Toxic Loneliness

There’s a certain type of content that I see shared on social media which reflects what I consider to be a very unhealthy attitude: it’s what I call toxic loneliness. So what do I mean by this? Well, I’m sure most people will have seen things like it. Posts along the lines of “I spend all my time thinking of my old friends, but they never stop to think about me” or “I’m one of those people who gets forgotten as time goes by and my friends just move on” they’re surprisingly popular sorts of things.

I dislike this content for so many reasons. First of all, it suggests a strong victim complex from the poster. They don’t know that nobody ever thinks about them, they’re just convinced that nobody ever does, because they think lowly of themselves. Then there’s the sense of entitlement: they seem to think that just because they spend all their time thinking about old friends, they deserve to have those old friends constantly reaching out to them. But… are they making the effort to reach out themselves? No. These attitudes usually go hand in hand with people being unwilling to reach out to old friends because they’re so afraid of rejection. All this kind of content does, in my eyes, is come across as passive aggressive – as if the people posting it hope that their old friends will see it and reach out to them out of guilt… but that’s manipulative. That’s shouldn’t be a factor in any relationship.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand that loneliness can be very distressing. I remember feeling similarly around the time that I left university. Lots of friends moved around them and I didn’t really have anyone local to spend time with socially. But the thing is, if you convince yourself that your old friends have wronged you by not keeping in touch better, you’ll grow to resent them and then the friendship will never properly recover. It’s important to recognise that there are many reasons that people don’t stay in touch, most of which don’t mean anything bad and, if treated maturely, also don’t mean the end of a friendship. People also often make the false assumption that a friendship is over because they haven’t spoken to someone in a year or two… what they fail to consider is that forever is a long time. You never know when your paths may cross again and wouldn’t it be nicer for two old friends to meet again, without one of them resenting the other for not always making the effort and keeping in touch as much as they do?

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