What does loneliness mean to you?
Loneliness is a word a lot of us have used at one point in our lives, a popular word that can sometimes be misconstrued or used inappropriately. Loneliness, although a common phenomenon, is often overlooked and people can sometimes be unaware of the intense ways it impacts on them and people around.
So, what I decided to do with this word is to define it from a dictionary and professional point of view as well as people’s personal experience/definition of the word, I asked them “What does loneliness mean to you?”.
Also, as I mentioned last week, this post will not only be about my experiences or observations but will include actual conversations I have had with people around this topic. The good news is that this topic will be in three parts; the first one will look at defining loneliness and what it means to me and other people, the second one will cover the types of loneliness and its effects and the third one will look at how to deal with/manage and even overcome loneliness especially while dating.
Now that we have the introductions out of the way, let’s get to it!
What is loneliness?
The Oxford dictionary defines it as “Sadness because one has no friends or company” or “the fact of being without companions; solitariness”.
The Macmillan Dictionary defines it as “being unhappy because you are alone or because you have no friends”.
I was not satisfied with these definitions, so I sought out some other definitions/perspectives from psychology articles and papers, here are a few the search came up with.
- Loneliness is a universal human emotion that is both complex and unique to each individual. Loneliness has no single common cause so the prevention and treatment for this potentially damaging state of mind can vary dramatically (Kerry Chendra, 2013).
- Loneliness is a complex and multilayered experience, it is always very painful, severely distressing and individualistic (Moustakas, 1961; Rokach, 1988b; Rokach & Brock, 1997).
- Loneliness is the very painful and agonizing longing to be related to, to connect to others and to be accepted and valued(Ami Rokach, 2004).
- To be human is to be lonely (Rolheiser, 1979; p. 9).
P.S: I have a whole lot more but decided to restrict it to these.
It took me a while to define exactly what I was feeling and a long time after that to fully and finally accept it. I was LONELY. No, I was not alone i.e bereft of people in my life but I felt alone. There was this nagging, annoying and unexplainable feeling that reared its head every other week in my life. Loneliness is sometimes indescribable. It can be a tightness in your chest, a palpable fear/anxiety over a particular area of your life/situations or in some cases, a longing so intense that you might tuple over by its sheer force.
I’ve become increasingly lonely for a couple of months now, the ache to share my life with someone; the person I described here. Doing life together, untangled by the complexities of modern relationships, existing as one, refreshing and renewing one another. I know it all sounds so bougie and sickeningly cliche but that’s how I feel most times when this cloud of loneliness comes.
Please note, it is not a yearning for a husband I feel, it’s for a partner. Yeah, I know how that sounds like Bow Wow and his recent “I’m not looking for a girlfriend but a partner” confusionist post but seriously, this is how I feel most of the time when I think about being in a relationship.
Now, as someone coping with depression, this yearning can sometimes trigger an attack. This type of yearning can be dangerous if not addressed properly, it can lead to a desperation to fill the “void” with anyone who we think seemingly matches what we’re yearning/looking/searching for, or in some cases, distort our judgment about the people in our lives. Ultimately, what I am saying is this yearning or loneliness can be bad when we refuse to address it.
So, I have explained what loneliness means to me as much as I can, let’s go over what people said when I asked them. Thankfully, these people gave me permission to use what they said and I have decided to give them “quirky” names for “obvious” reasons(if it’s not obvious to you, sorry o!).
- Loneliness for me means not having anyone to talk to. Not having anyone who understands me and sees things the way I see them”. – Mr. Dequan Iced-Tea
- I think loneliness for me happens when I’m alone and I’m not comfortable by myself. I want someone else there, that’s how I know I’m lonely. Doesn’t happen very often though but it’s usually pretty intense. A part of me is resigned to the fact that my friends have their own lives and won’t always be there and I might not meet “the one(s)” so I best get used to my own company. Ms. Emilia Enchilada-Papaya
- Loneliness is a state of mind. I’ve been lonely at a table full of acquaintances before, like an outsider. Basically, loneliness for me occurs when I feel removed from society. Anyways, so I’m at this table and in my head, it’s like “you suck, you don’t have anything to contribute, you’re not even handsome to even sit there and be vaguely pleasant”. You can see everyone having a good time and it’s like you’re watching them through glass. So I shut down and as I withdraw into further into myself, I feel incredibly lonely. It’s like a weight, you feel as if you could die and no one would notice until maybe the neighbours complain about the dead animal smell coming from your apartment. – Mr. Tyrone Fruitloops
That’s it for now, I’m so excited to finally talk about this topic!! As usual, let me know your thoughts in the comment section. Have you ever been lonely? What does loneliness mean to you?