Sometimes there is a desire or hope for a romantic relationship. Maybe you’ve had no ‘luck’ in that arena. Or possibly you had a good thing that ended because the relationship was toxic; or because there was infidelity; or because there were games being played; or because you both came to an impasse and there was no where to go from there but apart; or maybe because the other person passed away. These are all difficult circumstances that cause disappointment, disillusionment and heartbreak. Not easy to get through…but somehow you’ve muddled through to the other side of the pain and you’re searching for love again. You’re open to trying again but the prospects seem few.
Or…you may be in a relationship and still be lonely for various reasons such as, maybe your spouse is in the armed services and you don’t see them often. Maybe your beloved works a LOT and you hardly see each other and when you do, it’s always time consuming to try to get back into the ‘groove’ of your relationship. Or maybe the relationship is struggling and you’re not in a place of connection with your significant other.
Wow! Life can be complicated. What can you do if you’re lonely? Should you compromise and take on friendships or relationships that can be harmful just so you won’t feel lonely? Some people might say ‘why not?’. It is each person’s decision or prerogative to do as they wish. But, what is healthiest for you? What is good for heart and soul? What is best for good emotional health and well being?
I’m telling you right now that I do not have all of the answers, but, I do have suggestions that you might find helpful.
As with any relationship, whether a platonic friendship or a romantic relationship, it always takes effort and time to get to know people. There is a saying that ‘if you desire friendship, then you must first show yourself friendly’. In other words, to have a friend, you must first BE a friend… or at least be friendLY to invite others into relationship with you. Try to open the doorway to possible friendship. Maybe you’re saying…”Well I’ve tried that, but, it ends up a disaster every time. I always seem to pick bad friends.” Well… let’s explore that for a moment. I’m no therapist and don’t claim to be. But, if you’re always choosing harmful friendships, then, maybe begin to look at your criteria for friends. You may have to change it. If you’re willing to accept any ol’ person as a close friend then some re-examination of your criteria may be in order.
Think of a house being built. A house needs a good foundation on which to be built. If the foundation is not in place then the structure will be unstable and have multiple issues. Well, to have a successful friendship you must first have a good foundation. Even when you were a small child playing with building blocks, you couldn’t build the top of the tower or pyramid first. You had to lay a foundation. If the blocks were misplaced or crooked, the tower or pyramid would not remain standing.
So in friendships, a good foundation must first be built. Yes, it takes time to get to know people. But as you get to know someone, don’t tell them your whole life story and personal bits right away. Ease into it. Trust them with a little bit of information at a time. If they handle your personal information with respect and confidentiality then, there’s hope. Do they share? Is there a mutual give and take? Or are they selfish and expect you to do everything, pay for everything, or make all of the sacrifices while they make none. Those are red flags. You want a friendship based on trust, on balanced give and take, on mutuality. You do not need someone who is going to take advantage of you, mooch off of you, suck the life out of you, use or abuse you. You deserve healthy friendships. Conversely, examine your own behavior. Are you expecting your friends to always foot the bill, be available at your beck and call, give everything of themselves while you give minimally? Think about your role in previous friendships. You should want to give to others as well as have them give to you. You should want to share and be shared with, etc. Friendships are give and take on both sides.
For romantic relationships the previous advice for friendships is applicable. Romantic relationships have added complexities. However, the same type of building blocks apply. I’m going to do a separate blog post dedicated to what healthy relationships should look like. But, if you’re lonely because you’d like a romantic relationship and don’t have one, don’t allow yourself to compromise and settle for a shifty, ‘shady’, unstable, questionable relationship just to quell your loneliness for the moment. In the end you’ll end up paying a much higher price than what you originally anticipated. It’s like the story I told about the snake (that was told to me by a friend). A man was walking along and saw a snake lying on the ground. The snake looked hurt, so he picked it up, held it close to him to give it warmth. He nurtured and cared for it. The snake then bit him. He said to the snake “Why did you bite me? I’ve been caring for you all this time”. The snake said to the man, “You knew I was a snake when you picked me up.”
If you see red flags, don’t ignore them. If you are warned or have that sick feeling in your gut, or if you’re presented with evidence that this person you’re interested in is not honorable or respectable, or perhaps they have some type of addiction, or rage issues, or are “players” or [fill in the blank]… don’t allow loneliness to cause you to compromise your heart or give your heart to someone who will most certainly end up abusing it or harming it. And please do not get into a relationship thinking you can “change” the other person. You cannot change anyone. You cannot save anyone. The person in question has to want that for themselves.
There ARE good quality people out there. Finding them is not easy, but, they do exist. Remember to always guard your heart, but, be open to meeting new people. However, don’t rush in. Take your time to get to know the person of interest. Check out their background. Talk to people who know them well. Watch how they treat others. Watch how they treat you. Do they act as if they have something to hide? Do they make lots of excuses for their behaviors? Are they hot & cold? In other words are they warm towards you and then without warning, and for no reason they’re suddenly aloof? Ask your trusted friends and/or family members their impression of this person. Get a balanced view. And if something is not sitting right with you, don’t ignore that.
As for the good people that are out there, how do you find or meet them? Well you could possibly try to join new clubs or take classes of interest. You could join a group at your place of worship. You could try dating sites but be very careful of scam artists. Always be safe and read rules on dating sites for how to SAFELY interact with a potential interest. Or perhaps ask a trusted friend who knows what you’re looking for to be on the lookout for you to find candidates for a quality romantic partner. Again, these are suggestions.
If you’re in a committed relationship and you still feel lonely due to your love being away for long periods of time due to work or military service, it’s important that you find groups of other folks who can relate to you because their situation is similar to yours etc., to join up with and befriend. There are groups out there for folks who are in similar situations. For example, perhaps there are groups for military wives and the like. It important to find these groups so that you’re not isolated. But be careful not to put yourself in a situation that would cause you to compromise your marriage or relationship with your significant other. Find good, healthy friendships with folks who are going to support and build you up during these times when your spouse or significant other is away.
For those who are lonely because you’re in a difficult place in your relationship, there is no easy answer and I will not advise you except to say you may possibly want to try counseling with or without your spouse. Sometimes the spouse may not want to go to counseling, in which case you can go by yourself. You may think “what’s the point in trying to save my relationship if my spouse is not going to come to counseling with me?” But, going to counseling alone may be beneficial so that you can work on yourself and get healing in areas that may have long been neglected. Get yourself emotionally and mentally healthy. Find other trusted resources on how to move forward and possibly repair a damaged or suffering relationship. Look at counseling services online. Ask your physician or trusted friends if they know of any resources for hurting relationships that would be beneficial. Sometimes your place of employment may offer counseling services. It may be worth inquiring. The internet is a place full of information. Sometimes finding what you need can be challenging. But, find reputable organizations or sites for advice.
If your situation is not as serious and you just need to find new ways to connect when you are together, try something new. The times when your beloved is home make plans to take a class together. Take walks together in the evening. Sit on the porch and hold hands with one another and talk about your dreams and goals, or things your thankful for about each other. Make advance plans to take a special trip. Whatever you do, be creative. And when they’re away, make up your own special language or tradition to communicate with each other while apart.
I hope something I’ve shared has been beneficial. Again, I’m not a professional. I simply have a heart for people who may be hurting or in compromising situations. If I can say anything that has helped then I feel like I’ve done some small part to bless someone else.
©2014 KD Corner “Loneliness Does Not Equal Compromise”
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