I have been alone since June, 2009. This is a little longer hiatus than I wanted but I had trouble finding men who were available, interested in dating, and in addiction/mental health recovery. I saw hundreds of men at recovery conventions but neither they nor I was wearing a “I am single” sign. I joined online dating sites but found few men who didn’t respond to alcohol as drinking “a little”. An 18 pack a day can be a little to some drinkers. Beer drinkers especially are funny. They can’t have a problem because they only drink beer. Doesn’t beer have alcohol?
So I have created a forum for people in recovery who are interested in dating one another. I have built it around friendship because I believe friendship is the foundation for all lasting relationships. I have also added 60+ areas of interests/hobbies so in developing friendships, the forum members can share similar interests.
For another perspective about taking a hiatus, I added a post from Paging Dr. Nerdlove:
Being Alone Doesn’t Mean Being Miserable
Loneliness sucks. I totally get that. I’m an extrovert; I need to be around people otherwise I start getting twitchy and depressed. But I’m an extrovert who’s gotten very good at being alone. I didn’t used to be. I grew up with a twin brother1, so even when I was in my room reading or farting around on the primitive excuses we had for computer networks2 there were other people around. But once we hit high-school and weren’t forcibly joined at the hip… well suddenly he’s the popular guy on campus and I’m off in my own little world and rapidly running out of oxygen. I didn’t have many friends and spent far more time cooped up in my room, feeling sorry for myself than you’d believe. I was profoundly lonely and miserable. My few abortive attempts at dating were beyond comedically laughable. I mean, how do you end up with someone cheating on you before you’re even actually dating? College was in some ways worse. I had a tight group of friends… but if I wasn’t with them, the emptiness would return, somehow all the worse for knowing my friends were out there. I wanted us to be the sort of friends who did everything together because… well, frankly, being alone would drive me crazy.
It was only after I moved to a new city where I didn’t know anyone that I started learning how to separate “being alone” from “being lonely”… and a lot of that meant learning to appreciate my own company. Not necessarily in the sense of “yay, thank god all those annoying people are gone so I can read”, but in the sense of recognizing that it was ok to be alone. It didn’t mean I was broken. It didn’t mean I was deficient. Going out to lunch or dinner with only a book for company didn’t mean that there was something wrong with me, it meant that I was hungry and didn’t feel like cooking. I might have gotten some pitying looks from the waitstaff, but hey… they didn’t know me and I didn’t know them so hell with ‘em. Plus: I had a book. Books are awesome.
The problem isn’t “being alone”, it’s the baggage that we assign to it. The difference between loneliness and solitude is subjective; you can be lonely while surrounded by people or feel content with having some “me” time. That feeling of loneliness comes from the sense that we need other people around because we’re not sufficient in and of ourselves. Yeah, we’re pack animals and we’ve got an instinctual drive to live in social groups… but we’re also individuals and we have to be comfortable with being on our own.
A Relationship Isn’t A Magical Cure
One thing I see a lot in people who are miserable being single is the idea that a relationship is going to somehow make everything better. They don’t get much farther than “get a girlfriend” or “get a boyfriend” and somehow… they’re going to just be better people. They’ll be more confident, better looking, more driven, just… better, as though a relationship was somehow an upgrade to your life’s OS.
“Before we got together I was wallowing in my own filth. Thanks to Relationship 2.0, I’ve suddenly developed social skills, a personality and the ability to do parkour!”
Except that never happens. Being in a relationship doesn’t change anything except maybe how you spend your free time. If you were insecure before you were dating somebody, you’re going to keep being insecure; hell, now that you have something to lose, it could get worse. Having a girlfriend may make you feel more confident… for a moment. Then something is going to happen to you and knock Dumbo’s magic feather out of your hand and unless you’ve also been working on your personal issues, you’re going to go right back to the mess you were beforehand.
If you’re hoping that finding a relationship is going to change things for you aside from giving you companionship – and many of you are, even if you can’t admit it to yourselves – then you’re going to disappoint yourself at best and make things even harder on yourself.
I hate using cliches and “inspirational” quotes that look great over artsy photos of the seashore, but there’s one by Ru Paul that’s absolutely appropriate: “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell can you love anyone else?” It’s cool to want to be around other people, but when you’re making yourself miserable because you don’t have one specific person with which to do everything, you’re going to make it that much harder on yourself. Expecting one person – or even a small group – to be responsible for your emotional well-being is an absurd level of pressure to put on others and it’s unfair to boot. Most folks have a hard enough time managing their own lives. Expecting them to be responsible for yours – even a portion of it – is unfair and it’s going to push them away.