Feeling lonely is a totally natural place to be in— in fact, I don't know anyone who hasn't found themselves struggling with feeling lonely at one time or another. But it's actually a good thing to struggle with. If you can stay single and deal with the loneliness, it's a huge learning opportunity. “It can actually be a time to learn more about oneself and experience the greatest self-growth,” psychotherapist Mary Beth Somich, MA, EdM, LPCA tells Bustle. “Feeling lonely as a result of being single can actually inspire individuals to have new experiences that they would not have put themselves out there for otherwise.”
But far too many people jump into the first relationship they can find as soon as they feel lonely— and it's often not the right realtionship. It's really easy to do, so don't beat yourself up about it. But if you find yourself in a relationship just for the sake of being with someone, it's time to rethink it. Because you deserve to be in a relationship with someone you actually click with— and sometimes you need to go through the harsh learning experience of feeling lonely to find out what you really want.
So how do you know if you're in a relationship just because you're lonely? Here are the signs to look for.
1. You Just Got Out Of One
If you jump from relationship to relationship, that's a big warning sign. Instead, try to fill your time with a new activity or hobby that both pushes you and distracts from being lonely. "Be courageous, be adventurous, and sign up for something new and out of your comfort zone,” Didi Wong, Integrative Wellness and Life Coach tells Bustle. You never know what you'll find.
2. You're Not Sure Why You Like The Person
Let's be honest— you know when you're in a relationship that's just kind of 'meh'. Are you convincing yourself that things are going great when, in reality, you guys are just sort of lukewarm together— or even a bad fit? You should be able to know what excites you about the person, rather than just feeling like they're there.
3. You Feel Needy And Panicky
When a relationship is driven by a need not to be lonely rather than actual compatibility, it's going to show. If you find yourself acting needier than normal and panicking when you can't spend time with the person your dating, you need to start thinking about why you have so much trouble being alone.
4. You're Not Over An Ex
You know when you're not over someone. You may be pretend, but you know. But you need to power through that feeling and try to keep going on your own. If you keep learning and growing, you'll be in a much better place when you do meet someone. “In order for things to change (and in a positive way), you have to think in a positive way. It can be really intimidating at first, but you will never know until you try,” Wong says. “Be fearless, and put yourself out there – you are worth it for someone to meet!”
5. You Only Spend Default Time Together
If you and the person you're seeing aren't actually that good together, you may find yourself only spending default time with each other. Sure, it's great— and important— to be able to be quiet and relaxed with someone. But if all you're doing is watching Netflix and getting takeout, you need to think about whether you're really clicking or just finding someone to fill the space.
Being lonely sucks. Well, it's worse than that. It feels heavy and painful and makes you feel all knotted up. But you need to deal with those feelings. You need to sit with them and prove to yourself that you can face them down. So avoid being in a relationship just so you don't feel lonely because, if you can hold out, there are better things waiting down the line.