I’m no psychologist nor do I claim to know everything about life. Yes, I have some training in the area of counseling, but I’m no expert. I’ve just watched the lives of many people. You might say I’m an expert at people-watching.
It’s tragic that so many people are so lonely and alone today. Realistically everyone may feel lonely on occasion. However, in western cultures loneliness has risen to the level of an epidemic.
Loneliness hurts. Loneliness often leads to bad relationship decisions. I use the word “decisions” because all non-family born relationships are choices. What happens in those relationships are also always choices. We don’t randomly or accidentally “fall” into these relationships. We choose them- and sometimes for reasons we do not fully understand. It is because we don’t always understand ourselves that we are unaware of why we do certain things and make certain choices.
People don’t want to be lonely, yet they really don’t want to be fully committed. Could it be that the so called freedom of our times, the “sex in the city” lifestyles, are actually making people more lonely and less able to make real connections? Media does not help. The internet and social networking may make communication easier, but those connections are never on a real soul level. When you log off, the connection is lost or ended. This is not real life. It may even be self deceiving- thinking you have many more friends than you actually do. It can be a problem because social networking has been found to be more addicting than either cigarettes or alcohol.
I’d like to make a few points particularly about male-female relationships. Lots of married people are lonely too, but particularly singles can really battle the feelings of loneliness.
We were made for relationship. We naturally want to connect with others. God said it was not good for Adam, the first man, to be along- he was lonely!
Small children, in innocence, are willing to talk to anyone, anywhere, at any time, and be best friends with complete strangers!
Then we teach them, for their own safety, not to trust strangers, to be careful and to watch who they talk to. Tragically their ability to connect begins to be lost as this transition occurs.
After awhile, possibly all relationships may become scary. There are many levels of relationship, including business or professional, but the ones of real depth are the personal ones. Even more specifically, the romantic ones.
Television and movies have told us that romantic relationships are necessary to be happy in life. But quality personal relationships, particularly male-female relationships, must include not only “love”, but also honesty, warmth, affection and commitment. Every undamaged human is capable of all of the above. Yet, without each one of these, even a romantic relationship is not healthy.
Our ability to connect in healthy ways to others is mostly determined by our own moral and spiritual health. Unhealthy people are attracted to unhealthy people. Codependent people are attracted to codependent people. This is simply two people desperately needing and destructively using each other.
Because most people dread being alone, even unhealthy relationships feel better than no relationship at all.
I want to ask a question: “What is so terrible and fatal about being alone?”
The answer is: nothing. Alone does not necessarily equate to lonely.
Long before we are born we begin to sense whether or not we are wanted or rejected. The emotions of the mother are imprinted on the fetus while in the womb. The circumstances around our conception and our mother’s feelings about that, all make their mark on the tiny fetus.
When we are born, human contact becomes our soul’s lifeblood. Being held, stroked, loved, cared for and spoken to, all very quickly shapes our feelings about our self. Bonding takes place between the mother and child in the first critical moments after birth- that is why a baby should never be taken away from mom and put in a nursery or a crib.
We need more than our mothers, so bonding with our father also becomes a necessity. The deeper voice of the father brings out life in the baby. His firmer grip and different movements imprint on the child that to live is to be strong, big and wild.
Life moves on and from the strength of our parental bond we reach out in life and form other relationships, believing our parents will keep us safe.
Things aren’t always perfect, of course. Some fathers are almost non-existent, some work far away and are not often home. Some fathers are abusive and the bond with the child either never develops or is badly damaged. Mothers too, are off to work; at times, family members care for the little one, or he is sent to day-care; maybe the child goes to a relative while the mother works and again the bond is damaged or broken.
What if into this sensitive child’s world is added abuse or molestation? What if there are several relationships in this child’s life that should be safe and trustworthy, but instead have become terrifying and full of betrayal?
The upshot of this scenario is that the child ends up insecure and unsure of how relationships should work.
We hit our teen years moving hungry for relationships. We move toward adulthood longing for connections. If our trust has been broken and we are not bonded to safe adults, it is difficult to have healthy relationships.
Yet we are looking for love, connections and safety. For lots of people, sex becomes this connection. “This is love/acceptance/safety/trust”, or so they think. Yet most of the time our sex-crazed world knows little or nothing about deep, safe relationship.
Let me simplify all of this.
- You have to realistically look at yourself before you can look at others. No one person will ever really make you happy.
- Happy singles make for happier marrieds.
- If you are struggling with relationships, you need healing. It is not that some people are just doomed to bad relationships. If good relationships are not your experience ask for prayer or prayer counseling. Ask God to help you discover the core hurts in your life that affect your ability to connect to others in a healthy way.
- You have the innate God-given capacity for good healthy relationships. It is possible to be healed and restored. That’s what God does!
- When you are whole inside, loneliness is not an issue. The desire to connect with someone- anyone!- ceases to drive your personal life. Healthy people can be alone, and still be happy, safe, trusting, and relaxed.
Make a choice today to have purposeful, non-accidental relationships that you choose in healthy God-ways.