You are lying on your bed all alone one cold night, just alone with no one else to talk with. In the past 30 minutes, you have been chatting with your friends on social media. You binged on to three or four videos on YouTube and everything was interesting, fun, and relaxing, at least for the time being. You didn’t see any reason to worry until you realized that you are getting more lonely and bored even while talking with your friends and watching some online videos.
You suddenly realized that you are currently single, you had separated from your ex a couple of months back and you can’t remember the last time anyone visited you and spent some passionate and satisfying time with you. You know what it means to have someone who cares about you check up on you. That makes the loneliness and boredom even worse for you.
At every stage of our lives, every one of us experiences boredom. No one is immune to it, however, we all develop strategies or devise activities that can keep us busy enough to forget the experience of loneliness and boredom. Thank goodness, smart devices, social media and the internet also came to enhance our coping abilities. We cannot communicate with loved ones at long distances away. However, these do not completely eliminate the experience of boredom and loneliness.
The Psychology of Boredom – a Void in Every One of Us
Studies have shown that increased boredom and loneliness have led to an increase in phone and internet addiction among young people. This is greatly true because the phone and the internet have built-in features and constantly updated features that can engage our minds to keep us busy and happier. However, there is a void in each and every one of us that these technologies cannot fill. What is this void?
It’s inherent to everyone to desire to love and be loved. You just want to be touched in certain ways by another person you love, you want the caressing and the kisses at some points, and if you don’t get them, you feel lonely.
To a very large extent, we can go without anyone in our lives. This is because we have other things around us – pets, mobile and static electronic devices, the internet and social media, books and so on. Many of us have hobbies that keep us busy and also help us utilize our lonely hours productively. However, these can never replace being with someone who cares for you. This is the psychology of boredom.
The Idle Mind – The Devil’s Workshop
Boredom programs our minds to remember the irreplaceable importance of being with a loved one. Whether this is beneficial is disputable and the overall consequence of boredom and loneliness at these points is summarized in the quote, “the idle mind is the devil’s workshop”.
There are no limits to the things you can do when you are bored and lonely. Loneliness is that state when you realize that you have got to look for other ways to satisfy yourself other than the conventional ones you may have tried before. And sometimes, these can be actions that conflict with your normal preferences.
For example, a study1 showed a direct correlation between pornography watching and loneliness, such that it confirmed that those who watched pornography were more likely to experience loneliness and those who are experiencing loneliness are more likely to watch pornography.
According to a study2, loneliness is associated with an increased frequency of alcohol and marijuana use among people with problematic substance use. Boredom increases their need for substance abuse and misuse and these all support the claim that idle mind is the devil’s workshop.
Why You Need to Fight Loneliness and Boredom
Loneliness and boredom, apart from their significant role in the development of idle thoughts, addiction and emotional distress, are major risk factors3 for the development of some psychiatric disorders like depression, alcohol abuse, child abuse, sleep problems, personality disorders and Alzheimer’s disease.
Loneliness makes you feel sad and unable to concentrate on some of your important personal tasks. It switches you from a state of self-awareness and confidence to one of dependence on other people. We all need someone else at some point in our life, either for psychosocial, emotional or other reasons but you won’t always be with someone, would you? Sometimes, you are best by yourself, especially during your formative years when you need to fully master yourself before moving in with anyone else.
As normal as it may seem, the feeling of loneliness can take a huge toll on you, your physical development and your mental health. Hence, it becomes important that you develop practical ways to deal with loneliness and boredom when they surface.
The Role of Finding a Suitable Partner
When you are single and you are not a nun/monk, it becomes a very understandable emotional drive to desire to find a suitable partner. In order to satisfy this impulse, people try out different avenues for finding a date – visiting areas with prospective mates, dating sites, updating social media galleries more often, etc. However, these do not yield expected every time and for all persons.
An interview4 by Emily Deaton with a few single people in the United States revealed that apart from the heightened feelings of loneliness experienced amongst these singles, there is also a concern for their rejection by society. Many of the single people featured in this interview had some physical disability or were of advanced age following divorce or separation and this affected their chances of finding a potential mate/suitor or a life partner.
When you are single, separated or divorced, you may have to look for ways to fill the void. You may have to engage in things that make you feel less lonely and bored. For the most part, many of these people first re-assure themselves that they do not need anyone to be active and happy. This is a psychological motivation that is needed when finding a suitable partner is not within the radar. But importantly, the role of being with someone who cares about you in the management of loneliness and boredom cannot be over-emphasized.
Single-loneliness & Married-loneliness
Like you may have inferred, single loneliness is the intense feeling of emptiness, depression of spirit, idleness and emotional dependence on another human to help relieve the feelings that are experienced when you are single. Loneliness is commoner in single/unmarried or single/separated than those who have a partner.
