My biggest fear is birds that’s what I tell people who ask me “THAT” question. While it’s true that I have a major fear of birds it’s not my biggest fear. That would be loneliness. That I may end up dying alone. I am an only child, and I am single. The questions go through my mind constantly what happens when my parents are both gone? I’ll be alone, what happens if I never find a life partner? I’ll be alone, what happens when all my friends are married? I’ll be alone. These are very real fears for me, and I’m sure they are for a lot you as well.
Being alone and being lonely aren’t the same. Loneliness feels draining, distracting, and upsetting; desired solitude feels peaceful, creative, restorative.
It’s important to realize why we feel lonely, because only then can we see how we might address it. Loneliness cuts across all ages and socioeconomic groups, affecting people who live alone but also those who don’t. Millionaires, celebrities, senior citizens, teens – no one is immune.
According to Psychology Today, there are 7 types of Loneliness:
7 Types of Loneliness
- New-situation loneliness
You’ve moved to a new city where you don’t know anyone, or you’ve started a new job, or you’ve started at a school full of unfamiliar faces. You’re lonely.
- I’m-different loneliness
You’re in a place that’s not unfamiliar, but you feel different from other people in an important way that makes you feel isolated. Maybe your faith is really important to you, and the people around you don’t share that — or vice versa. Maybe everyone loves doing outdoor activities, but you don’t — or vice versa. It feels hard to connect with others about the things you find important. Or maybe you’re just hit with the loneliness that hits all of us sometimes — the loneliness that’s part of the human condition.
- No-sweetheart loneliness
Even if you have lots of family and friends, you feel lonely because you don’t have the intimate attachment of a romantic partner. Or maybe you have a partner, but you don’t feel a deep connection to that person.
- No-animal loneliness
Many people have a deep need to connect with animals. If this describes you, you’re sustained by these relationships in a way that human relationships don’t replace. While I love my dog Barnaby, I don’t feel this myself — but many people feel like something important is missing if they don’t have a dog or cat (or less conveniently, a horse) in their lives.
- No-time-for-me loneliness
Sometimes you’re surrounded by people who seem friendly enough, but they don’t want to make the jump from friendly to friends. Maybe they’re too busy with their own lives, or they have lots of friends already, so while you’d like a deeper connection, they don’t seem interested. Or maybe your existing friends have entered a new phase that means they no longer have time for the things you all used to do — everyone has started working very long hours, or has started a family so that your social scene has changed.
- Untrustworthy-friends loneliness
Sometimes, you get in a situation where you begin to doubt whether your friends are truly well-intentioned, kind, and helpful. Your “friends” with people but don’t quite trust them. An important element of friendship is the ability to confide and trust, so if that’s missing, you may feel lonely, even if you have fun with your friends.
- Quiet-presence loneliness
Sometimes, you may feel lonely because you miss having someone else’s quiet presence. You may have an active social circle at work, or have plenty of friends and family, but you miss having someone to hang out with at home — whether that would mean living with a roommate, a family member, or a sweetheart. Just someone who’s fixing a cup of coffee in the next room or reading on the sofa.
Here are some ways to prevent loneliness:
- Recognize that loneliness is a sign that something needs to change.
- Understand the effects that loneliness has on your life, both physically and mentally.
- Consider doing community service or another activity that you enjoy. These situations present great opportunities to meet people and cultivate new friendships and social interactions.
- Focus on developing quality relationships with people who share similar attitudes, interests, and values with you.
- Expect the best. Lonely people often expect rejection, so instead focus on positive thoughts and attitudes in your social relationships.
“The most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved.”
Karen is a great listener and a solid shoulder to lean on. She has a degree in History and English and a diploma in Counselling Skills. She struggles with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Depression. She understands the importance of having someone to talk to about your struggles. She loves singing, researching her genealogy, cheering for her favorite hockey teams, swimming, hiking and spending time with friends.
You can follow Karen on Twitter.