Updated: Jan 23
“The most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved.” –Mother Teresa
When you think of the word ‘loneliness’, one can imagine someone isolated—without company, without friends, no one around. Yet there are many people who experience a sense of loneliness, even when surrounded by people, with family members, or even with a significant other. Many times, people will report they have no idea why they are feeling lonely or may even feel guilt about having these feelings.
There is not just one single cause for loneliness. It may arise for various reasons including losing a loved one, feeling misunderstood, lacking common interests with those around you, financial issues, adjusting to new changes in your life, etc. Loneliness can cause people to feel unwanted, rejected, and even unloved.
There are different types of loneliness including emotional, social, and existential. It can also be situational or chronic; severe or mild. Everyone experiences loneliness differently, and no one is immune from it.
Emotional loneliness refers to the absence of a close attachment or meaningful relationship with a significant other. This can be experienced while single or within a relationship, such as when one feels disconnected from a partner.
Social loneliness is described as a lack of social contacts and having few people to interact with regularly. This may arise from unwanted social isolation, despite efforts to connect with others and make meaningful relationships.
Existential loneliness refers to sensing a lack of meaning or wholeness within your life. It often manifests as a feeling that something is missing, yet perhaps you cannot figure out what exactly it is.
Some ways that you can overcome feelings of loneliness include:
1) Join MeetUp.com and either find local MeetUps based on your common interests or create your own MeetUp! This site offers a great way to form connection and community through shared interests and common goals.
2) Join a gym and start taking classes. You may need to go out of your comfort zone on this one and try out a new workout class. These classes are a great way to meet other people who can eventually become accountability partners and supportive relationships.
3) Pick up a new hobby. Sometimes lack of self-esteem can get in the way of us trying something new, but if you have had any inkling of interest in something lately—now may be the time to try it out and possibly make a friend or two in the process. From photography to knitting—many local colleges and rec centers offer a plethora of courses to get involved in.
1) If you are in a committed relationship and you are feeling emotional loneliness, it may be a good idea to find a couples’ therapist that can help you both work through disconnection and unhealthy communication patterns.
2) Tired of the single life? Try a dating app. Welcome to 2023, where research shows that over one in four couples have met online. There are many apps to meet other singles in your area, download a few and find one that works best for you!
3) Try a couples’ retreat. If you are in a relationship and that spark seems to be fizzling, perhaps a weekend away may re-ignite the passion. There are many options for a couples’ retreat, including religious and non-religious. Search your local area to find one that is right for you.
1) Join a church. If you feel like there may be a spiritual lacking in your life, it may be beneficial for you to start exploring some spiritual options. Connect with a few local churches, try different faiths, find what feels right for you and reach out to other members within the community.
2) Start exploring your values. Lack of purpose and meaning can arise from a build up of habits, actions, and routines that are not in alignment with our values. What are you doing every day that is value-driven and coming from your authentic self? You may need to shift around your priorities and start changing a few things.
3) Learn to spend quality time with yourself. Explore your interests, start volunteering, take time to travel. Learn what things you are truly passionate about in life and make time to explore these avenues. By spending quality time with ourselves, we may learn what motivates us, what hinders us, and what hard truths we need to uncover and work through.
If you are experiencing loneliness and you feel stuck, please reach out to us at 253 Therapy and Consult. As always, we are here for you!