Kaitlyn has a background in psychology and writes articles that teach you how to lean on your body, mind, heart, and on those around you.
As technology continues to advance and we find more ways to stay "connected” without physically meeting, it’s only natural for those of us who are single or living alone to feel more lonely. These feelings of loneliness can worsen when we get older to find ourselves still living alone while our friends pair up one after another to settle down in happily married bliss.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with being alone. Being alone and lonely are two very different things. Many of us have no problem living alone, staying single, and doing things by ourselves. But if we feel isolated, disconnected, or depressed when alone, that’s when we need to do something about it.
Feeling connected to people is crucial to our mental and physical well-being. Loneliness has been recognized by doctors (as addressed in this study) and the UK government as a significant social health concern that needs to be officially addressed.
The first step to dealing with feelings of loneliness is to recognize that even though you’re single and living alone, you’re never as isolated as you feel.
Poll: Feeling Lonely
7 Things to Do to Cope With Loneliness
Spending time alone and enjoying quality “me” time is also important, but if you’re feeling sick of being alone, down, and particularly isolated from others, here are seven things you can do to help you deal with loneliness and feel more connected with the people around you.
1. Invite Friends Over For No Reason
Just because you’re living alone and your apartment may be a little cramped doesn’t mean you can’t invite people over. Don’t assume that no one wants to come over to spend time with you. You’d be surprised by how many people also feel lonely and may jump at the invitation. Even if there isn’t a special occasion, offer to host a girl’s Netflix binge night, play some video games together, a spa night, or even a girly sleepover (you’re never too old to have sleepovers). Even throw a party for no reason at all.
Don’t feel equipped to host get-togethers? Buy more chairs and tableware so you’ll feel more motivated and prepared to have friends over.
2. Say Yes More Often
Just as it’s a great idea to invite friends over to your place, it’s also helpful for you to say yes to more invitations. It can become a habit for you to shut down and stay in, but make sure to stick your neck out and say yes to an invitation even if you’re not sure you’ll enjoy yourself. Did an acquaintance invite you over for a birthday party, baby shower, wedding, or an after-work dinner? Say yes even though you may not know anyone else there. Take it as an opportunity to make new connections. Who knows what kind of people you may meet?
The more often you socialize, the easier it’ll get, just as the more you stay shut in by yourself, the harder it’ll get to break out of that bubble of isolation.
3. Social Media Will Not Help
Scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or any other social media posts can make you feel connected to your social media friends, but that’s very temporary relief. Social media is not enough to help you cope with loneliness and can make you feel even more isolated after logging off, which can cause an unhealthy dependence on social media or your mobile devices.
Remember that the key to curing isolation and loneliness is to make real connections. Yes, real connections are harder to make and maintain, but they can never be replaced. There’s nothing better than to laugh, hug, and spend quality time with someone you care about.
4. Connect in Person
It’s fine to text, Facetime, or Skype when you’re busy, but don’t forget to make time to physically meet up at every opportunity. If most of your friends live in different parts of the world, make an effort to find new friends who live in the same city or get to know your colleagues better after work. And just because you’ve moved out of the family home doesn’t mean you can’t rely on your family anymore. Take this opportunity to strengthen or rebuild your relationships with family members.
Reaching out to others who may need a shoulder to lean on can also help you overcome loneliness. Helping others will allow you to turn the focus away from yourself and onto somebody else. The fulfillment and subsequent connection you’ll create with the person you’re helping will ground you and bring you out of your shell.
5. Yes, You Can Eat Out Alone
It can feel awkward the first few times you go out to eat by yourself, but staying in every day just because you don’t have anyone to eat with should never be an excuse. Found a new restaurant you’re dying to try out? Do it. Have a favorite place you love eating at but haven’t been able to find anyone to go with lately? Go anyway.
Bring a book with you if you feel awkward eating alone in a public place, but don’t forget that it’s perfectly okay to make eye contact and small talk. Especially if you keep going back to your favorite coffee shop, the staff may start to recognize you, and you may also recognize some familiar faces. Soon enough, that familiarity may grow into new connections and even friendships.
6. Get Out of the House
Chronic loneliness can often come hand in hand with depression and can sap your motivation to do anything other than binge watch Netflix all day. There’s nothing wrong with binge-watching Netflix, but spending too much time alone in your apartment is unhealthy and will do nothing but make your loneliness worse. Get out. Take a stroll around the neighborhood. Visit your local coffee shop. Just being around other people, even if you don’t get to talk to them, will help you feel better and less isolated.
Poll: Living Alone
7. Don’t Be Afraid to Get Professional Help
Sometimes, loneliness may not be something that’s easily solved by a night out with friends. There may be deeper issues that could be causing your deep feelings of isolation and disconnection. Perhaps you may be struggling with social anxiety or some other issue that’s preventing you from reaching out to others. So if you feel like you can’t deal with your loneliness by yourself, don’t be afraid to seek professional help.
Therapists can help talk you through your fear and anxiety and can help you manage your expectations when you begin to take steps out of your comfort zone. There is no shame in getting professional help. You have the right to do everything in your power to get healthier, feel happier, and to live the life you want - single or not.
Questions & Answers
Question: I'm very depressed and lonely all the time with no partner. What can or should I be doing?
Answer: It sounds like you're looking for a connection. If that's the case, any of the steps listed in this article will help you start to build a social support network that is crucial for your mental well-being. Even though it's hard to get to know people, especially if you're living in a large city, an easy first step is to join an interest group. Just spending time with a group of people with a shared interest will make it much easier to make new friends.
Please keep in mind that any advice given here should not be taken as an alternative to getting professional help. If your depression or emotional distress is too much for you to handle, please don't hesitate to seek professional counseling or help.
