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How to Fight Loneliness

 

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 A feeling of loneliness comes with both emotional and physical baggage. Loneliness can lead to (or worsen) depression and other psychological struggles, and it’s also a recognized risk factor for high blood pressure and heart problems. A major piece of new research looks at dozens of different loneliness studies to find which treatments are most helpful to those who feel lonely. The conclusion? Teaching social skills, encouraging social interactions, or even providing social company are not the most effective in making people feel less lonely. Rather, helping people change how they think about and perceive others (by thinking less negatively) had the greatest impact. This research is expected to help therapists, counselors, and others whose clients struggle with loneliness and similar feelings.

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Comments
  • Kevin September 10th, 2010 at 5:40 PM #1

    If you don’t exude desperation, you increase your chances of not being lonely. When you latch on to a person too quick, it’s anything from startling to downright creepy. Don’t be overpowering in your rush to be friendly. Take it slow and let them take the lead on occasion. Calling every day when you have just met this person is too pushy.

  • Marcia September 10th, 2010 at 8:13 PM #2

    It’s the internet. Nobody commits the time to make deep lasting offline friendships anymore. Shallowness is the new norm, mediocrity the name of the game. They all just want to meet up with their little groups of an evening and not interact with real people. That’s too much like hard work when you can end online friendships or romances with the click of an ignore button. They are lonely because they never experience proper flesh and blood relationships. This generation doesn’t know how to make real friends.

  • Isabel September 11th, 2010 at 12:35 AM #3

    Its the activities in my belief…the kind of things a person does creates positive or negative energy in him and if it is negative energy that is created it leads to a lot of problems,including feelings of loneliness.

  • SALLY September 11th, 2010 at 3:05 AM #4

    How to fight loneliness you ask…
    Well the solution is to first seek out. There are a lot of people out there who would be nice friends with you and who are lonely themselves. Its like symbiosis-mutual benefit. Go out and make a friend,guys :)

  • marlon September 11th, 2010 at 5:35 AM #5

    I think I have been lonely all my life. Nothing that seems to have caused this, it is who I am.

  • sammy September 11th, 2010 at 10:43 AM #6

    ^^marlon:please try and mingle with people around you.you do not have to suffer loneliness by telling that that is how you are born.nobody is a born loner.its all acquired.learn to make friends and you will see how beautiful life is.all the very best :)

  • Marlon September 12th, 2010 at 6:18 AM #7

    It’s like I was never given the skills that I need to make friends or to mingle in social situations with other people. I have always felt uncomfortable in those kinds of settings even when I was a kid. It’s like I missed the course on making small talk and making friends, you know? And then I often wonder how all of that skipped me by because it looks so easy for other people but for me it makes me feel like I am going to drown if I have to commit to hour after hour of that kind of idle chatter. I know that I would lead a much fuller life if I got out and did more but honestly the thought is kind of terrifying.

  • GLEN September 12th, 2010 at 7:26 AM #8

    Being online is not getting rid of loneliness but it certainly CAN be a tool.You can use the various networking sites available to find people of similar interests and you may just end up making new friends!

  • CN September 13th, 2010 at 12:37 PM #9

    When I find that all my friends are busy or are not free I get bugged.I tried pets a few months ago but that proved to be a dampner because I could not spend enough time taking care of them.

    So now when I am alone,all my soft toys are friends and I play with them for even over an hour sometimes.I just turn into a kid,going back a couple of decades,I guess.

  • Audrey September 13th, 2010 at 4:52 PM #10

    Isolation makes it a real challenge to build your self-confidence. It’s a vicious circle where the more isolated you are, the less opportunities arise to do so. The less confident you feel, the less easy it is for you to be in a social circle, and the more isolated you become. The more isolated you become, the easier it is to convince yourself that you’re no great shakes anyway. Without friends or family to buoy you up again when you’re feeling low, your isolation continues. You have to break the cycle!

  • Pauline September 13th, 2010 at 4:53 PM #11

    Fighting loneliness? Join a book club, get involved at your church, do some volunteer work. There are numerous way to meet new people and to become a part of something very rewarding. To say that you do not know how is just a cop out.

  • nate September 14th, 2010 at 5:50 PM #12

    It’s not a cop out, Pauline. We can’t all walk into a room of strangers and not sweat it. Lucky you if you can.

