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6 Tips for Battling Loneliness

The more I’ve learned about happiness, the more I’ve come to believe that loneliness is a terrible, common, and important obstacle to consider.

A while back, after reading John Cacioppo’s fascinating book Loneliness, I posted Some counter-intuitive facts about loneliness, and several people responded by asking, “Okay, but what do I do about it? What steps can I take to feel less lonely?”

I recently finished another fascinating book, Lonely — a memoir by Emily White, about her own experiences and research into loneliness. White doesn’t attempt to give specific advice about how to combat loneliness, but from her book, I gleaned these strategies…

31 Comments to
6 Tips for Battling Loneliness

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  1. Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul, writes, “A person oppressed by loneliness can go out in the world and simply start belonging to it… not by joining organizations, but by living through feelings of relatedness – to other people, to nature, to society, and to the world as a whole.”

  2. Nice site.
    I to fight with lonelynes.

    I have been in treatment well over 20 years for 3 problems, and bipolar is at the head. I rapid cycle. And its a bear.
    I have gained over 100 pounds on drugs and that complicates things.

    When people here that you have any form of mental illness, (thank you media) they will run the other way, so its not at all been easy.

    I just turned 49, and it does not get any better. But, some people are helped my some drugs, and some are not. ITs just a crap shoot.

    Be well all.

    • last winter I had the most terrible moment of my life. I feel really down, feel like life have no meaning, but my faith to god keep my mind sane. What can i say about what bring me to that whole new level is because i put myself to that edge. I let myself drowning, forbid anyone to save me and not even trying to save my own ass. And im in doubt of everything im doing because i feel not comfortable being me. Now, i accepting myself as this person and keep myself busy with things i love to do, things that make me feel ebtter about myself.

  3. I have dealt with a great deal of loneliness in all forms. From having few friends to no significant other to share day to day life with. Sometimes it’s unbearable.

    I think part of it is my fear to meet someone who can truly make me happy.

    I heard about a federal law where apartment dwellers can get a “companion animal”. I may look into that.

    I endure several mental illnesses and I agree, people ostracize others who are not “normal”. but don’t we all have mental illness to some degree?

    • we all are. But most people choose not to say it out loud. Because its easier that way, its somehow we can be disturbingly disturbant at some moment of our life. IF we keep on living in that moment, our life wud be static. Forgetting can be cure

  4. I’ve had bouts of terrible loneliness throughout my life: in my teens, in my early twenties and again now in my late forties. In earlier life it was due to my low confidence and lack of close friends. Now, although I have a husband,children and other family and friends it’s more of a deep empathetic connection with someone that I am missing. It can be hard to find a person who can fulfill that need as it often originates in what I’d call missing elements of a person’s emotional ‘foundations’ which should have been put in place in early childhood but weren’t. I’ve come to see it now as a spiritual need aswell and that helps.

    A piece of good advice a therapist once gave me was to give away the thing that you want. Ie if you want a close friendship then just concentrate on being a good and loyal friend yourself – it will come back to you at some point.

  5. I almost always feel lonely and empty. I enjoy solitude, as noted in the article above, but absolutely cannot stand to experience prolonged loneliness. I can feel incredibly lonely at a party, in a class, even among close friends. It has plagued me my entire life.

    The only time I didn’t feel lonely was during my college years. When I was part of a community, had meaningful friendships and saw these important people on a daily basis, I felt least lonely. Now everyone is married, moved away, career driven or finding purpose by exploring their unique talents. I feel left alone as I struggle to find meaningful connections, life purpose and career goals.

  6. The “thing” that I am missing is a partner to share life with (after a 31 year abusive “marriage”)… one can help me with that one, so I keep on living.

    • I have been married almost 37years. My children was all I had to keep me from being lonely. My husband never took us [or me] on vacations, never recognized valentine day, my birthday, anniversary, christmas for me. He really only needs himself. I am, and have been, a “widow” but married while he has been “single” but married all these years. I have never had to work outside of the home, even in his business, so I am supposse to be happy with that.

  7. My worst moments (hours) usually involve intense feelings of shame, and/or worthlessness. These thought/feelings can build into dysphoric spells and leave me feeling intensely isolated as well. Pema Chodron somewhere suggests ‘feeling empathy’ for all the fellow humans who have been subject to negative emotions of whatever kind. Sometimes considering others who feel/have felt/will feel a similar sense of inadequacy and humiliation has made me feel more connected, and more compassionate to myself as well.

  8. Those who learn the art of solitude they never suffer from loneliness.Loneliness arise to motiveless people.Those who are passionately love this life they are wholeheartedly curious of everything.They devote their whole life search the meaning of life, though they never find out it but devote their entire life for search give them pure joy and self-satisfaction.Man`s ultimate destiny is enjoy pure joy and self satisfaction no other aim given to man by nature.

  9. I have read many articles about “how to beat loneliness”. This article had some good tips, but not much different from other articles I’ve read.

    They were good tips but it seems like it’s easier said than done, espeically for some people. I very much agree with point #3 especially. Right now in my life I have a few friends, but no one I’m intiment with. The few friends that I have are very scattered; so it seems like when I get together with them, it’s always at their convience and not mine.

