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Ditch Mr. Lonely, you deserve a love that’s better

Are you holding out for a fantasy?

Are you holding out for a fantasy?

by Karen Kreps

Does the symbol of Cupid’s arrow strike a chord in you? Do you associate love and romance with pain and longing? Too many of us do.

I’ll bet you’ve been dating Mr. Lonely. You know whom I’m talking about: the guy who occupies your thoughts but who always lets you down on some level and leaves you feeling lonely. If you’re counting on him for chocolates, flowers and great sex on Valentine’s Day, you’ll be in for disappointment. Yet you keep on hoping that, this year, things will be different, that he’ll finally get the message you’ve been sending him and respond appropriately.

Ditch him! Don’t waste another precious night pampering the fantasy that he’s good for you. Mr. Lonely is the anti-Valentine.

That guy can’t be trusted. He sleeps with everyone. I have gone to bed with him on more than one occasion, and I haven’t met a gal who hasn’t at least flirted with him. That dirty cur wouldn’t be sniffing around at your panties if you weren’t doing something to encourage him. Stop singing those torch songs. What do you find attractive about him? That he makes you feel? Don’t you know that feeling emotional pain and rejection only has one lasting effect: It numbs you.

How did we ever fall for him? The causes could be many.

Blame it on some old beau who long ago left you but for whom you never stopped pining. It may even trace back to a girl’s unrequited love for her father.  We associate our attachment to an unavailable guy with romance and obsess about him with the loyalty that deservedly belongs to a man who can handle commitment. Instead, our emotional attachment to Mr. Lonely may trap us in the past. We strongly identify with the rejection we experienced and we ruminate on the story, replaying it like an old record. We expect the next guy we meet to be no different from the one who did us wrong. Listening to these old albums may cause us to be remote and miss the experience of true love from someone really nice, who isn’t the least bit like him.

This foible of human behavior is described by Eckhart Tolle in one of his bestselling books, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, as the function of the pain-body: “The remnants of pain left behind by every strong negative emotion that is not fully faced, accepted, and then let go of join together to form an energy field that lives in the very cells of your body.”

Women aren’t the only victims of Mr. Lonely. He has a female counterpart. Ms. Lonely can be a real bitch. She is a narcissist, all wrapped up with her self. Should she pay any attention to you, it’s to cast judgment. She’ll cut you down to size and snub you at a party because you not rich enough, strong enough or sufficiently handsome to merit her affection. Tolle writes that the pain-body feeds on negativity, “The pain-body that is ready to feed can use the most insignificant event as a trigger, something somebody says or does, or even a thought.”

Mr. and Ms. Lonely usually haunt singles, but they may also sneak into the marital bed, summoned there by your pain-body. You may have married your Dream Lover only to awake one morning next to someone who doesn’t understand you and who refuses to meet your expectations, leaving you to feel lonely even in your marriage.

John T. Cacioppo and William Patrick demonstrate in Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection how loneliness creates a feedback loop that reinforces social anxiety, fear and other negative feelings. By learning more about what underlies this experience, then learning to reframe their response, lonely individuals can reverse the feedback loop, overcome fear and find ways to reconnect.

So what can we do to slam the door on Mr. Lonely and to open our hearts and arms to someone more deserving of our love? I, for one, would start by giving myself the respect and attention I wanted but, in times past, didn’t get from that jerk. I can set an example for others by being gentle and sweet with myself. Then I can think about how to share the warm fuzzies with someone who will appreciate them.

When I feel solid in myself, positive about whom I am and what I can accomplish, I know I’m more attractive to others. I’ll draw others who see me as I see myself and the feedback loop becomes much more rewarding.

Having positive experiences about myself and others, I may even go on a rampage of appreciation and express to my partner the very kind of thoughts Mr. Lonely never voiced: “You are the greatest friend. Your touch fills me with delight. Your stories make me smile and I laugh when I’m with you. You do so many thoughtful things to help me out. I feel secure in your company and want to spend more time there. I trust you, and you can count on me to be there for you when you need a friend.”

In her humorous and life-affirming book, Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting: the astonishing power of feelings, Lynn Grabhorn writes that we can free ourselves from the chain of pain if we stop trying to fix what we see as wrong in others. “If we can find something—anything—to appreciate about them, and plant the seeds of potential new growth about them with our positive vibrations, we open up a chance for change.”