I frequently get so wrapped up in my life—in chores, work, reading, my dogs, surfing online—that I don’t pay much attention to the fact that I am single. Other times, the perpetual loneliness of my situation seems like it will choke the life out of me.

I don’t feel bad or guilty about feeling lonely—after all, loneliness is nothing more than acknowledging that we want more from life, that we want someone to pay attention to us, that we need and desire companionship, affection, and love—and that we not only want to receive them, but that we want to give those things in return, too. It is good to want these things, and it is human to want these things.

Usually, my feelings of loneliness are accompanied by a sense of hopelessness, but sometimes there is the feeling of hopefulness. Often, there is a profound sense of resignation, and other times there are energetic feelings of defiance and determination to change my situation.

One thing I can always count on though is a feeling of self-pity, which I have come to absolutely loathe. Self-pity and I have a long and contentious history together, but it is one of the most emasculating and immobilizing feelings in the world. Nothing beats me up and drags me down like self-pity.

But I find myself wondering: Is it possible to feel loneliness without feeling self-pity at the same time?

Certainly it is possible to feel self-pity without being lonely, as that particular emotion can arise in us for multiple reasons. But can loneliness be separated from self-pity? Is it just childish to pity yourself? Are there ways around it? What do you think, and what are your experiences or opinions on this? How do you deal with feelings of loneliness?

Tags: affection, companionship, desire, despair, emotions, isolation, loneliness, love, negative emotions, self-pity, More…sexuality, singles

Views: 1084

Replies to This Discussion

It 's a left brain/right brain thing too. It's our left brain that allows you to identify what is you and what isn't. It is also the left side that is more pragmatic, pessimistic, and always looking for danger. Your right side is the touchy feely artsy fartsy side that allows you to feel connected to everyone and everything. Nurture your right side in any fashion that feels good to you. See what happens.
My question is whether or not it is possible to acknowledge our loneliness (which isn't necessarily a bad thing) without succumbing to self-pity.

It could be worse. I've been lonely all my life and suffered severe bouts of depression and despair because of it (and still do occasionally), but instead of pitying myself I used to indulge into self-hatred - which IMO is much worse. At times I even pretended I didn't exist to fend off introspection, along with the unavoidable depressive phase that ensues.

Truth is I've been diagnosed with both social anxiety disorder and avoidant personality disorder, and I just can't shake it. It's unnatural for me to react to social signals from persons who want to befriend me, even those I'd like to be friend with - and it's nigh impossible when these persons are women. I avoid gathering with people I'm not familiar with (heck, sometimes even with people I'm familiar with), as it often makes me extremely anxious and even panic, and I leave at the first opportunity - even though I know I'll loathe myself for that early departure afterwards.

Anyway I've more or less accepted the fact that I am what I am and that I'll never have relationships beyond my relatives, and that I'll never date - even though I'd like to have a family of my own and raise children. That doesn't mean I'm emotionally dead - on the contrary I easily suffer when I see someone else suffer, I'm quick to help those who need help, and I often weep when I read or see all the atrocities reported in the media.

Not sure this confession will bring solace to you - my social skills being pretty limited in real life, I'm probably not the best person to discuss issues that intimate or personal. At least I hope it didn't make you feel worse than you already were.
Yes, I suppose it can always be worse. I don't have any social disorders, but I did suffer from a persistant, though not overwhelming, anxiety for most of my childhood. I am more or less over that, but it has shaped who I am today.

For your ocial anxiety disorder and avoidant personality disorder, have you undergone therapy or medication or anything like that?
I've seen a psychiatrist for 2-3 years, who prescribed medication, which I don't take anymore (I didn't notice any improvement, besides a sleeping pill effect). The only positive effect was the diagnosis itself: the self-hatred vanished once I could put a name on my condition and understand it better.
That's good. I can understand how it could be a relief. I have sleep apnea, and when I was FINALLY diagnosed it was like, Eureka! There really is something tangible wrong with me. That's why I can't sleep! It was almost a relief to know it had a name.
Yes, I think it is. I think if you acknowledge that you are alone in that you don't have a mate, and let the feeling pass. You'll quickly move on to realizing what you do have. Be it great friends (which I cherish over any relationship), a dog, a great job, etc. Now if you don't feel yourself moving on, it's time for some renovations in your life. I think we all know that you can't actually just go out and find someone. You have to be doing "your life" and happen across somebody. Hence the limited success of dating online. Life doesn't suck, unless you let it be so. Life truly is what you make of it.
You have to be doing "your life"

Yes, I agree with that, and that is important.

