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Understanding Loneliness: Which of these six do you go through?


If you find yourself sitting in a room full of strangers and wondering what common experiences and feelings bind everyone together - loneliness would be one of them. Every human being at multiple points in their lives feels lonely, isolated, detached or disconnected. The NSSO stated that a majority of Indians reported loneliness and depression, flagging it as an epidemic.

The dictionary would define loneliness as ‘sadness because one has no friends or company. But a personal experience of loneliness would be this tumultuous feeling where you don’t feel heard, understood or appreciated, where you’re constantly hitting walls and find yourself in your own head, more than you’d like.

A wave of loneliness can wash one down even when surrounded by a group. For all of us, disconnecting from people to recharge is an important step in building mental resilience, and the trick is to see if you feel content with yourself or you feel isolated from the world.

There are 6 different types of loneliness that we experience. While they are often situational and contextual, the duration for each of them can differ. Our fears often act as invisible barriers in breaking through this feeling.

Superficial Friendship: This is when you have a social circle, people to have around you physically or via social media, but you lack an intimate connection. The friendship is need-based and superficial, leaving you unsatisfied with the bond. This is not a fake friend, rather just not a deep one.

New World: You will often find yourself feeling a little lonely when transitioning - schools, colleges, workplaces, cities, families, etc. The initial period of being unsettled without a solid social grounding can fester feelings of loneliness. This can be a tough time, but remember transitions are also a sign of growth and change.

Nature: For many human beings their connection with nature and animals is of utmost priority in their lives. The absence of pets or lush green spaces can lead to them feeling a sense of emptiness, which no human interaction can compensate for. Animal lovers and pet owners usually face this after the loss of their pet or if they’ve had to move away.

Romance: As human beings, we are drawn to romantic attachment and romantic partners. There are two instances in which we face this loneliness. First, when there is a lack of a romantic partner. Second, when there is a romantic partner(s), but there is no sense of deep intimacy with them, or you’re not satisfied. Romantic partners may not necessarily be sexual partners as well.

Growth: Many a time there might not be a fight or ‘big’ reason for people to not be part of each other’s lives. Over the years, we grow and become individuals with different identities. You may continue to be surrounded by the same people, but your understandings and perspectives have changes. You’ve grown in different directions and while there will continue to be respect and adoration, it is important to acknowledge that you both will find different people who will be important to you.

Deep Intimacy: The relationships that play influential roles in our lives are - blood relationships, romantic relationships and deep intimacy. These are platonic relationships that cheer you on, act as sounding boards and make you feel loved unconditionally. The lack of these relationships or a physical distance from them can contribute to feelings of loneliness.
Sometimes the reasons overlap, sometimes they are out of our control and most of the time social media adds to the feeling. Seeing the world put their best foot forward can lead to a feeling of alienation, but if there is a reminder you need today, it is this, it is here - you are not alone in facing loneliness, and you will find your way to understanding, acceptance and companionship.

Now that you’ve already taken the first step towards combating loneliness, here’s step two: An audio guide that helps you navigate this feeling and become mentally stronger.

        Listen to the Thought Guide