One single mom writes:
“I’ve been a single mom for almost 9 years and it’s lonely.
I’m used to doing it all by myself as I don’t get child support. Just lonely . . .”
Every single mom on the planet can relate to feelings of loneliness. Am I right? Intimate bonds with other people are key to our overall sense of happiness in life. We need to feel a deep sense of belonging. We need to feel heard, accepted, and understood. And we need to feel that we are supported by others who truly care about our wellbeing.
Loneliness typically occurs when our ideal social situation doesn’t match what we are currently living in. We look at the two, look at ourselves, and begin to long for what we don’t have. But, before we can push past it, we need to pinpoint exactly where the feeling is coming from. So, let’s look at the possible causes of your loneliness and things you might want to consider to overcome it:
Are you isolated?
Have you withdrawn yourself from the people and places you once enjoyed? When we go through a period of grief (such as the loss of a marriage or divorce) it’s common to withdraw in order to protect ourselves and find healing. Let’s face it, there’s only so much one heart can take. But, if we’re not careful, we’ll look up one day to realize that we have secluded ourselves in such a way that we haven’t allowed others close enough to get the relationships we need and desire the most in our lives.
I’m a firm believer in grieving your loss fully—it’s a critical point in healing and being able to move forward in life. But, if you feel that you are past the grief and still experiencing loneliness, you have to be realistic with yourself. Show some tough love and face the fact that you are the only one who can get yourself out into life again. No one is coming to save you from yourself or your loneliness. It’s your job to take care of your needs—including this one. Go ahead and push yourself back out there. There’s so much life ahead for you, sweet friend.
Do you miss having a spouse?
After spending years together, it’s natural to miss the consistent company of having a spouse—even if you don’t have feelings for that specific person in your life anymore. The daily comfort of having another person to walk through life is something we all long for. But, keep in mind that while having a significant other may seem like the ultimate cure to loneliness, choosing the wrong person can lead to an even greater sense of loneliness.
While most of us long to move on to another relationship at some point in our lives, be very careful that you aren’t doing so simply out of loneliness. This next relationship choice is a gift you’ve been given—one in which you can take a step back from where you’ve just come in order to evaluate and choose more wisely this time. Use that. If this is your biggest source of loneliness, let it motivate you to become the emotionally healthy and secure person you have to become in order to be in a successful relationship for the rest of your life. If you aren’t ready, search for other methods listed here as ways to overcome loneliness.
Do you miss your old family situation?
After spending years together within a comfortable dynamic, it’s natural to miss what we no longer have. The solidarity that comes from being in a family can feel broken once the parents involved no longer see eye-to-eye. But, it doesn’t have to be that way—even if you have no control over what the other parent chooses to do.
Create a “team” mentality in your home. Single motherhood can feel lonely for the simple fact that we are carrying the majority of the load on our own. But, the reality is that we already have people around us that are willing and able (no matter their age) to lighten the burden. Creating a team mentality in your home means that no one person has to do tasks alone. If there is laundry to be done, break it into smaller parts that your children can help with. You will feel less lonely and will be teaching your children the gift of what family can accomplish with a common goal in mind.
Do you need a friend?
A study from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology showed that same-sex strangers felt increasing affinity for one another with each conversation they shared. This is true whether it’s in real life or through online friendships. Are you simply missing the camaraderie of another person in your life?
If you know what you need is friendship, there’s a simple answer to this. Pick something you love to do—or haven’t been able to do for years—like painting, karate, a book club, a cooking class, etc. and find a group that loves it too. Meetup.com is a great way to find local activities in your area (even rural areas like mine with little to offer) where you have the real opportunity to meet people that you already have something in common with, or a common passion. Common interests = connection. Put. Yourself. Out. There. When you show genuine interest and curiosity about someone, they are highly likely to reciprocate.
Are you lonely due to new surroundings?
Many single moms have to relocate at some point. Unfamiliarity and fear can cause us to feel lonely. From changing homes to changing towns and even states, it can begin to feel overwhelming when what was once familiar is changing in the midst of already overwhelming situations.
Rebuilding is hard. For some of us, the “want to” just isn’t there after losing what we’d built our entire lives. But, starting over can also be very freeing. It can be an opportunity to not only express ourselves, but to truly learn to know ourselves, our likes and dislikes, and our natural style. Make the place you are living in feel more like home by putting your personality into it. Get familiar with your area by exploring your neighborhood or treating your city as if you were a visitor looking to hit all the great local things your area offers. Once you begin to see it with new eyes, you’ll find your favorite places and a sense of belonging will return.
Do you feel like you don’t fit in?
No one can deny that you are facing a new season in your life. The people you surrounded yourself with and the activities you used to enjoy may be vastly different from what you’re used to. When we build our lives to the point that everything is comfortable and then have to start over, it can leave us with a sense of not knowing where we belong anymore. Loneliness from not fitting in can lead us to isolating ourselves.
Stack the deck. Find people in a similar life situation. Single moms (especially ones with similar custody arrangements) will understand you better than anyone. If you do nothing else for yourself, find another single mom you connect with and start doing the hard work of building a new friendship. The rewards will be well worth the effort.
We all know the common cure to loneliness because it’s easy to see—putting ourselves out there to meet other people. The hard part isn’t knowing what to do, it’s getting our hearts to the point that we can push ourselves out there and take a chance just one more time. Knowing the cause allows you to understand those feelings and not let them bloom past what they actually are. And naming the actual root allows you to regain some control over what may have felt like was encompassing all of your life, when maybe it was just one area or need. Consider what might be causing your loneliness and then show yourself some love by taking steps to meet this need in your life.