How To Be Single Without Being Lonely (According To A Relationship Therapist)
It's no surprise that the world is full of lonely people. As we've evolved from living in small rural communities in proximity to our extended families to living far away from anyone we really know, scattered from our families and relying on social media to connect, loneliness has become an epidemic.
We all seek the wonderful experience of sharing love and connection—it's hard-wired in us. But the truth is, we're not guaranteed to find that romantic love connection. And even if we do, we have no guarantees that it will last. So, many people find themselves asking, "If I don’t find a partner with whom I can deeply connect, does that mean I have to live a lonely life? Does it mean I'll never really experience the love and connection that gives life meaning?"
It doesn't. I promise it doesn't. But it does mean that we need to open ourselves to new ways to love and connect. Romantic relationships are not what life is all about. A meaningful alternative to this mindset is what I call beloved companionship.
Beloved companionship is nothing new. The popular TV show The Golden Girls pointed the way for us. In this show, four women lived together as friends. They laughed, cried, fought, learned, and supported one another in their highest good. They deeply understood one another. They loved one another, and they were not lonely.
Beloved companionship is not the same as being roommates—it’s a committed, nonsexual, deeply caring relationship.
How I found beloved companionship.
After my 30-year marriage ended, I dated for a few years, which was very discouraging. Most of the men I met in my age range were either not physically healthy, or they were needy, narcissistic, or boring. Few were open to any personal or spiritual growth. When my best friend suggested that we live together because we were both lonely, I jumped at the chance.
For me, one of the main perks of close relationships is that they trigger everything that is unhealed, and this has certainly been true of our relationship. We are both strong and intense women, so of course we triggered each other all over the place. Fortunately, we are both deeply desirous of learning, healing, and spiritual growth, so our friendship has offered both of us incredible healing and growth. We are very different women than we were when we started to share a home 16 years ago.
Together we have been able to manifest what neither of us could manifest alone. We now live on a beautiful 35-acre ranch with horses, dogs, and a cat. I have a beautiful art studio—I’m a painter and a potter in my spare time, and I love spending time regenerating through creativity. We share a beautiful lake with the other residents in our homeowners' association, and we spend a couple of hours each weekend kayaking and taking in the wonder of the Rockies.
I live near my grandchildren, so I get to see them often, and my granddaughter loves being on the ranch. All of this is a dream come true for me, as I've wanted to live on a ranch with horses since I was a child.
Best of all, we are not lonely. While we each have our own wing in the home and can be alone when we want to, we spend time together each day, sharing. We frequently find humor in everyday things, and we often find ourselves laughing till it hurts.
Young people who help us on the ranch, especially young women, invariably say, "This is how I want to live when I get older. I’ve told my best friend how you live, and we’ve decided this is what we want later in life." Romantic relationships are not the only way to be happy in life. You may even find that you're happier without them. No matter the outcome, being open to finding happiness in places you might not have expected gives you a much better chance of finding it. Love comes in many forms, but all of them soothe loneliness.
Want more insight into your relationship? Find out the five things couples who stay together do every day and the ways your sex life can show you what's wrong in your relationship.
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Margaret Paul, Ph.D., is a best-selling author, relationship expert, and Inner Bonding® facilitator. She has counseled individuals and couples since 1968. She is the author/co-author of nine books, including the internationally best-selling Do I Have to Give Up Me to Be Loved by You?, Healing Your Aloneness, Inner Bonding, and Do I Have to Give Up Me to Be Loved by God? and her recently published book, Diet For Divine Connection. She is the co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding® healing process, recommended by actress Lindsay Wagner and singer Alanis Morissette, and featured on Oprah, as well as on the unique and popular website Inner Bonding.