Many people experience loneliness at some point or another. But according to experts and research, some people may be more prone to loneliness than others.
“Feeling lonely is no different from being tired, hungry, or dehydrated," Olivia June, CEO and founder of friend finding app, Hey! VINA, tells Bustle. "Human connection is so essential to our health and wellbeing, and when we don't invest in finding and maintaining good relationships, we shouldn't be surprised when we don't feel good."
Feeling lonely is common, but if these feelings last long-term, loneliness can affect your health in a number of ways. For instance, your immune system may be weakened, you might have problems sleeping, and you may choose to cope in unhealthy ways.
As Mariea Snell, assistant professor and coordinator of the Online Doctor of Nursing Practice programs at Maryville University, tells Bustle, "We often see a lack of self-care in people who are experiencing isolation and loneliness. Depression is also a common component to loneliness and having a lack of social interaction and support can have devastating repercussions to your emotional health."
According to Snell, one of the biggest factors in being more prone to loneliness is feeling a lack of self-confidence or self-worth. "If you are not someone who knows that they are worth the support of others, you will be less likely to seek it out," she says.
But that isn't the only thing. Here are some surprising things that can make someone more prone to loneliness, according to experts and studies.
Being A Single Male
A 2017 survey from eHarmony found that single men tend to feel more lonely than single women. In fact, over 70 percent of the men surveyed said they felt "significant" pressure to find someone compared to less than 60 percent of women. According to the survey, women tend to be much better at handling singlehood because they usually turn to friends or family for emotional support. Men are less likely to do this.
As licensed marriage and family therapist, Heidi McBain, MA, LMFT, tells Bustle, "Isolating yourself from others when things are hard, versus being vulnerable and letting your family and friends know that you’re hurting and need support can make you more prone to loneliness."
Being Genetically Predisposed To It
A 2016 study published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology found that loneliness may be in your genes. According to researchers, it's a "modestly heritable trait," meaning only 14 to 27 percent of people are likely to inherit it. There also isn't one singular gene that's responsible for it, so more research needs to be done. But they did find that people who did feel the most lonely also experienced neuroticism and depressive symptoms.
Being A Type-A Personality
A 2015 study published in the Journal of Personality found links between personality and loneliness. People who exhibited traits like neuroticism were more likely to experience feelings of loneliness in their later years than people who had more socially desirable traits such as conscientiousness.
As Samantha Morrison, wellness expert for Glacier Wellness, tells Bustle, type A personalities are more likely to suffer from loneliness than anyone else. "They are similar to extroverts in the sense that they are most comfortable interacting with others and expressing their thoughts and feelings with friends," Morrison says. "As a result, Type A personalities may suffer from loneliness if they aren't able to find their niche to socialize."
Being Addicted To Social Media
Studies have found links between social media use and feelings of loneliness and depression. "Thanks to the 24/7 presence of social media, it can feel like everyone has a picture-perfect life," Amica Graber, relationship expert from TruthFinder, tells Bustle. "But just remember — social media is a mirage. Comparison is the thief of joy, so it might be time to temporarily mute those giving you a case of social FOMO."
Being Chronically Ill
A 2015 study published in the journal Health Psychology found that older adults who were dealing with chronic illnesses were more at risk for experiencing loneliness over time. People who dealt with having a chronic illness in a negative way like succumbing to negative self-talk, were more likely to feel lonely as time went on. But people who learned how to stay optimistic and deal with their illness in a positive way were less likely to feel the negative affects of loneliness.
Thinking You Can Deal With Loneliness On Your Own
Loneliness is such a personal thing and sometimes it can feel pointless to seek help for it. But isolating yourself is the last thing you should do. According to Leikam, you're more prone long-term loneliness if you don't take the necessary steps to overcome it. "Sometimes when we get lonely, we retreat back into this pattern of staying to ourselves at home and not seeking out things or people that are meaningful," Leikam says. This will only lead to further isolation. If you start to see a pattern of loneliness, know that it's OK to reach out to someone for help.
Some people may be more prone to loneliness than others. But it's important to remember that everyone can overcome it.
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