The other day, a few of my friends and I had a conversation about “perfect” friendships and relationships. Seeing couples that are #goals on Instagram and walking past cliques tighter than Lululemon leggings at school leads us to believe that such a thing exists.
But, alas, perfection is unattainable. The more we strive for it, the more disappointed we become. And the more disappointed we become, the more lonely we feel.
It is common to feel lonely even when we are not alone. You could be surrounded by a million people and feel isolated nonetheless. Nobody likes to admit it, but everyone experiences a bit of loneliness from time to time.
In the past, I was unsatisfied with my friendships and this led me to feel detached. I have grown a lot over the past year and now find so much joy in the connections I have built. Today, I am sharing what helped me in coping with loneliness and unfulfilling relationships.
SET REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
My idea of a “true” friend was once nearly equivalent to a “perfect” friend. I wanted someone who would know me better than I knew myself, give the right advice at the right time, have a sense of humor that aligned exactly with my own, constantly understood my way of thinking, never hurt me intentionally or unintentionally, etc.
Besides realizing the impracticality of these expectations, I also learned that one friend can not fulfill every need. There are some people who will ponder the meaning of life with you, and others who prefer to chat about the latest celebrity gossip. Some will bring out the loud, crazy side of your personality, while others will highlight your calm, composed side. Some will sit and listen to all of your problems, while others will vent about their own as you offer advice.
There are certain people you will bond with who can do all of the above and even more. However, expecting this out of every friendship is unrealistic. Realize that it is okay to have a broad range of friends, each one bringing different experiences and amplifying unique parts of your character. Do not put all of the pressure on one person.
The point here: No one is perfect and every relationship is limited to some extent. Remain hopeful and optimistic, but also remember to be realistic in your expectations.
Everyone wants to find “their person” (*cough cough* Grey’s Anatomy reference). But the relationship you cultivate with “your person” may not look exactly like Meredith Grey’s friendship with Cristina Yang, not to mention one sole human can not belong to you nor satisfy your every need (refer back to a few paragraphs ago).
The relationships portrayed in TV shows and movies are often unrealistic. There is never a dull moment between characters, and when they fight or face struggles, they always seem to come out of them stronger than ever. Although you will experience plenty of exciting moments with your loved ones, real-life relationships are not exhilarating 24/7. And arguments do not resolve as flawlessly as they do on the big screen.
Clearly, it does not make sense to compare your relationships to those in TV shows and movies. The same idea applies to what you see on social media or in public. A group of friends may post a million photos of them laughing candidly, but that doesn’t mean they never have drama. A couple may be holding hands and smiling in the hallway, but that doesn’t mean they never argue.
The point here: Do not compare your life to the lives of fictional characters, and avoid making assumptions about people in general. Real relationships have real problems.
EMBRACE ALONE TIME
It is easy to feel sad when you lack company. Solitude can be uncomfortable. However, having time to yourself should not automatically make you feel lonely. It is an opportunity to grow independently as an individual rather than thriving off another person.
If your happiness is usually dictated by other people, it is important to get comfortable with being alone sometimes. There are so many things that can be discovered about oneself through solitude. Use alone time to pick up a hobby or practice self-care with some stress-relieving tactics.
The point here: Spending time alone does not make you lonely. Learn to enjoy the “me, myself, and I” moments.
People will always fall short.
It is disheartening, but true. I talked earlier about how relying on one sole person will only let you down in the end. Yes, you can connect with a wide range of individuals, but still, no other person, or people, can “complete” you.
I am not saying that people are better off apart, because that is definitely not the case. We are told in Ecclesiastes 4:9 that “two are better than one”. Humans are meant for companionship, but they are not meant to fulfill.
This realization has given me a sense of peace. It has led me to lift the pressure off of myself to cultivate perfect friendships, and off of others to meet my expectations. It has drawn me closer to God and allowed me to fully enjoy what my earthly relationships have to offer.
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV).
The point here: Abundant life is not found in people. It is found in God.
Loneliness happens every now and then, but these mindset shifts have made these feelings short-lived. I hope you found this post helpful! How do you cope with loneliness and unfulfilling relationships?