One of the most common traps many of us get into is looking for external solutions to fix our internal problems. So what’s the most common external solution people use to remove their inner loneliness? PEOPLE. People use people all the time to control their loneliness.
But like so many other external solutions, the fix is only temporary. Loneliness will come back. And if all you know is to latch onto people to take away your difficult feelings, that can turn into dependence on people. And you just cannot have healthy synergic social connections when your relationships are all based on dependence.
Some people choose to depend on a community of people. Dependence on this option could look like someone who just can’t stand being by himself and he just has to be out with friends all the time. Some people choose to depend on a romantic partner. Dependence on this option could look like someone who jumps from one relationship to another with hardly any break in between.
If you are desperate for people to be in your life in order to cover up your loneliness, that can cause even more problems. Here are some of the common problems that arise from desperation in this area. Just to get people, you are more likely to:
- Overprioritize approval from others that you
- Lie, make up stories, and pretend to be someone you are not, overexaggerate your successes
- You are more likely to be perfectionistic about how pleasant you are around others
- You are more likely to get very disappointed at others for their failure to readily be there for you
- You are more likely to take advantage of very giving and caring people by unloading your sob stories with absolutely no intention to move forward from them
- You are more likely to lack healthy boundaries with people and, because of that
- You are more likely to overextend yourself for others while neglecting your own needs
- You are more likely to look for community in all the wrong places
- And hold onto unhealthy relationships
One of my favourite movies that depicts a lot of these problems with loneliness is “The Talented Mr. Ripley.”
But not everyone uses people to remove their loneliness. Some people use substances to numb themselves, some people use work or entertainment to distract themselves, some people go to sleep and hope they wake up not feeling it anymore, and some people use unhealthy psychological strategies in their head to help them cope with their loneliness. Even though you’re not using people in these examples, I still would not recommend responding in these ways because they all have to do with running away from your difficult feelings.
If you’ve already developed a habit of running away from your loneliness, I know it’s going to be very hard to all of a sudden not do these things, but for your own mental health and emotional freedom, you have to let go of these temporary quick-fix solutions.