Comments on
3 Ways to Lift Loneliness

By Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.
Associate Editor

3 Ways to Lift Loneliness All of us, from time to time, have experienced the ache of loneliness, whether we’re actually by ourselves or among others. And, of course, it never feels good.

But, curiously, this “social pain” is actually adaptive. According to John T. Cacioppo and William Patrick in their book, Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection:

Keep in mind, too, that feeling the pain of isolation is not an unalloyed negative. The sensations associated with loneliness evolved because they contributed to our survival as a species. “To be isolated from your band,” wrote John Bowlby, the developmental psychologist who pioneered attachment theory, “and, especially when young, to be isolated from your particular caretaker is fraught with the greatest danger. Can we wonder then that each animal is equipped with an instinctive disposition to avoid isolation and to maintain proximity?”

12 Comments to
3 Ways to Lift Loneliness

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  1. Great article Margarita!!

  2. The premise of the author’s claim that loneliness is bad is that self-gratification is one’s supreme value.

    This premise is faulty. Being happy is not always a supreme value. As the saying goes, better to be alone than in bad company.

    Therefore, the author’s claim that loneliness is inherently bad is false.

    • I stuggle to be more social but I know one thing my father-in-law moved from a bustling city with lots of interaction (even though he values his privacy like I do and needs a lot of down time) and he got predementia from being by himself in the house so much. Sometimes I get very lonely and then I go out to watch a football game or do something with 1 or 2 people and the next day (after 2 weeks of feeling very disconnected) I feel fine. It is a fine line for me. Overstimulation or too much solitude. P.S. I work from home as well.

    • Loneliness is bad. Solitude is fine. It’s possible to be lonely in a crowd and perfectly happy alone. Each of us is different in our tolerance for solitude vs. company and have different triggers for feeling lonely.

  3. Delightful article – refreshing change from the do-these-5-steps-and-be-happy type of advice. Not that it is easy to sit quietly with yourself and just be with any of these uncomfortable feelings; but if you cannot find a way to tolerate your own feelings, I think you will be continually frustrated in trying to connect to others. You may also have to add some deliberate social planning (at least if you are like me and tend to isolate yourself at any sign of stress. It also sound downright silly at times, but just breathing consciously helps in so many situations, so that instead of feeling overwhelmed by mysterious forces,you calm yourself and take a look at what is happening. (Used to have a sign by my work phone that just said “BREATHE” as a reminder to calm down and pay attention to the caller – not to what I expected from the caller)

  4. Introverts like myself often are most lonely in a crowd-which can be as few as one other person if that person is ADHD or even just vert talkative,and this is a Catch-22 when you get lonely easily like I do – One of the huge benefits of social media is being able to “break” loneliness with a bit of distance in place-I can just go read, go outside or take a nap from the exahstion felt by just having 20 minutes of social interaction. That said- the author’s 1st 2 premises are convincing but I do not see food as a way of connecting with the eorld – I think the author crreated a nifty tripartate and then har to stretch to complete it. And I think the author should have made clear that being alone is not all bad. Just the loneliness part.

  5. Firstly, with due respect to John T. Cacioppo and William Patrick, at best they are positing theory on top of theory. It is bothersome that they state their synthesis of these hypotheories as fact. It is not so.

    Secondly, it is important to stress that connection is not a stagnant process, but is dynamic and continuous. In my blog http://psychfieldpersectives.blogspot.com/ this point is addressed.

    Also, I would ask the reader to consider whether loneliness from self and loneliness from others are really along the same continuum. In my experience they are quite different and divergent.

    • I’m curious how is being lonely by oneself or lonely with others company differ to you?

      Usually if you are willing to suffer loneliness in the company of someone, they are someone like a family member or old friend or neighbor who you love/share history/share community and you are putting up with it with a goal in mind.

      If you are willing to suffer loneliness in the company of someone to which you aren’t really connected, one could say you are basically lonely by yourself.

      Personally, I was never lonely by myself (bored sometimes, but not lonely) until I allowed the wrong people into my life. People whose values do not coincide with mine, people who don’t really want to know me, people who are cynical or warped and don’t really act from kindness.

