So Just What IS Loneliness, Anyway? (Loneliness Defined.)

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Loneliness... What Is It and When Do You Feel It?

  • I feel lonely when I'm by myself.

    Votes: 7 35.0%
  • I don't feel lonely when I'm by myself.

    Votes: 6 30.0%
  • I feel lonely when I am around other people.

    Votes: 7 35.0%
  • I don't feel lonely when I am around other people.

    Votes: 1 5.0%
  • I feel lonely all the time, with or without people. (What would change that?)

    Votes: 4 20.0%
  • I don't feel lonely very often. (What's your secret?)

    Votes: 3 15.0%
  • Loneliness is a situation (such as, being around people vs. being alone.)

    Votes: 2 10.0%
  • Loneliness is a state of mind (feeling lonely no matter what your situation.)

    Votes: 7 35.0%
  • Loneliness is something I can change.

    Votes: 5 25.0%
  • Loneliness is something I have no control over--it's just there, or it isn't.

    Votes: 4 20.0%

  • Total voters
    20

seoulsearch

OutWrite Trouble
May 23, 2009
13,445
3,599
113
#1
Hey Everyone,

This is something I've been thinking about recently.'

Here in Singles especially, we often talk about loneliness, but what exactly IS loneliness in the first place?

A quick Google definition gave this answer:

"Loneliness" --

1. Sadness because one has no friends or company.

2. The quality (of a place) of being unfrequented or remote; isolation.

* How would you define loneliness for yourself?

* Are there different definitions of loneliness?

The reason I have been asking myself this lately is because I find that when I can define something, I can break it down and hopefully find better ways to cope with it.

I personally think that loneliness is pretty sneaky. I've felt loneliness both when I was with people or alone, and when I was in a relationship or single. Realizing this has made me ask myself, "Just what IS loneliness, since I've felt such deep pangs of it whether I am around another person or not?"

I think that for me, loneliness is the state of a lack of comfortable expression.

* If I'm alone, but feel I have a way of expressing myself in a meaningful way (usually through writing, creating, or learning), I don't feel nearly as lonely.

* If I'm with other people and for some reason, don't feel comfortable with taking a turn at expressing myself, then I tend to feel extremely lonely.

I know we've had a lot of threads about how to deal with loneliness, but in this thread, I would like to know what CAUSES people to feel lonely in the first place, because I know some people can be alone most of the time, but don't seem to have as many struggles with loneliness.

What is their secret? (Besides a relationship with God.)

If you'll give me a few minutes, I'm going to create a poll (anonymous and multiple choice,) but I hope it won't stop people from giving their own definitions of loneliness as well.

So, how would you finish the following sentences:

* "I feel lonely when _____________________________"
and
* "My personal definition of loneliness is _______________________________________."

I'll have the poll up in just a few, and thanks for sharing. :)
 

seoulsearch

OutWrite Trouble
May 23, 2009
13,445
3,599
113
#2
Dag nab it.

I am trying to get used to this new poll system, which doesn't allow for as many poll choices as the old system.

I know that not everything is covered in the answers I gave, so please feel free to post any other thoughts that aren't on the poll and would apply to your situation.
 

Lynx

Folksy yet erudite
Aug 13, 2014
18,828
5,228
113
#4
That's fairly perceptive Kim, and something I have never considered before. Loneliness is a function of being ignored, of feeling like people are not paying attention to what you say or do.

It certainly explains why some people are such attention seekers, and why some people seem to create drama just for the sake of having drama. It makes them briefly feel less lonely.

I'm gonna have to go to w*rk and think about that one. I do most of my thinking at w*rk, where my hands are busy but there's not much to keep my mind occupied.

In the meantime:
 

Tommy379

Notorious Member
Jan 12, 2016
7,589
1,146
113
#5
Loneliness is posting on an internet forum all day.
 

cinder

Senior Member
Mar 26, 2014
4,027
2,092
113
#6
I think for me at least loneliness is a state of mind / emotion caused by feeling disconnected and misunderstood. Usually crowds are the most lonely places for me because they help highlight just how different and unique a lot of the way I am tends to be. And the larger the group the more likely the conversation and interaction tend towards something superficial that I have no interest in engaging in. Along with that, someone who gets me and I can have a good conversation with is the best cure for lonliness, but if such an ideal situation can't be found a story that tends to hold the same values can be a help. Also something to distract my mind into plotting ( games, christmas elfing, helping someone with a challenge they're facing, etc) usually helps distract me from the lonliness.

Being alone doesn't cause lonliness for me, until I get to the point where I suffer the effects of longer term lack of any human interaction. I've learned there's a certain amount of human interaction that I do need, but this can be a really superficial level of interaction like being at work and taking random phone calls about computer issues or going to the park to talk to people's dogs (and have the people answer for / about them). Not sure if a pet would be sufficient for that level of interaction, but some day I hope to have a dog and find out just how beneficial that would be.
 

