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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"A friend is one who knows you and loves you just the same." —Elbert Hubbard
When clients first come to see me, some of the first questions I ask are:
People grow emotionally and spiritually in the context of community and relationships. We were created to be relational beings. A lot of people who have been hurt in the past feel better closing themselves off to avoid future pain. But true wholeness is found by connecting with others. Ultimately, one must choose between risking rejection (but eventually finding connection) or remaining safe (and stuck in psychological stagnation).
It seems like it's easy for children to make friends. Adults find themselves scratching their heads in situations where they are forced to interact with people they don't know. It's easy to forget some of the basic principles for making friends.
How do you make friends? Dale Carnegie addressed this in his popular classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People. This is a summary of some of his most salient points on getting people to warm up to you:
These are excellent tactics because they take the pressure off yourself and help you focus on others. This is what it means to love others first. We are called to love our neighbor, even our enemies, before looking out for our own interests. Not only does this please God, but it instills immediate trust in other people.
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