18 Things People Get Completely Wrong About Loneliness

18 Things People Get Completely Wrong About Loneliness

Loneliness, that heavy feeling of isolation and disconnection, is a universal human experience. Yet, it’s often misunderstood and shrouded in misconceptions. Many people assume they know what loneliness is all about, but the reality is often far more complex and nuanced. It’s time to unravel the truth behind loneliness, to separate fact from fiction, and to shed light on the many ways it manifests in our lives.

1. Loneliness only affects certain types of people.

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One of the most pervasive myths about loneliness is that it only affects specific demographics, such as the elderly or those who are socially isolated. However, loneliness can touch anyone, Verywell Mind notes, regardless of age, social status, or personality type. Extroverts, introverts, young, old, married, single – anyone can experience feelings of loneliness at some point in their lives. It’s a universal human emotion that doesn’t discriminate.

2. Being alone automatically means you’re lonely.

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Solitude and loneliness are not synonymous. Many people enjoy spending time alone, engaging in solitary activities like reading, writing, or simply reflecting. Being alone can be a source of peace, rejuvenation, and self-discovery. Conversely, you can be surrounded by people and still feel profoundly lonely. Loneliness is not about the quantity of social interactions, but the quality of our connections and the feeling of being understood and valued.

3. Loneliness is a sign of weakness or personal failure.

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There’s a stigma associated with loneliness, often making people feel ashamed or embarrassed to admit they’re struggling. However, loneliness is not a character flaw or a sign of weakness. It’s a natural human emotion that signals a need for connection and belonging. Just like hunger or thirst, loneliness is a signal from our bodies and minds telling us something is amiss. Recognizing and addressing our feelings of loneliness is an act of self-awareness and strength, not a sign of failure.

4. Technology is the main culprit behind rising loneliness rates.

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While technology has undoubtedly changed the way we connect with people, it’s not the sole cause of increasing loneliness. While excessive screen time and social media comparisons can contribute to feelings of isolation, technology can also be a tool for fostering connection and community. Online platforms can provide support groups, virtual events, and opportunities to connect with people who share your interests. It’s all about finding a healthy balance and using technology mindfully.

5. Loneliness is a temporary feeling that will eventually go away on its own.

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For some, loneliness might be a fleeting emotion triggered by a specific event or circumstance. However, for others, it can be a chronic and pervasive feeling that lingers for extended periods. Chronic loneliness can have serious consequences for both mental and physical health, increasing the risk of depression, anxiety, cardiovascular disease, and even premature death. It’s important to take loneliness seriously and seek support if it’s impacting your well-being.

6. If you have a lot of friends, you can’t be lonely.

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Having a large social circle doesn’t necessarily immunize you against loneliness. The number of friends you have is less important than the quality of those friendships. You can have hundreds of acquaintances and still feel lonely if you lack deep, meaningful connections with people. It’s essential to cultivate relationships that are based on trust, mutual respect, and genuine emotional intimacy.

7. Only extroverts are good at combating loneliness.

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Both extroverts and introverts can experience loneliness, and both can find effective ways to combat it. While extroverts might find solace in social gatherings and group activities, introverts might prefer one-on-one interactions or solitary pursuits that foster a sense of connection and belonging. The key is to identify what works best for you and to find activities and relationships that fulfill your unique social and emotional needs.

8. Once you’re in a romantic relationship, loneliness disappears.

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While a loving and supportive relationship can certainly alleviate feelings of loneliness, it’s not a guaranteed cure, Time Magazine warns. Even in the context of a committed partnership, it’s possible to feel lonely if your emotional needs aren’t being met or if you feel misunderstood or disconnected from your partner. It’s important to communicate openly with your partner about your needs and to work together to create a relationship that fosters intimacy, understanding, and mutual support.

9. Loneliness is a choice, and people who are lonely are simply not trying hard enough to connect with other people.

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Loneliness is not a choice, and it’s certainly not a sign of laziness or a lack of effort. Many people who experience loneliness desperately want to connect with people but struggle to do so due to various factors, such as social anxiety, shyness, or life circumstances that limit their opportunities for social interaction. It’s important to recognize that loneliness can be a complex issue with no easy solutions.

