Why am I Lonely? (the Causes and How to Cope)

What is Loneliness?

What is loneliness? It must be pointed out that loneliness is not the same thing as being a private person, or a "loner," because some of us actually both need and enjoy a lot of time to ourselves. Loneliness, instead, is really the difference between the amount of social contact and intimacy you have and the amount you want. Loneliness is when you feel isolated, or like an outcast.

Some people think that the opposite of loneliness must be popularity - this is not always the case - you can have lots of so called "friends" and still feel lonely. True intimacy and feelings of acceptance are much more about the quality of your relationships than the quantity.

Acute loneliness is emotionally painful and can be more damaging to our physical and mental health than many psychiatric illnesses. For instance, lonely people often sleep poorly or suffer sleep apnea, experience anxiety and severe depression, have reduced immune and cardiovascular functioning, or exhibit signs of early cognitive decline that can gradually grow more severe (dementia etc).

Bandaging Van Gogh's head. Vincent suffered severe loneliness and depression
Bandaging Van Gogh's head. Vincent suffered severe loneliness and depression | Source

The Coca-Cola Study on Global Happiness
This study covered 16 countries across four continents. Some findings included:
- People in all countries agreed that real life contact with family and partners is a greater source of joy (77%) than virtual world alternatives.
- The biggest highlights of the day for people everywhere include: spending time with loved ones in the evening (39%), eating with the family (22%) and chatting in person with friends or colleagues (17%).
- Modern engagements such as watching TV (14%), connecting with others online (5%) and receiving the day’s first text message (2%) did not fare well in comparison.(bighow.com)

Studies of Loneliness

Despite extensive recent research on happiness, it's easy to lose sight of another important human condition: loneliness.

As an article in “The Atlantic stated, various studies have shown loneliness rising dramatically over a very short period of recent history. “Social media—from Facebook to Twitter—have made us more densely networked than ever. Yet for all this connectivity, new research suggests that we have never been lonelier (or more narcissistic)—and that this loneliness is making us mentally and physically ill.”

John Cacioppo, one of the USA’s leading scholars on loneliness, has found that loneliness undermines health and can be as detrimental as smoking. “About one in five Americans experience loneliness. Given their feelings of social isolation, lonely individuals may be left to find relative comfort in non-social rewards," said John Cacioppo said Cacioppo.

Therefore feeling isolated not only has detrimental effects on our mental health, but adverse consequences on our physical health as well. One study found that people who had little connection to others were three times as likely to die over the course of nine years as those who had strong social ties. (American Journal of Epidemiology) Another found that lonely people are at higher risk for inflammatory diseases.

New joint research from the University of Chicago, Harvard and the University of California-San Diego and published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, reports that loneliness is contagious not only to friends, but also to acquaintances. While people's friends and acquaintances were susceptible to catching feelings of loneliness, though, family members remained relatively immune. Additionally, women were more likely than men to respond to a friend's loneliness by reporting similar feelings.

(sources: The Huffington Post, Machineslikeus, The Atlantic, Oxford Journals)

Why Be Lonely?

How do you deal with loneliness?

  • Keep busy
  • Join an interest group or club
  • Get a pet to keep you company
  • Take up a hobby
  • Try Internet dating
  • Go shopping
  • Drown your sorrows
  • Travel
  • Other (please explain in comments)
  • Who's lonely? Not me.
See results without voting

Six Factors of Loneliness

If we are indeed in the midst of a "loneliness epidemic," it's worth asking: What causes loneliness? Six of the major factors appear to be:

1. Aging

2. Death, Divorce

3. Temporary Separation

4. Increased Use of Social Media

5. Commuting To and From Work

6. Genetics

1. Our elderly citizens were once revered in the community as purveyors of customs, history and stories. Many were usually cared for by one or more of their children. Now this function is much less valued and as this shift takes place, older people risk feeling increasing loneliness, and marginalized from their families and neighbourhoods, particularly if they end up in nursing homes.

2. Death and Divorce. It is easy to see why the death of a spouse would trigger a feeling of loneliness and it isn’t really necessary to explain, however the divorce factor is more interesting. Loneliness often depends on the reason for the divorce and if infidelity was involved etc. If the separation was sudden and took one partner by surprise when they thought the marriage was reasonably happy. That partner may suffer loneliness as a result. Online dating is booming and has seen its highest growth rate among baby boomers. But lots of online dating doesn't necessarily translate into feeling less lonely. Sometimes it just reinforces it, as people bounce from one partner to another.

3. Temporary Separation: When one or both couples are working you spend a large part of your day apart often only spending time together at night or on weekends. When you retire you suddenly find yourselves spending all your time together. For some couples this is a very welcome change for others not so. I was forced to retire early and so my wife and I have spent most of the last 10 years together. In the last few years she has been called away for a month or two each year to stay with our eldest grandson who has to attend school while his parents go overseas (his stepmother is Indonesian and has to travel back there every six months for citizenship purposes). The first week or two separated from my wife, I admit, is a welcome break (probably for her too) and I can devote my time to my own interests, writing etc. However, after two weeks apart, we both begin to get bored, lonely, and emotional and can't wait to get back together.

4. Social Media: Even as we become more digitally connected as a society, we are becoming less dependent on real-life social ties. A look at Facebook suggests that while "active" interaction e.g. commenting on someone's status update or sending a private message tends to make people feel less lonely, just passively scrolling through other people's feeds and hitting the odd "like" or “share” buttons can make you feel more lonely. Because we are predisposed to overestimate other people's happiness, when we see upbeat, and witty status updates and hundreds of friends, it makes us feel worse about ourselves, jealous and lonely.