© 2018 KV Lo
chola on February 14, 2020:
Im almost 60 years old and have been single all my life. Sometimes I like being single, but as I get older it seems harder. The thought of dying alone is not pleasant. I live in the Northeast part of USA(Lowell,Massachusetts)and to be honest the women up here are very standoffish and selfish. I would like to move but still have family. I have given up on romance,intimacy etc. I tried dating sites(complete waste of time and money). Going to bars(waste of money and time). There are a lot more men that are handsome and wealthy and I am neither. I feel jealous when I see pretty women, because I know all I can do is dream of one. Its strange, I have 2 brothers and its the same thing. I guess not everyone is meant to meet someone or have intimacy. I sometimes watch adult videos, that makes me feel worse. Sometimes I wish I could move somewhere where its all men and not have to be tortured by attractive women. Thanks for reading. Another Valentines Day, another night alone again.
George on January 31, 2020:
Am 24, and am single without an partner from my childhood, i also dont know how to approach a lady... Please what should do??
Donna Rayne from Sparks, Nevada on January 02, 2020:
A little back story- What if you have no friends due to traumatic situations that have happened to your family and everyone scattered coz of the abduction/ murder/ then medic brought him back and yet, I not one single friend left to talk to and I'm getting a divorce because I am sure that I am hard to handle with my PTSD and other trauma stuff. I don't go out hard because I am still scared too and I don't trust people.
I finally decided to go get help for all of this and it's sad to say that at 55 years old, I no longer feel I know how to talk to people to make new friends and I'm scared too.
I love your article. I just need some advice, please.
Slartybartfast on November 07, 2019:
Same here, next year will be my 20'th year single.
I did try online dating years ago, I must have sent a dozen messages that never got a response. It just made me depressed, best to avoid online dating IMHO.
Good friends are what keeps me going although the old house can get really quiet at night.
Thankfully I have a big family which kinda takes the sting off of not having my own children.
discodip on June 19, 2019:
You are only 30! You still have years to find love and start a family. Lots of people start looking in their 30s for something serious. It's also pretty common for men to like younger women and for women to like older men. Don't worry about that.
It's good that you quit dating for a while. I assume you used online dating sites. It can get really disappointing. I guess you just have to be lucky with that.
Maybe you'll meet someone at work or at a music festival.
For now, try to enjoy the single life. You said you have great friends, that is so nice!
Cackus on March 01, 2019:
I have a lot of great friends, my life is so much better since I gave up on dating.
I spent so much time and money just trying to meet the ever growing list of demands from women it made me miserable.
Then I turned 30, I looked at my future and realized that in 10 years I would be dating 40 year old woman.
I find very few women over 40 attractive. It's to late for children but their overblown demands and hypergamy don't change.
Maria on April 19, 2018:
I try to not get into social media when I am with my family Time flies so quick, and I want to cherish each moment I have with my kids and my husband
Jennifer on April 06, 2018:
Whew! You are right. Social media definitely won't help at all. It's hard to deal with loneliness, but your tips are really helpful!
Manoj on April 04, 2018:
Same here. I am staying alone here since last December. I speak with friends, watch movies, go for shopping, travel, dine out to overcome loneliness.
It was an interesting reading. Thanks for the share,
Eileen on April 04, 2018:
These are great pieces of advice to cope with loneliness. When I was still with my now ex-husband, our relationship could be tagged as "living alone together." My coping mechanism then was finding a hobby that I enjoyed. I grew pretty flowering plants in pots. It made me happy to see them bloom.
Sigrid Says on April 04, 2018:
I am trying to remember how I coped when I was single. I guess I went out, did gardening, cooked for my family, and read. I read a lot. Also watched TV hehe Now that I am married, I pretty much do the same thing except read.
kartika on April 03, 2018:
This is something I'm dealing with my everyday life . I do think sometimes it does get frustrating but I manage it by traveling .
LONDON MUMMA on April 03, 2018:
I agree, saying yes is great. It is a great way of getting out the house, plus meeting people and you never know you could end up meeting the one.
dashingscorpio from Chicago on March 29, 2018:
"Being alone and lonely are two very different things." - Very true!
It's also possible to be in a crowded room and still feel lonely.
Oftentimes being lonely for many people is more about wishing they were with a "special someone" and not just anyone.
Most single people know other people they can meet up with such as friends, family members, and co-workers. They also know they can go out to eat alone, go see a movie alone, read a book or listen to music on their iPod while lying at the beach or poolside
In a world with over 7 Billion people being alone is mostly by choice. However having a "special one" to call your own is a challenge for many. It's when a person is tired of being the "third wheel" or "fifth wheel" when they meet up with their friends who are coupled up. It's dreading the holiday season especially Valentine's Day. It's being horny with no one special to make love to, snuggle with, kiss, or have intimate experiences such as holding hands while watching the sun set.
All the above is a completely different "type of loneliness".
Being "single" legally just means you're not married. Lots of people are single and live alone but also date or are in relationships without cohabitating.
Therefore it's important for one to define their type of loneliness.
If you wish you were in a relationship the only cure for that is to get out and meet new people to potentially date. Some people use online dating sites and apps. Others utilize professional "match makers" and some people simply find other single friends to go out with to nightclubs and bars. Some people take hobby/interest classes or join social networking groups on websites like Meetup.com.
A lot of people have a problem with being "proactive" when it comes to finding someone to date. They want the "magical experience" of bumping into someone by chance or coincidence while focusing on something else. Others want to be approached rather than being the one to initiate a conversation. Such thinking holds people back from living their lives to the fullest.
If you want something different (you) have to do something different.
The world may not owe you anything but (you) owe yourself the world! Life is a (personal) journey. Do your best to have the best.