A recipe for loneliness

A recipe for loneliness

Community

As someone who has been single for a long time and as a life coach who supports single professionals, I am particularly conscious of all maladies that could impact singles, most of which is social isolation, loneliness and its byproduct, depression.

I know that the best cure for loneliness is to interact frequently with people (and even a group of people) who share values, beliefs and goals in ways that encourage trust. (Loneliness is actually the want of emotional intimacy so it’s pretty clear that interacting with people on a deeper level can prevent loneliness.) This is the reason why I launched the Empowered Singles Support Circles.

I was talking with a woman the other day about the monthly gatherings and she said some things that made me curious. So I wonder if what she said is true for all of you.

Are you too exhausted to invest in your social network?

She said that singles are too exhausted and busy to attend face to face events; they like being in groups as they maintain the illusion that they are actually attending something but they don’t want to invest time and money unless there’s a high chance of a good payout of meeting a potential partner.

For me, I have never approached socializing with a payout in mind. I’ve only ever wanted to meet people of like minds, to form mutually beneficial relationships that could lead to business relationships, friendships and so on. And in fact, my experiences personally and professionally have demonstrated that when we become attached to outcomes (the payout), we set ourselves up for a lot of frustration and despair and we prevent ourselves from forming relationships that have the potential to benefit us in other ways.

Chat rooms the wave of the future?

How can you know who you're chatting with?

How can you know who you’re chatting with?

She then said that at mix and mingle events, most singles stand around waiting for someone else to make the move because they don’t want to be vulnerable and possibly be rejected but that they LOVE singles chat rooms because they mix and mingle online at home and get to know someone before investing in a public appearance (clothes, make up, drive time, cost of food/drink).

Since I’m somewhat of a social scientist, I started to research how valid this chat room argument is. While it may be true that singles LOVE chat rooms, I haven’t found any proof that chat rooms can actually satisfy our need for social interaction or lead to healthier real-time relationships – but I did find lots of evidence that chat rooms offer the same liabilities as online dating sites.

First, when communicating with people face-to-face, we perceive subtle things about them, so we can decide whether we should respond to them, trust them, or even befriend them. We rely on cues that can only be obtained through body language, tone of voice and so on. Chat rooms deny us that opportunity since we are primarily looking at words on a screen.

Chat rooms, like online dating, encourage us to fall into a common trap that is known in social psychology as perceptual accentuation. Perceptual accentuation is actually an erroneous way of thinking that encourages inaccurate perceptions based on our own desires rather than on reality. In other words, we project on our chat room buddy traits and behaviors that we wish to experience in another person.

Because of the anonymity in a chat room environment, people communicating via chat rooms may put forth less effort to control what they say and may also encourage people to behave counter to the way they typically act. A shy person may behave in a more outgoing manner in a chat room than in a face-to- face interaction. Therefore, people who see themselves as introverted may appear extroverted to others in a chat room.

Either way, chat rooms obscure our ability to make accurate assessments about the person we’re communicating with and I cannot possibly see how this tool can adequately fulfill our primitive need to be eyeball to eyeball with real human beings.

What about you? What are your thoughts and inclinations toward attending live events? What gets in your way? Are you too exhausted to focus on the building blocks of a great life, such as a robust support community?

How social are you?

How social are you?

Community Fulfillment Self Discovery

The most common lament I hear from today’s singles over the age of 40 is the difficulty they have meeting potential partners. When I hear that, it reconfirms for me how broken our approach to being single really is.

In my experience, the singles complaining about not meeting the right people are – among many things – too isolated in their everyday lives, and need to focus on building their community before finding a partner. In fact, it is this isolation – and the fear of being alone – that propels people into relationships that are just not right for them.

Through my Become Successfully Single programs, my clients focus on building their support networks because it’s not only a lost part of our lives, but also offers more benefits than one blog post can actually describe. Support networks and friendships are vital to our well-being on all levels. The problem is that most singles don’t even give this topic a second thought and as a result wind up leading very socially isolated lives.

Are you one of them? Take this assessment, developed by UCLA, consisting of 20 questions. After you read each statement, indicate how often the statement is descriptive of you, using the following scoring system:

1         to indicate you  never feel this way
2        to indicate you  rarely feel this way
3        to indicate you sometimes feel this way
4         to indicate you  often feel this way
______________________________________________

1. I am unhappy doing so many things alone
2. I have nobody to talk to
3. I cannot tolerate being so alone
4. I lack companionship
5. I feel as if nobody really understands me
6. I find myself waiting for people to call or write
7. There is no one I can turn to
8. I am no longer close to anyone
9. My interests and ideas are not shared by those around me
10. I feel left out
11. I feel completely alone
12. I am unable to reach out and communicate with those around me
13. My social relationships are superficial
14. I feel starved for company
15. No one really knows me well
16. I feel isolated from others
17. I am unhappy being so withdrawn
18. It is difficult for me to make friends
19. I feel shut out and excluded by others
20. People are around me but not with me

To determine your level of loneliness, compute your score by adding the ten numbers together.

Scoring System:
30-40: People attaining this score-range are operating comfortably and experience an average level of loneliness.
41-60: People within this range struggle a little with social interactions, experiencing frequent loneliness.
61-80: Scores falling within this range would indicate a person experiencing severe loneliness.

Fear not if you got a high score the first time doing this assessment. I want to reinforce that this quiz merely registers FEELINGS of loneliness … feelings are really predicated on PERCEPTIONS – what you perceive to be true. Your feelings are not FACTS – meaning, you might feel lonely but that doesn’t mean you ARE lonely. You may need to simply shift your perspective OR take some solid steps to form closer connections, which is what we’ll talk about next. You may also need to figure out if you’re being too needy, which can account for your feelings of loneliness.

In addition, you might want to take this test monthly to see whether your score remains static, or whether it dips or rises in response to life events. This won’t solve your loneliness, but it will provide more information about a state that can seem so hard to pin down.

Stay Tuned For More!
(And consider enrolling in my Become Successfully Single home study program!)

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