5. Commuting: According to famed Harvard political scientist and author Robert Putnam, long commuting times are one of the strongest predictors of social isolation. His studies reveal that every 10 minutes spent commuting results in 10 percent fewer "social connections." Fewer social connections tend to make us feel lonely and unfulfilled.

6. Genetics: Social isolation affects how people behave as well as how their brains operate, a study at the University of Chicago shows. Researchers found that the ventral striatum—a region of the brain associated with rewards—is much more active in non-lonely people than in the lonely when they view pictures of people in pleasant settings.

The ventral striatum, which is critical to learning, is activated through primary rewards such as food and secondary rewards such as money. Social rewards and feelings of love also may activate the region.

A city community garden
A city community garden | Source
Food for the needy
Food for the needy | Source

How to Cure or Cope with Loneliness

1. Figure out where you can find some good friends. Visiting your local nightclub, lounge or bar may not be the best choice. So where can you go?

Reading your local newspaper may be a good place to start. There you’ll find information on community events, and the activities of groups and organizations. If one interests you, make some phone calls and look into it.

For example: Let’s say you love gardening, and you read an article about a local gardening club and what they are doing in your area. Call a contact person or representative and ask how you can become involved with the group. Go to their next meeting and meet some people. Then start participating in their projects.

You’ll be sure to meet some mighty fine people, have fun doing what you love and learn more about gardening; plus, you’ll be able to share your gardening wisdom with others . . . all of which will make you feel LESS lonely.

2. Find ways to help others. Your own emotional needs will often be met, and it will help you to cure loneliness in a big way. When we give of the heart we receive of the heart. The act of doing good deeds replaces lonely feelings and helps you feel more connected with others, resulting in a sense of belonging. In touching someone else’s life, our loneliness dissipates and our service opens new doors of opportunity.

One way to do this is look in the yellow pages or search the Internet for organizations that do good work in your community, such as non-profit groups. Get involved in one or two of these and offer your skills or time. You’ll meet lots of good people who are trying to make a difference in the world and just one new friend may make a difference in your life . . . and help you to cure loneliness!

Get yourself a pet. John and Ginger.
Get yourself a pet. John and Ginger. | Source
A place to write
A place to write | Source

3. Get a pet or pets. Research shows that pet owners are happier, live longer and have a better sense of self-worth. Animals offer unconditional love and companionship and rely on you for their wellbeing. This in turn gives you a feeling of being needed and therefore less lonely. Another alternative is to look at joining an animal foster care program.

4. We all have hobbies or activities that we are good at or make us happy. Develop these and devote more of your time doing them. An active mind provides less opportunity to dwell on loneliness or depression. Maybe there's an activity you've always wanted to do but never put it into fruition. Take writing for example. I always had a desire to write from a young age but working life and having a family took first priority so that goal was put on the back-burner. Now that I am retired I can devote most of my spare time to writing.

5. Give Internet dating a go. If you are unfortunate to have lost a partner whether by death, divorce or separation, you don't want to revisted the bar/club scene or are simply shy and never had a partner, you may like to consider experimenting with Internet dating. I personally know people who have met their current partners on the Internet and are very happy.

The trouble with internet dating is that until you actually meet the person you have been chatting with in person, you have no guarantee that they are who or what they say they are. It is easy to make up a false persona a well as post photos that look nothing like the actual person. There are also many scammers (often from African countries but not exclusively) who can seem very charming but whose sole goal is to get their hands on your money. So by all means try internet dating, but stick with well known dating sites and do so with care.

6. If you can afford to and are physically able, travel. Why sit at home being lonely when you can get out and see the world? It may seem daunting at first if you have never done it, but once you take the first step and book your tour, flight or cruise, you'll be ecstatic that you did. You'll be so busy travelling, meeting people, and seeing the world that you will not even think about being lonely.

7. Join a site like Hub Pages where you can interact with like minded people. The community is friendly and supportive and after awhile becomes like a second family. As well as that you get to do what you love, write, and maybe (if you are lucky) even get paid for it.

8. If you are religious join a church, mosque, synagogue, bible study group or whatever is appropriate. Meet other people of your faith, join in activities and be made feel part of a community. People who have a strong belief in God tend to experience less loneliness.

Source

Summary of Coping Strategies

To Help Beat Loneliness:

  • Join a club/organization. Find like-minded friends
  • Help others. Volunteer
  • Get a pet
  • Take up/expand on a hobby
  • Try internet dating
  • Travel
  • Join Hub Pages
  • Join a church or similar.

Gardening
Gardening | Source
Writing
Writing | Source

Loneliness Is Not My Friend

by John Hansen © 2015


My heart is filed with melancholy

Each time you go away.

Everyone needs time apart,

Or so the experts say.


Each week apart seems like a month,

Each month seems like a year.

Our time apart just moves so slow,

I miss you so, My Dear.


To keep myself from going mad

I find things to fill my time,

Like gardening and doing chores,

Or writing prose and rhyme.


Bad things seem to happen

Whenever I'm alone,

Just last week our dog passed on

You found out on the phone.


Loneliness is not my friend,

Though my companion it seems to be,

Please hurry home to take its place,

I want you here with me.


It seems we keep each other sane

And should never be apart,

So even when you're miles away

You are always in my heart.

Submit your writing to magazines, anthologies, and contests.

