How To Handle Feelings Of Loneliness When You're Single

Chances are you're probably going to be single at some point in your life. Maybe it will be ten years from now. Maybe it will be tomorrow. Or maybe you’ve been single your whole life! And while being single has its perks (read: you get to do what you want, when you want), sometimes feelings of loneliness can creep in. We’re all vulnerable to these feelings, especially in today’s hyper-connected world, so what can you do to keep the loneliness at bay? 

The first step is to identify where these feelings of loneliness are coming from. According to filmmaker and founder/executive director of MediaGirls, Michelle Cove, loneliness is simply part of the human experience. As normal as this is, Cove points out that there is “a shame or a stigma attached to it.” While we all at some point feel lonely, we very rarely tell our friends and family, “Hey, I’m feeling a little lonely right now.”

These feelings of loneliness are surprisingly not exclusive to those who are single; those in relationships can feel lonely too! Cove says the biggest mistake single people can make is thinking that those in relationships are not lonely. “[Loneliness] comes to everyone and is not the enemy," she says. So, next time you see a couple, don’t assume that they aren’t feeling the same way as you.

Even though we all feel lonely at times, some of us do feel much lonelier than others. But what’s the biggest reason for this? Cove says that social media is a big factor. When you are scrolling through your Instagram feed and see all of your coupled friends sharing anniversary posts, or even your single friends traveling the world, the feelings of loneliness can ramp up again. So how can you handle this? One of the best solutions is to just sit with your feelings. “[One solution is to] just sit with it, don’t dwell, but feel it and see if it will move through you," she says. If the feelings are still present after a while, try to spend some time with people who are genuine and authentic; they can help you feel better.

Zoe Hawryluk, a junior at Boston University, seconds this advice. “I’ve learned to find and seek mental and emotional fulfillment from my close friends rather than from a significant other,” Zoe says. It can be very cathartic to sit a share your feelings with close friends! If you’re not up for socializing, Cove says watching your favorite comedy (and laughing along) on Netflix can also be a great way to cope! However, it is important to consider how often you are experiencing these feelings. If your feelings of loneliness are chronic, and you feel like you can’t move past them, it could be worthwhile to find a professional to talk to, to get to the cause of your feelings.

So, if you are single, and have accepted that loneliness is a part of life, what do you have to look forward to? According to Stephanie Murray, a junior at the Savannah College of Art and Design, being single is a great way to learn more about yourself. “Sometimes [being single]’s full of exotic adventures and finding new hobbies you never thought you’d like,” she says. “I believe everyone should have a period of extended singleness or loneliness, so they can evaluate themselves and make mental notes of what they want from a partner and what they offer as a partner.” Being single means you only have to accommodate your schedule, which means you can go to that yoga class you love or attend an author event at your favorite local bookstore, without having to worry about pleasing anyone else. You’ll learn new things about what you like and don’t like, and, if other people attend the event, you may even make some new friends!

Zoe also says that one of the benefits of being single is all of the extra resources you have: “You have more time and money to treat yourself and to spend time with the people who truly love you and would never leave you.” Being single is a great excuse to treat yourself and your closest friends to a fancy dinner or a movie night!

Related: 12 Reasons Why Being Single When You Start College is the Best 

One of the most important things for people – especially those in relationships – to remember is not to pity those who are single. Sometimes, people make a conscious choice to be single. Whether they are avoiding relationships because they are too busy or need some time to themselves after a rough relationship, there is no reason to pity someone who is single.

Sabrina Araullo, a senior at Montclair State University, thinks that being single is a time for personal growth that will only make you stronger in the future. “Being in a relationship should not, by any means, be your target end destination,” Sabrina says. “However, when the right time comes for you to be in a relationship, you'll be able to approach it in a way that sees both you and your significant other as, not completing each other or defining who you are, but complimenting each other and allowing yourself to experience a new type of personal growth.” So, single ladies, embrace the time you have to yourself, it will only make you stronger!

Related: 9 Times When Being Single is the Best

What should you take away? First, there is nothing wrong with being lonely. Our society tries to stigmatize these feelings of loneliness, when we should be normalizing them. Don’t feel ashamed of being single or feeling lonely. Go to the movies solo. Bring a book and go to a fancy restaurant by yourself. Loneliness and being single is a great way to learn about yourself, and become the best possible version of you!