Loneliness is a struggle we all face in different forms.
The truth is that different phases of our lives will cause people to come and go. Different situations will cause us to pull away and sometimes disconnect from other people.
That is a significant problem because humans are social creatures. Most of us need some kind of social connection because it stimulates specific parts of the brain. Your brain essentially rewards you with feel-good chemicals by socializing.
So, when you’re lonely, your brain tells you to fulfill that social need.
But what are some reasons you might feel lonely? By understanding the reason, you may be able to find a solution that works for you.
Let’s take a look at some reasons, shall we?
1. You lack close friends or family members.
Life ebbs and flows. Sometimes we are fortunate to be surrounded by people who love and care about us. Other times, we may find that we’ve drifted away from the people that were closest to us.
The unfortunate part is that some people have no close friends or family members because of how they live. And suppose you have no real friends or close family members. In that case, you may find that loneliness daunting because you don’t have any intimate social connections that feed that particular need.
2. You are in a phase of life where it’s harder to make friends or socialize, such as being a new parent or a retiree.
Sometimes in your life, it is normal for your social circles to change.
For example, as a new parent, you will find that more of your time is tied up with your new responsibility and family expansion. Friendship circles often change because parents don’t have the same kind of freedom that people without kids do.
A retiree may find they are more lonely because they no longer have the baked-in social network of going to work.
If you’re working on sobriety, your social circle will change dramatically if your friendships are based on partying. Once you no longer share that common interest, then those relationships fall away.
3. Feeling like no one understands or relates to you.
Do you feel misunderstood? You will find it hard to be yourself around others if you can’t relate to the people around you. That feeling of not being understood creates a barrier between you and the people around you that prevents real connection.
Even worse, finding meaningful social support is hard when you don’t feel that connection with anyone. You may not even try to forge new friendships because you can’t ever seem to find someone to whom you are willing to show your true self.
4. Moving away from familiar faces, moving to a new city or place.
Moving is one of the most stressful situations people face in their life. It requires so much time to get everything organized, packed up, moved, new utilities turned on, unpacked, and your new home set up.
And when you move to a new city or place, you’ve got the added stress of finding yourself away from the familiar faces of your previous social network. So it’s normal to feel lonely after such a big life change.
5. Difficulty in making new connections or sustaining relationships.
Let’s face it, it’s not always easy to make new connections or sustain relationships. Sustaining a relationship, especially a new one, requires quite a lot of work. At the same time, you must muddle through all the responsibilities and challenges of adult life. Not everyone has the time or dedication to keep up with it.
Making new friends may be even harder. There aren’t many social spaces to meet new people like there used to be. Church, bars, and work used to be the most common places to meet new people.
6. Experiencing bullying or discrimination, which can lead to social exclusion.
Not to put too fine of a point on it, but people can be jerks. Not everyone matures when they become an adult. In fact, you’ll find that far too many petty things people do as teenagers still apply in adult relationships and at work.
In fact, it can be much worse because adults have years more experience of making other people miserable. Bullying, discrimination, and social isolation because of culture, politics, or religion may all contribute. The isolation can make you feel like no one cares about you.
7. Feeling like you’ve been left out or rejected by a group you wanted to be a part of.
Not clicking with a group you want to be a part of hurts. Maybe you are overlooked or actively rejected, leaving you feeling invisible and disconnected from others.
The good news is that there are other groups out there you can try to be a part of. A good place to look is on websites like meetup.com, where you can create and advertise interest groups for hobbies or causes. You may also try looking at professional or student organizations if you’re in college.
8. Lack of confidence or self-esteem to initiate social interactions.
Let’s face it, trying to create new social connections can be intimidating. Not only must you be willing to put yourself out there, but you also need to allow yourself to be vulnerable. You won’t be able to connect meaningfully with others if you don’t show vulnerability to allow your true self to come through.