Submitting your poetry, short stories, or essays to magazines, anthologies and contests is a good way of passing the time and take your mind off loneliness. There is even a chance they'l be selected for publication (like mine), or you could win a competition with a cash prise. This will surely help to lift your spirits.

We Go On: Charity Anthology for Veterans
We Go On: Charity Anthology for Veterans

The poems and stories included in this anthology, written by various authors (including myself John Hansen), tell of veterans outside of war, of how their sacrifice of service changed their lives long after the war was over. Although some of the messages of the sacrifices of war are sadly timeless, they speak of unsung heroes, and I say unsung because nothing we could ever do for them would ever be enough to say thank you for all they gave. With that said, with these poems and stories, we will give what we can. 100% of the profits made will go to charities for veterans.

 

© 2015 John Hansen

More by this Author


101 comments

annart profile image

annart 19 months ago from SW England

Fascinating hub; lots there I didn't know. It seems strange that loneliness is contagious! Love the Lion and, of course, Roy Orbison!

Your poem is beautiful. I know what you mean about spending too long away from a loved one and about the things going wrong - why is that, I wonder?

Your idea of the poem connected to the article is working well, isn't it?

By the way, I voted for the group/club option, though almost voted for the pet.

Brilliant, John!

Ann


Jodah profile image

Jodah 19 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks Ann, I have spent all day on this hub, then was disappointed when I hit publish - everything was mixed up. Images were all together, text in wrong places..empty capsules. I had to quickly unpublish and edit it. I have had problems with HP all afternoon as I tried to write this. Every time I tried to add another capsule it would come up with "error" etc. but it looks like it all worked out eventually. Thanks for being the first to read and comment.


ArtDiva profile image

ArtDiva 19 months ago from Yountville, CA

Well, to top off this article, you included Roy Orbison's Only The Lonely, an all-time favorite of mine, although always brings memories and tears. I think as we get older though, even with all the various social outlets, good friends distanced by miles are missed, and harder to find new. Harder still, being social often a costly affair without income to support it. But with all this, is knowing the difference between lonely and being alone.


Lesleysherwood 19 months ago

Excellent hub. Loneliness has nothing to do with how many people are around you, or where you live - London is a place full of lonely souls. It can also strike any one of us at any time.


lambservant profile image

lambservant 19 months ago from Pacific Northwest

I have been dealing with lonlieness for the first time in my life since my teen years. Isolation is not the answer, but I find myself doing it more and more. I liked your poem and this was a very well written article. Oh, and I think internet dating is too distant.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 19 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

Jodah dear - you have touched my heart with your poem. It is such a lovely sentiment to your beloved wife. You are so fortunate to have each other.

I just recently came home from a three week stay in a hospital rehab center and can so relate to all you write about in this hub. I am a social network butterfly. Being without access to my computer for so long gave me times of great loneliness. I missed my co-hubbers so much. I often fell asleep thinking about all the beautiful people on HubPages and the articles I love to read. That bit of nostalgia helped me very much.

You bring up some very useful and interesting points in this hub. You have inspired me to return to the rehab center, when I am feeling stronger and more myself, to see if I can volunteer for teaching simple crafts and poetry writing to those who need to fill up their lonely times.

I read (many years ago) Sophia Loren's autobiography and learned a lot from her about overcoming feelings of inferiority, loneliness and learning to love Self. (Who would ever think that a great star like her would ever be lonely - yet she did suffer from deep loneliness at different times in her life.) One comment she made that has stuck with me is "Learn to love yourself, so when you are alone you know you are in good company."

For me, this is a very timely article that helps me to open even more to myself and needs - since I will be unable to "gad about" for some time. I really appreciate this hub and enjoyed reading it. Thank you, Jodah.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 19 months ago from Central Florida

John, I think we all feel lonely from time to time. You've offered some great ideas to help overcome loneliness. Your poem is wonderful. It shows how much you love your wife. It's a shame she had to learn of your dog's death over the phone.

I happen to love The Travelling Willburys. Glad you chose their video to punctuate this useful hub.


annart profile image

annart 19 months ago from SW England

You're welcome, John. I had a few 'moments' on HP today, too. Something's afoot; the gremlins are busy!

Enjoy the rest of your day!

Ann


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 19 months ago from The Beautiful South

This is a sad thing and makes me feel so sad for people like this. I guess I am one of those people who could rarely even feel lonely but I do recognize it especially in older people and am working on an article about that.

I am having trouble with yesterdays hub and although I did not have to republish it, it is sitting way down in the 50s. Well of course, unless someone chose to vote it down is the only other reason I can think of. Things really are getting aggravating around here with share or nothing else seeming to work and if you go to forums with it they just may not let your question stand if it looks too bad on them!

Other than that it's a wonderful day! lol


billybuc profile image

billybuc 19 months ago from Olympia, WA

Been there, done that, could have written the book, and I ain't going back again. You said it all...spoke from my heart...today I don't feel loneliness most of the time, but there are still times.....


cam8510 profile image

cam8510 19 months ago from Columbus, Georgia until the end of November 2016.

Homerun John. This is excellent from beginning to end, but I have to say the poem is outstanding. I'll be sharing this one around.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 19 months ago from Southern Illinois

John, I think everyone has periods of feeling lonely. I especially have episodes of winter depression. Cold, drab days are not winners for me. I find if I can write something, it makes me a happy camper. I am a person who enjoys being alone, but not always. Family and friends fill any void I might have. I love your poem. I am not a facebook fan. I used to be but it got to be too much. I love to play games on line, so that helps in the winter months. The summer is my time. I am an avid gardener and plants and flowers are my favorite hobbies. I will end this comment by saying, " Summer please come soon! " Smiling..


