Loneliness is something we’re all familiar with. It’s almost a compulsory part of the human experience. But, did you know that there are many different types and causes of loneliness? Loneliness isn’t just one blanket feeling, it can be brought on by all sorts of experiences, not just from being alone.
Knowing why you feel lonely is the key to resolving it. Finding out what type is causing your loneliness will allow you to start regaining what was lost.
6 Types of Loneliness
New Situation Loneliness
When you move to a new place, start a new job, or join a new school, you suddenly find yourself alone. When you haven’t made any real connections, you’re forced to spend most of your time in these new places without anyone by your side. This is a very lonely experience. Fortunately, we know deep down that this type of loneliness is temporary. It is part of the transition phase, from your past chapters to your new one.
This type of loneliness isn’t chronic or, hopefully, too insufferable. When you put yourself out there, the loneliness will fade away. It’s only a matter of time before you start to feel included, and surrounded by company, again.
Surrounded but Lonely
So many of us can relate to the feeling of being surrounded by people we love, and who love us and still feeling existential loneliness. Unlike in a new situation, this type of loneliness occurs when everything around us is familiar. We know the people and we know the places, but we just can’t fit in.
For example, you could be in a family full of academics. They love you deeply and you love them, but you’re not interested in their academia. You prefer art maybe, or music. In situations like this, you might feel lonely because you can’t join in on their conversations. You also crave company that shares your interests. The case is similar in groups with mixed religious beliefs.
When you have no one to relate to, it doesn’t really matter how surrounded by others you are. Loneliness can be an emotional experience, entirely unrelated to how physically alone, or not, you are.
Left Behind Loneliness
Everyone goes through phases in life. We all progress to new chapters and have new experiences, but we all do this at different speeds. While some of our friends might be settling down and moving on, we could be taking some stages a little slower. It’s totally okay to take life at your own pace, but it can mean that we often feel like we’ve been left behind.
When the people we usually rely on for company suddenly disappear to new jobs, new lives and new adventures, they have less time for us. This kind of loneliness could be literally applied when our friends become so busy that they genuinely can’t spend any time with you.
It could also be metaphorical, similar to the idea of being surrounded but still feeling alone. If your friends have started families or gotten “proper” jobs before you, then you’ll likely feel loneliness due to suddenly having less in common. This type of loneliness stems from feeling like everyone is too busy for you or that you’re not a priority anymore.
Missing Presence Loneliness
Have you ever lost someone who used to fill a space in your home? When they go, whether it’s through death or a break-up or just moving away, they leave behind a void. This type of loneliness differs from the rest because it doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter whether you have hundreds of other people who love you or none at all. When that one special person is missing, that’s all that matters.
We feel a kind of loneliness that is unaffected by the outside world when we’re rattling around alone in our homes. In some cases, people will even avoid going home, to prevent having to miss their presence. There’s a quiet companionship that comes with living with others, even animals, and when that’s taken away it leaves a hole.
Emotional loneliness presents itself when we have no one significant in our lives to share our emotions with. This differs from the other types of loneliness. You could have plenty of friends, but it’s a depth that’s missing. It appears when friendships are superficial or only surface level.
We aren’t longing for company; we’re just longing for connection. We all face difficulties and traumas, and we all deserve someone to share them with to help us heal.
We feel so lonely without this kind of deep connection. Sometimes the people in our lives just aren’t that emotionally committed to us. Some friends and family are enough to keep us happy and in good company but don’t have the time or depth to take on our emotional needs.
We feel a sense of loneliness because we aren’t able to really share ourselves. We’re alone in the sense that we can’t share, and that can be a very ostracizing experience.
Romantic loneliness is a common and probably the most relatable of all the types of loneliness. It exists independent of friendships and family company. As a part of human nature, we crave the company and intimacy of a romantic relationship. There is just another layer of companionship that friends can’t provide us, so we long for love.
Have you ever been the third wheel when hanging out with friends? These kinds of moments make us feel lonely, despite not being alone. We have a feeling of loneliness because we’re missing a portion of what life could offer. We’re missing that deep connection with another person.
Returning to an empty bed every night can be a lonely experience. Only a true romantic connection can relieve the intense feeling of loneliness which results from watching your friends settle down and cozy up without you.
Loneliness is a universally understood feeling. From children to the elderly, the rich and the poor, loneliness doesn’t discriminate. You’re never alone, though. There are so many different types of loneliness. No experience is the same, but no feeling is too exclusive either.
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