Are you lonely? That's how you recognize the signals!
Loneliness is an ugly word. Nobody wants to have. Nobody wants to be. Lonely, those are the others at best. Those who are not so well known. The old, sick woman, maybe, who runs the TV all day. Or the embittered, rude man who runs the streets of his neighborhood to write down false parkers. They are certainly lonely. But not the friendly young colleague who does so much overtime. Not the good-looking guy who's getting another online dating experience every weekend. And, of course, not even you yourself.
No superficial contacts help against loneliness
Man in himself is a social being. Therefore, to feel lonely was always a taboo, because it sounds like social failure. After someone with something wrong. And this taboo is - unlike other taboos? not smaller, but rather even bigger: Many friends, acquaintances, to have a "network" is nowadays not only nice, but also a status symbol. A partner and children no longer an economic necessity, but a romantic ideal. And apart from that, it's actually theoretically easier than ever to get in touch with new people (Tinder, Parship, "New in town") or stay in touch with old ones (Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook).
It is very easy to avoid being alone. Only: That does not help against loneliness. For it is not many superficial contacts that help against loneliness, but a few meaningful ones. And while voluntary solitude can be a wonderful state, loneliness is always a crappy feeling.
How do you recognize that you are lonely?
Lonely is the teenager in the small town who feels like he's somehow different than anyone he knows here. Lonely is the man who was abandoned by his wife and does not talk to anyone about his grief, but instead takes refuge in one-night stands. Lonely is the woman who realizes that she still lives with her partner, but he has not shared his life with her for years. Lonely is the man who thinks: "The others are just idiots anyway, I do not need any of them"? and only sometimes, at night, very softly, within senses that this may not be his one hundred percent truth.
Workaholics are the loneliest
A representative survey by the association Wahlverwandtschaften e.V. and the market research institute Harris Interactive in Germany in 2014 showed that only 30 percent of respondents did not feel lonely at all, while 20 percent suffered very much from loneliness. Incidentally, the largest group among the hard-lonesome were not the retirees, but those who classified the study as "workaholics": people? above all, are they men? who work so much that they can not spend time on others anymore. Respectively: people who take refuge in their work to distract themselves from loneliness.
US studies have come to similar levels for their country, the solitude researcher John Cacioppo from the University of Chicago speaks of a "loneliness epidemic". The concept of disease is deliberately chosen because loneliness has negative effects on the immune system, sleep, the release of stress hormones and also makes an unhealthy lifestyle (more alcohol, more junk food) more likely.
Loneliness has an important function
A sense of loneliness can affect each one of us once or several times in our lives: a move, a separation, a loss, being forced to a place where one feels alien. We then have no choice but to endure this loneliness for some time. Because she belongs to life. But it also has an important function: to feel lonely reminds us that we are not alone in the universe at the moment, but as a human we need a connection to other people. And who has recognized this, can get this connection again. A first step towards this is a genuine interest in what moves others through empathy and compassion. It is up to us. And that's the good news.