One of the most painful parts of being single isn’t really the loneliness. At least, not in my experience. It’s being a loving person feeling like we have all this love with nowhere for it to go. We feel like we have so much to offer someone else, and yet there isn’t someone else receiving the love we have to give.
But there’s always somewhere for love to go. We can get so focused on not having a plus-one by our sides that we often discount the other relationships in our lives. The family members. Our friends. Our pets. All the people who make up our support system. That’s love, too, even if it isn’t the romantic kind.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting the romantic kind, too. In fact, it’s perfectly normal to feel the desire for a partner. There’s not exactly a replacement for this, although the Hallmark Channel does an outstanding job of allowing me to live vicariously through their romances. When what we want is a significant other and what we have to give is romantic love, it can seem like nothing else will satisfy that need.
That doesn’t mean we have to keep all that love inside waiting for the person who will one day claim it. Love is a renewable resource. We can give as much of it as we like, and it doesn’t run out. Instead of holding all of our love inside and hoarding it for “The One,” we can start to give it away.
In fact, I would even venture to say that giving it away is the healthiest thing we can do. That way, when the right person comes along, we’re not spewing out all of our unspent love and scaring the hell out of them in the process with all of our pent-up needs. We’ll have plenty of love to give, but we won’t necessarily feel like we’re going to combust by the time someone arrives to share it with us.
The other night I was feeling love for someone who is no longer a part of my life. Usually, that feeling causes me suffering, but I was in no mood to suffer- not that I ever am really. I wanted it out, and I wanted to get it out in a healthy way.
Instead of dwelling on the past and hoarding that love, I thought of that person. I held that image in my mind, and I imagined sending my love out in a warm embrace of positive feeling. I sent it out in hopes that he felt loved, cared for, and content wherever he was, doing whatever he was doing, no matter who he might be with now. I repeated the mantra I often repeat for forgiveness work and releasing attachments:
May you be well. May you be happy. May you be free from suffering.
In doing so, I felt free from suffering. I went to sleep with a clear mind and a light heart. It doesn’t always work so easily, but I have committed to spending more time sending love out than keeping it in.
I need this for my own health and well-being, and I need it to heal from the things that have caused me harm. I have so much love to give, and even though I don’t have a significant other, it doesn’t mean that I can’t give that love away.
As a matter of fact, there are innumerable ways we can give our love out when we feel it overwhelming us. Here are just a few ideas we can start with to take the love we feel and give it to the world:
We can donate to a good cause.
Instead of thoughts and prayers, we can donate however much we can afford to a cause we believe in. With recent natural disasters making front-page news, we can always donate money or supplies to help the victims in their recovery. Even if all we have to give is $1, it’s $1 more than what they had before. Imagine how much it could help if everyone gave their $1 because they felt that it could help.
If this doesn’t feel like sending love, I think the recipients of those gifts would say differently. It’s a very loving thing to do to reach out and help people we don’t even know because we feel compassion for them.
We can give our time.
Donating our time in the form of volunteer work is a loving act. It doesn’t have to be a soup kitchen or other homeless shelter. It could mean giving our time at an animal shelter, library, or community center. We could read to the elderly or entertain children at a hospital. We could offer to cut the grass for a neighbor who isn’t feeling well or run an errand for a single parent. We could be the ride for cancer patients to get to treatment or pick up litter at a local park.
When we need to get out the love, there are so many organizations desperate for volunteers to help with the cause. Altruism also has the side benefit of giving us an endorphin boost, although we can certainly argue that true altruism requires no side benefit. Still, it’s nice to feel good for doing a loving thing.
We can make someone’s day.
I love random acts of kindness with all of my happy heart. Making someone’s day might mean paying them a genuine compliment. It might mean offering a smile and asking how they’re doing and actually caring to hear the answer. It might mean letting someone go ahead of you in line because they’re in a hurry or struggling with kids or letting someone out in traffic when it’s safe to do so. It might mean opening a door for someone or paying for the order behind you in the drive-thru.
Being kind is priceless, and it’s a way to get out some of this love we have inside.
We can give of ourselves in a measurable way.
While some people are squeamish about needles, donating blood or plasma is a great way to help others. Plasma donations will even net you a little side income. We can sign up to be an organ donor. Even donating eggs or sperm can help some other couple start a family. These aren’t small gifts. Even a few minutes spent giving blood can be the actual difference between life and death for someone. We don’t have to know the recipient to do a loving thing for them.
We can practice gratitude.
A handwritten note, homemade cookies, or even a thank you card can all be great ways to practice gratitude to the people in our lives. It doesn’t have to be people in our inner circle. It could be to those who provide a service to us or to our communities. Think firefighters, utility workers, mail carriers, police officers, nurses, dental assistants, cashiers, teachers, and the many other people who play a role in our communities and are often under-appreciated.
We can say thank you and mean it, or we can let them know in other ways that they are valued.
We can make a care package.
Care packages are fun and easy to customize. We can make care packages for the homeless to keep in our vehicles. We can make a get-well-soon care package for the people in our lives we love and appreciate. We can send care packages to service members who may not make it home to share the holidays with their loved ones. We can send care packages to nieces, nephews, and other children in our lives whose days would be made with a surprise in the mail.
It doesn’t have to be an expensive care package. It also doesn’t have to be ordinary; Pinterest gives us a variety of ideas of how to send unusual packages (like a ball or cup) in the mail to cheer someone up.
We can meditate and send out love.
Whatever preconceived ideas we might have about meditation, it really is for everyone. If we can take that love and send it out in the form of positive energy and well wishes for someone else, where’s the harm in that? It helps us feel good, and it’s a beautiful thing to send out thoughts of love and kindness to others.
We can say I love you.
Maybe we don’t have romantic attachments. It doesn’t mean we can’t tell the other people in our lives that we love them. We can put it in a letter or simply give them a call or send a text. Saying I love you is important, and we can never say it enough. It’s the simplest way of all to get some of that love out.
We don’t have to keep all of our love inside and let it be something that brings us a feeling of pressure because we want to be able to shower it on someone else. It’s a healthy and beautiful thing to practice love, even if we’re not in a relationship. In fact, even if we are in a romantic relationship, we can still be doing all of the above things to share our abundant love with others.
Love shouldn’t feel like a burden, and there are so many people out there who could use a little love (and its accompanying light). We think love is just for romantic love stories, and we forget that all this love we have to give is needed right now.
So, let’s go out there and make someone’s day. Let’s pay the love forward and watch the ripple effect of being a loving person in a world that sometimes feels more like a struggle than peace.
Just think what it might look like if every person sent their love out. It might be even more powerful than a million people giving $1 because it’s all they had to give. Just imagine what our world could look like if we realized that our love, like our money, actually counted.