What is Loneliness?
Loneliness is defined by Jenny De Jong Gierveld, as a subjective situation where an individual lacks certain relationships including intimacy. As well connected as we are with our social technology and networking there is a rise in loneliness among us. This is not just affecting the elderly, it’s affecting young men and women.
A recent advertising campaign by the Nationwide Building Society features Sugar J Poet talking about the importance of face to face connections, staying in touch and making time for one another.
So are we the loneliest society and if so why?
Are we the Loneliest Society?
A research project found that London was voted the loneliest capital of Europe with 52% of young people saying they feel lonely.
I suffered loneliness when I was single in my 30s and I will never forget how it felt. I had a good career, family, friends and a good social life. But when I went home every night I was utterly alone. I had no partner to love or love me back. I felt the best years of my life were flying by and I had non-one to share them with.
During my 30s a lot of my friends started to pair off into couples. They got married and then started families. Suddenly I was the odd one out and I felt very alone. I tried online dating in my 30s in the hope of finding a partner. It really didn’t help, in fact it made me feel worse and even helpless about my situation. Kira Asatryan who is a certified relationship coach and author of Stop Being Lonely, warns against online dating when you’re lonely and says it will only exacerbate loneliness. Given my experience, I agree with her concept.
The effect of Loneliness
Loneliness can have a detrimental effect on a person’s health and well-being. It can lead to lack of confidence, depression, stress and anxiety as well as substance misuse and mental health issues.
It’s a known fact that most of us find it difficult to meet a partner through conventional methods such as at work or in a bar. We lead such busy lives and barely have time for one another let alone finding a partner. The continuous rise of the single person household I believe is testament of this. Living alone is also believed to have an impact on the rise of loneliness with the proportion of adults living solo having doubled according to the last Census.
Loneliness and Online Dating
Some people’s attitude when online dating may also be contributing to loneliness and the rise in single person households. Human behaviour has changed since the launch of online dating. People now use online dating sites and apps in a dismissive manner, believing they have an abundance of choice. They will dismiss those who could be potentially compatible with them in the belief there are hundreds more in store for them. Thus treating dating as if they are shopping for products and not people. The reality is there is plenty of evidence now to show that some online profiles are fake or created by fraudsters.
The well renowned psychologist, Dr Finkel states it’s not possible to tell whether you’re compatible with someone based on their profile. He believes you need to look at interacting with the person rather than focusing on physical attributes such as height and body type.
Of course, physical attractiveness is important but in real life when we get to know someone for their personality we start to find them attractive. Looking at someone’s photograph in their profile doesn’t allow for this slow burn reality of attraction (Kniffin and Wilson 2004 – Evolution & Human Behaviour).
I am living proof of the slow burn of attraction principle, as when I met my partner I was not initially attracted to him. Nor did I think I would spend the rest of my life with him. It was a slow burn for us when we met and I am glad to say that we marry next year. I am no longer alone or lonely.
So how do you stop feeling lonely?
There are a number of things you can do to help alleviate loneliness such as:
Attend a Meetup
Meetup is a social networking platform which allows its members to meet offline in social environments. There are lots of Meetup groups catering for all sorts of interests from walking, sailing, golf, movies, cookery, you name it. The people who attend the group meetings tend to be nice, friendly people in similar situations and single. We run two groups, one in Sussex and Surrey. It’s free to join our group so why not do so. You never know where it might lead to. Click to have a look at our Meetup group and some other groups you could join.
Helping others less fortunate tends to make you appreciate your own situation might not be so bad. You will meet like-minded individuals who care about the communities we live in and that can’t be bad. There are many charities who would welcome your assistance with open arms, Crisis, the RSPCA or Age Concern. This link will take you to a site which lists a number of charities looking for volunteers by area.
There are lots of classes on offer either at a local gym or independently. Try something new and fun. The endorphins exercise release will have a positive effect on your mood.
There is certainly evidence to suggest that we are becoming the loneliest society. There are ways in which we can improve on that and help ourselves. Whatever you do remember you’re not alone in feeling this way. You can take control of your situation and I believe there is someone out there for all of us. Many of our clients find love through our matchmaking service and we’d only be too happy to do the same for you.
Author: Tara McDonnell, founder and owner of South Downs Introductions. Tara is a trained certified matchmaker from the Matchmaker Academy. She is also a proud award winner at the UK Dating Awards 2015.