Life truly is what you make of it.

Not sure I agree with that. I think there are a lot of things that influence us over which we have no control.
Looking at it from a biological standpoint; we're inclined to find and group with people. It's something we naturally predisposed to, loneliness is our brain telling us that we need to find someone to be with. For some the inclination isn't as severe, for others it's a strong driving force.

As for me, I do feel lonely sometimes. But I acknowledge that, at least for me, it doesn't help. Feeling sorry for my state doesn't get me any closer to remedying it so I shut it off. I ignore it. Essentially, I pretend I'm not lonely or, failing that, stop acknowledging it.
I ignore it. Essentially, I pretend I'm not lonely or, failing that, stop acknowledging it.

Okay, but isn't that nothing more than repression? Can that be healthy?
There's not a damn thing wrong with that. I think you would have to be emotionally dead in order to have one without the other.

That is kind of my attitude towards loneliness. In the absence of company or romantic love, it is good that we can still feel that, because not to feel that would probably mean we were somewhat emotionally inept, or verging on the psychopathic (meaning I doubt that psychopaths, who can't experience empathy, ever really feel lonely). It is the occassional bouts of all-too-consuming pity (or anger) that seem to cause the biggest problems for me. Luckily, they are few and far between these days, but not completely absent.
"You shouldn't wallow in self-pity. But it's ok to stick your toes in it and swish them around a little."
- Cartoonist Richard Guindon


Loneliness without self-pity. Speaking for myself it's definitely possible, but it's walking a very fine line that's all too easy to stumble over more than I'd like.

Mom and Dad took extra care to raise me to be independent and fend for myself and for the most part it worked. On a practical level I do my own heavy lifting, change my own oil, am not afraid to walk home alone at night. Socially, I'd rather go to a movie or concert alone than not at all and have always been a wallflower. Add to that Asperger's/High Functioning Autism which basically means that some of the finer points of human empathic language escape me. We are Earth's Vulcans so to speak. It's not that we don't feel or don't want to make that connection with people - it's intensely, intensely lonely at times. It's that we almost but don't quite speak the language which makes it that much harder to make that connection with others.

Lonely? Yes. But I've also tried dating just for the sake of having another human being in my bed. Without that connection - lots lonelier.

As for the self-pity, it's very easy for us non-supermodel types to feel self-conscious in this world where looks are everything. But I try to remind myself; there have been plenty of guys who do find me attractive - some I even dated! I rather like having that filter of being 'normal' looking. Knowing someone won't be asking me to the prom to be their trophy wife.

I guess all this is to say it truly does suck at times to be alone. So often during the day (and way too often at night) I think how cool it would be to have someone to confide in, someone to cheer me up when my day sucks. Someone who I can cheer up when his day sucks. Someone I can share the fun with. When we get to that place it's way too easy to go from there to "Why don't I have someone?" and from there to "What's wrong with me that I don't have someone?" I suppose that's the line we're trying not to stumble over.

Wish I could offer more than virtual hugs Dallas...
I am a lot like you Mary. I am not at all embarassed to go or do anything by myself. In many ways I never seemed to fit in, but it allowed me to learn how to stand alone and think for myself. That does not mean that I was always confident and secure, of course.

As for the self-pity, it's very easy for us non-supermodel types to feel self-conscious in this world where looks are everything.

Agreed.

I guess all this is to say it truly does suck at times to be alone. So often during the day (and way too often at night) I think how cool it would be to have someone to confide in, someone to cheer me up when my day sucks. Someone who I can cheer up when his day sucks. Someone I can share the fun with. When we get to that place it's way too easy to go from there to "Why don't I have someone?" and from there to "What's wrong with me that I don't have someone?" I suppose that's the line we're trying not to stumble over.

This is exactly what I go through, too. Well said.

Virtual hug back to ya!

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