Ask Dr. Zoe — I’m Lonely and Feel Like the Black Sheep; What Do I Do?
(Listen to the audio version of this article here._
Good Evening, I’m going through slight depression and I feel lonely. I moved from NYC with my son and don’t know many people. I have a few friends and I actually have a boyfriend, but I want him to do more with me. My older sister says I want him to fill my voids.
I do activities with my son so he won’t feel lonely. I overthink, assume, and think the worst of things. If my boyfriend can’t make something and it happen more than once, I think the worst of him at times, and I feel like every time we try to go out he won’t make it.
He’s treats me good and he’s trying but this kind of relationship is new to him. I’m trying to be patient but I’m not at times. Even with my family, I’ve been feeling like the black sheep and not wanted. I want to seek counseling—how can I approach this issue with myself?
Dr. Zoe Answered:
It’s expected that when we have a big life transition, that we lean on what is familiar a little more. It may be that when you moved from NYC, you and your boyfriend had different expectations for how your relationship would look. We often don’t voice our expectations and are hurt when they aren’t met.
Your boyfriend makes up the majority of your social circle there. It may be a hard truth that you are expecting him to meet all of your social needs.
He can’t. No one person can. I think you know this.
So, that means that it’s up to you. But first, let’s get clear about what needs he can meet and which he can’t.
You and your boyfriend would benefit from a conversation about each of your needs in this season of your relationship and respective lives.
An excellent way to start this would be to say:
“I recognize that since I haven’t formed my own social circle here yet, that I lean on you more than is healthy. I don’t want to do that. I do need some support because I am feeling lonely, but I would like to come to an agreement about my expectations and yours so that we are on the same page. I want us to both feel seen and valued in this relationship.”
Be clear with him about your expectations. Ask him to share his needs as well. Both of you can tell the other which ones you feel you can meet and which ones you can’t.
It sounds like you have a history of feeling unwanted in relationships, so I do agree with you that you could benefit from talking to someone about it, especially since you are experiencing depression.
The best way to approach these issues on your own is through your self-talk. Create some affirmations to use when you begin to make up stories about his or your family’s lack of interest in you. Remind yourself that you are loved and valued and your needs matter. Remind yourself that it is not anyone else’s responsibility to meet all of your needs and if they don’t, it doesn’t mean that they don’t love you. Remind yourself that you are good enough and capable of being happy.
Be intentional about expanding your social circle, which can feel hard when you’re not feeling good about yourself. (Check out my answer here on how to make friends as an adult). The more you have going on in your life, the less you will need him to meet all your needs.
You’ve got this! It just takes a little grit and grace.