Five Myths About Loneliness Resource

15 September 2021


This article and resource was adapted from an article written by Dr Michelle Lim for Health Voices. You can read the original article here.

Loneliness is increasingly recognised as an important issue of many developed countries but the issue is often conflated with social isolation and therefore associated with misconceptions.

Loneliness is the subjective and aversive feeling of social isolation (‘I do not feel in tune with others’) as opposed to objective social isolation (i.e., how many people you know). While loneliness and social isolation are often used together and interchangeably, the concepts are only partially related. Understanding the distinction and relatedness of these concepts is crucial if we were to work towards implementing effective solutions to resolve distressing levels of loneliness. This article outlines five common misconceptions that require rectifying before we can work towards developing and implementing effective solutions to address loneliness.

Loneliness only affects older people

All of us are vulnerable to experiencing loneliness. In more recent years, research studies have consistently indicated that loneliness does not affect only one particular age group. Surprisingly, young people aged 18 to 25 years are particularly vulnerable to feeling lonely, despite being a group that appear to be well-connected through school and technology. In many studies, loneliness affects age groups undergoing social vulnerability, with both younger and older people more likely to be vulnerable.

loneliness myth making friends should be easy

Making friends should be easy

One plausible driver of this misconception could be that many of us forged friendships early on within structured social environments (e.g., school). In these settings, many of us may interact with the same group of people every day and through these repeated interactions over time, strong friendships are forged.

loneliness myth people are a burden

People who are lonely are a burden

We often think that helping people who are lonely will take up a lot of our time and energy. In reality, it requires far less effort than we may think. By taking small, regular steps over time to connect, we can help others to feel included, accepted and belong. This leads to positive mental health and wellbeing outcomes for the whole community.

loneliness myth something is wrong with me

Something is wrong with me

We commonly assume that loneliness only happens to people who are weak or socially inept. In reality, we all encounter people who are lonely in our day to day routines. This is because loneliness is an innate signal to connect, similar to a signal to eat when you feel hungry. The desire to connect is normal, since humans have evolved and thrived within social groups since the beginning of time. Humans are social species who thrive and flourish through strong, meaningful connections with others.

loneliness myth i need to know more people

I need to know more people

Our social needs are complex – many people who live alone do not feel lonely, and many who live with others report feeling lonely. People who are well connected within a social network may also report conflict and stress. Loneliness is more related to the quality, rather than quantity, of our social relations. More recently, the term ‘Loneliness Paradox’ has been used to describe how in modern life, we are more connected than ever, and yet continue to feel disconnected from others. This is an example of how the number of people you know may not adequately meet your social needs.

5 Myths About Loneliness

By Ending Loneliness Together | 16 September 2021
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