causes loneliness causes of loneliness loneliness worldwide loneliness across cultures loneliness across the world causes

Many different people, many different reasons for feeling lonely. After all, just as we can feel sad for countless different reasons, we can feel lonely for countless different reasons. Some of them are about our relationships with other people, some are about not fitting into a social environment right now, some are about being overwhelmed with a problem or decision, some are about a difficult relationship with ourselves, some are about our relationships with our parents – and you might have felt lonely for an entirely different reason altogether. Here, you can find as many as 17 videos about different causes for loneliness.

For instance, do you think that your loneliness may be caused by your relationships (e.g., if you miss a partner or if your friendships are not as good as you would like them to be)?

 

Or would you like to learn more about the loneliness that can emerge after specific events or situations (e.g., after spending much time alone, being separated from the people you are close to, feeling different from others at a party)?

 

Or maybe you suspect that your loneliness is more about who or how you are (e.g., if you dislike being by yourself; if you would like to but cannot open up to others; if you have high expectations from others or are afraid that they might leave you).

 

Finally, if you think that there is still something missing, then you might want to have a look at unexpected causes for loneliness – namely those that have very little or even nothing to do with your social relationships.

loneliness when something is missing in our relationships

lacking someone or something

As human beings, we are born based on and into social relationships, and we usually move through our lives in social networks. On the flip side, having less relationships than we would need, or lacking fulfilling relationships, can make us feel lonely. An introductory video to the connections between loneliness and (unsatisfying) relationships.

 

Boyfriends and girlfriends | Family – the present | Relationships against loneliness

misunderstood

Lonely people are often believed to be socially isolated – that is, to have no or too few social relationships. In fact, however, relationships are wonderful breeding grounds for loneliness. Indeed, we often feel lonely because others do not understand us (or if we don’t understand them) – and these can be others who we hardly know as well as those who we usually feel very close to.

 

Lonely with my partner | Feeling rejected | Different | Different at times

feeling rejected

Feeling lonely only rarely results from being alone or socially isolated. However, we are likely to feel lonely if others – and particularly those who are important to us -reject us. No matter whether they actually don’t want to have anything to do with us, whether they need more personal space than we do, whether they just don’t feel like meeting that often, or whether they are in a bad mood and accidentally behaved in a way that made us feel rejected.

 

Misunderstood | Lonely with my partner | Different | Different at times | Family – the present

different

Most of us have already felt different from other people or experienced that they did not quite fit in. But some of us are accompanied by such situations throughout their entire lives. They somehow deviate from what the crowd views or presents as normal, desirable, or acceptable. This video is dedicated to the many people out there who suffer from this.

 

Misunderstood | Feeling rejected | Enjoy yourself

family – the present

Many people have the idea that their family members should be the people that they can always turn to. But then, disharmonies, conflicts, long histories of disagreement, Christmas gatherings, quarantines etc. happen and people feel like they do not belong and lonely. As such, current family relationships can as much prevent loneliness as be breeding grounds for it.

 

Family – the past

boyfriends and girlfriends

Wanting but not finding a partner, unreciprocated love, secretly wishing for a different partner. The world of dating, romance, and partnership can make lonely in many ways. Interviewees in this video talk about their experiences.

 

Lonely with my partner | Feeling rejected | Expectation versus reality | Relationships against loneliness

lonely with my partner

A common stereotype is that singlehood makes lonely, and that partnership (particularly marriage) protects from it. Although not having a partner indeed increases the likelihood for loneliness, one can feel lonely in partnerships, too – and quite often exactly because of what one’s partner does or does not do. Indeed, loving someone else, opening up, and sharing life creates many situations in which one can feel rejected, misunderstood, or simply not in tune, and hence lonely.

 

Feeling rejected | Misunderstood | Expectation versus reality

loneliness because of an event or situation

lonely when alone

We can feel quite lonely when we are alone or separated from loved ones. This video is about the loneliness of moving to a new (or even back to a well-known) place, of working from home, and of the first months of motherhood…

 

Separations | Loss | Me, myself, and I

separations

Saying goodbye can hurt and make lonely. After having been together with a partner, a friend, a group, etc. for a longer time, many people have to first get used to being by themselves again. Usually, the loneliness after a separation vanishes after some time. Or it gets at least easier to bear, as the people in this video explain.

