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.