3 Tactics for Dealing with Painful Loneliness
Our single years can be hard for a number of reasons. But reason number one, for a lot people, is often loneliness.
Anyone, in any state of life, can be lonely at times. But our single years are often filled with a persistent, hurtful loneliness. Sometimes it feels like it will never go away.
“Anyone else who feels painfully lonely being single? Friends and family are great, but there’s a missing piece…. [T]he pain is absolutely awful,” one Catholic in her early 30s said, describing her situation.
Responses from other Catholic singles show that this feeling of painful loneliness is definitely a common one for singles.
Some of these responses, though, shed some pretty powerful light on ways to cope with such painful loneliness.
Here are three tactics to consider if you find yourself hurting from a loneliness that never seems to end.
Seek God first
“This longing and loneliness you’re feeling can only be filled by God. After I realized this I’ve been much better and more willing to wait to find my future spouse,” one single Reddit user said. It’s probably the best response to the loneliness problem.
After breaking up with his girlfriend, he experienced loneliness. Instead of despairing, he kept praying for God to send him his future spouse soon. His prayer to God reminded him of Psalm 62’s words: “O God, you are my God, for you I long; for you my soul is thirsting. My body pines for you like a dry, weary land without water. So I gaze on you in the sanctuary to see your strength and your glory.”
Perhaps it’s a lot easier said than done. But there’s a real necessity to realize and remember that we will always feel some longing and unfulfillment here on earth, even after we find our spouse.
There’s a reason for this. We’ll only find perfect happiness in perfect union with God. Which we won’t fully achieve until we’re united with him in Heaven.
Another Reddit user sums it up by saying that seeking God first is “the only real solution to our longing as we wait… Unless we are glad and can find joy in our current state of life, and the possibility of being satisfied with God alone, we are fooled into thinking things will be better in a different state of life.”
Have faith in God’s providence
When we’re in the midst of struggles with loneliness, it can be very difficult to let go of our own ideas about timing.
We would really like the pain we’re feeling to be lessened now. We’d like to stop being so lonely as soon as possible, and in our minds there’s no reason why God shouldn’t send that perfect someone along to us immediately.
The particularly insightful Reddit user who summed up the need to seek God first also weighed in on trusting God’s timing:
“I am reminded that before Jesus called James and John, they were in their boats with their dad preparing their nets. Aka learning how to be men, preparing during their daily life. Jesus did not call them until they were ready, satisfied with their way of life and the tasks given them by God. I have begun to realize I am no different, and must wait (both in patience and service) on the Lord until then.”
Even though it might not come naturally for us to have faith that God will provide just what we need for us at the perfect time, working on trust in this area can really help us in overcoming the feelings of impossibility or hopelessness that can creep in.
Be proactive in your search
Believing that God will send you just who you need at the perfect time doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be trying to find your future spouse yourself.
God works though our actions in all areas of our life. There’s a quote attributed to Saint Augustine that’s pretty fitting to consider here:
“Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.”
What does this mean when we’re searching to alleviate our single loneliness?
Another Reddit user posits that there are essentially two ways to fight loneliness: “the first is the obvious way, that is, to succeed at finding someone you can spend your life with. The second is by devoting your time and energy to another passion that absorbs most of your thought.”
So don’t weary in your search for your future spouse. God will work through your efforts to bring you to the person He has planned for you.
But in the meantime, don’t despair of finding some relief to your loneliness. Find other outlets for your time and energy, whether that be a hobby, finding a job that truly gives you a feeling of purpose, or cultivating deeper friendships.
Because even though feelings of loneliness can seem overwhelming or unending, God does have a plan for your ultimate happiness.
Adrienne Thorne is a Catholic wife, mother, screenwriter, and blogger, as well as author of the Catholic YA romance novel SYDNEY AND CALVIN HAVE A BABY. She blogs about TV and Movies from Catholic perspective at Thorne in the Flesh: A Faithful Catholic's Guide to Netflix, Hulu, and More.