 

Lonely when alone | Loss

loss

When we lose loved ones, we can feel very alone and lost in the world. However, although painful, it is part of the human experience to sometimes say goodbye forever. As one interviewee in the video explains, we usually just need (quite some) time to heal.

 

Time, luck, and acceptance | Busy, busy, busy

different… at times

Most of us have already felt different from other people or experienced that they did not quite fit in with a group. At a party where everyone (except for us) seemed to love board games and to share a music taste that we secretly detested, at high school where others boasted with their latest severe hangover while we somewhat liked knowing what had happened last night, in our friendship group where everyone else was suddenly talking about their children while we were still figuring out our career path. This video is a small collection of such situations.

 

Relationship hygiene | Misunderstood | Feeling rejected

loneliness because of something about ourselves

me, myself, and I

Feeling lonely feels like we are all alone. Does that automatically mean that there is something wrong with our relationships? No, sometimes it is not our relationships with others that are problematic, but rather our relationship with ourselves. Because we dislike being with that person who we are, because we can’t stand the constant buzz of thoughts in our heads, because we haven’t quite decided what we aim for in life. As much as feeling lonely can indicate that one should meet people, it can thus also mean that it’s time to go for coffee or tea with me, myself, and I.

 

Enjoy yourself (literally!)

family – the past

For those of us who repeatedly encounter loneliness or who hardly ever don’t feel lonely, present social relationships are often not the reason. Rather, the roots of this loneliness are in their past relationships. Some reflections about difficult relationships with one’s parents and the loneliness that these can create.

 

Family – the present | Different

insecurities, sensitivities and introversion

Some of us like to be the centre of attention in groups; others prefer to observe the centre of attention. Some of us like to talk about themselves; others prefer to talk about others; and others prefer to talk about things… or the weather. Participants in this video explain that, in their experience, not talking to anyone about emotions, worries, or experiences can make lonely.

 

Family – the past | Let’s talk about loneliness – or not

expectation versus reality

Our friends should be a 100% by our side – forever and always. Our partners should tell us from time to time that they love us. Our colleagues should remember our birthday.

Loneliness sometimes happens if we expect something from our relationships that they cannot offer us. Or if we expect quite the opposite: that others will leave us as soon as they can – although there is no actual sign that this will happen… It can help to realize that it is our mind that creates these fears rather than others around us.

 

Insecurities, sensitivities and introversionDon’t panic, wait, and see

Possibly unexpected reasons

troubles, troubles, troubles

It is not only relationships that can make us feel lonely. Sometimes, we can be happily married, have five children, be the top manager of an organization, be surrounded by tons of friends, live in a lovely neighbourhood and still feel lonely. Why? Among others, because we can feel lonely when we are faced with problems or a difficult decision. Because we feel like, no matter how many people there are around us, we are the only ones responsible for that situation, and we have to walk our very own path.

 

Novelty and lack of structure | Don’t panic, wait, and see

novelty and lack of structure

The novel, the unfamiliar, and the unknown can make us feel afraid… and lonely? Yes, this clip shows that some people react to feeling lost, overwhelmed, or disoriented with loneliness. As such, loneliness can appear in a new job, when we do not yet understand how things work at a university, or even when we are on holiday with our partner. If this is entirely novel to you (or just not), you might want to watch this video…

 

Don’t panic, wait, and see | Separations | Different… at times

feeling lonely?

Study Participation

 

Dear visitor,

 

Would you like to participate in our new research project (15-20 minutes max.)? We examine people’s own and their perception of others’ feelings, including loneliness.

 

For more information and/or to start participation, please click here.

 

Or have you already started participation and accidentally closed the survey tab? Then please click here.

 

Many thanks in advance!

 

(For any questions or comments, please send an email to l.c.heu@uu.nl)

Dear visitor,

 

We are currently working on a new research project to examine people’s own and their perception of others’ feelings, including loneliness.

 

Would you be willing to anonymously answer some questions (max. 15-20 minutes)? Then please click here. You can end participation at any point.

 

Many thanks in advance!

 

(For any questions or comments, please send an email to l.c.heu@uu.nl)