Loneliness does not necessarily mean being alone, no it goes far deeper. It is a feeling of alienation from your society. The loss of a kindred spirit or a soul mate. In other words, a real friend, one you could talk to without reservation, one you could open your heart to, without fear of being misunderstood, or betrayed. Loneliness is the feeling of always keeping the mask on, of maintaining the facade, of showing the world in general the side that you feel is the safest, as it won’t leave you vulnerable.
This is a vicious circle. If you do not open yourself up, you will never get the chance to bond and form a true friendship or a mutually satisfying relationship. Yet the feeling of self preservation is very strong, especially in people who have been hurt or betrayed previously. It takes a great deal of moral courage to open up after being hurt. But that strong yearning for human bonding is very strong, it is even instinctual. The grouping – physically – of animals, birds and fish into herds, flocks or schools is a manifestation of this attempt at bonding. With animals it is mainly for protection, but with humans it is more complex. There is an even deeper need for communication. There is a need to feel kindred, a meeting of minds, or a unity of souls, that two people are on the same wavelength, that they understand one another, that they have “rapport”.
A shared sense of humor, shared appreciation of certain music or art form, shared political views or love of country, shared love of certain authors or social views, shared background or education, all are steps towards bonding. The deeper the sharing, the stronger the bond, the more these individuals feel happier and more secure in finding a kindred spirit. It means harmony of thought, understanding and trust. It does not necessarily mean that there are no differences or arguments, that there are no differing opinions or clashing ideas, but the underlying feeling is that of appreciation and fondness, of trust and respect.
With the natural progression of such relations, a stronger bond develops. The deeper the bond the further the relationship progresses, the truer the friendship. There is no place in such a relationship for any kind of subterfuge. If such a relationship is tainted by even a hint of an ulterior motive, or with envy or jealousy, the structure collapses. Good natured competition is something else, it could be one of the tools that augment friendships and solidifies them. Friendship is the most precious of human relationships, even more precious than a love relationship. Many a game is played in a love relationship, but with friendship total honesty and pure unselfishness is the basis, a total trust of both parties.
Not only is trust a cornerstone of such a relationship, but more importantly is mature understanding. With understanding comes appreciation of individual idiosyncrasies and hang-ups. With mature understanding of these human frailties comes allowances for them in ourselves and in others, and it is here that fondness comes in. For with each of our faults, we become dearer to those who originally feel akin to us. They become endearing qualities that we enjoy accommodating because of our basic fondness for that individual.
Loneliness is the inability to bond with anybody. The inability to feel fond of someone, or laugh with someone, or even be silly with someone. Loneliness is alienation from humankind. This could become such a dangerous state for humans, we see the results in sudden violent acts by individuals who are later described as “loners”. Quite often introverts are mistaken for loners, but there is a world of difference. An introvert is not alienated by his surrounding society, but is one who prefers an internal to an external conversation. Yet they do communicate, though rarely, with their surroundings. They just do not reveal much of their inner thoughts or feelings to others, therefore forming deep bonds are even more difficult for them. The opposite is not necessarily true, that extroverts could not suffer from loneliness. An extrovert could appear to have full relationships with many people but could have a running parallel internal life of feeling alienated. The human psyche is very complex.
For a healthy emotional and mental life, a balance must be struck. The giving and the taking. If this is upset, the relationship suffers. It takes intelligence to nurture a relationship, it takes generosity of spirit, and very basic kindness. Without these crucial elements a relationship suffers, and starves to death. Friendships develop out of rapport, mutual liking, understanding, shared interests and a basic generosity of feelings, of giving. Intelligence and maturity come in when individual hang-ups clash. When human flaws are met with mature understanding and intelligently allowed, a friendship is cemented. Unlike a love relationship where feelings cause a pendulum effect, from one extreme to another, friendship is more even keeled and far more stable and solid. That is why it is said that a love relationship based on friendship has a much better solid basis than one based on pure emotion, or worse still, on physical attraction alone.
To my way of thinking, loneliness is a most painful state, the cure of which is love through kindness and inclusiveness. It has to be a two sided effort though. One side alone cannot achieve such a relationship without the active participation of the other party. It takes effort, time and care to ensure the healthy development of an embryonic relationship into a beautiful, strong, healthy friendship. The resultant relationship is one that lasts a lifetime, despite separations, absences, and sometimes misunderstandings. The basic solidity of such friendships is one of the most enduring relationships, and one of the most satisfying and rewarding.