They are, for example, ever wrapped up with the thought about why people don't like them. I have heard lonely people say that they think they have special interests that other people don't, or that other people are very judgmental. Jeffrey continued his thought: have lonely people ever thought that perhaps to have a friend, or partner, or spouse, you first have to be a friend/partner/spouse first? If you're constantly focused on your needs all the time then clearly people are going to get tired of you and leave.
Sometimes I believe that it is difficult for lonely folks to establish friendships. Sometimes there are social anxiety issues and it is really difficult to meet someone because of the fear of rejection, the fear of putting yourself out there and being turned down. Sometimes people have trust issues, having been betrayed in the past, they are more careful about trusting others and being open. To some degree, painful past experiences limit lonely people's ability to form new friendships.
"Fair enough," said Jeffrey, "but social anxiety or trust issues still revolve around the issue of selfishness. Because they are so focused on their own emotional stability and avoiding rejection and betrayal, they inevitably lock themselves into their own loneliness. Their selfish self-focus leads to their own imposed isolation."
Wow, that's pretty hash I thought, but certainly there is some truth to it. If we get too wrapped up in ourselves, it could inevitably lead to loneliness. It reminded me of this article based on a study that found those who over-value happiness put too much focus on themselves and in the end damage their relationships and their sense of well-being. Maybe by focusing on others and by trying to be a good friend first, we might have a better chance of forming a relationship.
But there are cases when some lonely folks try to be too good of a friend, they sacrifice their own needs and wants in order to try to build the relationship. I have also seen lonely folks who have a martyr complex, and they will do anything and everything for others at the expense of themselves. In the end, these relationships turn out to be one-sided and drain the lifeforce of the poor folks trying to be a good friend.
"Doesn't that poke a hole in your theory?" I asked Jeffrey, "here are folks being selfless and still ending up lonely."
Jeffrey thought about it a bit and incredulously he said, no, those folks as just as selfish. I was flabbergasted.
"How could they be just as lonely?" I asked.
"Well," Jeffrey said, "those folks are only nice to others because they think that if they are nice then the other person will be friends with them." But you just said that up above, I thought, to have a friend you have a be a friend. Jeffrey explained further that it was about being a friend, not about being likable. Everybody likes someone who is focused on them. But that's not necessarily being a friend. Being a friend means that you create a reciprocal relationship, you support your friend as much as your friend supports you, it's a two way street. The minute you make it a one-way street, you either become too demanding or don't also seek support, it becomes less about the other person and becomes all about you. Lonely folks with a martyr complex, deciding to provide all the support and not ask for any, are simply selfish individuals trying to force others into a friendship.
These are harsh words from Jeffrey. What do you think, are lonely folks really selfish?