It sucks to be alone…REALLY???

all together now

by Kenneth Justice

~A few weeks ago a coffee house acquaintance of mine told me that he and his girlfriend of two years had finally called it quits. After numerous ups and downs in their relationship they had decided to part ways…..he said “all things being equal it was basically a mutual decision; we both realized it wasn’t going to work

For some time now he had been sharing with me various details of their tumultuous relationship but now that they had broken up there was one thing that he really wanted to talk about; ‘I feel so alone now” he said.

Obviously, the reason the majority of human beings end up in relationships is to enjoy companionship. There is something comforting and wonderful about being with another person in a relationship.

Actually, there is something wonderful about simply being with other people….

—) Road trips are always fun when there are a number of people involved

—) Parties are usually more fun when there is a crowded room

—) Holiday’s are usually more special when the whole family gets together

The bottom line is that we are social creatures; we enjoy being around other people….yet…..that doesn’t mean we have to be miserable if we are alone…does it?

The older I get the more I notice that there are a lot of people who haven’t learned how to be alone. In recent years psychologists have begun writing essays on the subject and have connected various correlations with the phenomenon suggesting that people who aren’t able to be content by themselves are more prone to end up in bad relationships or in bad company.

Sadly, I have seen more people than I can count go from one bad relationship to the next with no break in-between….all because they are afraid of being alone.

Oddly enough, this subject of learning how to be content when alone encompasses people of all ages;

—) If you are a parent you want to teach your children how to be content

—) If you are single you will want to be able to be content in order to prevent yourself from jumping into a bad relationship

—) If you are in a relationship you want to be able to be content so that you are not entirely dependent on your significant other

I’ve known of a number of instances where a person’s spouse died and they were entirely unprepared at being cut off from their loved one. Death is rarely easy to deal with but when we are too dependent on another person it can send us spiraling into a difficult chasm to crawl out of; in a couple of instances the people I know are still in therapy and grieving and its been more than a decade since the death of their loved one.

Its also odd that our vocation comes into the conversation when we talk about being too dependent as well. I know one person, who when fired from their job, became so distressed that it landed them into a mental hospital. They were entirely too dependent on their vocation and not prepared for being let go.

Learning to be content with whatever life throws our way is a difficult skill to master. I’m not going to pretend as though I am king-of-the-hill when it comes to being content in all things. I still get angry, upset, and ticked off when things don’t go my way;

—) When friends have suddenly stopped being my friends

—) When longtime clients suddenly stop paying for my services

—) When relatives treat me poorly and refuse me their friendship

All of those things can hurt and can leave me feeling lonely…….

Yet in despite of it all, learning to be content, no matter what our situation, is a skill that can help see us through the most difficult challenges of life.

The fact of the matter is that life is rarely easy. Girlfriends might break-up with us, spouses might die, friends might stop calling us……but the true measure of our inner character will shine in the face of those adversities.

We are all going to make our share of mistakes in life. Hell, I long ago lost count of all of the F***-up’s I’ve made throughout my life. But when it comes down to it…..the real question is who and what we are in the end.

Will we stay faithful to our values? Will we stay faithful to the principles we believe in? Will we find contentment even in the face of loneliness?

Or will we let the disappointments in life swallow us up? Will we allow the feeling of being alone drive us toward bad decisions?

For now its time for another coffee,


Categories: relationships

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

53 replies

  1. I’m happier alone or with a very small number of people i.e. one more than any large groups. I’m not the norm in that respect, a lot of people feel the need to socialise and get their energy off other people and novelty. And like you say some people NEED or think they need someone to be with them all the time. Seems a little sad to feel like unless you have a partner your life isn’t right…but on the other hand having one is great.

    • “Seems a little sad to feel like unless you have a partner your life isn’t right…but on the other hand having one is great”

      exactly what I was getting at :0)

  2. That´s the challenge I am being faced with just now.


    Will we find contentment even in the face of loneliness?

    Tks for this post

  3. Indeed…being in a relationship is wonderful..the good usually outweight the bad..I myself I crave it…..

  4. I live in the deep south where being a single woman, let alone a single mother is frowned upon as the sign of a selfish or broken woman. I went through a phase a couple of years after my divorce where I serial dated and found very quickly that no man is going to fill a void in my life if I can’t learn to fill it myself.

    Well, now I’m on the opposite extreme. I’ll go years without so much as a date, but it’s not because I hate men or don’t get lonely from time to time. I’ve just learned how to appreciate the love I already have in my life. People get so hung up on finding romance that they forget to appreciate all of the other people who love them simply because they exist. People like parents, children, friends, etc.

    I still desire a partner but if that day never comes, I’m happy. I’m content. I love and I’m loved.

