You’re in the mood to go out. Maybe go see a movie. Maybe get a drink.
But as a suddenly single, widowed or recently divorced person you might find that your usual go-to friends are busy and you aren’t enthusiastic about going out by yourself.
It’s not that you can’t do it because you’ve done it before. You’ve done it because you hate to think that you won’t do something just because you don’t have anyone to do it with.
You went out by yourself to prove that you could and it was okay but not great. It wasn’t the end of the world to enter a part or restaurant/ by yourself, but you would’ve much rather had a friend to commiserate with. Even though you felt a bit uncomfortable, you told yourself that you discovered something about yourself and it allowed you to mentally check off the socializing solo box.
Now you find yourself in a bit of a transition. You haven’t found your comfort level yet in social surroundings because you are used to being with one person and now that person is unfortunately gone. You feel awkward going out solo but at the same time you don’t want to sit at home and be isolated. You’re not exactly lonely but you wish you had someone to hang out with.
Because two or three or four more people are more fun.
Because we live in a society that is geared to couples and automatically presumes you are part of one.
Because you remember what the dynamic of doing something with lots of people feels like and you want to try and create again for yourself.
How does that work? How do we make new friends? How do we throw ourselves back out into the social mix of the great big world?
Well, we all know that humans definitely need other humans. We need to connect through listening, talking, learning and interacting on personal and even intimate levels. As humans, we are hard-wired to want to connect with each other.
Losing a spouse or a beloved partner changes the way that people socialize with you. It’s not done on purpose; it evolves. The friends that you had with your husband or partner are couple and there you are all by yourself. You love seeing your friends but it also reminds you of what you lost. The same with becoming divorced. You find that people feel they have to choose one or the other person who made up the couple and pretty soon you find you are no longer part of a group which used to regularly do things together.
More and more you hear and read about people saying they feel socially isolated and despite all of our social media that is designed to keep us connected, it seems that this feeling of isolation is increasing.
Carolyn Hax (@carolynhax), a syndicated advice columnist for The Washington Post, has a lot of common sense and a down-to-earth approach in her take on all kinds of problems that readers bring to her. She recently addressed this idea of finding your own community and put some options out there worth thinking about. The fact that this particular column of Hax’s ranked number two of the most read stories in the paper that day reflects the number of people who are finding themselves in the same socialization dilemma.
Going out alone is never as easy as some people make it sound, and as Hax writes, you can sometimes find your own peeps through groups of people who have similar interests as you. Your own community may end up turning into your own social opportunity. Perhaps it’s your gardening group or people you see every week in your yoga class. Maybe you volunteer at your church or at a hospital. Maybe you take a class.
These are communities of people who are already getting together and pursuing something you also care about. Allow yourself time to get to know and feel comfortable enough to open up around new people but if you are doing something you feel passionate about then that’s a start. High-five to you!
Learning to do something by yourself is challenging. I can tell you about several parties I went to by myself after my husband’s death where I spent a lot of time in the ladies room gathering the courage to go out and talk to a roomful of strangers. It was not fun and I’m sure I was incredibly awkward.
I’m a little better today but I still talk myself into these situations by telling myself not to give up and that each time it will get better.
Like lots of things in life, each person needs to figure out how you can seek out a new social experience on their own terms when they are by themselves.
Give it a shot for communities of people give the gift of connection.