    When I moved to New York six years ago I was extremely lonely. It’s ironic how you can be surrounded by so many yet feel so alone. I’m not an outgoing person and it took me a long time to see I was my own worst enemy. Neighbors invited me to parties and offered to show me around. They had came over and welcomed me from day one. I didn’t respond well because I’m shy and turned down the invitations. The offers from various well meaning people in my apartment building and at work soon dried up. In hindsight I should have made an effort to join in more and be friendly right from the start.

    Eventually I got up the nerve to start being the one that made the first move. I invited them over for dinner and to go to movies or lunch, and gradually we became friends.

    If you don’t want to be lonely a moment longer you need to be willing to extend yourself beyond your comfort zone and not let shyness stand in your way. More people are friendly than unfriendly and would enjoy your company. You need to give them a chance, especially if they already extended a hand of friendship. Ask one person to do one thing with you and go from there. I now have a small group of friends and am content with that.

  • ASmom September 15th, 2010 at 9:23 PM #13

    Marlon, have you ever been tested or read up upon Aspergers Syndrome? You sound very like my son and he has that. Having difficulty socializing is a key indicator of this. Many AS people go undiagnosed for a very long time. These are very intelligent adults that through no fault of their own do not have the same inherent understanding that others do about nonverbal communication and social skills. Your brain is just wired differently.

    AS falls into the high functioning end of the autistic spectrum. The good news is you can learn how to make that side of your life easier and be more comfortable in social situations.There are many treatment options including cognitive behavioral therapy.

    You can find information and resources at ninds.nih.gov/disorders/asperger/detail_asperger.htm

  • Shelley April 9th, 2011 at 5:23 PM #14

    I have always spent quality time alone, even growing up. My sister was away at college and brother was much older then I. During the week I send 16 hours aday alone. And from Fridays 5pm to Mondays morning 8am I am alone. At age 45 itss really kind of hard to meet friends. I’m use to it.

  • Elle G June 23rd, 2012 at 9:54 AM #15

    I admit I am lonely. Why? Because I always have put myself ‘out there’ and have no issue being outside my comfort zone. My problem? No on reciprocates anything with me. I have had to literally do ALL the initiating and sustaining with ALL my friendships for the last 32 years. If I don’t do the inviting I NEVER receive an invite. I cannot tell you how many times over the DECADES I have invited friends over for anything from casual dinners, family dinners, bithday (for my friends) dinners, my college graduation party, wedding… pretty much name the event I’ve done the inviting and yet I NEVER get so much as an invite to go to someone’s home for effing take out food. I can’t sort it out. I am genuinely interested in other people without being a pest, clingy or nosey. I am very kind, compassionate, perceptive and attractive. I’m someone no one would be embarrassed to be seen with, yet, no matter, I never get invites. I understand people have time constraints, demanding jobs, family obligations and money issues BUT there are many low cost and even free things I’d enjoy doing with other people yet my phone never rings. BUT, if I am having a dinner party or some other gathering where good food and fine wine is served then everyone is able to come over. WTF? So, I have decided to simply not call, txt or contact any of my friends I’ve known for years. It’s all up to them. If they want my friendship they will have to get out of their comfort zone to be my friend. I believe the root of all this misery is the complete failure so many people have to commit. They take the easy way out with passive aggressive texting and no one is actually intimately communicating. I am grateful I have a wonderful understanding husband who has advised me to step back and let others come to me. If they don’t then so what. Modern society has bred and is continuing to breed legions of emotionally disconnected and damaged people who if they don’t have Asperger’s Syndrome sure do a great job of pretending they do. I am learning to embrace my spiritual lonliness and with the money I’m saving by not socializing I’m able to invest for a really delightful future when I’m old. Blessings.

  • Heather June 23rd, 2012 at 7:41 PM #16

    Elle G–
    I find it very funny that we are having the EXACT same thoughts on the same day–especially given that the comment previous to yours is from last year! At any rate, I feel your pain and frustration. I too have friendships that I have been sustaining for years, and I am getting to the point in my life where I just don’t want to be the one making all of the effort anymore–it feels desperate and I am tired of feeling like this. I honestly think that a big part of not getting invites to things or having the phone ring is that we probably have people in our circles of friends who aren’t generally as social as we are. I mean, I know that we know that our friends do make plans and do things with other people, but I bet that you’d be surprised how different your socializing barometre is compared to some of your friends. You also might be the ‘glue’ of a lot of your social relationships in groups of friends? You also may have a need to have relationships with friends fill unmet needs within yourself that some other people don’t have (e.g some more distant family relationships, abandonment fears from the past, etc). I apologize if I am way off base here–maybe I am just trying to make us feel better! lol.

