What happens when you are in-between intimate relationships or identify as single? How do you spend that time?
What about if you are currently in a relationship, but your partner is out of town, long-distance relationship or you’re experiencing a long stretch of separation? What comes up for you?
When you look around, catch your reflection in the mirror, and notice its just you and yourself here, the question of “feeling lonely or being alone” may cross your mind.
Companionship is a treasured part of our experiences as people. And intimate partnership is a special connection that comes between folks that are romantically attracted to one another. In the same breath, we are sometimes pressured to be in a relationship by our families, our associates or by societal standards. It’s fair to say there is a certain status that comes with being “taken”.
In recognizing those pressures, spending time with one’s self is often taken for granted and even devalued as time well-spent. This begs the question if spending time with only yourself is considered “being alone” or “feeling lonely”?
Let’s take a closer look at these two concepts:
Being alone can be viewed as simply a state of being. A fact. An observation, if you will. Being alone is the state of being where you are spending time with yourself and only yourself. Being alone can be a choice. We can choose to spend time with ourselves and we are then in control of who is around our space.
Feeling lonely is exactly that, a feeling. To feel lonely can mean to feel disconnected, unsocial or wanting to be with others and not having the opportunity to do so.
According to Dictionary.com, loneliness is:
Affected with, characterized by or causing a depressing feeling of being alone
Destitute of sympathetic or friendly companionship, intercourse, support, etc.
While being alone is a state of being, feeling lonely is a feeling that is usually determined by others and social opportunities.
We associate being alone with choice, being in control and also having the desire to put energy into our relationships with ourselves. When we think of feeling alone, we think of feelings associated with feeling out-of-control, left out and isolated.
With reflecting on these two concepts, when do you feel lonely and when are you being alone?
In learning to build healthy relationships with ourselves, there are moments where we prefer to spend time with ourselves, and other times where we spend time alone by default. Our work is to notice when we are feeling imbalanced with experiencing too much or too little of either.
What helps is being mindful of how loneliness and being alone shows up for us. It’s natural to feel both, but its important to recognize what choices we have when the opportunity to be with only ourselves comes up. It can be fulfilling, necessary and down-right fun to get to kick it with you and only you! And it can be exciting, worthwhile and enjoyable to spend time with others. Tap into your self-awareness and reflection when you get the opportunity to only be with you.
My absolute favorite things to do when I am alone are:
- At-home spa day: I’m talking a DIY pedicure, face masks and body scrub galore. I can pay attention to the parts of my body that need some extra lovin’ during this time.
- Retail therapy: I love giving myself a guilt-free budget and shop alone. I can focus on my opinions only and enjoy what I like without distractions.
- Take myself out on a date: I will grab coffee or get a table at a yummy restaurant to treat myself to some good food. And nope, I don’t want to sit at the bar. I want a table. All to myself. 🙂
What do you like to do when you are spending quality time with yourself?