How Loneliness Can Lead to Great Love
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the relationship between my loneliness and my desire for great love. More specifically, I’ve come to realize that, for me, the loneliness I sometimes feel fuels my refusal to settle for less than great love, and my deep desire for great love keeps me sane when I feel alone. I know that’s a mouthful and might be hard to follow, so let me try to explain better.
Basically... I sometimes feel overwhelmingly alone, hyper-aware of my singleness, and I crave the comfort of a romantic partner who just gets me the way I've always wanted someone to get me. That being said, I also believe that the more I experience lonely nights, the more I'll appreciate great love when I finally have it. So, instead of trying to mask the loneliness I feel with a vice like alcohol or casual sex, I make it a point to sit with and work through my loneliness—because I want to appreciate the great love and great man that are out there for me when I eventually meet them.
And I want to quickly say this, because I think it's important: It’s possible to crave romantic love and still be independent. These things are not mutually exclusive. I’m an independent, confident person, and I enjoy being single and focusing on my personal growth. At the same time, my biggest goal in life is to have a strong, passionate, love- and laughter-filled marriage and a happy family. I have big career goals, as well, but above all else I want great love in my life. And there's nothing wrong with or anti-feminist about that. As most of us know, the path to great, long-lasting love isn’t always easy. In fact, it's painful AF. That's why it's become so rare to maintain. So many people become jaded, claim they’re “over it,” and are scared to open up out of fear they’ll get hurt again and again. That’s understandable, but it’s also cowardly. In order to eventually have great love, you have to risk having your heart broken, or breaking your own heart, along the way. It’s that whole “big risks lead to big rewards” saying. Obviously you shouldn’t risk your health or safety, but my hope is that more people be willing to risk a temporary broken heart, as many times as they need to, in order to obtain deep, fulfilling love, rather than cling to a false idea of security or the fear of having to start over. Too many people stay in unhealthy and unfulfilling relationships, because closing a chapter is really, really dang hard. Losing someone is hard, even if you know they’re not right for you. And it’s even harder when you wish they were right for you. Buuuut, grieving the end of a relationship and having to let go of someone you care about isn’t nearly as sad as staying in something that goes against your gut and ultimate happiness. After I ended my last relationship about three months ago, I was a mess. I was suddenly not seeing or talking to the one person I genuinely hated going a day without (and hadn’t gone a day without in about a year), and the whole situation crushed me in ways I wasn’t expecting. I found myself deep down in the depths of aloneness, having panic attacks (which was a first for me) in my sleep, and although I probably had people I could turn to, I felt like I had no one. Or, maybe I just couldn’t bare to talk to anyone who wasn’t also going through a breakup, because even if they’d been through one or two or five before, they weren’t in the midst of one like I was— and it’s totally different when it’s your past versus your present. I’ve managed to get to a really good place in my life—quite possibly the best place I’ve ever been in—in just three months. But I was torturously lonely from the end of September to the middle of November. In late October I wrote, “I’m really lonely. I said it, and it’s out there. I’m so lonely. It sucks, and I don’t want to feel this way, but it’s nothing to be ashamed of. And it let’s me know I’m alive and capable of feeling on deep levels. That’s what I want.” I love reading that back and seeing my gratitude. Even in the midst of my deep pain, I was thankful for my deep pain. And that’s because I knew it was moving me forward. In thinking about life, I want the highs to be high and the lows to be low so that I get the full range of emotions life has to offer. It’s a blessing and a curse to feel things as deeply as I do, but I’ll take both sides of it. I want to appreciate all the good things a little extra, because I know what it’s like to feel overwhelming loneliness, sadness, and heartbreak. I know these negative feelings are only temporary. I know they will come and go throughout my life, and one day I’ll have my person and partner in great love who makes everything easier and sweeter. I haven’t found him yet, and that’s equal parts disappointing and exhilarating. There’s a certain emptiness that I know will live somewhere inside of me and show up here and there until I find my person. My “this is actually the one” person. I can’t wait to find that. Even so, it still makes me really sad that I had to get out of a good relationship with a good guy. And calling him a "good guy" doesn't even do him or what we had justice. He was my best friend and favorite person to be with. Yet, somehow, I couldn't stay, because there was simply something missing. I