Couples Counseling Articles

loneliness

Love, Loneliness and Connection

My attorney married his college sweetheart after she finished medical school.

They were married only a short time, which he describes as the loneliest three years of his life.

To this day, he has never remarried.

In 2018, loneliness emerged as a silent epidemic in North America.

In today’s almost-post-quarantine-world, we have a national health crisis on our hands.

Oddly, loneliness is not defined by our surroundings nor does it have a direct relationship to distance or geography.

We can feel lonely and emotionally alone even in beautiful space with people we love.

It’s an internal sense or comfort level and is distinct from solitude.

Solitude is an opportunity for rest and rejuvenation. It’s voluntary and tends to enhance our personal growth, creativity and well-being. It brings up emotions…but in a good way.

Loneliness feels heavy and is burdened with shame. Stigma surrounds it and creates an unconscious desire to escape. The brain says, “Anywhere but here.”

In research circles, there is an evolution in thinking about loneliness and its link to depression, anxiety and addiction.

Meanwhile, most people have become experts at suppressing loneliness with magical thinking and….let’s admit it….our over use of electronic devices.

When that doesn’t work, we withdraw, stay busy or self-medicate with something or someone.

As unrelenting as the state of loneliness may seem, it is reversible.

First, we can lift the burden of shame by recognizing and acknowledging that we all need human connection as much as we need food and water.

Then we can de-stigmatize loneliness by talking about our experiences and understanding it for what it is:

a near-universal human condition we can do something about.

Is It Worth It?

It depends.

Before we can even begin to evaluate the worth of a good relationship, it’s important to understand what’s at stake.

The answers aren’t always clear in the near term.

But we’ve learned a few things over time.

If you want to know how valuable a good relationship is, the Harvard Study is a great resource.

It started in 1938, is still going on, included only men (Harvard wasn’t coed at the time) and now includes wives, children and grandchildren.

  • Close relationships keep us happy over time; significantly more so than money or fame.
  • Relationships and how happy we are in them has a powerful effect on our health.
  • Loneliness kills and is as dangerous to our health as smoking and alcoholism.

Continue Reading Is It Worth It?