  5. As you said “Sadly, I have seen more people than I can count go from one bad relationship to the next with no break in-between….all because they are afraid of being alone.” I absolutely agree with you, you have hit the nail on the head.

  6. The coffee/post today was very yummy, Kenneth. That is, it was substantial and enjoyable (as usual). Thank you.

  7. “Will we stay faithful to our values? Will we stay faithful to the principles we believe in? Will we find contentment even in the face of loneliness?”
    The value is already with teenagers is that one has to be in a relationship to be happy. if that is a value and principle we have at a young age we hardly will be able to be alone when time is there.
    I on times take walks alone just to think of things happening, being alone one times help you rethink your ways and be content with the moment alone, knowing you can do it. But we are all different

    • “The value is already with teenagers is that one has to be in a relationship to be happy. if that is a value and principle we have at a young age we hardly will be able to be alone when time is there”

      so true. Being in my thirties I’m inbetween the baby boomers and the teen generation and there is definitely a decisive shift in the attitudes. Where one generation focused a lot on being “self-reliant” the other generation focuses quite a bit on being ‘dependent’ on others as you have pointed out.

      Hopefully the younger generation can find a balance between the two

    • I think that the feeling that one has to be in a relationship at that age has more to do with being young, lacking experience and still trying to find oneself. It’s when they get older and still have that attitude, things have gone astray.

    • I do not think it is just being young and inexperienced. If you listen around you hear them talk about having to, in order to belong, it is what brings happiness wanting and not wanting to be alone with a fear of staying alone. And the 20 years and up show that to. Bouncing from to not wanting to be alone. As shown by our celebrities who jump around from to and preach to only be happy when in relationship. Why do you think they have sex at such early age like 11. What I think is way tooooo young. but it happens. Yes like you I do hope they will change but around me I seen very little.

  8. Great post! Those that find themselves suddenly alone whether by choice or circumstance would do well to have a bit of down time, reconnect with their values and themselves…take it as an opportunity. Well done to steffie above! I’m sure that you are much happier because you took the path you did. My personal experience is that when you reconnect with your values, goals and ideals, you are more able to align your future towards them and that can be a real blast. A little self discipline can really be worth the wait…with out without a partner.

    • Oh so true, Mrs. P. I can’t remember when it dawned on me that I made some of my stupidest relationship choices (or choices in general, for that matter) in the wake of a heartbreak. I decided at that point not to let myself run from pain anymore, to no longer be in denial of it but to allow myself to feel it, all of it, and let it pass through me in a reasonable space of grieving time, learning responsible ways to cope rather than rebounding or partying my sadness away. Doing that, I gained respect for myself and I learned self control, two things that would have saved me years of grief had I learned this lesson sooner.

    • And yes — *really* great post. I find myself wishing quite often that a lot more people read this authors blogs.

  9. Possibly the reason many people maintain their relationship with a therapist is precisely so they won’t be lonely.

    • soooooo true. You actually nailed one of my top 10 concerns with therapy (maybe one day I will list all ten) but I would venture to guess that at least half of all people who go to a counselor are going because they are lonely and don’t have a good friend that they can confide in……the countless hours I sat listening to clients left me wondering how many of those people actually needed a therapist and really just needed a friend

    • And that’s pretty terrifying, in a way

  10. I went and got a marriage counselor. Within a year I was separated. I am not going to even pretend that I made the final decisions in a sane mind. I was really afraid of the unknown. What I did come to realize is that my relationship with my husband wasn’t as good as it used to be. He was veering off into a selfish existence and I wanted community. In that time I got clear on how healthy I wanted to be. I have reached a place in being single, that I can feel like I want intimacy but not with just anyone. If a romantic relationship isn’t what
    I need in my life, I move on. I believe if I hadn’t spent so much time knowing what I am looking for and finding it already in me, this would be a very different story.

  11. I’ve come to enjoy my aloneness… it’s not that I don’t enjoy company because I do when the people are sincere… but I don’t like fake and being alone most of the times means I don’t need to deal with fake… my aloneness allows me to keep it real… in my own delusions

  12. I would rather be happy and a little sad for not having someone in my life, than to be in constant turmoil everyday wishing I could be alone. They wouldn’t be so alone if they did something for someone else, ie. charity work, feeding the homeless, volunteering just to name a few.

  13. Great post!! Love it

  14. agree , being alone is acceptable, but not all the time…. we fever the loneliness and keep on searching for a company to share.

