Being alone does not mean that you are lonely. And vice versa. Being lonely does not mean that you are alone.
Being alone is a simple matter of physical circumstance. A statement of fact. You are not surrounded by people. This is solitude.
While being lonely is a state of heart. You feel alone. And there’s a certain amount of pain and suffering involved in the experience.
There is a very important difference between being alone (solitude) and loneliness.
Yes. Solitude can bring with it loneliness. But many people suffer loneliness in the midst of many acquaintances.
While those that are comfortable in solitude do not suffer from loneliness, whether they’re alone or surrounded by people.
As a teenager and young adult I suffered through intense periods of loneliness. Both in solitude and in company.
This suffering was a blessing. Although prolonged through various stages of my young life, the experience was not completely overwhelming. There were sporadic moments of light which gave me glimpses of hope. Every now and then. Often enough to keep me from total despair.
My loneliness lasted several years. It was an overwhelmingly unpleasant experience. I suffered. But I was fortunate to have it. Because I developed a deep understanding of the difference between loneliness and being alone.
Through this suffering I learnt how to be comfortable in solitude. How to be alone, without being lonely.
Today I appreciate the crucial importance of learning this lesson and the role it plays in my happiness.
I’ve been married for more than 5 years and I am happy in a deep loving relationship with a true life partner. Only because I am comfortable with being alone. Because I am not lonely.
This deep connection in our relationship would not have been possible if we were lonely.
Because companions cannot solve the problem of loneliness. Loneliness is a problem solved through being alone.
We only overcame loneliness because we found comfort in solitude.
Because then, and only then, can we accept one another for who we truly are. Then and only then do we give one another the freedom to be ourselves within the relationship.
True, our relationship was spurred on by our loneliness. It was because we were both intensely alone in an alienating world that we found one another and connected so deeply.
But we had both spent enough time suffering loneliness and we both had tried curing our loneliness through previous relationships, without success.
Therefore we understood:
While we could help one another overcome our loneliness, ultimately, loneliness is an internal struggle that we could not overcome on one another’s behalf.
Loneliness must be faced in solitude. Loneliness can only be overcome by accepting oneself, as is.
A person suffering from loneliness will enter into a relationship with the expectation that the other person will take it away. And initially that may be the case. However, eventually the other person will grow tired of being constantly needed.
A lonely person needs their partner like a chronic medication. It never solves the problem. It merely temporarily takes away the symptoms.
As soon as the partner leaves the lonely person, they become lonely. And very quickly they need to have that person to placate the loneliness. It’s a never ending cycle and sooner or later the partner grows tired of being used in this way, because the lonely person is no longer relating to them as another person, but instead using them as a means to an end.
And no person feels comfortable being used as a means to an end.
Problems of infidelity, cheating or being unfaithful is often a result of this. The lonely person places so much pressure on the presence of their partner that their partner has to escape.
While a person who is comfortable with being alone does not fear the absence of their partner and so does not place pressure on their presence but allows their presence to be as it is.
Like truth, true love does not fade. It becomes stronger with time.
Lies and untruth, on the other hand, will eventually always be exposed.
Most romantic relationships start with people role playing so as to attract one another. This is normal and there’s nothing inherently wrong with it.
However, the role we play to attract another person is not who we truly are. That role cannot last. No human can wear a mask indefinitely. Our nature will not allow it. We are meant to be who we already are. Not who we pretend to be.
As such no person will forever play the role of alleviating another person from their loneliness.
For true love to exist in a relationship, and grow stronger over time, both partners must first find comfort in solitude.
Then, and only then can we relate to one another for who we truly are. And not who we want one another to be.