Jodah profile image

Jodah 19 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for reading ArtDiva and for your insightful comment. That is exactly it, we have to realize the difference between "lonely' and "alone". Glad you enjoyed the Roy Orbison song.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 19 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks Lesley, I agree with everything you say. You can be surrounded by people and still lonely.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 19 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for reading lambservant. I hope you get over your current period of loneliness as best you can. I hope there was something helpful in this hub.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 19 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Good to see you back Phyllis. It must have been hard unable to access your computer. I wish you well on your recovery and am so glad this has inspired you to want to return to the rehab centre and volunteer your wonderful skills. I love the Sophia Loren quote..it is spot on.I should have added joining " Hub Pages" as one of the ways of combatting loneliness.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 19 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for your generous comment Shauna. Yes, I don't like telling my wife pets have died etc over the phone. It's hard. Glad you enjoyed this hub and the Travelling Wilburys.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 19 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

You are lucky you are one of those people who seldom feels lonely Jackie. Sorry to hear about your hub. I it one I read and commented on. Weird things are afoot here. Every time I check my hub stats different ones are at the top and the bottom. One day a certain hub will be in the high 90s, a week later it's at the bottom in the 50s, and vise versa. There seems to be a lot of gremlins in the workings too.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 19 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

There aren't too many of us that have never been lonely Bill. Glad you got through the worst of it to the happy life you have today. I still have those moments, though they are only passing now. Thanks for reading.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 19 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for that generous comment Chris and for the share. Much appreciated.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 19 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi Ruby, when we get extended periods of overcast and rainy weather my wife tends to get depressed too. That doesn't seem to effect me and I don't mind being alone up to a point. After awhile I get bored with my own company I think. writing and Hub Pages helps. I don't use Facebook a lot either, other than to play a couple of games and share a hub occasionally. Hope your summer comes soon.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 19 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Jodah...This is a wonderful piece of work as always. Your writing just gets better and better all the time. You put so much into it and it's very obvious.

Well my friend, I have no idea what this says about me, but I can honestly say I have never known "loneliness." I mean this sincerely. I just have never felt what can be described as being lonely. Not even once....and I'm in my 6th decade of life. I've talked to a lot of people about this, friends, family.....they look at me like I have 2 heads. I can truthfully claim to have felt everything there is to experience in this life except for 2 things...loneliness or boredom. In fact, I have a difficult time understanding what people truly mean when they utter the words, "I'm bored." If you can understand what I'm saying, being bored IMO is an impossibility....unless of course you're locked in an empty closet. I just don't get it.

However, I do know that many many people suffer loneliness and boredom and need to know how to deal with it. Your hub is a must read for them,! UP++++


Jodah profile image

Jodah 19 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Paula...how privileged you are to have never experienced loneliness or boredom. I'm sure there are many who'd be willing to share or hand over those feelings to you. It is great that you lead a full and interesting life. I truly believe that you are responsible with how you live your life and the emotions you feel. You can actively choose to make the most of every moment and not be bored...or you can feel sorry for yourself and just sit and mope. It's not always easy for the elderly and alone, or the disabled...but there is a lot of mind over matter involved. Thanks for reading, your interesting comment and vote up.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 19 months ago from southern USA

Great article, John. I do love my alone time, being I am so busy during week, and, yes, with my commute time during the week ... I actually think my hour commute back and forth into the city helps me to have time to get my thoughts right for the day and then unwind on my way home by listening to music, praying even in the mornings and on my way home. I really enjoy that "me" time, as I call it, as I do not have any interruptions. I can understand long haul truck drivers getting lonely and such long drives being harmful to them for sure.

There is a big difference between social isolation and alone time. I have also written a hub on this topic and social isolation actually can kill you. It can lead to all sorts of health issues. Having a pet is the best in my mind, as they offer that unconditional love.

I love your poem. Perfect fit for this article.

Up interesting and useful, tweeting, pinning, G+ and sharing (The share button is now working!)

Peace and blessings


ChitrangadaSharan profile image

ChitrangadaSharan 19 months ago from New Delhi, India

An insightful hub with a lot to think about.

Loneliness can be very damaging for the psychological health and therefore physical health.

Being alone and being lonely are two different things. One can feel lonely even in a crowd.

I do not feel loneliness because I always keep myself busy.

You have given some very important and useful tips to follow for those who are affected with loneliness.

Great hub and lovely poem too, voted up!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 19 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you for your insightful comment Chitrangada. Loneliness is something a lot of people suffer from at least now and then. I appreciate the vote up too.


SAQIB6608 profile image

SAQIB6608 19 months ago from HYDERABAD PAKISTAN

Well Ginger us cute John!!

I have parrots !! Keeping oneself busy, a happy go lucky attitude, Motivation and Respect for all are what I think the ways to stay way Lonliness.

Stay committed once you work, fresh once you rest & be thankful to the Lord

in between the two times.


Marie Flint 19 months ago

Nicely done. You covered many ways of coping with loneliness.

We are, by nature, a social animal (just look at the social structure of chimpanzees and orangutangs). We have, it is believed, something animals don't have--free will. We have the ability to choose and create our reality. Even feeling alone is a choice.