    I do hear what you are saying though and sister, we are in exactly the same fed-up headspace right now! I don’t want to constantly be the ‘inviter’ and the ‘caller’ but now I’m thinking, ‘Wow. This really is going to be lonely and boring!’ I have a terrific husband and kids, but I definitely feel like RECIPROCATED ‘best friend’ relationships are missing in my life and it sucks. Arg!

  • Heather June 23rd, 2012 at 7:47 PM #17

    p.s.–Sorry, that was phrased kind of weird–by “socializing barometre” I just meant that we might crave social contact more strongly and often than other people in our lives.

  • Elle G June 24th, 2012 at 7:25 AM #18

    @Heather
    No harm no foul. I’ve done intensive self analysis and that is the issue. My oldest and dearest friends have not. They are all non malicious well meaning people but I have observed that they hide from social and physical intimacy by literally working ALL the time. These are people who, as you infer, have different social barometers than I do. I simply love going outside my emotional comfort zone and yes, I am the glue in my relationships. I learned that from my beloved late mother (RN, Addiction counsellor and Psychotherapist) who was exceedingly sensitive to including people in all facets of family and social gatherings. Like me, she loved bringing people together in a joyful environment. That said, I have decided to take an entirely different approach to my life. For the first time ever I am embracing my inner narcissist. This is a new area for me as I usually despise narcissists but this is something I realize I must do. I have been so concerned with the needs and feelings of others that I’ve lost touch with who I am, what I want and where I want to go and be in this life. I still care about my friends and want the best for them, however, they have to at the very least attempt to meet me half way. Last evening I messaged my oldest and dearest friend from college, 24 hrs later still no response from him. I know friendships wax and wane ,go through phases but this is ridiculous.
    As for craving social contact, I do however I don’t have FOMO (fear of missing out). I’m not obsessive and I’m not a pest. I was raised to “do unto others”. I have the same issues within my family. For example, in 2009 my cousin purchased a breathtaking summer home in South Hampton, LI, NY. Mind you I’ve only seen photos online at Corcoran.com. I live well within a sensible drive to her home. To date no one in my immediate family have been invited there. I’ve heard from many relatives who spent various holidays there how lavish and lovely the place is but I have no clue why neither me, my husband or my parents were never invited. I hear about the confounded place all the time from my aunt. Very peculiar. Lastly, if I have any great news and share that with these same relatives they look at me like deer in headlights and infer me and my husband are delusional. But, good news comes out the their mouths and I’m supposed to fawn all over them. I’m done, finished. I am going to get back into my art and other creative projects, do some local volunteering and forget about everyone. My mantra: Your either and asset or a liability. Lastly, I accept I’m an outlier. I don’t fit any demographic: I’m happily married and child free by choice. I’m a very late Baby Boomer but I manifest none their persona. Unmarried people are uncomfortable with my married status, people with children cannot understand why we never wanted to reproduce. I am self employed and have been so for decades so when friends piss and moan about office politics I sit silent. I’m an enigma and I’m coming to understand a threat many people’s comfort zone. I’m one of those (irritating) people who question everything and refuse to do something because it’s a popular trend or traditional. I know there are others out there like me and my husband. They’ll have to find us. I’m exhausted.
    Am I lonely, sometimes.

  • Rose June 25th, 2012 at 12:01 PM #19

    Elle G,

    excuse me for barging in on your elaborations, but I feel I must ask you a question.

    I’m in my early 20’s and have been facing a similar scenario throughout my life: ALWAYS having to be the initiator etc. I am self-employed in a somewhat historical artistic profession and have been ever since leaving school, which doesn’t exactly make it easy to make friends: for one, there are no co-workers; then, most people seem to find my job daunting or obscure; and I, on the other hand, completely lack interest in most of the things my generation enjoys, i.e. Facebook, clubbing, shopping et al. The only company I find truly rewarding is people who’re truly passionate about their particular subject, be it music, history or physics; but since most of those people are older men with “a man’s mind”, a proper intimate-yet-platonic friendship is out of the question.

    My question to you: should I go out and mingle with other people my age (although I tend to feel even lonelier in the company of the average age peer than I do alone) – and if so, how; or should I just leave it, spending my time reading Goethe, making music and channeling the frustration through my art, for artistic solitude with all its agony is still better than perpetual societal shallowness?

