Not too long ago, I came across a quote that got me thinking. It wasn’t the deepest thing by any means, and it wasn’t Instagram-worthy either.
It said, “Love When You’re Ready, Not When You’re Lonely.”
Simple enough, right? Well, not exactly.
In a city like Toronto, there are a ton of great things about being single. With the constant stimuli, the need (and time) for a significant other (SO) can be pretty minimal (unless, of course, you’re in a rush to procreate).
But then there are those times loneliness sets in and you begin to question what the hell you’re even doing with your life.
It can happen on a Sunday when all of your friends are tied up with their SOs and the grocery store is filled with handholding couples. Or when you’re flying home from a vacation when the realization sets in that all you’re coming back to is your empty condo (or your mom at the airport waiting to give you a ride). Or, for no reason at all.
As you bask in your loneliness, your mind begins to work in overdrive.
Maybe I really do want a relationship right now, it tells you. Maybe things really could work a third time around with my ex, it tries to convince you. Maybe those two dates I had last week weren’t as uninspiring as I though they were on the walk home, it wonders. Maybe I’m being too picky, it questions as you begin to spiral.
Then you reach for your phone.
Whether for the attention (yes, I admit), or because your loneliness temporarily tricks you into thinking someone is good for you, you begin to scroll – and message. It could be a message to said ex, a date you complained to your BFF about two weeks ago, or with someone you know is wrong for you in so many ways. Or it could be to the person you actually do like, despite your MO to play it cool (guilty).
It isn’t fair to the other person
I’m not going to lie; there have definitely been times where I have messaged five or six guys in my phone within a five-minute timeframe just for a bit of banter on those days when I’m craving a little love and attention. And these could very well be the same men whose messages sat unanswered for days. I have also been on the receiving end – and it’s been glaringly obvious when it’s happened. The thing is, a message from a lonely person could be the highlight of someone’s day, offering a sense of false hope that the other person is actually into them too. In reality, they’re just lonely. While such an exchange is tolerable in your early twenties, there comes a time where it’s just not fair. Especially to those looking for love. Grow up (message to self).
It’s a waste of time
Whether it means a back-and-forth exchange of text messages on a Sunday or a short-lived relationship, investing time into another person out of loneliness is a total waste. This is especially true if you’re in search of a relationship (and one with someone you actually like) and if your to-do list is already giving you anxiety. In those moments of loneliness, it makes more sense to hit the gym so that you can look and feel better when it comes to meeting someone you’re actually into. Or, to just revel in the fact that – unlike your married friends – you literally can do whatever you want at the moment and have nobody to answer to in the process.
You’ll end up settling (and resenting)
If you let your loneliness win, odds are you’ll end up dating – or at least spending time with – someone who isn’t right for you. Your loneliness can mask all those reasons why the two of you won’t work. You’ll try to convince yourself that those reasons are easy to “get past” and that nobody is perfect. In the back of your mind, though, you know you’re settling (and your friends do too). If you don’t settle when it comes to your Saturday night restaurant of choice, why would you with someone you could potentially share a home, kid, and life with? Honestly.
It kills your game
If you do actually find yourself into someone, acting out of loneliness can kill your game, ultimately putting you in a position of lower status when it comes to that new crush or budding summer fling. You may message again when he or she hasn’t replied to your last text (and regret it immediately after you hit ‘send’). You may find yourself working around his or her schedule when you break existing plans to see them. You may also rush into an intense “insta-relationship” that has nowhere to go but downhill once you really get to know each other. If it doesn’t work out, you’re probably going to feel a lot lonelier than you do now.
The bottom line is that – just as we are able to control our emotional reactions in the workplace when it comes to things like emails – most singles need to recognize that feeling of loneliness for what it is and learn to control those fingers as they reach for the keypad. Of course, this brings me back to the quote: Love when you’re ready, not when you’re lonely. Repeat it if you need to.