I normally don't get lonely, but when I do it's because I'm focusing on the sense of being separate, which is the farthest thing from the truth. Everything in the universe is connected--everything. When you realize that, it is impossible to feel lonely. (Just try to get away from God!)

Choosing to feel lonely creates a blockage in life's energy flow. As an unguent to counteract this, here is an affirmation from Archangel Chamuel and Archeia Charity: BE GONE FORCES OF ANTI-LOVE! (3X-9X).

Have a fulfilling, connected day!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 19 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you SAQIB, I appreciate your kind words and advice.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 19 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you for reading Marie and for your interesting comment. Have a connected day yourself.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 19 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank your Theresa. Your comment is so appreciated. I agree, I enjoy driving alone listening to my music. I don't find that lonely at all, but those that drive long distance regularly may experience loneliness. Have I read your hub on the topic? Thanks for the vote up, share, tweet an share.


DDE profile image

DDE 19 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

I did not know how to cope with loneliness in a foreign country. I managed to keep busy and gradually I found myself occupied with different interests. You shared an interesting insight to loneliness.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 19 months ago from Shelton

what a touching well researched hub Jodah.. lonliness.. so many suffer from it even if they don't realize it.. voted up and awesome and I love the poem too great hub my friend


Aneegma profile image

Aneegma 19 months ago

John, I love the picture of you and Ginger! You so totally look chilled out!! For me, moving back in with my mom beat the loneliness blues, especially after Ruru died. I got Ruru when my relationship ended and he kept me going. Now at least I have mom to talk to and just chat and I'm okay with that now. But loneliness sucks and its an awful thing to happen to anyone. Thanks again for another great hub!


ocfireflies profile image

ocfireflies 19 months ago from North Carolina

John,

Great comprehensive hub with matching awesome poem. Voted up/shared...

Blessings,

Kim


CrisSp profile image

CrisSp 19 months ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

Remarkable hub with great images that speaks volume combined with awesome poetry.

Voted up, useful, positively sharing and linking this with one of my older hubs, "Brutal Loneliness".

Love from the sky~


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 19 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

I like the quote that if we want to do something we will find a way. If we don't, we will find an excuse! I relate! There are times in my life when loneliness gets the best of me, but I have found that all I have to do is find someone who is more lonely than I am and spend some time with them, then I feel much better!


Smilealot 19 months ago

You have put together a great hub here Jodah. It is well written, informative and well researched.

Loneliness is like an epidemic of the modern age. It is quite odd as we all live a lot closer together than we have ever done in history, yet we have somehow moved further apart:-))


Jodah profile image

Jodah 19 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi Devika, if anything would be a cause of loneliness it would be moving away from your friends and relatives and the life you have always known to start again in a foreign country where you know no one. I applaud you for finding a way to overcome your loneliness. Your story inspires others. Thank you for reading this.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 19 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks Frank. Loneliness is somewhat of a silent epidemic. We can be surrounded by people yet totally alone. Glad you liked the poem too.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 19 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Aneegma, glad you liked that pic of Ginger and I...."chilled out", yeah....how could I ever be lonely :) I'm glad moving back in with your mom helped overcome your loneliness and sadness. It effects so many, and is a far from pleasant thing to go through, but as you found can be overcome. Thanks for reading and commenting.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 19 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi Kim, thank you for your kind words, vote up and share as always. I always have to sneak a poem into my hubs somewhere... :)


Jodah profile image

Jodah 19 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hey there Cris, how's the air up there? Thanks for the great comment, vote up and share. Glad you enjoyed this one enough to link it to "Brutal Loneliness", I remember that hub of yours well. I'll put a link to it here as well. Cheers.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 19 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Yes Denise, I relate to that quote as well. That's a good strategy of yours to find someone lonelier than yourself and spend time with them.....that solves two problems...well done. Thanks for reading and sharing that.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 19 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hello Smilealot, you couldn't speak any truer words than those. Something needs to be done, but I don't know what. It's easier to give advice than actually fix the problem.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 19 months ago from southern USA

Probably not, John, as it was published two years ago and I don't think we knew each other then. I have a photo of a woman sitting at the end of a pier with her arm around her dog. It is called Can Being Alone Literally Break Your Heart. Apparently the topic of loneliness hits home with a lot of people.

Blessings


Billie Kelpin profile image

Billie Kelpin 19 months ago from Newport Beach

Lovely, informative hub that so many can relate to.

My little story:

I was 7 years old. It was a Sunday afternoon in the 50's. We lived above a drugstore across the street from the Emergency Hospital on 24th and Wells in Milwaukee, WI. My parents sent me outside to "play". There were no neighborhood children to play with because there were no houses around - our upstairs apartment was the only residence on the block. All the stores were closed because it was Sunday.

My dad walked me outside, bringing my beautiful doll buggy down the steps to the sidewalk below. I wrapped my dolly in a blanket and tucked her safely in the buggy, waved to my daddy, and headed up the street toward Wisconsin Ave. After walking up and down the block several times, my heart was overcome with a sense of utter aloneness. (I actually remember it was on the up-the-street part of the walk TOWARD Wisconsin Ave., not down part when the feeling grabbed at my chest.) Tears might have snuck down my cheek; I don't remember. There is one thing I DO remember to this day some 63 years later. I remember precisely the sentence that suddenly had popped into my little 7 year old consciousness:

"OH, so THIS is what the word 'lonely' means."