was mostly happy and comfortable, but there was still something missing. I don’t want to just be "mostly happy and comfortable." I want to feel overwhelmed by my love for someone and someone else’s love for me. And I want to have an unwavering foundation (of mutual trust, loyalty, respect, and support), beneath the mushy “I love you so dang much holy shit” feelings, that will carry us once the honeymoon stage is over. Then again, I want a foundation so strong that the honeymoon stage never has to fully come to an end. I want to be in a romantic relationship in which my partner and I are 100% comfortable with each other, but never get too comfortable. Even if things aren’t always overwhelmingly passionate and exciting—because they won’t be—we will still have made the decision to choose each other and the team we have together every single day. I want endless love, loyalty, and the desire to work back up to moments of electricity so the fire never goes out, even if it flickers here and there. I want to be in a relationship with my best friend, teammate, and the love of my life. And I know that’s possible, even though some people may think I’m naive. It’s very possible, and this belief is the reason I was drowning in post-breakup pain but never sank, as cheesy as that sounds. My determination to have great love is what keeps me sane when I’m feeling utterly lost. This determination and schoolgirl excitement reminds me that I owe it to myself and whoever I’m with to close a chapter (a.k.a. end a relationship) if something isn’t right for whatever reason(s), as painful as it is to do so. The reasons(s) may not be identifiable, but that’s what the gut is for. I know my gut. Breakups force you into a low place, but you’ll end up in a lower place if you’re too scared to break away from something that doesn’t make you feel as fulfilled as you know you’re capable of. That’s the bittersweetness of being a self-aware hopeless romantic. Even if something is mostly good, I know in my heart if/when there’s something, and someone, more out there for me. I know when something isn’t right, and I owe it to myself and my quality of life and love to be true to that. I try my hardest to take in everything I feel, sit with it, and try not to mask it with alcohol or dates with guys from Bumble that end up making me feel even more alone. Don’t get me wrong, dating can be fun and interesting. I’ve consistently dated really good guys, and I’m proud of that, but every date that doesn’t feel exciting or right makes me feel lonely. I simply can’t help that I’m excited to finally feel that indescribable spark again and look into eyes that are really seeing me—both because they want to see me and because I’m letting them. I’m a very open person, but there’s a difference between honestly answering questions people ask you and genuinely wanting to give yourself fully to someone. I can be honest with pretty much anyone. The hard part is finding the person I want to share all the other stuff with— the extra stuff. My honesty and (absurd) goofiness and seriousness and quirks and fears and dreams. My childhood trauma. The things I’ve argued with my parents about. My frustrations with society and government. My bodily functions (sorry not sorry). My weird desires. My alter ego when I’m alone in my car belting to songs at the top of my lungs. I’m proud of who I am, the person I work to be every day, the mistakes I’ve made and learned from, and the fact that I refuse to settle for less than I deserve. And I’m endlessly excited to share myself completely with someone and have that from them in return. There are a lot of wonderful people out there, but I’m waiting for the one. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt high off of love and attraction, or even a kiss, and I know the best is yet to come. So, yeah, it stings a little each time I leave a date and have to try and figure out the right way to tell another nice guy I just didn’t feel that thing. But I’m proud that I can differentiate between another good guy and the right good guy for me. And I’m proud I choose to be upfront with people about how I feel, even when it’s hard. With every relationship I’ve had and every person I’ve dated, there’s always turned out to be something missing for me. It makes me feel sad and lonely, but I have to remind myself that the reason I feel certain emptiness and unfulfillment is because my person is out there, and everything I experience with other people is leading me to him. And holy shit, that’s the coolest thing in the world. That doesn’t mean I’m not happy on my own or not enjoying being single for now, because I certainly am. I feel empowered and productive, but I’m still shamelessly excited about the romantic love that’s in my future. I am so grateful to believe in great love the way I do. I’m a part of this millennial hook-up culture that has people jaded left and right, and yet, I have the same shameless hopeless romantic mindset I’ve had since I was a little girl. I watched my parents go through a chaotic divorce, and instead of becoming a cynical nonbeliever I became the exact opposite. I don’t know why or how, but I’m 100% certain that I will have great love, and that makes everything worth it.
Every good-but-not-great date and every lonely night.