Loneliness is an unpleasant feeling that comes up when a person perceives a lack of social connection, the feeling that something is missing, making it an emotion of absence. It is an unpleasant emotional response to perceived isolation.
Loneliness may be triggered by the inherent social need to experience social connection and may serve as a motivator to seek social interaction and connection.
The curious aspect of loneliness may not always be linked to the absence of people around a person, rather, one may experience loneliness even when ‘in a crowd’. The trigger points for this may be vary for example, loneliness may arise if one is newly introduced to a group of people with established social connection, when one is migrated to a place with a different language and culture, when experiencing a lack or even loss of meaningful relationships and connections. This experience points to a nuance of the trigger for loneliness being unwanted lack of connection and intimacy, not mere isolation. It is important to note that ‘Loneliness’ is distinct from ‘solitude’ which is simply the state of being apart from others. Some people value their solitude and may not experience the pangs of loneliness even when alone.
The long standing experience of loneliness has been correlated with negative impact like increased obesity, substance use disorder, risk of depression, cardiovascular disease, risk of high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, as well as with the increased risk of death and suicidal thoughts.
When loneliness shows up, what does it point to for you in terms of what is being valued?