It is natural to feel lonely after a divorce and there are ways to make this transition easier. The secret to beating the “I feel so alone blues” is distraction and making connections. I experienced more loneliness during my marriage than I ever did post-divorce. The divorce process itself drains time and energy away from pursuits and people. These tips are a collection of what I did to combat loneliness and what has worked well for others.
1. Gather your support system around you like a protective cocoon. Reach out to the people who are sticking by you through this transition. Allow friends to do things for you and accept their assitance. Ask for help, even though this can be challenging at first. I asked a neighbot to have my younger son over for dinner a few times, which lowered his stress and was fun. If you are still in shock post-divorce, let others know to contact you with plans. i wanted to go out for lattes and appreciated my friends calling me with these arrangements. I just had to show up for movies, etc. without making decisions and coordinating these events.
2. Join groups and meet new people. MeetUp.com is international with local groups having a variety of actiities, such as hiking. You meet new folks in a relaxed setting having fun, getting fit, or volunteering. I joined The Transition Network through this organization, and met many new women also going through life changes. We are each other’s boosters. Consider joining a book club. I developed a love of Scandinavian mysteries through mine, and lonely weekends are now a thing of the past. Some divorced people have become more active in their church and synagogue groups, plus added these people to their support team.
3. Voluntering takes the focus off your woes. Giving back to the community distracts you from being caught up in thoughts swirling around in your head like a merry-go-round. You are concentrating on your activity and making new connections with humans or animals. I joined a cat rescue group and one morning a week I feed, clean cages, and cuddle the kitties. A purring kitten reaffrims that I am being appreciated. Others enjoy the camaraderie and physical exertion of building houses and other charity projects. Taking supplies to South Africa post-divorce enriched my life more than it did for any recipients.
4. Do not try and fix loneliness by jumping into a new relationship. Do spend some time to heal and work on yourself first. Analyze your part in the demise of your marrriage and what you can do to prevent this in future relationships. If you seem stuck, then consider going to a life or divorce coach to assist you on a new path. Being in a romantic relationship adds spice to life and is not first aid for boredom or emptiness.
5. Change your work schedule. If evenings are a long stretch of emptiness, then see if you can work instead. Tweak your work day to go in later and leave later or change shifts. The trick is to fill up the times you feel most alone. My mother worked on the holidays that I was at my father’s house. If a weekend day is lonely, see if you can work it. A boss may appreciate someone coming in on a Saturday morning to answer the phone and get caught up on projects. An alternative is to schedule activities in the evenings, such as a Zumba class. This is also another way to meet people.
6. Have companionship in your home. Think of the old TV show, “The Golden Girls.” They lived in an expensive area in a nicer house than they could have afford to on their own. Maybe you have a sister or friend that could share a house. There are ways to have temporary paying guests. Hospitals rent furnished places or rooms for medical students and interns on a short-term basis. One has company in the house and earns a little extra cash. Another is to check out online travel web sites, such as Homestay.com and have global travelers stay with you. Vet people and web sites carefully, though. This can be a fun way to learn about other cultures from the comfort of home, plus make a little money. Consider adopting a feline or canine friend. Hearing cats running around and taking care of them keeps any loneliness at bay for me. If you do not want to make a commitment, then consider fostering an animal for a short time. The animals are socialized, get a reprieve from their cages, and you receive unconditional love.
7. Consider moving. You may have moved across country during marriage and have no family around post-divorce. Maybe most of your friends are living somewhere else. With one friend, her ex-husband was a “big fish in a small pond” in their small town. She felt like she had to skip certain places since she did not want to run into him or his new wife. Since this was his hometown and she did not have roots there, moving seemed to be the logical choice. Determine if post-divorce loneliness is partly due to living in the wrong location.
Loneliness peaks and ebbs like waves. If you are feeling a constant loneliness it may be masking an emptiness as with depression. Loneliness does lessen with time. If it does not, consider getting a medical checkup. Connecting with others helps one get through this life transition.