How to Fix the Loneliness of Habitual Dating

We burst into laughter. We could barely breathe. The car was shaking—partly with pure bliss and partly because other cars were blazing past us. We crawled along the highway and finally passed a speed limit sign: 60 MPH. I glanced at my odometer and choked on a laugh before I announced: “We’re going 10!”

Yeah, we knew that her curfew was soon, but we wanted to milk every, last, second of this night together. So we decided we would go 10MPH on the highway all the way home.

After I dropped her off, returning home was always the hardest. As soon as she left, it felt like all excitement evaporated. I looked forward to these nights. I loved her laugh, and I loved the way her attention made me feel. I would have drove hours just for another dose of her affection.

girl mystery

When I parked the car in my driveway, all the emptiness set back in. I didn’t want to get out of the car and walk into a quiet house. I didn’t want to find my way through the dark to my bed, and I did not want to lay in bed and soak in the loneliness that flooded my mind every night. I tried to shut it out by dreaming of the next time I’d get to venture to her house and feel filled.

So every opportunity I got to be with her, I dodged just about everything else in my life—friends, practice, homework. Hanging with her made me feel exciting, adventurous, spontaneous, mysterious, and fun. She made me feel wanted, like I was enough, and that I was liked. I chased a high I found in her that I wasn’t getting anywhere else. So I dove in headfirst and abandoned everything else.

Most of us have chased that kind of high before too—latching on to the one person who makes us feel the best. We run after them for weeks, and we leave everything else behind. Some of us are still in those relationships today.

But all of us have felt the quiet consequence of this chase.

You see, what I didn’t realize as I went from girl-to-girl chasing the one who made me feel the best about myself is that I started to abandon all of my other friendships. My other friends couldn’t make me feel the way the next girl could, so I stopped spending time with them. What happened, however, is that I started to get addicted to this hollow sense of meaning. I based my day on how her texts made me feel, on how often her phone calls came in, on how genuinely I felt she liked me. I was starving for the next spike of thrill, and I let everything else sink.

man alone

Eventually, that relationship would go as quickly as it came, and I’d be left with less than what I started with. Because during that time, my friends started to find other friends and make other memories with them. And I missed out. I hadn’t spent time building any of my real relationships, and they started to fade. But then I felt guilty for having spent so much time away from them that I latched on to the next fling that made me feel better. I was chasing mountaintops I didn’t realize I’d have to fall to get back down from. The cycle went: high, crash, guilt; high, crash, guilt.

Eventually, I realized what I was doing wasn’t working. I felt worse about myself every night, and I got tired of feeling sad and lonely all the time, so I called a couple of my real friends. Even though I felt guilty, I asked them to hang out. And they said yes. I started to get involved again in their lives, and they did the same for me. I felt like I had people who cared for me when I was feeling like I didn’t matter. I had friends to call when the loneliness crept in. And honestly, that loneliness started to go away.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Don’t abandon romance, but abandon obsession that destroys your friendships” quote=”Don’t abandon romance, but abandon obsession that destroys your friendships”]

At some point, we all have to stop and evaluate: is what I’m doing actually working? I realized for me that chasing those spikes of thrill made me feel empty just as fast as it made me feel filled. So I stopped chasing shallow highs and started building relationships that actually satisfy. I stopped letting my life be swept away by the next girl that promised excitement, and I started investing in the friendships I knew would weather any storm. This isn’t to say we’re to abandon romance at large, but it is to say we’re to abandon obsession. We can’t let one relationship run the rest of our lives and put all of our friendships at a halt. I think if we make the conscious decision to trade height of feeling for the depth of relationship, we’ll find the real treasure love promises instead of the fool’s gold of flings.

 

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