Loneliness, a hot item these days

You increasingly hear that people are lonely, and people certainly do not have to be alone. Of course, alone or lonely cannot be compared. To what extent are so many people really lonely and what could you do about it?

What is loneliness?

Loneliness is a feeling that makes you feel disconnected or left alone. The normal patterns in life are safe and if these normal patterns disappear completely or partially, a feeling of uncertainty, insecurity and loneliness can arise. This can, but does not necessarily have to, only happen if the partners disappear later in life, as this is often taken as an example. For example, having a child and being at home with a baby from a busy job can also cause the feeling. It is about the disturbed (safe) pattern, the balance.

Loneliness is often also confused with being alone. Being alone can be a conscious choice, but the social network can be large and then there is no loneliness.

Some figures

Roughly speaking, 1 in 4 Dutch people talk about loneliness. Research shows that from the age of 50 the percentage who feel really lonely grows steadily and above the age of 75 this number doubles. The difference between men and women is clear and when it comes to feeling seriously lonely, it clearly skews towards women, around 7%. There are more men who feel moderately lonely. The percentage of non-Western immigrants is remarkable. These people are hardly integrated into the community and when family members disappear, loneliness apparently strikes. More than 21% talk about being seriously lonely.

How do you get rid of it?

To get rid of it you must first recognize it and then acknowledge it. This can be very confrontational and if you cannot get through this alone, professional help is always available. Because you often still have many years to go, it is wise to get help in whatever way possible.

Of course there are telephone emergency services, but there are also secure e-chat sites available. The listening ear is such a website. You can of course also contact the Korlatie foundation. The home page specifically about loneliness is also there and provides a complete overview. It is also possible to go to the doctor, he or she can help you further and there are also courses to follow. You must have a good relationship with your doctor, otherwise the threshold is too high for many. You can take a course in this context individually, as a group and via the internet.

If you are someone who is not yourself but sees it in the vicinity, what is the best approach? If you see loneliness in someone but that person is not the one who will take action, make sure you take the first action. Actively seek out real contact. This can be done by having a chat and really listening or inviting someone to take a short walk. Contact can be built up carefully, but listening carefully is a must. Insistence generally doesn’t work.

A selection of books on this subject

  • Overcoming loneliness, writer Doris Wolf
  • Loneliness, writer Adam Bittleston
  • Love in times of loneliness, writer Paul Verhaeghe

In our society, no one should really be lonely without someone noticing!

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