When You Feel Really Lonely And Disconnected When You Don't Have Plans For A Few Days, Even Though Your Social Life Is Decent Overall

This is something that can happen to people who have struggled with loneliness and social awkwardness throughout their lives, especially as things start to improve and they begin having plans more often.

How it works is you have a decent social life. It may not be everything you want, but it's fairly good. You regularly spend time with friends, acquaintances, activity buddies, family, or co-workers. You may even see friends on more days of the week than not.

However, if you have a quiet few days without any social plans you quickly fall into feeling really lonely and disconnected. On a logical level you can tell yourself you have friends and a full enough social calendar, but emotionally you suddenly feel like an isolated loser who has no life.

Even if you're scheduled to see your buddies in a couple of days, in your gut you can have a sense you'll never hang out with anyone ever again. It's like a core part of you feels super lonely. It doesn't believe any of your friendships will last. Having a few days of plans can temporarily suppress or soothe those feelings, but if things get quiet those emotions come roaring back to the surface.

The feeling can also be triggered when you have no plans on certain days or times, like the weekends, Friday night, or during certain holidays. You may be fine with staying in for three evenings in a row during the work week, but get really down on yourself if you've got nothing going on during a Saturday.

The intensity of these feelings can catch you off guard and be really uncomfortable. Again, even though you logically know you have friends, at that moment you feel like a failure who's going to be alone forever.

There may be a kernel of truth to your dissatisfaction. Maybe your social life is decent on the whole, but you're a bit bummed because you mainly see your friends during the day, and don't have a group to go out with during the evenings. Or you have lots of people to do activities with, but could use more deep conversation. However, the strength of your emotions still seems magnified compared to what you should be feeling.

You may have already guessed it, but these intense, out of proportion feelings happen because an old wound around being lonely, disconnected, isolated, or unaccepted has been triggered. You're being thrown back into how you felt really isolated and hopeless in the past. It may be a clear time you can identify, such as when you didn't make any friends during your first two years of college, and felt the worst on the weekends when it seemed like everyone but you was having the time of their life with their dozen buddies. At the time you felt like a broken reject who would never crawl out of your hole. The feelings could also go back to a vaguer, longer lasting, harder to remember period, like how you generally felt misunderstood and neglected as one of five kids in a chaotic household.

How to reduce these feelings

There's no quick cure to these sudden descents into a painfully isolated, lonely headspace, but here are some things that can take the edge of shorter term, and chip away at it over the long haul:

Just knowing what's going on can give you a bit of distance from the tough emotions. They may still not be pleasant, but the knowledge can help you ride them out. You can remind yourself your social life is fine, but you've temporarily been catapulted back into an old mindset.

Short term it can also help to just make an effort to do something fun and memorable on your own, so you're not just hanging around at home feeling sorry for yourself. Like you could go for a hike or visit a local attraction. That can feel a bit forced, and a part of you may still wish you were doing things with friends, but overall I think it's better to be out there. Months from now you'll remember the interesting thing you did, while the memory of the lonely feelings will fade or blur together with all the other times it's happened.

Long term you can explore and resolve the old emotional wounds. When those are cleared you'll be able to look at and react to a quiet social stretch from a more grounded, objective place - "Eh, no one's around this weekend. It'll be kind of boring, but I'll find something to do. I clearly still have a good group of friends."

How to do that is beyond what this article can cover. This one may give you an idea of where you could start:

How To Emotionally Process The Upsetting Memories That Fuel Your Social Anxiety And Insecurities

If you're up for it, it could also be useful to set aside some time and let yourself feel your lonely feelings and explore them. You may be able to let an old emotion go, or gain some insight about where the feelings originate. For example, you may not totally be sure where your emotions are coming from, but if you use the Bridgeback technique, you could zero in on the earlier event they're tied to. This article explains it and some other tools:

Ways To Uncover The Unconscious Motivations That Are Holding You Back

It may also help to slowly plug any gaps in your social life, e.g., if you need more deep relationships and not just a bunch of party or gaming friends. Not having a big get together to go to on the weekend may not sting so much if you know you're getting your deeper needs for companionship meant.


Ways To Cope With Loneliness In The Moment