Dealing with Loneliness
Feeling Alone is Normal
Many people don’t want to remain single because they fear being alone. This is fairly normal, yet even those in committed relationships and marriages can feel lonely. A romantic relationship is not a cure-all or guarantee against loneliness. Part of being an adult means accepting and even embracing our aloneness.
We are Relational Beings
Humans have an inherent need to connect. That is a good thing. But unhealthy connection occurs when we become overly dependent on others. We can let our neediness take over, clinging to our partners like a child to their parent.
Codependency is a term referring to a relationship dysfunction where one partner is continually providing for and enabling the neediness of the other partner. These types of relationships are unstable and filled with emotional highs and lows. This dynamic can continue for years and eventually will crash and burn under the weight of all the pressure to provide. We can easily set our partners up like an idol that will eventually fail us.
In order to grow out of this immaturity, we have to grow up. Our significant others are not our parents, and we are no longer children. It’s time to be adults.
Being Alone with God
Rather than depending on others to escape loneliness, let's consider what it means to be alone with God. There is a difference between loneliness and solitude. Spending time with God can mean praying, writing, reading Scripture, sitting in silence, and reflecting on where we are in life. These can be healing activities that are life-giving.
Christ knows what it feels like to be alone: “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53:3). Yet Jesus cherished his alone time with God throughout the gospels: "But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed" (Luke 5:16).
Taking responsibility for our spiritual and emotional needs by connecting with God is a mark of maturity. This doesn’t mean we don’t depend on others at all, but our inner sense of security is grounded in Christ. Only He gives us a solid identity and self-worth. With this foundation, we are free to truly love others without demanding anything in return. This is perfect love—the love that makes life worth living.
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Falling in Love is Overrated
It’s no secret that we live in a sex-obsessed culture. This is obvious and is often blamed as the source of many relationship problems. Temptation to lust is everywhere. Yet we live in a romance-obsessed culture as well.
You need more than one person.
Romance is often thought of as sweet and endearing, and desiring it doesn’t seem that insidious, so what harm can it do? Many times, expectations are set too high. Pouring too much relational energy into a romantic relationship can neglect investment in other relationships as well—close friendships and more authentic connections with family. A lot of pressure is put on one person. He or she can't be your all-in-all. This is setting the other person up as an idol, and an idol will always disappoint.
Falling in love isn't all bad either.
Romance is still an essential part of bonding. Those first several months in a relationship are thrilling. This initial stage is important because that is where bonding begins. However, the feelings will fade and more mature dynamics must emerge for the relationship to deepen and continue.
Feelings don't keep a marriage together.
Marriage is centered on commitment. The idea of romantic feelings being the deciding factor for marriage is a truly modern and very American formula. Centuries before, marriage was important for economic survival and social integration. There was also the biblical reason for marriage: uniting spiritually. These historic factors are fading away in society, so culture has nothing much left to do with marriage other than celebrate romance and the excitement of hosting a lavish ceremony.
It's still possible to keep romance alive in marriage.
So many call it quits after the high simmers to a low. Hence the unfortunate divorce rate in our country. But when the rush dies down, romance does not have to completely extinguish, it just takes more effort. It takes sacrifice and thinking of the other person first. It means doing things even if you don't feel like it. At times, it takes the Spirit of God to empower godly spouses to love one another.
For a marriage to last, the relationship has to mature through commitment and a deepening friendship—this is where true love blossoms.
If you are looking for more on marriage, I suggest the book: The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller. Also, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter.