Loneliness might be the most painful emotion a person can have. It can feel empty and scary and sad and unfair. Being lonely can make a person feel sorry for him or herself. It can make a person feel angry, like “Why me?” It can make someone feel unworthy of love, or like maybe they shouldn’t have gotten divorced. But however you are feeling about loneliness, it’s really, really hard. I want to talk specifically about loneliness after divorce.
A lot of people getting divorced and feeling loneliness after divorce ask, “Will I survive?” My answer is 100% absolutely yes!!
Before I get into how, I want to talk about loneliness, in general. A lot of people going through a divorce look at their married friends and think, ‘I wish I had a marriage like hers,’ or ‘How are they able to make things work and I couldn’t?’
Here’s how I feel. People can be married or in a relationship and feel lonely. Someone could have a husband and 5 kids and still feel lonely all the time, and someone who has lived alone and been single for 10 years might not feel lonely at all.
I think loneliness is a state of mind, and surviving loneliness (and not just surviving but being happy, as well) is in your control. For example, I know a divorced woman who is dating a married man and she feels very very lonely. She sees the guy a couple times a week–for a quick dinner or hookup at her place, but when he leaves, she feels very alone and lonely. That is an entirely different article because I have to believe her feelings go way beyond loneliness and she is most likely feeling low self-esteem, lack of self-love, shame, guilt, anger, resentment and more.
But back to loneliness after divorce, I believe that loneliness stems from something missing–some big void in someone’s life. Now, if you are newly separated, of course you are going to feel lonely because everything is so new. You aren’t used to living alone or living just with your kids. But that kind of loneliness is temporary.
Loneliness can stem from: being in a romantic relationship or marriage that isn’t working and/or making you happy, an unfulfilling life, which could include being unhappy at work or not having a hobby, an outlet or a passion that is satisfying. Or, not feeling like your life has meaning, or not liking yourself.
Here are some different kinds of loneliness:
1. People who are single and want to meet someone.
I have been there. I get it. You want to meet someone so badly and it feels very alone not to have someone. But, there is a difference between being single and being lonely. Being alone because you just haven’t met the right guy yet is one thing.
Being alone and lonely because you are making poor choices of the person/people you are spending time with is something that you can control. In other words, the lonely person has the power to make choices that might lead to possibilities of not being lonely anymore. The person might have to be alone for a little while until he/she meets the right person-the person you know in your gut is offering you a healthy relationship. It takes courage to make some of those choices, but the payoff is beautiful.
2. The end of a relationship.
Maybe you just broke up with someone. Maybe you are a recent widow/widower. Maybe you just haven’t met the right person yet. These times are temporary, and the best way to get through it is to surround yourself with family and friends and those who care for you. Also, spend time with people who make you laugh, who you have fun with, and who make you feel good. Also, keep being a great mom/dad, work hard at your profession, and take time to do things you love—both by yourself and with others and things will change.
3. Being with the wrong person.
Being with someone who is emotionally unavailable or who is cheating on his/her spouse can make someone feel lonely. I personally think that if a person ends a relationship that is making him or her unhappy, the loneliness will get better. Maybe at first it would be more difficult, but being free opens the door to meeting someone who will fill your gap of loneliness.
Surviving loneliness after divorce:
The thing is, when someone isn’t feeling lonely, everything else in life is manageable. Problems seem solvable. So you aren’t making as much money as you’d like? It’s OK. Having issues with your ex-husband? It’s OK. Your furnace just broke and financially it’s stressing you out? It’s OK. Even health problems. I think people get through things so much better when they have either a spouse or a job or a passion or goal they are working towards that keeps them inspired, and hopeful and happy. In other words, when they don’t feel alone.
Long term loneliness after divorce comes from low self-esteem and lack of self-confidence to get into the right relationship, or to learn how to enjoy being alone. I truly think that surviving loneliness after divorce comes to those who love themselves and who love and appreciate life. Yes, loneliness can feel very empty and sad, but with good self-esteem, hope, faith and positive energy, I think loneliness almost always turns around.
Like this post? Check out my blog post, “9 Signs of a Healthy Relationship”
Why do women always ask other women are they dating? Why do you push going into a relationship when someone just came out of a bad one with kids. Maybe they need a break and why would you introduce a man into that mess. Dr. Laura says no dating until the kids are gone and I agree. How selfish you are to say I am lonely and need a man, where is the caring about what the kids needs which is frankly no more complications of another guy in the mix. You got that answer because you asked the question. Stop thinking women have to be with a guy. Why do we need a guy– because society keeps asking are you dating. Stop it. Just ask are you happy? If the answer is yes then let it lie and if it is no. then ask how can I help. I think at middle age women who get divorced are the luckiest in the world. No men breaking down to take care of, all the decision ours and the love of our family and friends to sustain us.
I think it’s a reasonable question. And I firmly disagree with waiting until the kids are older. Kids need to learn that their parents have needs and that’s sometimes dating.
I do think though that it’s a personal choice and neither of which is actually selfish or wrong. Dating after divorce with kids is not selfish at all and can be good for them to see you making new relationships.
As for the article. I feel this way right now. For me I feel lonely because I’ve had my kids a lot and it’s been difficult to get it and do stuff without them.
When I haven’t had my personal space in a while and haven’t hung out with other adults I start to feel lonely.
Also I work from home and during the summer they’re with me everyday. Working from doesn’t allow me to at least have day to say interactions with other adults. It sucks sometimes.
Thank you! This conversation was very helpful. All these scenarios keep going through my mind and being recently divorced, I am not sure what the rules are nor what is normal. At least reading this made me feel a bit less alone and isolated.
The Very Truth
Well being single and lonely all the time can really be very unhealthy and very depressing as well. And when you’re married it has a lot of advantages since you can share your life with a loved one instead of being all by yourself. The married life would certainly be the way to go since you can go everywhere together, especially if you have children.