Marriage5 may be the most direct answer to singleness and single loneliness but this is not to rule out the fact that loneliness also occurs among married people. According to surveys6, some 40 per cent of people know the pain of being lonely in a relationship because they have been there at some point and although no two happy marriages are identical, every lonely marriage has one thing in common: at least one spouse feels abandoned emotionally.
That, therefore, means, finding a partner may not be an overall solution to loneliness and boredom. The missing denominators are often emotional affection, romantic touch, love, and sex. As a matter of fact, no one can ever say that they were lonely because they are alone in the world. There are always people who you can talk to when you reach out to them, your family and loved ones are still available, literally countless other available options out there but we choose to stay lonely because we want something more.
We want the emotions from someone we can call our own. You want the touches, the love, or intimate sex with someone you feel the most emotions for. As a consequence, married people can still experience loneliness if their partner has been physically and emotionally unavailable for some reason.
5 Things To Do When You Are Single, Lonely, and Bored
After establishing all these, it becomes important that I highlight some things you can do to overcome loneliness and boredom when you are single and feeling lonely. It is not within the scope of this article to cover how to overcome loneliness in marriage, so I will focus on the following 5 things to do when you are single, lonely, and bored.
- Drop your phone
- Get some sleep
- Call your side-chick
- Engage in your creative hobbies
- Entertain yourself
Drop your phone
Mobile phones have come to become some of our greatest companions during our lonely moments but at this point, I’m sorry they might not be of so much help. You recently dropped your phone after extensive usage. Yes, the boredom started more than three hours ago, following which you attempted to keep yourself busy using your phone. Now, three hours down the line, you realize your phone can’t help you anymore. You need something more.
Another reason why it is important to drop your phone is that loneliness and boredom make you want to explore other things you may not have tried before or recently attempted. Your mind suddenly becomes idle and unable to concentrate on the things you have, while wandering in search of newer things to derive comfort from.
Several items like pornographic and illicit content are created for lonely, bored people and they are readily available via your smartphone. In order not to fall into the trap of accessing those materials (maybe against your will and personal values), you might need to drop your phone that very moment.
Get some sleep
Being single comes with responsibilities, maybe not to other people but there are responsibilities. Amongst all these responsibilities is the need to take care of yourself when you are feeling lonely or in need of a partner.
When you are lonely single, sleep can be a great way to recharge your ability to copy with self-independence. When you are tired, you suddenly desire to have someone by your side who can cheer you up or give you some comfort. Thus, the major problem here is getting good rest and that will be all you need.
Call your side-chick
This might sound weird but we all have that one person (maybe more) who roots for us every time, any day, and every day. For some reason, you don’t want to get on with them in a relationship but their loyalty to you and the friendship is undying, at least for the time being. If you feel lonely, and there is no one else to reach out to, there is nothing absolutely wrong with reaching out to this person, even though some people might consider it manipulative and parasitic.
This works all the time, give him/her a call, get the laughs, tease yourselves and possibly flirt with them. This will help you relieve some tension and gets you through the period of loneliness without getting yourself to do awful things.
Engage in your creative hobbies
It may not be exactly accurate to say that the opposite of loneliness is busyness but getting involved in hobbies and activities you love have been shown to help relieve stress and boredom very significantly. Maybe you like playing the piano. When you are lonely, single, and bored, this might be one of the best times to play with your notes once more.
Even more importantly are those I refer to as creative hobbies, leisure activities that enhance your productivity. For example, if you are passionate about making knitted products, how about turning your period boredom and loneliness into a well-knitted crotchety bag? That will be really great, you know.
I already mentioned earlier that you may have attempted to get entertained through social media even before the onset of the boredom but here is this one. Pick up an interesting novel, flip to the content page, then flip across the pages until you get midway or to the end if you wish. Then start reading from the first chapter and enjoy the stories as they come.
It may be something different from reading a book, especially if you are not normally fascinated by reading. You could just listen to your favourite song or sing and dance to it if you are one of those freaky secret dancers like me. But any of those things that normally keep you entertained is acceptable, especially when you are truly single, lonely and bored.
Overcoming loneliness and boredom when you are single maybe especially difficult but in this post, you have seen practical ways to handle loneliness and boredom when you are faced with them as a single person. I hope this can be helpful to someone.
- Pornography Use and Loneliness: Assessing Correlations Using Three Associative Models. Samuel Alejandro Pereyra, 2016
- Prospective effects of loneliness on frequency of alcohol and marijuana use. Sarah Gutkind, et al, 2021
- Relationship Between Loneliness, Psychiatric Disorders and Physical Health ? A Review on the Psychological Aspects of Loneliness. Raheel Mushtaq, et al, 2014
- Single And Lonely: How To Avoid The Trap Of Single Loneliness. Emily Deaton
- Are you lonely in your partnership or marriage? Carol Bruess PhD, 2020
- Seven reasons why you’re lonely in marriage. Jesusegun Alagbe, 2021
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