Because the best relationship you can have is the one with yourself
I was lucky to have the privilege of spending Valentine’s Day with one of my favourite persons. My friend and I had a little spontaneous ‘date night/ groceries run’ and, thanks to her, I ended the night feeling un-lonely.
But, technically, I spent my Valentine’s Day alone. And like other holidays we faced during the pandemic, Valentine’s Day this year will feel different. But, we can still celebrate it without feeling lost.
Some people get down on themselves when they find themselves single on February 14th. Trying to keep the energy positive by reminding themselves that this will be over soon and try not to crawl into a gloomy hole. These feelings can be more difficult to manage in a pandemic where mandated lockdowns or quarantines make ruminating and downward thought spirals that much easier to engage in while meeting people that much more challenging.
But, there are ways to put your life in perspective during the challenging time.
Enhance your self-worth
If you’re single or living alone, this pandemic has afforded you this once-in-a-lifetime, god-knows-how-long opportunity to develop the relationship that is the foundation of all of your other relationships: your relationship with yourself.
If you are anything like me, you probably avoid this kind of relationship at all costs. But, you’re not alone in this, buddy. A study by a social psychologist in University of Virginia found that people would rather get painful electric shocks than to do nothing at all. Wilson’s research comports with a Blaise Pascale quote: “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
This isolated period may be gruelling, but it will be helpful if you take this to reframe it and try to connect and understand yourself. Reassess your plans and ambitions and renew your values before making momentous life decisions.
Choose this solo time to make a much more thoughtful and profound choice about how you wish to live while you have the chance.
Change your loneliness into solitude
Loneliness does not necessarily equate to being alone. Someone can be in a relationship or in a room full of people but still feeling lonely. It is, frankly, the emotion you feel when you wish your relationship was more meaningful or robust. If you consider yourself “lesser than” because you’re alone, chances are you will still feel the same even if you’re married. Internal feelings you have ignored will revisit you regularly like unwelcome apparitions and influence the quality you have in your relationship with others.
Only you can save yourself from loneliness; not your current, past, or future partner, but YOU. Do the inner work to change your loneliness into solitude. From a distressing emotion associated with being alone to a positive, strengthening emotion associated with being alone. Remember: it’s not being alone that causes loneliness — it’s how you interpret being alone.
Alone time = Growth time
Loneliness can act as a positive source of motivation to reengineer how we approach our relationships — but only if we have the self-confidence to believe in our ability to create positive changes in our lives.
Believing that you can have better relationships and letting the doubts pass is considered half the battle. If you believe in this strong enough and possess the resilience to internalise this belief, the more you will attract similar beliefs to engage with you.
“It is for this reason that the word “confidence” is derived from the Latin roots for “with” (con) and “trust” (fidere). For others to have “trust with” (confidence in) you, you must first have trust with yourself (self-confidence). And this also leads us to my final recommendation.”
Make more thoughtful, less-digital connections
Once you have a full belief in yourself, the other half of the battle is allocating your time and effort dedicated to socialisation. Despite the myriad promises to the contrary, texting rarely fosters meaningful relationships.
There are hormones that play into shaping our happiness (or happy mood at least). A study found that phone calls can almost mimic in-person interactions in reducing cortisol (the stress hormone) and stimulating oxytocin (the love hormone associated with bonding and affection).
However, texts have no virtual effect on these neurochemicals that can be critical for human bonding. For this reason, people go online seeking social connection, but only to sadly end up with social information.
Although social connection is important to buffer against loneliness, social information only compounds it as we only see the artificial, carefully curated versions others want to portray to us.
Pretty much like other emotion you experience in your life, the way out of loneliness is to embrace it. Embrace your loneliness as a call to action to revitalise how you approach relationships — including your relationship with yourself — and it will have served its purpose in your life.