Loneliness has grown…

far beyond what we would care to admit here in America. Many would say that it is a massive yet hidden epidemic. This is occurring with all kinds of people of various ages, gender, race, religious beliefs, and more. Men seem to struggle more with loneliness than women. Even though we have data phones, email, all kinds of social media, multiple ways of communicating with each other, somehow many are lonely. With all the means to communicate, we are also talked at and entertained ad nauseam. For example, the information super highway gives us immediate access to all kinds of stuff. We have massive numbers of apps, video games, movies, video clips, DIY videos, blogs, etc.  We are talked at, stuffed with information, and we observe others in movies that are interacting, but many Americans are not interacting literally with each other in meaningful ways.

Lonely, Longing to Connect

This brings us to some thought provoking questions about it. When did loneliness start for you? Was it in the 2020 pandemic? Working from home by yourself? After a breakup? After a loss? During a falling out or betrayal with a close friend? Perhaps it started as early as childhood? Let’s look more into what is loneliness and comparing it to being alone.

Being lonely is a perception of disconnect from others that seems to trigger mental or emotional distress.  In contrast, alone is a literal physical state of not being around others who you can develop a relationship with. In the Bible, God said “It is not good for man to be alone…” We were created to belong, to be together. Further, consider the difference between being alone and lonely. Being alone for certain lengths of time may lead to loneliness. You might say, “I go to church”, or “I go out to the movies”, or “I work out with people at the gym”. “Why do I feel lonely”?  You may also try to connect on social media. However, until there a connection towards belonging, moving past being superficial toward genuineness, the struggle with being lonely continues.

What Brings A Bout of Loneliness?

  • A sense of being disconnected from meaningful relationship/s
  • Believing you are not being heard, seen or understood
  • Sensing a lack of empathy from another
  • Lack of reciprocity (mutual benefit) in relationship with another or others
  • Not feeling a part of…a lack of belonging (self-belonging, belonging with others)

As a result, loneliness can lead to more stress, tension, depression, anxiety, anger, or erratic eating or sleep patterns. Then, more isolation, drug or alcohol misuse, other addictions, angry with yourself or others, and other health issues. You may ask, “Why is this happening with me”? “What is keeping me from meaningful relationships”?  Let’s take a look at some possibilities.

Roadblocks to Connecting

  • Lack of trust
  • Fear of rejection
  • Fear of being hurt (again)
  • Social anxiety
  • Lack of social etiquette or social awkwardness
  • Poor history of and current boundaries
  • History of abandonment
  • Early childhood bonding and attachment issues
  • Busy-ness
  • Superficial or fake connections
    • Via social media
    • Via fantasy friendships / fake friendships

You may need to explore further some or many of the roadblocks aforementioned with a counselor before moving forward. This will allow yourself to heal from old or current emotional wounds in preparation to connect with others once again. Consider the following ways to begin again in connecting with others.

8 Ways to Connect

Change the way you approach life.

Many times we as humans look to others to change our mood, actions, attitude or feelings. Start with yourself…take an inside look into what is triggering your sense of loneliness. What is prompting you to isolate from others? What simple changes will you make? Write them down. This will help you shift out of a loneliness mindset and into positive change. However, if the changes are difficult, seek out a trained counselor to sort out the triggers and roadblocks.

Be aware of your expectations in friendships.

Each of us has certain expectations when it comes to our friendships. Explore them. Ask yourself, “What is realistic, when do I apply them in the growth of the friendship, what is my intent”?  There will be other items to ponder but this helps to keep yourself in check. Further, be mindful of others’ expectations of you as a friend. Are these expectations compatible? Realistic?

Consider being a friend.

This may seem to be common sense but it starts with you. As part of changing your approach, being a friend entails defining what a friend is. Further, identify traits of a good friend, reflect on what you want in a friend, and then strive to be that friend.

Establish a connection.

Keep in mind the who, what, when, where, and why for connecting. Each of these components are important. Review these along the way.

Develop trustworthy connections with others while holding to your boundaries.

Trust is a significant factor here. Regaining trust starts with you. Being able to trust your own judgments, decisions, gauge your intuition, and ability to problem-solve. Start with simple, small connections and build from there while being mindful of your boundaries.

Compliment others.

When others are present, we can say “hello” or speak an encouraging word like “I appreciated what you did” or we reach out to others

Connecting with like-minded people.

Finding common ground, common interests with others helps to have somethings to discuss. This also helps to become a part of a group and to build an identity with the group. Make connecting with others a top priority.

Become interdependent part of a group.

There are many types of groups with certain norms, goals and functions. For example, a volunteer group, church group, hiking or cycling club have their own purposes. Be yourself and allow for others to be themselves while sharing thoughts and ideas.  Each person will have different points of view so be objective, listen, and attempt to understand without judgment.

As you regain connections, releasing loneliness, there are challenges, struggles as well as victories with satisfaction through it all. If this process seems overwhelming, difficult to approach or manage on your own, seek help. We are here for you. You are not alone in being alone. Let’s get through this together.



Here are some of our counselors available to address loneliness.


Jennifer Foster