Spectrum Solutions

Personal Growth Development for Children, Teens, and Adults on the Spectrum

To Aspergians Who Are Tired of Being Single

8 Steps to Reduce Loneliness in Your Life


tired of being single
Are You Tired of Being Single?
http://www.flickr.com/photos/104178037@N08/10069702514/
I was in my mid to late twenties.

Friday nights were the worst.  I hated finishing work and going home to an empty apartment.  

It was worse when my good friends from college started getting married.

I was always a groomsman, but never a groom.

I was lonely and tired of being single.

Please raise your hand if you’re tired of being single. You’re tired of living alone, killing any sense of belonging you may have felt. It’s daunting enough to interact with people–never mind trying to build a friendship, and then a dating relationship.  

Well, there’s good news. Friendship and dating does not have to be that daunting. With the right resources and tools at your disposal, you can learn to deal with the root causes of loneliness and set yourself up for meaningful connection.

Read the rest of this article, and I will walk you through friendship tips that can set you up for future dating and relationship success.

8 Steps to Reduce Loneliness in Your Life:

1. Stop looking for someone else to complete you

Celestine Chua, in her article, Are You Looking for a Relationship to Complete Yourself? (Why Singlehood is Not a Disease), says that media and society are to blame for creating expectations that everyone be in an idealized romantic relationship.

Action StepRead the rest of her article to figure out which of the eight attributes you use to label yourself incomplete.  Stop seeing yourself as incomplete.  Read the rest of the article to figure out how.

2.  Let It RAIN

Dr. Rick Hanson recently wrote an article about using RAIN to manage uncomfortable feelings. Apply this technique to your loneliness.

R - Recognize the feelings of loneliness.  Instead of judging your loneliness (for example, I've often said to myself, though not consciously, "I feel so alone, there's no one out there who truly understands me, I'm tired of feeling this way."), accept and welcome the feelings with compassion. 

A - Accept the feelings.  Acknowlege the feelings with self-compassion, rather than with self-criticism.  (For example, I have criticized myself in the past for feeling lonely, "I shouldn't feel this way, or 'this is too painful to feel').

I - Investigate. Can you put an emotional label on the sensations that you're feeling? Is there a particular situation or situations that triggered the loneliness?  The HALT acronym from recovery literature can help you better understand when feelings of loneliness can be amplified - Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired.

N - Not self.  Give yourself to feel the feeling, but don't let that feeling define who you are.  Realize that loneliness is one part of who you are, but that there is so much else going on in your existence.

Action Step: Next time you're feeling stressed, anxious, or lonely, practice RAIN.  Practice at least once a day to develop greater self awareness and well being.

3. Join a Community Group

Dan Wendler, from Improve Your Social Skills blog, wrote about three hobbies that teach social skills and can help you connect with other people: Improv Theater, Partner Dancing, and Toastmasters.

Not interested in any of these three hobbies?  Use Meetup to find groups of people doing activities that you're interested in.

Action Step: Choose one of the three hobbies that teach social skills and set a time and date on your calendar as a deadline for getting involved.  Or resolve to join a meetup group for an activity your interested in.

4.  Find and Join an Asperger Support Group

When you join an Asperger support group, you'll discover others who share your strengths and struggles.  You won't be alone.

Action Step - Read Lonely?  Join an Asperger Support Group.  Find one near you, or start one yourself.  In reaching out to others, you'll find friendship and support.

If you're not comfortable connecting offline, check out the Autism Brainstorm and Wrong Planet as two online venues for Asperger support.

5. Pursue Personal Growth

Action Step: Here's an exercise.  Write down a couple paragraphs, or more, about characteristics you'd desire in an ideal mate.

Now read that list. 

This list is your personal growth plan.

 How can you become the type of person you want to meet?  For example, if you want to be with someone fun, smart, and compassionate.  Are you fun, smart, and compassionate?  If not, look for ways to become more this way.

I personally needed to work through some hurts and hangups, including limiting core beliefs about myself, before I was ready to be in a relationship with the woman who is now my wife.  I personally sought counseling and participated in men's growth groups at my church to heal those hurts and hangups.  As I worked through a lot of my personal pain, I became more able to accept myself and to give and receive love.

You can do the same.

6. Improve Your Social Skills

Dan Wendler, an Asperger young man, struggled with loneliness growing up.

When he learned about Asperger syndrome, he embarked on a disciplined study of conversation, body language, and communication.

Watch his story:

Action Step - Go to Improve Your Social Skills.  Read the Manifesto.  Join Dan's membership site (it's very reasonable, and you pay what you can afford).  Write down your social skills goals and get to work.

7. Start a Blog

Blogging can help you express yourself, connect with others, and build a community.  

As you do so, you'll feel more connected and less isolated.

Here are just a few great examples of autitstic or Asperger bloggers -

Invisible Strings, Musings of an Aspie, SRSalas, Inner Aspie, Aspie Writer.

Action Step: Check out this video from Pat Flynn at the Smart Passive Income blog on how you can get started blogging in 4 minutes.

8. Consider Volunteering

I've always felt connected when volunteering.  Whether serving soup in a homeless shelter, helping out with children's services at my church, or running in a marathon to help raise money for clean water for families in Africa, I've felt connected to the people I volunteer with, and I feel connected to the needs of the world.

If you don't already volunteer, consider volunteering.

Action Step: Go to VolunteerMatch and enter a cause you're interested in.  Get started today.

Next Time You're Feeling Tired of Being Single...

Print out this article, read the above eight suggestions, choose one, and follow the action step.

What other loneliness reducing tips can you share for those who are tired of being single?  I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.

photo credit: marsmet473a

Stephen Borgman is a psychotherapist who frequently works with neurodiverse children and adults.

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