      The problem was by allowing these people in (from coping with a dysfunctional work environment) the more time I spend with them the more lonely I feel. Until now, even by myself I feel lonely, or rather unproductive with my free time .

      The key I think is to nurture oneself. And realize that certain relationships (toxic) may behave in ways that make us upset, isolated or underappreciated. Once you identify these, spend more time with people who really make your heart smile. People who are secure in themselves and don’t have to beat others down. Be this person yourself. The Drama of toxic relationships just becomes an excuse to why you aren’t living the life of your dreams,

  6. I am 67 and seem to have been born with a connection problem. I have found it difficult to make friends, with feelings of always being on the
    outside looking in. I came from a disfunctional family which is a likely basis for this. I’m not a shy person, and have ocassionally tested myself outside of my comfort zone–which always concluded badly for me. I’ve learned to live with this, and is why I emigrated to the U.K. from New York City as a young man, with my English wife (a fresh start?). Sadly, my problem stayed with me (still no friends, feeling shunned by the English—now I have an excuse!!) I’ve come to terms with having a fun-less life. I’m probably so used to being in an unfulfilled semi-depressive state, I’m not even aware of it. My sanity score is 74. What more can a misfit expect. I don’t feel sorry for myself, nor do I look for sympathy—certainly not at age 67. I am a realist with feet planted firmly on the ground and have concluded life is a bitch, but it is also a gift,so I just carry on as best as I can. Maybe I am confusing loneliness with solditude, having possibly become a person of solditude. For some, connecting with people is a task akin to banging ones head against a brick wall. It begins to hurt, so avoidance measures are taken.

  7. I felt article had some very good suggestions. to break isolation pain.. fascinated by it being part of evolution to feel pain. Ive been struggling since a harsh cold break up. with . a really powerfull, romance.. for me lately, ive found it amazing how, loneliness, indeed fuctions in self love arena… lack there of it… as i see how ive sabatoged thru small and large mistakes , mostly emotional conflict failures…….Im beginning to have compassion for a growing human that i am… self encouraging. really self empathy. blooming ,,lifts a sense of seperatedness. ive lived a 60 to 70 percent self love reach out.. not enough…. so .. amazing as i increase this self love.. new better people and new woman.. that also reflect improvements,, fom my newly born.. self love guess what.. lonliness is inverse of confident connectedness.. thanks sam

  8. I spent the holidays alone. My relatives are dead. I never had children. I am divorced. When my mother got sick I moved to be near her. She has since passed on. I had three cats. Two of them have died. I am left with a 14-year-old cat. I a very active in a major Christian denomination. We used to have activities for single people. I was on the committee and was released from the committee along with other members of the committee. This happens periodically. There were new people assigned but the singles program fell apart. People around me were born here, they live here and will die here. I spent Christmas alone. Not even a card or a phone call. I made it clear to my pastor and his assistant that I would be alone for Christmas as I have no extended family. I was told it was too bad. I do not drive. I live within walking distance of most people in my congregation so I can walk about two miles. It’s really cold and sidewalks are slippery. The busses do not run on holidays and service is very poor. I would have served meals to the homeless if I had transportation. I had to come home early last night so I couldn’t remain downtown for the New Year’s celebration. I made a mistake in taking too many consecutive days off from work. I am really miffed that people in my congregation don’t care enough about. Sunday the theme of the service was charity. In the sermons were stories of how people did service to others and how the Holy Ghost led them to do that. Well, obviously the Holy Ghost didn’t think enough of me to inspire people that I was alone. I realize my social skills aren’t the best and I am not perfect. I also realize that people might be afraid they are intruding on me–however, I made it very clear to my pastor and his assistant that I didn’t really want to be alone. It is harder for me to make a dinner for 10 people than it is for someone to invite one person over. One person isn’t that much and I could bring a dish. I have been so depressed that no one even cared. Even when I said something about it to several people on Sunday, again I got, “Gee, that’s too bad.” I also spent New Year’s Eve alone. I went to town for awhile but had to get back home before the busses quit running.

  9. Since we moved to this small town 24 years ago I have been so lonely. I tried to make friends through volunteering in different activities. It seems like if you did not grow up here, you don’t belong. It find it very hard to fit in. My husband works long distance, my kids are busy with their own family.

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