in: Dating & Relationships

Why Dating Is so Lonely

If we first have a sense of self-love and a supportive community, finding a good partner won’t feel so lonely. At the very least, it will lighten the sense of burden.

I recently overheard a colleague describe her experience on a dating app. The conversation bobbed and weaved around challenges like “I was matched to a lot of  weird people ” to “wow, it’s so exhausting” to “maybe I just need to take a break from dating altogether”. What struck me was the amount of energy and emotion that was coming out during the conversation. She needed to be heard and validated in her dating journey. And then it hit me.

Sometimes dating can make us feel very alone, but why?

My answer came down to social health. If our social health is unbalanced, we don’t have the regular and deep connection and community in our lives to make things like dating fun and light. Rather, for many, it becomes the “one search for someone” which creates a lot of pressure and expectations that can cause mental distress. 

So I began to answer the “why” through the lens of what causes disconnection and unhappiness in modern society.  

Identity and Dating

The first ingredient I found was identity. We all have certain beliefs about ourselves, and having a strong sense of identity brings comfort and security. For me, it used to be “I am a successful entrepreneur”. For others it could be “I am mother of 3” or “I am doctor”, etc. The attachment to identity can create trouble, because those areas of our life ebb and flow with external factors and societal forces we can’t control. If my business is having a rough month, my entire entrepreneur self-worth goes down the drain. If my kids are being obnoxious at a birthday party, my parental self-worth puts me in a tailspin. And on it goes.

This applies to dating too. For many, we already enter the fray a bit fragile, especially as we get older. We want to be accepted by others and conform to our societal constructs of having a healthy relationship.  We may already be sensitive to any rejection or lack of connection in our interactions. So we click, swipe, text, go on a few dates, and put our hopes of being “complete” out there. If it doesn’t work, we are distraught or even embarrassed at a subconscious level. We retract, because we feel that it is a reflection of who we are.   

In reality, it’s a reflection of a desire or attachment to something that can’t be fulfilled. Disappointment turns to despair. Despair turns to self-judgement, and we lose our sense of self in the process.

Acceptance and Dating

Being accepted and having a sense of belonging are core human needs. It’s a survival instinct. In our more tribal days, the acceptance of your tribe meant life or death. Might I add, this is also where our identity was fulfilled. If you kept the tribe warm with your expert fire making skills, you had a purpose, place, and identity. When we are rejected or not connecting with someone we felt good energy with, it taps into that need to belong and be accepted.  Additionally, when we don’t have a partner to go to parties, dinners, or other activities with, it becomes harder and harder to have a connected social life. 

So lack of acceptance then has us turn inward again, with a distorted sense of self and a much needed energy to find connection. Many social health professionals agree that acceptance is critical to our overall health and wellness.

Romantic Idolization

Finally, I’ll name what we all know but haven’t all been able to disavow.  The romanticized notion of dating, falling in love, living happily ever after. When we create that fairytale picture and have that subconscious expectation, anything less than will feel wrong in comparision. We’ll feel disappointed and alone in search for the prince or princess.

Moreover, there’s often a notion that we will feel “whole” and “complete” when we have a partner for life. If we are looking for completeness, we need to be whole in our own self. We all intuitively know this, but we still look for external validation, which is, of course, a natural, human response. However, if we were to shift the paradigm of “he/she is everything to me” to “they are such a great addition and support to my life” we can be in a place to manage any disappointments or challenges that will inevitably happen. 

If we first have a sense of self-love and a supportive community, finding a good partner won’t feel so lonely. At the very least, it will lighten the sense of burden.

You can learn more about how social health affects our well-being here.


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