  15. I have been alone a large portion of my life . . . even spent a year or so in a small camper alone in the Alaska bush . . . always had a dog and never felt lonely except the one time I made my way into an Anchorage shopping mall. . . .

    actually it is such great freedom to be alone I don’t know how anyone could fear it. . . . but I always had a dog . . . so when your hanging out with man’s best friend maybe I was cheating

  16. Wonderful post! Definitely food for thought ^^

  17. Solitude as opposed to loneliness can be very positive. There’s a lot of pressure on people nowadays to “be in a relationship”, as if you are weird if you aren’t, and many people are scared of their own company. Sometimes you just have to make the effort to enjoy your solitude.

    • “There’s a lot of pressure on people nowadays to “be in a relationship”, as if you are weird if you aren’t, and many people are scared of their own company”

      so true…the external pressure put on people to be in a relationship can be quite annoying

  18. As a person who’s never had a “successful” relationship or at least one that’s lasted for longer than a couple of months, it’s become difficult to be alone all the time, especially now that I live in a place where it’s difficult to at least have new friends and have something else in it’s place. I don’t want someone around just so I don’t have to be alone, it would just be nice to have that person who understands me and I understand him; to share my life with someone. It hasn’t happened and I have plenty of theories as to why (not including that I live in a city that seriously limits my options in more ways than one). It sucks to be this single for this long, HOWEVER, at the end of the day, I’d much rather remain single than be in a crap relationship. I have enough on my plate to work on that I don’t also need to deal with someone’s crap. I totally agree that it’s unhealthy how people jump from relationship to relationship just to avoid being alone. That’s just not a good enough reason. How can you find love when you don’t love yourself enough to be comfortable with being alone? I’d rather be alone than just be someone’s entertainment or stepping stone to something/one else. Because I deserve better than that, I’ll stay single until the right one comes along. I’ll probably be old, gray and in a nursing home by that time LOL but oh well. At least he won’t be able to get away LOL 🙂

  19. I have grown the most as an individual when I have been alone. Not being in a relationship allows for a lot of free time to read, experience new things, attend concerts and lectures. I do these things now, but I have been married for 18 years and my kids are getting older. Also, our “connected” culture seems to be more and more technology dependent. Some people can’t handle being alone so they text someone or go onto Facebook. I worry about the affect this constant need to be connected is having on our youth!

  20. “No, if anything, I fantasize about being alone,” Claire says.

    “What does that mean?” Phil asks.

    “There are times when, on my worst day, I’ve thought about just leaving our house and going someplace, like checking into a hotel. Being in a room all by myself, in a quiet, air-conditioned room, sitting down, eating my lunch, with no one touching me—drinking a diet Sprite, by myself,” she says wistfully.

    “That sounds awful,” he replies.

    – Date Night

  21. I guess you have to be someone that you like to attract someone who enjoys those positive qualities in you! And if you can’t spend time with yourself you can’t expect other people to… Really insightful, thank you!

  22. So many things I could say. I’ll try to sum up the best.

    I am not alone– I am in a strong, happy marriage. But sometimes I still feel lonely. I wish I had a better sense of community, but, as you’ve written about before, Kenneth, people seem very sucked into work, home responsibilities, and so on.

    I’m also an introvert. The sanest explanation on what that means is simply I need alone time to recharge. ALONE alone time. No technology. But again, it’s difficult to come back from those recharge sessions (might be in the great outdoors or a quiet time at the gym), and when I want to give my input to the world, people are in that busy time suck.

    At best right now, I try to make the best of what I have– the few friends and family (and again, that includes dear wifey) who DO have time for me, and muddle through this weird life and my hurts as best I can.

    • “through this weird life”

      I had three friends this past week mention to me in conversations that life is ‘weird’…seems to be a trend that many of us are noticing…perhaps the way we have been creating culture in America needs to be changed just a bit

    • I think a good chunk of it is how we’re consuming media through technology, how we’re communicating through such technology, and how the two may be at odds with each other.

  23. Thanks for liking my post today and I thought this was a relevant one of yours to read since my girlfriend broke up with me a couple of days ago. What you say is 100% correct. It’s really important to know how to be alone. I think some people struggle to be alone due to needs not met in childhood and probably need therapy to unleash their childhood experience so they can be truly independent in their adult life. I was really hurting yesterday just coping with the loss, however, because we both know how to be alone, the aftermath is going to be one of growth on perhaps a platonic level instead of one of resentment and protection of the ego. Thanks for posting this, it made me feel a little better. Cheers 🙂

  24. Thanks for this thoughtful post, and for stopping by our blog. I so agree that knowing how to be alone and present for oneself is an essential life skill. And especially like your comments about the ways in which it is important for people of all ages. I’ve been talking with my daughters a lot about this lately as it is time for them to begin learning how time alone feeds and nurtures the person who becomes good company for others. It’s all about balance.

  25. Being alone and single will always suck, and it is wonderful to have that special person to share your life with.


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