6 Little Things To Try If You’re Lonely (Before Joining Another Dating App)

The answer to loneliness is not always dating.

Woman having a friend date, things to try if you're lonely Jacob Lund | Canva

Dating apps seem to offer a straightforward solution to loneliness. If we’re feeling alone, all it takes is a few clicks to gain the illusion of connection. In a short time, we could even find ourselves having a conversation of sorts with another human being. If we’re lucky, they might be able to hold an amusing dialogue without immediately interjecting innuendos or launching outright propositions.


But I know how that ends — at least, for me. I download the app. I try to create a thoughtful profile that reflects who I am and not some aspirational version of myself. I start swiping. Sometimes, I don’t even make it to the conversation before I feel discouraged. Other times, I get as far as a conversation or two before being quickly reminded why I hate, loathe, and despise the culture of online dating.

Here’s what doesn’t happen: I don’t end up feeling less alone. Even knowing that I’m hardly the only person in the Universe swiping left and right so hard my fingers cramp, I still have an ache in me that isn’t satisfied. Online dating seems like a straightforward solution to loneliness when it’s just a distraction from it — and a poor one at that.


I’ve decided — after much trial and error — that the answer to loneliness is not dating. At the very least, it shouldn’t be our first answer. There are so many better options out there if we’re willing to consider them.

Here are 6 things to try if you’re lonely before joining another dating app:

1. Make friend dates

A couple of years ago, I got stood up for a date. We had a plan, and at the last minute, he stopped responding to messages. I knew he wasn’t going to show up and follow our plan for the evening, but I had a sitter booked for the night. So, I went out and called a friend. I proposed a friend date with my free evening out. I looked good, and I didn’t want to turn around and have a disappointing evening at home.

I ended up having a wonderful time. I saw a friend I don’t get to see often. We went out to dinner, shared a few laughs, and had an interesting conversation. There’s no guarantee my date would have gone so well — particularly as he ghosted me rather than reaching out to cancel our plans. I decided that sometimes the cure for loneliness isn’t a date with a stranger, but an evening spent with friends.

friends night out MDV Edwards / Shutterstock


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2. Book a therapy session

If we’re feeling particularly lonely, it’s possible that what we need is to book a therapy session, not create a new online dating profile. I’m not dismissing the need for companionship, but I can safely say, after a perusal of the online dating world, that more people could benefit from seeing a therapist regularly. Whether it’s to heal from past relationships or dispel outdated beliefs, it can improve our dating experiences to improve ourselves.

The truth is that finding a partner will not fix all our underlying problems. Another person cannot do that. But a therapist can help us identify our issues and work on them. They can also help us create stronger boundaries and learn more effective communication skills — essential tools in dating and relationships.

3. Try a pole dancing class

My therapist once challenged me to explore my sexuality and sensuality outside of relationships. There are many ways to do this, but one of these ways is to participate in a pole dancing fitness class. It can be strangely empowering to learn a dance simply for our benefit. In my experience, these classes are body-positive, accepting, and all about feeling good rather than simply looking good.


Maybe pole dancing isn’t available locally or isn’t the best fit for an individual, but I do think it’s important to explore sexual identity outside of our relationships. That could involve self-pleasure or trying a new adult toy for that purpose. The important thing is to make sure we aren’t letting our loneliness lead our decision-making. Using other people to make ourselves feel better is a slippery slope to other poor dating decisions.

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4. Adopt a pet

It doesn’t take an extensive dive into the research to see all the studies that show that having pets benefits our health. Of course, this doesn’t include wild animals that were never meant to be domesticated. It does, however, mean that adopting a dog, cat, fish, or other pet could help us feel lonely less often.

I have personal experience with this. I’ve got a bit of a zoo here — with a dog, four cats, and a flock of chickens. The chickens, of course, live outdoors, but the rest are indoor animals. I know not everyone would be okay with this many pets or this much responsibility, but I enjoy caring for things — whether that’s my garden or a living creature in my home. While it doesn’t prevent me from ever feeling lonely, it does help ease that experience.

@memydoodsandi Dogs our good for our heart and souls 🐾❤️ #doglove #goldendoodle #mentalhealth ♬ What a Wonderful World - Hana

5. Grow something

I understand that not everyone enjoys gardening or has a green thumb. However, I fully believe that there are other benefits to growing something than just reaping a harvest later. Gardening can be a lesson in faith, hope, and patience. When I put a seed in the ground, I know that I have to consistently water it and make sure that it gets plenty of sunlight. I learn about what it needs and adjust accordingly. I don’t just wait and hope things get better. I nurture it with the faith that it will grow if I do. Much patience is required, but the rewards are tremendous.

Becoming an avid gardener has helped me learn to be patient. It helps me hope and keep the faith that if I’m doing everything I can, it’s enough. I’m learning about my own self-care needs, but I also know that I can be sensitive and considerate of the needs of others. I’m going to have an amazing harvest in this growing season, and it serves as a good reminder that other good things may come, too. Research has also confirmed that gardening has many health benefits including reducing depression and anxiety, increasing self-esteem, and improving overall physical and mental health.

6. Accept the loneliness

Sometimes, we’re lonely … because we’re lonely. There’s no deeper meaning. It’s a very human experience even if it is one that we all hate. It doesn’t matter how positive and hopeful we are or how much work we do on ourselves. There is no escaping the fact that we will feel lonely at some point — and someone won’t always be around to make us feel better.


I woke up after dreaming of someone who was no longer in my life, and for a while that day, it made me feel lonely. For a brief time, I felt like I had someone who belonged with me. A soulmate. A companion. A partner in this thing called life. I know exactly what I’m missing now because I once had that feeling, and I lost it.

So, I get to be lonely from time to time. I get to be lonely even though most of the time I enjoy my own company and relish being single. I get to be lonely even though I have plenty of friends and pets. I get to be lonely even though I’ve done the necessary inner work — work that I continue to do.

I get to have that experience because I am a human being, and this is yet another feeling that I’m capable of having. It’s not a bad thing, but it is an uncomfortable one. It’s just a thing that will pass if we let it. So, I accept that loneliness is something that no amount of dating apps can entirely prevent. I stop asking them to distract me and start sitting with this discomfort.

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Life after dating apps

I’d be lying if I said I’d never again download an online dating platform. After all, I know myself too well, and sometimes, the temptation is there. I think that it will be different this time, even though it never is. I’ve become familiar with my loneliness because I’m starting to pay attention. When this heaviness hits, I don’t immediately try to hot potato it over to someone else to hold for me — preferably while they’re holding me. I just let it be.

It will pass. It always does. I remind myself that loneliness visited even when I was in a relationship. There’s no escaping it because it’s not chasing us. It’s just … there. I let it stay for a little while knowing that, soon, it will pass.

I don’t download another dating app. I don’t tell myself that I need to feel a different way. This time, I don’t shame myself for missing what’s gone. I just let loneliness fill me up until my eyes overflow with it. I let it be exactly what it is without expecting it to become something it’s not. I stop telling myself that a partner is the answer. I stop even asking questions.

It will pass. It does pass. No dating apps were downloaded. No texts were sent out like a lifeline to old connections. Nothing needs to be done. My life goes on as before.


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Crystal Jackson is a former therapist and the author of the 'Heart of Madison' series. Her work has been featured on Medium, Elite Daily, Thought Catalog, The Good Men Project, Elephant Journal, and Mamamia.