By: Alessandro Bonvini
You’re surrounded by people and friends, your social media accounts are busy… “so why do I feel so alone even when I have friends?”
7 Reasons You Feel So Alone Even When You Are With People
1. You’ve misunderstood what loneliness is.
Loneliness is an emotional state, not a physical state. It can’t be warded off by a high friend count, or by never being by yourself.
Nor can loneliness be solved by telling yourself to ‘just get over it’. Often loneliness stems from things we learned or experienced as children that left us behaving in certain ways. These ways of being can be quite difficult to change, especially if they are connected to childhood trauma.
So first things first, accept that ending your feeling of loneliness is not about booking up your social schedule or getting on another dating site. It’s time to go a bit deeper.
2. You are in need of real connection.
If there was one magic ingredient to not feeling lonely, it would be the ability to connect to others. This is not about being able to appear fascinating, or a capacity to talk about the same subjects that someone else is interested in. In fact these can both be ways to hide from connection.
Connection means being around people we feel open and available to, and are able to bring our real self to and feel safe doing so.
[Sounds confusing? Read more in our article on “Connecting to Others“.]
3. You find it hard to be yourself.
Connection involves being yourself around others. But if you’ve spent your entire life living up to the expectations of your friends and family, you might find it hard to ‘just be yourself’.
You might even not know who ‘yourself’ is.
Lack of personal identity is often behind ongoing loneliness. If we can’t pinpoint who we are, then we are left constantly feeling misunderstood. How can others connect to us if we are always shifting our self presentation and leaving them confused?
This can happen if we spent a childhood pleasing a parent so much our true self never had a chance to develop, or if a childhood trauma meant we developed a fake self to hide our emotional pain.
4. Deep down you don’t trust anyone.
Of course if you don’t trust anyone, how can you ever relax and be yourself? This sort of fear of intimacy instead results in having many inner walls and barriers that stop people from reaching you – and leave you trapped inside, lonely.
5. You have borderline personality disorder.
Sometimes our trust was so fractured by experiences as a child we actually can’t maintain relationships, no matter how hard we try.
Are you an intense and fascinating person who attracts partners and friends easily — but the roster changes frequently? Connect with others fast, but have dramatic fallouts often? Have you been told many times that you are too emotional and overreactive?
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is not only exhausting, it leaves you feeling unbearably misunderstood and alone in the world.
6. Your definition of friendship needs re-assessing.
Sometimes loneliness can simply be down to not understanding the key elements of adult friendship.
Yes, at school, we gravitate towards people because we are on the same sports team, we like the same music. But as adults, independent from the constant support of our family, we need to instead find people with whom we share personal values.
Personal values are the things that matter most to you about life.
If you lost everything and everyone you had but still had yourself, what would matter to you?
As you can imagine, if you share these core values with someone, it doesn’t matter if your lives are a match on the ever-changing outside when you match on the inside.
Perhaps this is why social media ‘friends’ don’t stop loneliness. Instead, research now shows that social media lead right to rising levels of loneliness. We just aren’t honest enough in the way we present ourselves online, and along with personal values, real friendship is also based on authenticity.
[Suspect your friendship circle needs an upgrade? Read our piece on Toxic Friendships.]
7. You don’t know how to receive.
Do you tend to say no to any offers of help and do everything yourself? Deflect questions about you and insist on talking about other peoples’ problems only? And hide your emotions if you feel sad or down, only calling friends when you feel in a good mood?
Connection is a two-way street.
If you are making friendships all one-way, always giving but never receiving, then you’ll feel depleted instead of loved. At its extreme, this can become a pattern of codependency, where you begin to take your self-worth from helping others and can lose any sense of your own needs.
Sound worryingly familiar?
If you find you have real troubles connecting to others, and you suspect your patterns of relating relate to learnings or experiences from childhood, it is a very good idea to seek the support of a counsellor.
Relating to others is now recognised as so important to our wellbeing there are even forms of therapy that focus just on this crucial element of our lives — read our article “The Types of Therapy That Help You With Relationships” for more.
Harley Therapy connects you with counsellors who can help you form better friendships and relationships so you can finally end the cycle of loneliness. Book an assessment appointment in central London today using our online form. Not in the UK? Skype sessions are now available.
Do you find an answer to ‘why do I feel so alone even when I’m with people’ that we’ve missed? Share with our readers in the public comment box below.