    A long time ago I had a girlfriend that I was very intimate with. She was wonderful, but besides her, I felt like I didn’t have any friends. I felt like something was missing for me. I didn’t feel like there was something missing when I was with her, I just felt like something was missing because she was all that I had.

  10. I am 65, and have no family, grand childern or childern of my own. Our modern world is set up in a way that isolates us from each other.The internet is a poor way of reaching out. You get bullied or blocked. Most of it is just noise.I feel my situation is not my fault, but I am just stuck in a society that everyone is isolated from each other. In a crowded bus each one sits alone, basicly ignoring everyone else.Our socieity is basicly socialy immature. That is the basic cause of modern loneiness.

  11. ‘…“It’s entirely reasonable to feel lonely yet still feel as though you need some time to yourself.”…Really? Try it some time. It’s only reasonable if you are not suffering from loneliness in the first place. Raising animals? Sure, if you want to end up having conversations (alone) with your dog… This should have been titled 6 tips to ensure you will stay lonely.

    • So I googled lonely and ended up on this thread and saw your post and literally snorted with laughter. Thank you.

  12. Chronic illness that causes homebound ness and social isolation seems to be completely ignored in these discussions on causes of loneliness. What a shame.

  13. I’m very lonely. I’m married with two children, but I need other people in my life besides them. My mother and siblings are in a different country and they don’t bother trying to communicate with me. I’ve joined different groups and tried making friends in the “new” country but it hasn’t worked.
    It’s lot harder making friends when you’re an adult living in a different country. People reject me and treat me as if I don’t exist. I feel invisible. The other day, for instance, my husband and I went to get my cell sorted out and the salesperson, ignored me. It was as if I weren’t there at all. I started telling the guy about my phone, but he only looked at my husband and started explaining everything to him. My husband even pointed at me and told the guy I was the one he should be talking to. I get that a lot. It’s horrible. Now, I was in a course recently and met two nice ladies. They promised to contact me and get together after the course, but so far they haven’t even bothered–I don’t expect them to either. I’ve been through this too many times before so I know the drill. it just hurts too much. I spend all my time in the house. The phone never rings, except when telemarketers call. I never receive letters and emails from people I know are extremely rare. Christmases and other festivities are non events. I have nothing to look forward to. I feel empty.

  14. I hope I’m not being insulting here because I’m in the same boat, but a lot of people are their own worst enemy.

    Try not to think of it too much, do stuff to distract yourself. Fake it that you’re completely fine!

    If you come off as too whiny or needy, or feel sorry for yourself people are going to run in the opposite direction and not even give you a chance.

    • Exactly Mike, you don’t want to exhaust people with all your woes because they will run. If something terrible has happened in your life like it has with my marriage break up change the mindset and say to yourself, I can do this and if I have to do alone then so be it. And trust in Lord because he is the only one worth trusting in all tragic situations. Love to allxox

  15. I’m in my teen years and I have ADHD and psoriasis as well as quite a few socially unacceptable behaviours. My conversation starting attempts a very awkward and people pair me up with a guy whom no one likes. Pretty everyone seems to hate me… I can’t control my personality, parents, likes, dislikes, fears or mental conditions too well. Almost everyone probably considers me a weird stalker, troll, alien creature of death. It really kills me when I see all the popular kid laughing together, knowing I will never be one.

  16. Thank you to everyone for sharing their perspectives and personal pain. Knowing that I am not alone in feeling as though I am in need of meaningful friendships and a romantic relationship based on authenticity is comforting in a solidarity sort of way. Good luck to everyone. I’m going to try approaching each day with a sense of gratitude and to try to be the friend I would like to have to others who I sense might make a great friend (while being kind to everyone of course).

  17. I have read these comments from everyone, and my heart goes out. I am 63 have a busy job, abusive boss, and indifferent coworkers. My boyfriend who I love, keeps saying he will return to his wife, I will be left alone. I have no children or hardly any family, and holidays are more of a joke with each year. I never again expect to have a real Christmas.
    I have 5 cats who I love, but keep me bankrupt.
    I don’t know where to turn or what to do. I feel very alone, I used to like it, but now it keeps me up at night.
    Just felt like sharing, so those of you out there know you are not the only ones ones alone.

    • Dear Kay
      It is with interest I read your message. I am 58 years old and when I think back I think I have always felt lonely to some degree. I currently live alone in a rural area and work alone and am feeling extremely lonely to the point where I am feeling I am slowly withering away to nothing and suffering from sleep deprivation. I have had many relationships in my life, the latest of which has just come to an end. I have no answers to lonliness. I think I have been looking for the answer to my happpiness in a partner and I have finally come to the conclusion that this is not the answer at all. There just seems to be something missing. I do feel however that if I do not find happiness within myself I will certainly not find it with a partner. All the articles I read on lonliness are interesting. However, it is so hard to know exactly what changes I should make towards becoming happier.

