After losing my mother, I know how isolating and painful loneliness can be. Loneliness and hunger for affection can weigh you down, even turn into a more serious health condition. So I did not expect The Loneliness Cure to be warm and fuzzy, but rather hoped that it would at least not be overtly depressing and not cause me painful flashbacks and crying spells.
Luckily, after reading Kory Floyd’s book, I feel better, not worse.
Loneliness can stem from the death of a loved one, isolation, a feeling of disconnectedness, fear, a loss of identity, tragedy, uncertainty, spiritual discontent, illness. It can affect anyone. It can be temporary, fleeting, or an everyday occurrence causing you to reach out — or withdraw. It can be barely noticeable, or annoying, or it can knock you right over. It can even become an invisible, unwanted companion while you search for a real one.
Floyd, a professor of family and interpersonal communication at Arizona State University, has studied affection hunger, “the desire to have more affection than you receive,” for two decades. He shares his own personal experiences with feeling disconnected, showing that he understands loneliness from both a scholarly standpoint and a personal one. He is gentle to readers, and provides helpful tools for particular situations.
Before you begin to tackle affection hunger, you have to really understand what it is, why you have it, and what you need. Which means, in turn, you need patience, because you need to start at the beginning. I admittedly was tempted to start at part three of the book and just jump right into the descriptions of strategies, but am glad to report that patience prevailed. In the first part of the book, Floyd teaches us about affection hunger. Next, he provides a self-assessment exercise to help us determine our affection deprivation level. In part three — the part I wanted to skip right to — he finally has us roll up our sleeves and take appropriate action.
Floyd frequently encourages us to interact with the book. He provides questions, activities, and reflection prompts throughout each chapter, all of which make this a more engaging read. He also makes issues more relatable through case studies, and teaches techniques such as modeling behavior and cognitive reframing.
The patience I almost didn’t have to read the whole book also comes into play: Floyd reminds us that we need to practice patience with ourselves in our quest to receive more affection, and that we need to be patient with those we want to receive affection from, too. He gently instructs us to have realistic expectations, and to go after affection it in a safe, healthy manner.
This is a hard topic, but Floyd gets it, so to speak: He understands the frustration and pain that loneliness can bring. By the end of the book, I felt well informed and armed with strategies to make real connections, as the title suggests. Not only that, but Floyd leaves readers with reason to feel hopeful about present and future relationships — which, given how bottomless loneliness can feel, is no small task.
The Loneliness Cure: Six Strategies for Finding Real Connections in Your Life
Adams Media, May 2015
Paperback, 272 pages