Jodah profile image

Jodah 19 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

I will have to seek that hub out Faith.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 19 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Billie, thank you for sharing that touching childhood experience. It was probably good that you discovered the meaning of "lonely" back then, and have hopefully avoided that feeling ever since.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 19 months ago from southern USA

Thank you so much for linking, John. You are so kind. I would love to link your hub too.

Bless you


Billie Kelpin profile image

Billie Kelpin 19 months ago from Newport Beach

Jodah,

Unfortunately, lonliness has became part of my psyche, and I'm a usually a miserable mess most of the time :) Talk about being contagious as the joint study you sited found, I think I might single-handedly have brought a few psychologists over the edge right into their own depression :) Of course anyone who, like me, knows all the words to the two songs you posted might be certifiable. But you forgot my FAVORITE, dreadfully beautiful "Sunday Morning Sidewalk" by Johnny Cash https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVR6LIvmvAU

"and there's nothing short of dying, that's half as lonesome as the sound, of a sleepy city sidewalk and Sunday mornin' comin' down."

But seriously, that's why your hub is so important. It helps readers to learn ways to overcome lonliness before it becomes so ingrained that it feels strange not to be!


Sparklea profile image

Sparklea 19 months ago from Upstate New York

Jodah what a wonderful hub you have put together about a topic so many can relate to! Your writings are so sincere and full of heart. I very rarely get lonely, and, like Paula, NEVER bored, in fact I loathe it when someone says, 'I am bored.' - in a world full of wonder, how can one be bored??

I do remember when I was 12, my grandparents who raised me sent me to a church camp for a week. My twin was there also, but bunked in another cabin. I was never so lonely and homesick in my whole life! I literally counted the hours and days before I could go home...I was very shy and really had a horrible week. I LIVED to go home!

Also when my husband got a new job back in 2005, they started him out on a 1:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. shift. It took me over two years to adjust to being alone in the evening...I would weep every day after he left for work. So I can truly relate to lonely. Also, I would ask myself, "how do widows do it? How do they survive???" I finally did adjust...I made it a point to spend time writing at Barnes & Noble, then watched television in the evening (I never turn on the TV in the day time) which helped a lot.

The night he came home about 4 years later and announced he was on days was the best news ever! I LOVE having him home evenings.

Your hub is full of wonderful suggestions, love the pictures and I am very familiar with the Roy Orbison song. Also the six factors of loneliness is so informative, and very helpful. You put a lot of time, thought and research into this excellent write.

The poem is beautiful too.

Thank you so much for this! I especially love the photo of you and your dog. God bless you real good Jodah. Sparklea


Jodah profile image

Jodah 19 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Well, thanks for revisiting and clarifying that Billie :) Oh, yes I love that song by Johnny Cash and that unforgettable line about loneliness. I think he was a prime example of loneliness. Maybe you should write a hub on songs expressing loneliness.


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Jodah 19 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Be my guest Faith :)

I'll never knock back a link.


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Jodah 19 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Sparklea, thank you for that excellent comment and sharing your own personal experience. I think being bored and lonely are two entirely different creatures :)

You are right that nighttime is when loneliness can be strongest. You can usually remain busy during the day to keep it at bay, but if you are sitting alone at night it can be a different thing. While I was researching this I found interesting results of studies in regard the separation of identical twins and loneliness too. I am glad you can relate to this and feel that people will find the suggestions helpful. God bless.


Sara Sarwar Riaz profile image

Sara Sarwar Riaz 19 months ago from Michigan, USA

A wonderful hub, touching on so many important aspects of the timeline of human existence which has always been familiar with the feeling of loneliness. It is, however, unfortunate as to how we have eluded ourselves with the idea of companionship in a virtual world. We have replaced real human relationships and encounters with social media interactions, and even though the number of "friends" formed here may have exceeded the chronology of relationships experienced in a real world setting, humans have never been lonelier.

A very well written article interspersed with helpful information and insightful research. Beautiful poetry to go along with,


Jodah profile image

Jodah 19 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you for such a constructive and intelligent comment Sara. It is disturbing that our virtual friendships and relationships are far surpassing our real world connections. It is beneficial for people who are housebound due to a disability or age frailty etc but a worry that young fit people are embracing the virtual world at the expense of real life. What will the ultimate outcome be, only time will tell. I appreciate your encouragement and support. Have a great day.


travmaj profile image

travmaj 19 months ago from australia

Well said John. It's difficult to believe people can be lonely with all the technical advantages today but this seems to help people withdraw. I also have a friend who is very shy and it is so difficult for her to connect. I guess this is genetic. I've certainly had moments of loneliness and yes, you can feel lonely in a crowd of people. Some good advice - I like the pets. Cheers John, Maj


Jodah profile image

Jodah 19 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for reading Maj. Yes, it surprised me that genetics are one of the things that loneliness can be blamed on and that it can be a predisposed condition s well as contagious. Computer and digital technology are helpful for people who are shy and timid, but it also is an easy way out so that they don't have to face or try to correct their problem. Cheers.


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 19 months ago from Australia

John as fascinating as I have found your Hub I have found the 'comment' section just as fascinating!

Never (fortunately for me) having suffered from 'loneliness' I just did not realise that it has become such a problem in this day and age?


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Jodah 19 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for reading agvulpes. I agree that the comments are often as valuable a read as the hub itself. This one is no exception. It doesn't really make sense that loneliness should be increasing in today's world, but it is. It is difficult for those who have never suffered loneliness to understand the extent of the problem.