  18. I have 3 friends and one child who cares to stay connected to me. In desperate straights, one brother would probably help. Only one friend lives near—the others and my son are thousands of miles away. When my boyfriend is away and even sometimes when he is not, I am always dreaming about a life I hope to create that will not be lonely.
    I live in a small town that even my therapist told me is very unfriendly and cliquey. So I am considering a move to a big city where at least there’s things to do and more people around.
    I know it can be lonely in a big city, but am curious if others find it better there.
    I’m not a social phobic. I love being with people, am very friendly, used to make friends easily and kept them for many, many years.
    But I think a 55 year old woman without a live-in partner or husband might find more possibilities for friendships in a big city. Any opinions on that? I would hate to make yet another move and be disappointed again.

  19. I’m a twenty year old uni student who has been struggling with loneliness. Between having a busy course load and living in a dorm with people I find it hard to connect with due to various reasons, I feel awful.

    I use to have a really good friend but due to circumstances, she was gone within a week. She’s never going to come back into my life again. It hurt and I’m still traumatised by it.

    Loneliness is the worst feeling in the world.

  20. When did loneliness become something that is a person’s fault?

  21. I’m also suffering from extreme loneliness. I was bullied as a child / young adult by everyone, including my brothers. I turned to solitude (hid in my room) and food for ‘comfort’. I was tall and overweight from eating so much ‘comfort’ food, which only made things worse. My mother is emotionally indifferent and my father doesn’t like conflict. I really felt alone at home, school, and later, work. These emotional scars remain with me. I tried to get a college education, but quit when I realized that I wasn’t smart enough (I missed a lot of school as a child – could not take the daily bullying). I never followed my dreams, because I never allowed myself to have any. I tried different things, but didn’t stick with any of them because I was always waiting for something that would create a spark in my life – now at 56, I still have not had that spark. I’m married to a man who is one of those people that everyone likes – very sociable. In reality, he is shallow and self-centered. I try to create the relationship that I desire with him – but he pushes me away. I know in my heart that he does not love me all out, never did. I love him and wish with all my heart that he would love me too. That’s not happening. I am so sad and so frustrated. I have turned once again to food and am now 200 lbs overweight. I saw a therapist for a little while, she told me to leave, but where would I go? He is all I have, which really is nothing because he doesn’t give his heart back. I’m a convenience, someone there, a tax asset. I have no money, no skill, am morbidly obese, and uneducated. How on earth do I rise above this? Thanks for letting me get this out.

  22. I spent 15 years raising my stepson and my own daughter, every night and weekend I was there for them giving up all of my social life and hobbies whilst my now ex partner was supposed to be working.Two years ago I found out she was having an affair and we split, I lost everything, my home the children even my dog. I moved to a small town and I know nobody, I have no friends at all. I work long hours to be able to pay the bills which leaves me no time to be able to socialise with people. In the two years since we separated I have been out once the rest of the time I sit at home on my own . . .
    From what I have read on various health websites I am severely lonely and clinically depressed. Can’t afford to take time off work to seek professional help. . .just wish I could fall asleep and not wake up

  23. Last Spring, for complicated reasons, most of the members of my church bullied me and ostracized me as a partial solution to their budgetary crisis. For no good reason, they wanted my menial labor salary. I had been custodian and janitor for 4.5 years with nothing but praise for my work. I felt lonely, as it was a small town with the emphasis on family, and all of my family have died, and I couldn’t have children. I also suffer Bipolar disorder, PTSD, and TBI. I have 2 postgraduate degrees, but in that small town, I was glad to get a decent part-time job. (I am on disability but CANNOT survive on it.) After pleading for my job, they lowered the salary and neverr once did those 2 committees members ever apologize to me. I am ostracized, even by firends. I moved to the city and am beginning to reflect back on how sick that church was. It helps to realize I did not ask to be bullied. I hurt a lot, and the phone never rings, and going into the city takes guts. I know in time I will be fine, but it’s hard to find professional work when you are 59. It is going to be impossible to find a mate. Every discussion group I go to has 20 women for every 5 men. Couples are hard to get close to because the wife often feels challenged. That has happened with my next-door neighbors. Wherever I go I am a fifth wheel. The loneliness affects my bipolar to the point thatI call the suicide hotline sometimes, not to chat, but to get help. I can’t call local lines because I work in the mental health field, mainly civil rights. I am at risk because my father and sister committed suicide, as did a cousin on the other side of the family. They all had bipolar. My first boyfriend got schizophrenia and killed himself. Some days suicide is a constant companion. I just hang onto the hope that I will make friends perhaps with people as lonely as me. Just a few good friends would help. A mate would be divine, but I don’t want to spend the rest of my life chasing one down.

  24. Any reason why my comment has not been published. You people could have emailed me or something. I will never again wait for helpful comments from my peers while you are deliberating over a comment that was no more triggering than others. I would have like to connect with those kindred souls. Pam

    • It’s been an hour. I am going to bed.

  25. I´m 18 years old and insteat of going out and having fun I sit at home and watch boring movies. I still go to school and have some friends there but anyone to realy speak to. There are times I´m so lonly I just want to do something stubit like stealing something to fell alive again. My problem always was the same, I don´t realy know how to connect with other people. To you know the movie “as good as it gets” I am just like that guy!



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