Lynx

Folksy yet erudite
Aug 13, 2014
18,828
5,228
113
#7
cinder, a suggestion: Get a dumb, lazy breed. The last dog I got was an Australian Shepherd, and he has more energy and intelligence than I have. Dumb, lazy dogs ftw!
 
Aug 2, 2009
24,407
4,120
113
#8
Loneliness is feeling unwanted, unnoticed, unloved, unheard, unappreciated, detached, forgotten, not understood, rejected, etc., etc... You'll know it when you feel it.
 

Solemateleft

Honor, Courage, Commitment
Jun 25, 2017
4,632
2,601
113
#9
Agree with Zeroturbulance.
I've learned what loneliness felt like even during my marriage...
- deep inside I think I recognized that 'I did not matter', that I 'was not loved unconditionally'
- when she left - those feelings were only substantiated.
- I've been to two funerals since my spouse left, and I never felt more lonely when I realized the empty feeling in my heart from the realization that during my funeral there is the very likely chance that my Eulogy may not include the statement: "he was so loved by his beloved wife/life partner - she loved him with all her heart ..."
 

melita916

Senior Member
Aug 12, 2011
10,194
2,385
113
#10
I felt lonely when I felt like I had no one to be completely real with. I also felt lonely when I wasn’t connected to people or felt like I was out of the loop.

In college, when I was dating the ex bf, he was the extrovert, so he had many a friends. I felt lonely when they would talk to him and not include me in the convo. I also hated that they didn’t know my name. I was known as “bob’s” girlfriend.

Years later, after we broke up, I remember reading an article that was fascinating to me. I grabbed my phone to share the link with someone only to realize that no one was going to be interested. I felt lonely that day.

Eventually, I didn’t feel lonely anymore since I was involved at church a lot, so I was always with people. But I did feel alone. Not lonely, but alone. Idk if that makes sense.
 

seoulsearch

OutWrite Trouble
May 23, 2009
13,445
3,599
113
#11
I know this can be a very personal topic, so I want to thank everyone for sharing and I hope everyone will continue to do so.

Tommy, it's interesting that you said you were never lonely when you were married. For me, some of my loneliest times were when I was married.

One of the reasons I keep trying to define loneliness is because if I have a grasp on what's causing it, I just might be able to do something about. If my loneliness is based upon a situation, like people who never let me get a word in edgewise, maybe I can choose to spend less time with them. It took me a long time to realize that I felt a lot lonelier around some of the people I thought I had to hang on to in order to pretend that I had friends than when I was just by myself.

If my loneliness is rooted in a feeling, I try to think about something I might be able to do differently in order to change the way I feel.

I have often wondered if loneliness is a physiological condition, like depression can be. If depression is an actual illness that can be treated, can loneliness be approached the same way? (Just imagine taking "anti-loneliness" pills...) Of course, I realize that loneliness and depression often walk side-by-side, but it's interesting to think about which might come first (did one's loneliness cause the depression or did the depression cause the loneliness), and if loneliness is the root cause, and a feeling or result of chemical reactions, could doctors produce some sort of artificial chemical cocktail that could reduce loneliness?

As I look over the poll, the option that makes mesaddest is the one that seems to indicate that loneliness is like an ever-present cloud that we can neither shake nor have no control over.

I know it doesn't seem like much help at times, but two passages immediately come to my mind:

1. "Call to Me in the day of trouble, I will deliver you, and you will honor Me." -- Psalm 50:15.

2. "Cast ALL your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you." -- 1 Peter 5:7.

For all of those who struggle with loneliness, may God comfort you and let His presence be known in your life.

Please keep sharing your thoughts and definitions of loneliness.

My hope is that in the process, we can all help each other along the way. :)
 

tourist

Senior Member
Mar 13, 2014
37,127
14,148
113
67
Tennessee
#12
I never felt lonely when I was married.
During my horrible first marriage I felt lonely and isolated the whole miserable time. Sometimes at work a feel lonely even though I'm surrounded by people. I start missing my wife after many hard hours. The good thing is I know that she loves me and will be waiting for me when I return.
 

Tommy379

Notorious Member
Jan 12, 2016
7,589
1,146
113
#13
I know this can be a very personal topic, so I want to thank everyone for sharing and I hope everyone will continue to do so.

Tommy, it's interesting that you said you were never lonely when you were married. For me, some of my loneliest times were when I was married.

One of the reasons I keep trying to define loneliness is because if I have a grasp on what's causing it, I just might be able to do something about. If my loneliness is based upon a situation, like people who never let me get a word in edgewise, maybe I can choose to spend less time with them. It took me a long time to realize that I felt a lot lonelier around some of the people I thought I had to hang on to in order to pretend that I had friends than when I was just by myself.