10. Talking about loneliness will only make it worse.

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While it might feel uncomfortable to talk about loneliness, opening up to trusted friends, family members, or a therapist can be incredibly therapeutic. Sharing your feelings can help you feel less alone, reduce shame and stigma, and gain valuable insights and support. Remember, you’re not alone in this, and talking about it can be a crucial step towards healing and connection.

11. Busy people don’t have time to be lonely.

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A packed schedule and a whirlwind of activity can mask feelings of loneliness, but it doesn’t eliminate them. Loneliness can creep in even when you’re surrounded by people or engaged in various activities. It’s important to distinguish between being busy and feeling truly connected. Even the busiest people need to prioritize meaningful social interactions and make time for self-reflection to address any underlying feelings of loneliness.

12. Loneliness only affects mental health, not physical health.

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Loneliness isn’t just an emotional state; it can also have a significant impact on physical health. Research has linked chronic loneliness to an increased risk of various health problems, including cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, weakened immune function, and cognitive decline. Loneliness can trigger stress responses in the body, leading to inflammation and other physiological changes that can negatively impact overall health.

13. Moving to a new city or starting a new job will automatically cure loneliness.

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While changes in environment or routine can offer opportunities for new social connections, they don’t guarantee a cure for loneliness. It’s important to address the root causes of loneliness, whether they’re internal (such as low self-esteem or social anxiety) or external (such as a lack of social support or meaningful relationships). Simply changing your environment won’t solve the underlying issues that contribute to feelings of isolation and disconnection.

14. Loneliness is the same for everyone.

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Loneliness is a deeply personal experience, and it manifests differently for different people. Some might feel a constant sense of emptiness and longing, while others might experience moments of intense isolation or a lack of belonging. There’s no one-size-fits-all definition of loneliness, and it’s essential to recognize the diverse ways it can affect individuals based on their unique personalities, experiences, and needs.

15. It’s selfish to feel lonely when you have so much to be grateful for.

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Feeling lonely doesn’t negate the positive aspects of your life. You can be grateful for your health, your family, your job, and still experience feelings of loneliness. Loneliness is a legitimate emotion, and it’s not selfish to acknowledge and address it. In fact, prioritizing your emotional well-being is an act of self-care that can ultimately benefit both you and those around you.

16. Loneliness is something you should just “get over.”

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Telling someone to “get over” loneliness is like telling someone to “get over” a broken leg. It’s dismissive and invalidating. Loneliness is a complex emotion that can be triggered by various factors, and it often requires time, effort, and support to overcome. It’s not something you can simply snap out of. Be patient with yourself, seek help if needed, and remember that healing from loneliness is a process that unfolds at its own pace.

17. Only weak people need help with loneliness.

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Seeking help for loneliness is a sign of courage and self-awareness, not weakness. Everyone needs support at times, and seeking professional guidance from a therapist or counselor can be incredibly beneficial in addressing the underlying causes of loneliness and developing coping strategies. It’s important to remember that there’s no shame in asking for help, and that seeking support is a crucial step towards healing and connection.

18. Loneliness is the opposite of happiness.

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While loneliness and happiness might seem like opposing forces, they can coexist. It’s possible to experience moments of joy and connection even while grappling with feelings of loneliness. In fact, acknowledging and addressing your loneliness can open up new avenues for personal growth and deeper connections. Loneliness doesn’t have to be the end of happiness; it can be a catalyst for self-discovery, greater empathy, and a richer, more meaningful life.

Phoebe Mertens is a writer, speaker, and strategist who has helped dozens of female-founded and led companies reach success in areas such a finance, tech, science, and fashion. Her keen eye for detail and her innovative approach to modern womanhood makes her one of the most sought-out in her industry, and there's nothing she loves more than to see these companies shine.

With an MBA from NYU's Stern School of Business and features in Forbes and Fast Company she Phoebe has proven she knows her stuff. While she doesn't use social media, she does have a private Instagram just to look at pictures of cats.
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