That, of course, is scary if you aren’t confident in yourself or okay with rejection. Many a socially awkward person has wound up feeling alone in this big wide world because they struggle to take the kinds of risks that are required to forge new and worthwhile connections.
9. Being in a job or work environment that doesn’t foster meaningful social connections.
Not every work environment is a good social space to form connections. There’s so much advice floating around from cynical people who say to never make friends at work; to always keep your personal and professional life separate.
While that does carry some degree of truth to it, it is also very common to forge social relationships at work. After all, most people spend 40+ hours of their week at their place of employment.
Still, you may find that your workplace doesn’t have a good social atmosphere. Maybe your work is isolating, or it’s an industry that attracts many negative, unhealthy people, or you don’t spend enough time with any one individual to form a proper bond.
10. Being single or feeling like you can’t find a partner.
Romantic loneliness can wreak havoc on your self-esteem and foster doubt. It isn’t easy to find someone you click with well enough to want to have a long-term relationship with them.
It’s even more difficult when you are surrounded by happy couples building their lives and having families. That can perpetuate loneliness because you may feel left behind as others seem to be moving forward into their new lives.
But you want to avoid comparing yourself and your life to that of others. Everyone has their own path to walk. And even if your path doesn’t lead to that kind of connection now, it doesn’t mean it won’t happen later.
11. Being in a toxic relationship or going through a breakup or divorce.
Few things are more lonely than being around someone who causes you to want to isolate yourself from everyone.
Breakups, divorces, and toxic relationships are traumatic experiences that can leave deep scars. It would be nice if people could break up as amicably as they initially came together. Still, it usually doesn’t work out that way. Instead, it’s just a lot of pain and turmoil.
And toxic relationships are even worse because they can drag on and on until you finally put your foot down to end it. All that time just suffering through it means you stay stuck in that negative mental space, hiding away to avoid the toxicity of the other person.
12. You’re trying to fill a gap within yourself by focusing on others.
Sometimes, loneliness comes from trying to connect with others too much. Many people are looking for social connections not because they want a healthy social connection but because it will allow them to ignore problems of their own.
After all, if they are focused on their friends or other relationships, they don’t have to spend so much time reflecting on themselves.
The problem with this is that the energy flows in the wrong direction. Rather than energy going in a circle between two parties, it only flows from you to the other person. As a result, the whole relationship becomes lopsided, and you may feel lonely because you’re not getting what you need out of the relationship.
13. The loss of a loved one, friend, or pet.
There are few things lonelier in life than grief. The loss of someone you care about or a beloved pet cuts deeply and isn’t often a wound that neatly heals. In fact, it’s unreasonable to ever expect it to go back to how it was before the loss.
Of course, that doesn’t mean it can’t be better, and you can’t put something together in the future. Still, it’s a pain you will go through alone, even if you find some people to connect with. A good place to do that is through grief support groups. It can help a lot to be around other people going through what you’re going through.
Seeking additional support is a much better choice than isolating yourself because you don’t feel like talking to anyone.
14. Struggling with a health condition that makes it difficult to socialize.
Many health conditions can make it difficult to socialize. Mental health conditions like depression and anxiety may cause you to withdraw from others or fear normal social situations. Physical health conditions can take such a toll on the body that it becomes impossible for you to get out and be around others. It’s hard to want to be social if you’re in constant pain or feel physically ill most of the time.
And when you can be around a person or group of people on a regular basis, you either won’t be able to form the kind of relationships you want, or existing relationships will wither and die.
The fact is there are many reasons why you may feel lonely. What is preventing you from connecting with other people? Is it a mental health issue? A physical health issue? Is it some problem you’re facing? A life circumstance causing you to want to isolate and be alone? Maybe you’ve lost touch with friends, family, and others you care about?
Whatever the circumstances, if you can identify the root cause of the issue, then you can try to find some way to work through it.
Sometimes that just means continuing to improve yourself and grow your life while trying to make new social connections as best you can at a speed you’re able to manage.