MPG Narratives profile image

MPG Narratives 19 months ago from Sydney, Australia

What an interesting read, Jodah. I had no idea that loneliness was on the increase but I guess with our aging population it can be a problem. I guess it just proves that no matter how many machines and gadgets we have nothing can replace a human. After all us humans are social beings. Great hub, voted up and interesting.


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Jodah 19 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you MPG Narrative, yes in a way it was surprising because you'd think email, social media and smart phones would make it easier to communicate....but yes it is obviously face to face human interaction that is lacking and causing loneliness. Thanks for the vote up.


Kristen Howe profile image

Kristen Howe 19 months ago from Northeast Ohio

Wow John. What a powerful hub on dealing with loneliness and how to cope with it. I'm so glad to have my cats to keep me company, ever since my mother passed away almost a year ago this month. Beautiful poem, too! (I'm thinking of posting my old decade-old poems here on HP real soon.) Voted up!


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Jodah 19 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Kristen, animals are a great help in overcoming loneliness, especially cats and dogs. I cannot remember anytime in my entire life when we didn't have at least one pet. This is especially the case when you lose a family member. I look forward to reading your poetry. The first hubs I ever published were collections of my poetry that was written over 20 years ago. Thanks for your kind comment and vote up.


CatherineGiordano profile image

CatherineGiordano 19 months ago from Orlando Florida

Jodah: I can see that you put a lot of thought into this piece on loneliness. Your definitions and exploration of the subject were showed great understanding. Your advice was useful. You did a great job with this subject. Voted up and more.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 19 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you Catherine. I know you always put a lot of effort and research into your own hubs so I know you can appreciate that. I am glad you found this interesting and appreciate the vote up etc,


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 19 months ago from USA

Your poem to your wife was very touching, especially as you still grieve for Ginger. Right now I am trying to keep my mother's spirits up, as she is struggling with impending blindness as a result of multiple failed eye surgeries for cataracts which began as one routine surgery. She is very sad and lonely, certainly not flourishing at the moment.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 19 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hello Flourish, it must be terribly lonely and frustrating for your mother. Doctors always make out that cataract operations are routine but like any other operation there is always a risk involved. That is a very sad situation and I hope you and other family can succeed in lifting your mom's spirits. Glad you liked my poem. Blessings to you and yours.


Suzanne Day profile image

Suzanne Day 19 months ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Great hub! I think I've lived nearly my whole life alone. I find it hard to make friends because I'm just not into what others enjoy and people cannot understand me. I don't want to change myself, so I end up alone.

I've had a lot of relationships, but these are just partners using me as their emotional cushion and for s*x, so can't say I received much back from those.

I like a lot of alone time but occasionally it grates on me. I find interacting with complete strangers on a night out to be very enjoyable and helpful in fulfilling some emotional needs (everyone's on their best behaviour when you first meet them).

Social media is great too, but lacks a certain something.

Since I've yet to rectify this issue, I've decided to resign myself to a life alone, figuring out everything I enjoy and doing it in spades. I must admit, not having anyone get in the way of my projects has been fantastic and I don't know if I could let other people get in the way of it anymore.

Voted awesome!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 19 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for that great and honest comment Suzanne. There are benefits to living alone, you don't have anyone else to have to answer to or please and you can do everything the way you like it. Some people just can't get on living with others full time. My wife and I usually get to spend two or three months of each year apart, and in a way we both look forward to having some time to ourselves...but if it extends to more than a month at a time it gets too long. The time alone is enjoyable for awhile but eventually leads to some boredom and you start to need that "close" contact. You seem to have your life worked out. Glad you enjoyed this hub. Thanks for the vote up.


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 19 months ago from Stillwater, OK

Great topic, John. With all I have to do and all my hobbies, I certainly do not feel alone, even though I am. I will have an orntithology degree soon, so that will also take me plenty of places. Imagine, writing about my birds, photographing them, and doing research...it is a dream come true.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 19 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Tat sounds like it will be wonderful for you Deb, bet you can't wait. Thanks for the kind comment.


Romeos Quill profile image

Romeos Quill 18 months ago from Lincolnshire, England

A great, informative Hub article John, of which its personal nature is bound to get folk to draw from the well of their own experiences in such matters of import.

Social isolation is a real humdinger; reminds me of when one is a bit younger, ostracized by parents and trying to make it big in the city. A healthy work and sleep routine, tough physical exercise and not dwelling too much on the negative certainly took the brunt of it when I wasn't welcome at home anymore and being around positive people all the time at work helped kicked it to the kerb.

I wonder how many folk are out there suffering in silence?

Your rhyme at the end is sure to tug a few hearts. Sorry to hear about the passing of your beloved pet John; I feel for you.

Best Wishes;

R.Q.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 18 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for reading this RQ and for your insightful comment, relating your own personal experience. I do hope people enjoy this hub and that it maybe even helps a few. I appreciate the condolences in regard to Amber as well. Best Wishes back.


ananceleste profile image

ananceleste 18 months ago from California

Loneliness is indeed a silent killer. It strips your soul to raw pieces. Very informative and positive. I know a thing or tow of being alone. Is crippling, but is a choice nevertheless my friend. Love this.


