Loneliness is an emotional state that arises from not having the desired sufficient meaningful connections with others – those people you could rely on in time of need. Loneliness is not related to how many friends or relationships you have, or whether you are alone or amongst people.
Loneliness can be triggered when you:
When you do not have one or more people in your life where caring and deep understanding is mutually felt, you feel unfulfilled. You feel sadness, and heartache…. and distress. Because loneliness is a feeling of being disconnected, you can feel lonely in circumstances of not being alone, even after:
The feeling of disconnection is a perception in the lonely person’s mind…so if someone perceives that their world is not right, and they say they are lonely, then they are in fact lonely.
Loneliness sometimes distorts our perceptions of our relationships. People who are lonely might feel unwanted, unloved, undesirable, insignificant, despairing, insecure, or abandoned. When this happens you might choose to become socially isolated, withdrawing even further from those whānau, friends and family, who could lessen your loneliness.
As you become more lonely, people around you might reduce or altogether stop their previous meaningful connections, creating a situation of further social isolation.
Loneliness can cause you to become emotionally isolated. Prolonged or chronic loneliness can lead you to believe that you are depressed, or, in some circumstances, can lead to depression.
Loneliness NZ helps people who feel lonely to understand themselves and people around them, and to work to improve their healthy interactions with people. For more information, see ‘I’m feeling lonely‘.
Additionally Loneliness NZ works with groups to help people understand how they might reduce loneliness in New Zealand. For more information, see ‘Let’s prevent loneliness‘.
One way to further understand what loneliness means is to explore related concepts and terminology (by selecting one of the coloured rectangles below).
These terms may or may not overlap with the meaning of loneliness, but give further insight into the nature of being alone, loneliness, and various forms of isolation.