“Don’t date someone just because you’re lonely,” said my last fling when I ended things between us.
Was the sheer emptiness of my life that obvious? I’d just become homeless a couple of months prior, so perhaps I was clinging to him out of despair and confusion. It’s not like we were living together, he let me do my laundry there once after I got my belongings out of the storage facility in preparation for moving to the homeless hostel. He had been a help, a bit. But it isn’t like I bled him dry, not even close. He was far too rational and straight-laced to have allowed it, even if I was that way inclined (I’m not.)
But he had picked up on something – my loneliness. Is it because he felt used or because he saw it in my eyes? Was the vacuum of emptiness at the centre of my life actually observable from a distance? What’s sad is I already had someone else lined up, more or less. I didn’t orchestrate it, it just happened. Ours had been a short, passionless relationship of convenience. Nice, but that’s all. My next lover was different – exciting, passionate, sexy, deep, opinionated, complex, loving. Now that this is also over and I pick up the pieces from the new wreckage, it has me pondering what that fling said to me.
Loneliness has followed me since childhood. A fellow blogger said to me that it’s a side effect of being different – finding it hard to make friends. It’s easier for me to get a date and find someone who wants to fuck me – hell, it’s easier to get into a relationship than it is to make a fucking friend. Do you know how insane that is?? No wonder I’ve dated so much in my 20’s. Luring men has always been easier than making friends. I have something that men want.
From the Twelve Promises of Codependents Anonymous
- I know a new sense of belonging. The feeling of
emptiness and loneliness will disappear.
This promise seems too good to be true but it is quite compelling. I’ve been attending CoDA meetings for the past 2 weeks, not just because I want to try to eradicate my feelings of loneliness but because I’m pretty sure I am codependent. And that this could be the root of a lot of my maladaptive behaviours.
I remember being 13 or 14 and my Dad constantly pestering me to ask classmates to hang out with me at the weekend. For some reason, these are some of my most painful and shameful memories. Trying to force people to want to be my friend – what’s more degrading than that? But it went on and on. Whenever I told him, “they said they’re busy,” he’d say, “ask again next week”. I went on humiliating myself in this way because that was the guidance I was given from the primary caregiver in my life – to force myself on people.
Needless to say, it didn’t work. All it did was chip away at my self esteem. At the root of a lot of codependent behaviour is a desire for control. In this way, I feel as if I was taught some of these behaviours. Keep pestering people, don’t allow them to rely on their own agency or free will – guide it for them. Orchestrate their lives for them. My parents are both deeply codependent. This type of behaviour is irrevocably interwoven in to my psyche. My DNA, even.
So now, especially with potential friends, I try not to force anything. I don’t tend to ask people to hang out – I wait for them to take the lead, make sure they express that desire first. I don’t like to assume anything. If I assume anything, it’s: ‘this person has a full life and has more friends than they know what to do with; if they see an acquaintance like me asking to hang out, they’ll only feel sorry for me.’ I’ve come across a lot of them, people I’d like to be friends with; people I’ve met at work, college…but they don’t make the first move and so my previous assumption validates itself.
I think to take that leap, to ask an acquaintance or colleague to hang out, and to risk the possibility of them saying no, or worse – them saying yes (possibly out of pity) and it being disjointed and awkward when we do meet up – feels like too much of a gamble. Like I’d be making myself far too vulnerable, forcing all those old feelings to resurface again.
With men, it’s different. I’m alluring, I have something they want. I’m funny because they’re attracted to me. I feel wanted, desirable, worthy of being coveted, chased and sought after. They want to hang out with me because I have something they want. I gain a friend by proxy, for as long as we last.
It’s weird, I’ve had these isolated incidents of naturally clicking with people at work and being made to feel cool and interesting, and sadly whenever this has happened either they’ve left the workplace or I have and there hasn’t been the time to foster a friendship. The two times which stick out in my mind of this happening, they were both a good few years older than me, like 5 or 10 years older. But they saw something in me. I really miss that feeling, of someone just getting me. Not having to try. Of me just being who I am in my natural state and that being enough for them.
I’m starting an actual corporate job for the first time in a year and a half (in retail) in a couple weeks. Maybe I’ll make some friends there. I’m not holding my breath but you never know. It’s only for 4 weeks too, so not the greatest opportunity for it. Who knows.
It feels like a shameful topic to discuss. Especially because for people who make friends easily, it probably seems like such a bizarre thing to even have difficulty with. But I think a lot of adults do struggle with this – it’s just not the coolest thing to discuss, is it? But I’m going to regular CoDA meetings at the moment and I went to a meditation class the other night. I am trying to get out more and give myself some more opportunities to meet new people. Who knows, maybe I’ll try Bumble BFF. 😂
Do you have any experiences with loneliness? Let me know, if you’d like to share.
Thanks for reading,