    – Either way, I feel with you.

  • Idlan July 24th, 2012 at 6:00 PM #20

    I always feel alone and lonely.It just make me feel like I should just die rather than living like this.I really need cure for this feeling.Would anyone bother to help me?

  • Angela July 31st, 2012 at 1:56 AM #21

    I just came on here by chance when I was googling ‘how to combat loneliness’. It’s been very interesting reading everyone’s comments – and to realise that I am less of a loner than I thought I might be!! Perhaps we should make a club of ‘happier loners’ lol. I often feel as if I am excluded from life, living outside a bubble which everyone else is happily enjoying their lives in, none of them loners! I just look in from the outside.

  • Elle G July 31st, 2012 at 11:04 AM #22

    Angela,
    I wouldn’t necessarily classify loners as being lonely. Some people just don’t need to belong or be part of a larger collective as much as some other people do. I look inward all the time as I don’t like much of what I see on the outside world. That said, speaking for myself from experience only, many seemingly happy people I personally know who are always beaming in photos and tweeting how uber great their lives are are often trying to convince themselves and those around them that all is blissful in their world when it is often not. Keep looking in ward but don’t forget to look out often, too.

  • preet August 9th, 2012 at 4:00 AM #23

    hey angela..wud love to b a member of happy loners (kiddin). Plz do reply. Liked ur comments.

  • jonathan October 1st, 2012 at 3:00 AM #24

    i always find myself anywhere i go to work….it’s like i cannot finish the contract that has given to me i end up unhappy of what i am doing please tell me what to do…….or what i need to do

  • shasta mcnasty December 16th, 2012 at 5:18 PM #25

    I thought I was supposed to be a partier/preacher as I enjoy people. Reason: I don’t let them get to deep into me. I like people. I like people watching. However, some car and phone problems and fear of the internet made me a loner. I don’t know what this means but two pro type men I know hate strangers unless they’re on the take. I’m here due to the shooting that happen everywhere. I guess its time for a no loner usa – batman for the most part doesn’t exist.

  • shasta mcnasty December 16th, 2012 at 5:19 PM #26

    I don’t agree to terms and consitions if they hurt me. I just saw that after posting. I’m interested in you and your background. That always helped me date foreign girls but not USA girls. I don’t know if they felt I was alpha or I felt I was alpha or I was also curious a great deal about them.

  • katie February 25th, 2013 at 5:21 PM #27

    First thing, check to make sure the people’s around you aren’t negative “fake” people-real life or media. If they tell you they’ve never had a bad day, it’s flat out blarney. Second if it is you, relax breathe, look at yourself. Are you a nerd that no one understands? living in the wrong city? pessimism personality? disabled, not sure of social cues? whatever it is,you’re not a victim and it’s not the end of the world. One day at a time and if something’s not working- change it until it does work for you. =) PS. Totally in the same situation as Rose, I feel you!!!!!

  • katie February 25th, 2013 at 5:59 PM #28

    Adding: If it makes anyone feel better, In truth all humans are social creatures but most of the extroverts I’ve come across are the loneliest people in the world because most are afraid of themselves while dependent on superficial things (people, media etc)-Surrounded by lies. What’s more, when they come into contact with us “nerds” or disabled persons we unconsciously put them in a bad light and they react with terror management problems ( aka try to sabotage you in anyway possible for self preservation.)

  • Ron March 12th, 2013 at 12:05 PM #29

    Being lonely is hurtful.
    I would suggest that you first spend time getting to know yourself once again. Look at yourself as not who you were but who you could and want to be.. If you are healthy enough to go to a fitness class that you like then do so. Martial Arts, Yoga, or any type of Mind and body activity will get your confidence up.
    Remember, you are a combination of this universe. You are God’s miracle.
    Positive thinking heals. That is a proven fact.

    I suggest you pray each day at least 3 times and ask for help.

    Also I want you to try this.
    Say to yourself: I am Strong and I will stay positive. I am God’s child and I have a purpose in this life. Say this out loud evryday.

    Be light hearted and smile. Soon, life will be wonderful.
    Ron

  • Laura August 19th, 2013 at 1:55 PM #30

    Ron,
    How could you make it sound so easy. For those of us who struggle with (social-isms)it is not. But thank you for the positive reinforcement, now give us something we could chew on. Sorry, jus sayin.

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