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Jodah 18 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you very much for that kind comment Anan. Only one who has truly experienced being alone can truly understand. You are right that it is a choice, you can be lonely in a crowd of people or quite happy being on your own...but it is what you make it.


lisavanvorst profile image

lisavanvorst 18 months ago from New Jersey

Loneliness should be a disease. I say this because it does lead to depression and other physical problems as your article mentioned. I blame a lot of loneliness on social media. We are no longer calling people we just text or e-mail. We go on sites and do not actually interact with people Our family life is so busy and if you do not work, well back to the computer you go. I was unemployed for 23 months and although I had family, I was getting so depressed for lack of human interaction. This was when I actually joined hubpages which for me is a great site. I feel that for some who do not know how to make friends, join communities, loneliness becomes a way if life and so does the computer. This is not to say going on media sites is a bad thing, it just does not compare to being with friends and family in person. We as society just go home from work, do what we have to do at home and start typing on theses sites. Sure it is a way to reach out, but no words are heard just written. Something to think about, wouldn't you agree?


Jodah profile image

Jodah 18 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for the wonderful comment Lisa and for sharing some of your personal experience. Yes being unemployed for an extended period can lead to loneliness and depression. If the use of social media keeps developing and overtaking personal interaction people will eventually lose the ability and need to speak..scary.


Dana Tate profile image

Dana Tate 18 months ago from LOS ANGELES

Yes John social media has it's pros and cons. It has definitely increased isolation and depression. It seems as if the problem is getting worse. Many times I feel lonely but I thank God I do have a loving pet and I try to keep busy.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 18 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for reading Dana. Yes you are right about the pros and cons of social media. Pets are a great help with overcoming loneliness.


Larry Rankin profile image

Larry Rankin 18 months ago from Oklahoma

Great article. Something you touched on, it seems life is becoming more and more virtual, yet virtual contact doesn't seem to satisfy.

Who knows, maybe we should actually get out and do stuff sometimes.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 18 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for reading Larry. The virtual world is wonderful and has opened up great opportunities for communication, but you hit the nail on the head "we should actually get out and do stuff sometimes." I'm as bad as anyone, I sometimes have to force myself to get out of the house sometimes and go places and visit real people.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 18 months ago from Orlando, FL

I have never experienced loneliness, some days I wouldn't mind a bit of feeling lonely because I have never experienced it. I do like my alone time that I rarely have. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't like loneliness. Alone time, I like. Excellent hub! I'm sure it will benefit many!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 18 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you Sunshine, you are very fortunate to have never felt lonely. Alone time is completely different. We all need that now and then.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 18 months ago from New York

John it is obvious I'm not the only one who realizes how outstanding this hub is. You've looked at loneliness from every angle. Like others here, fortunately, I have never been lonely. I've always had family and friends for which I am ever grateful.

Your poem touched the heart in many ways. How lucky your wife is to be so appreciated. I am so sorry about your dog. I know the pain.

The lion and it's quote were spot on and, what can I say about Roy Orbison?

Voted up, useful, awesome, interesting, and shared.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 18 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you for such a wonderful and thoughtful comment Mary. Have a great day.


sandeep15r profile image

sandeep15r 18 months ago from New Delhi

Thanks, for such a wonderful and engaging hub.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 18 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you for taking the time to read this hub Sandeep, and for leaving such a kind comment.


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 18 months ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

Great Hub, Jonah! I like the way you define loneliness, distinguishing it from "loner", then giving tips to combat loneliness. Then ending with one of your lovely poems.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 18 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi Rebecca, thank you for reading this hub. Hopefully some people who are actually suffering from loneliness get to read this and may find it helpful. Glad you liked my poem too.


brakel2 profile image

brakel2 13 months ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Hi John - This hub is so beautiful and filled with ideas for lonely folks. We had dogs for a long time, and now wish we still had one of our Golden Retrievers. We worry about a dog getting in our pool now, however. Your ideas are so well thought out, and you seem to have myriads of them. They will help all the lonely people. If you help one person, mission accomplished. Sharing, Blessings, Audrey


Jodah profile image

Jodah 13 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you so much Audrey. I hope this hub gets read by enough people to have an effect. As you say, even one lonely person who finds it helpful is a plus. Maybe I should hare it again on Twitter etc. Blessings.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 12 months ago from Dallas, Texas

Beautiful thoughts and solutions to a common problem. I really liked your statement, "The act of doing good deeds replaces lonely feelings and helps you feel more connected with others, resulting in a sense of belonging." And of course, being with my dogs help with this, too.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 12 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks Peg, we have three dogs and can't imagine how lonely life would be without pets.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 12 months ago from Dallas, Texas

We're down from four dogs at one time to only one at the moment. Tony's sister, Cookie, crossed over the Rainbow Bridge in June. We're still missing her so much. She was fifteen.


Vellur profile image

Vellur 12 months ago from Dubai

Informative and a useful hub about loneliness. Parents can feel empty and alone when their kids go off to college. Having pets around helps a great deal to kill loneliness. You have mentioned many ways one can get over loneliness, thank you for sharing.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 12 months ago

I do think some people confuse loneliness with boredom and being a loner. It's ok to enjoy being alone but if there is emotional stress involved then one needs to find ways to deal with it. Your suggestions for overcoming loneliness are good. I do think a pet is wonderful for those who are alone and are unable to get out of the home.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 12 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

We still have three dogs..all around 10 years old. We lost one, Amber, about six months ago. Sorry to hear about Cookie but 15 was quite a good age


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Jodah 12 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for the great comment Vellur, yes pets are good to help keeping the loneliness away after the kids have moved out.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 12 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Yes Diana, you make some good points. I enjoy my alone time..it is different to being "lonely." Have a great weekend.

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    John Hansen (Jodah)685 Followers
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    John has many years writing experience including a Writing School course "Writing for Profit." He has written text for children's books etc.



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