Img 1

Feeling lonely is human

Loneliness is central to being human. In many ways, there is no escaping it. Just like having a negativity bias is very human, we also tend to feel alone in our own skin periodically, whether we are actually alone or not. When loneliness becomes persistent, chronic or unshakeable is when it becomes problematic and can begin to significantly impact our mental and even physical health, contributing to the development of depression, anxiety or causing problems in our relationships or at work. It is important to understand that loneliness is not social isolation (though social isolation can certainly contribute to feelings of loneliness), it is the perceived state of feeling alone, which can occur around people and even within partnerships. In order to better understand loneliness, I will highlight 3 types of loneliness that have been identified in studies, and those are: Intimate, Social and Collective Loneliness. As I have spoken of previously, each of these forms of loneliness include elements of Ordinary Loneliness; that feeling that we are disconnected due to something lacking in us.



Intimate Loneliness

Intimate loneliness is generally described by experts as the perceived absence of deep, meaningful connection to other people, whether that is in partnership or friendship. This is usually someone we can rely on for emotional support during crises, who provides mutual assistance, and who affirms one’s value as a person. This type of loneliness can contribute to self doubt, low self esteem and also depression. Inversely, low self esteem or lack of healthy self esteem can reinforce this type of loneliness. When we feel badly about ourselves and unworthy of love, it can be hard to allow meaningful and deep connections to develop.

Social Loneliness

Social loneliness is generally thought of as the absence of a broad social network of friends, neighbors or work colleagues. These are generally people who can provide another type of connection, but also quite a valuable one. With the COVID 19 pandemic we have seen an increase in social loneliness across the board, but studies have found that young adults have been particularly hard. Just like intimate loneliness, the experience of this can be a self fulfilling prophecy—the more we feel disconnected socially, the harder it is to feel confident in ourselves to build social connections.


Collective Loneliness

Collective loneliness refers to an even broader network or community of identification with others that can be missing. For example, a community of people one has a shared interests with, like school communities, sports, work/vocational, perhaps political or spiritual. A community of people who shares a mission with you. Collective loneliness shows up as not feeling valued in any of these collective areas.

How to know when to ask for support

Signs that you could benefit from some support with your loneliness:

  • You just can’t seem to shake it. It just keeps coming back, even when you engage socially, or practice other self care strategies.

  • If you find yourself blaming yourself for your loneliness, this is a sure sign that you deserve support and could be heading towards more serious concerns, like depression.

  • You simply are tired of feeling this way and want some relief.


Connection to self

Reducing loneliness has many layers, but starts with connecting to ourself to both know ourselves and what our needs and limitations are, and also to love and accept ourselves just as we are. Only then can we be fully loved and accepted by others. If you are struggling with loneliness, I encourage you to consider asking for support with this either from a loved one, or a professional who can support and guide you in this area.

Remember, you are not alone. You have you.



Are you wondering if loneliness has got you down? Reach out for a free consultation to see how therapy can help.