If my loneliness is rooted in a feeling, I try to think about something I might be able to do differently in order to change the way I feel.

I have often wondered if loneliness is a physiological condition, like depression can be. If depression is an actual illness that can be treated, can loneliness be approached the same way? (Just imagine taking "anti-loneliness" pills...) Of course, I realize that loneliness and depression often walk side-by-side, but it's interesting to think about which might come first (did one's loneliness cause the depression or did the depression cause the loneliness), and if loneliness is the root cause, and a feeling or result of chemical reactions, could doctors produce some sort of artificial chemical cocktail that could reduce loneliness?

As I look over the poll, the option that makes mesaddest is the one that seems to indicate that loneliness is like an ever-present cloud that we can neither shake nor have no control over.

I know it doesn't seem like much help at times, but two passages immediately come to my mind:

1. "Call to Me in the day of trouble, I will deliver you, and you will honor Me." -- Psalm 50:15.

2. "Cast ALL your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you." -- 1 Peter 5:7.

For all of those who struggle with loneliness, may God comfort you and let His presence be known in your life.

Please keep sharing your thoughts and definitions of loneliness.

My hope is that in the process, we can all help each other along the way. :)
I thought my wife liked me, so I wasn't lonely then.
 

tourist

Senior Member
Mar 13, 2014
37,127
14,148
113
67
Tennessee
#14
Loneliness is posting on an internet forum all day.
Before I married JesusLives I used to feel lonely at CC too because at the end of the day I was still alone. I felt alone and isolated during the entire 8 years I lived in Maine with my sick late wife while surrounded by people that would use and abuse me. It was a sad feeling knowing that my family was enjoying each others company in Florida while I was struggling to stay alive and viable. I couldn't even talk to my wife for the last few years because the medications she was on made her incoherent. All of this lead to a deep state of depression and hopelessness. I am back in Florida now, I have a wife who loves me unconditionally and I feel alive once again freed from the cage of isolation and despair that I resided in.
 

seoulsearch

OutWrite Trouble
May 23, 2009
13,445
3,599
113
#15
I felt lonely when I felt like I had no one to be completely real with. I also felt lonely when I wasn’t connected to people or felt like I was out of the loop.

Years later, after we broke up, I remember reading an article that was fascinating to me. I grabbed my phone to share the link with someone only to realize that no one was going to be interested. I felt lonely that day.
This.

You totally hit the nail on the head with this one, Mel.

I feel loneliest when I don't have someone to be real with, and for me, that has to be a two-way deal. I feel lonely when someone just wants to use me as sounding board 24/7, without ever asking about my life or what I'm interested in.

And I feel just as lonely if I'm trying to talk to someone but for whatever reason, they don't feel they can be real and share with me. Maybe it's just that our personalities don't mix, maybe they don't feel comfortable with me, or maybe I'm just not meant to be someone they will open up to. It makes me sad, but I certainly understand.

One of the ways I cope with loneliness is by researching various things that interest me, even if I'll never participate in that particular activity myself (such as candle-making) or things from my childhood I used to love (right now, it's the old 90's X-men Saturday cartoon show.)

I had completely forgotten how entertaining and clever that cartoon could be (using mutants as a metaphor for various kinds of discrimination), or how much I loved Gambit (vs. Cyclops or Wolverine), but it's hard to find someone who would be interested in talking about a 25-year-old Saturday morning cartoon.

For instance...

The first thing I'd have to do is find someone who actually remembers when they had Saturday morning cartoons. o_O
 

Tommy379

Notorious Member
Jan 12, 2016
7,589
1,146
113
#16
This.

You totally hit the nail on the head with this one, Mel.

I feel loneliest when I don't have someone to be real with, and for me, that has to be a two-way deal. I feel lonely when someone just wants to use me as sounding board 24/7, without ever asking about my life or what I'm interested in.

And I feel just as lonely if I'm trying to talk to someone but for whatever reason, they don't feel they can be real and share with me. Maybe it's just that our personalities don't mix, maybe they don't feel comfortable with me, or maybe I'm just not meant to be someone they will open up to. It makes me sad, but I certainly understand.

One of the ways I cope with loneliness is by researching various things that interest me, even if I'll never participate in that particular activity myself (such as candle-making) or things from my childhood I used to love (right now, it's the old 90's X-men Saturday cartoon show.)

I had completely forgotten how entertaining and clever that cartoon could be (using mutants as a metaphor for various kinds of discrimination), or how much I loved Gambit (vs. Cyclops or Wolverine), but it's hard to find someone who would be interested in talking about a 25-year-old Saturday morning cartoon.

For instance...

The first thing I'd have to do is find someone who actually remembers when they had Saturday morning cartoons. o_O
I very much remember Saturday morning cartoons, but I was pretty much done with them by 1988.