8 common mistakes to avoid if you don’t want to feel lonely later in life

Loneliness is the epidemic no one seems to be talking about. But everywhere I look, including within myself, I see lonely people who long for deep connections. 

And in a world where everyone is so busy just trying to earn a living and build a life, it can seem impossible to keep friendships going for years on end. 

I often wonder if I’ll feel lonely and isolated as I age, especially now that most of my friends are busy having kids and creating their own families.

If this is a fear of yours too, you’ve come to the right place. 

In this article, I’ll be sharing 8 common mistakes to avoid if you don’t want to feel lonely later in life:

1) Neglecting personal relationships

I know it’s not always easy to keep up with friendships. Kids, work, and personal commitments get in the way.

Before you know it, you’ve gone from seeing your friends every week to scheduling in a coffee date 6 months in advance. 

But there’s a danger in allowing this to happen:

The friendships that once brought you company, joy, and fun, become a distant memory. And yes, while distance may make the heart grow fonder, it can also do the opposite. 

It can weaken friendships to the point of no return. 

So don’t wait for the right time to meet a friend or call up an old buddy – do it now. Make it a priority in your life, just as kids, work, and personal commitments are. 

2) Not cultivating new friendships

And while you’re reviving old friendships, don’t overlook the importance of making new ones! 

A lot of people, especially as they get older, fall into a rut of familiarity. The same social circles, the same venues to hang out in. 

But the truth is, you’re never too old to make new friends. 

I love the story my elderly neighbor Sonia told me – she’s in her late 80s now but when she turned 60, her husband took her to Australia to celebrate. 

They met another couple in the hotel bar, and Sonia and the wife absolutely hit it off. 

She never expected to find a “soul friend” so late in life, but they now meet up at least two or three times a year, and I have fond memories of hearing them roaring with laughter on the phone through the thin walls of my parent’s house. 

It just goes to show – you never know who you’ll meet in life. 

That’s why it’s worth putting yourself out there. Go to social events, talk to people you see around in your local area, and don’t be afraid to try to reach out and form new connections. 

Ultimately, this skill will serve you well now and as you grow older. 

3) Failing to communicate

Wanna know why most friendships break down? Aside from a lack of things in common, many people grow apart due to tiny, little misunderstandings that build up over time. 

You see if you don’t communicate your thoughts, needs, concerns, and feelings, it’s very easy for these micro fallouts to happen. 

Over time, they build up until one or both people call it quits on the friendship. 

I know it’s not always easy to communicate the above. Especially when your communication style may differ from that of your friends. 

But like with everything, it takes practice. 

After going through a few situations like this myself, I now try to have those “tough” conversations as soon as an issue arises. I also no longer “people please” or stay quiet in the name of keeping the peace. 

And you know what? 

The people who value communication and who respect my boundaries have stuck around. The ones who don’t have done me a favor by leaving. 

pic1935 8 common mistakes to avoid if you don't want to feel lonely later in life

4) Avoiding vulnerability

You can have friends who you are never vulnerable and raw with. You’ll have fun. Company from time to time. 

But you’ll never reach the depth and strength that a friendship can reach when you’re open with each other. 

The other risk you run is losing good people from your life. If you’re constantly closed off and guarded, some people may interpret this as being aloof or cold. 

And ultimately, it may cause them to back off if they feel they can never get to know the true you. 

Now, I recognize that expressing vulnerability doesn’t come easy to everyone. It’s hard for me to imagine because I’m an open book with pretty much everyone I meet (much to my downfall sometimes!). 

But a few things you can try if you’re the opposite include:

  • Starting small – you don’t need to divulge everything about yourself in one go but select a few personal things you’re comfortable talking about to start with.
  • Identify safe people – being vulnerable involves scouting out who you can actually trust and who you should keep at surface level.
  • Practice self-compassion – don’t go hard on yourself or belittle your vulnerabilities. Remember, you’re a human and it’s completely normal. 

Not only will this ensure that your relationships last long into old age, but you’ll also feel better knowing the people around you truly understand you, vulnerabilities and all. 

5) Not being a good listener

I have a friend who I’ve known since college. He’s got a great heart, but he’s crap at listening. I may even forward this article to him when I’m done writing it. 

He constantly interrupts. 

He always tries to second-guess what people are about to say instead of letting them finish their sentences. 

He also has an incredibly annoying habit of checking his phone during conversations. 

Over the years, his social circle has gotten smaller and smaller. I tolerate it only because I know deep down he doesn’t have bad intentions, but I completely understand why other people have backed off! 

The point is to work on those listening skills

It’s an incredibly powerful thing to make someone feel heard and understood, to give them your full attention and truly listen to what they have to say. 

And ultimately, this will help when it comes to avoiding those misunderstandings that I mentioned earlier. 

6) Shying away from social opportunities

When was the last time you pushed yourself out of your comfort zone (socially)? 

In college, kids look for volunteering opportunities. In your 20s, you make friends by partying or working at various jobs. But later in life? 

There are still so many opportunities to make friends! 

I guarantee if you signed up to join local projects in your community, visited a games cafe where you can play and meet people, or volunteered your time in a youth center, you’d meet so many new people. 

Sure, not all of them will become your best friend, but you certainly won’t feel lonely. 

You’ll have a community around you, people who care enough to ask how you are, and who you can reach out to when you need a bit of company. 

7) Holding grudges

I’m not sure who taught me this, but from a young age I realized that when I hold a grudge, I’m hurting myself a lot more than the other person.

I can either move on from them entirely (and harbor no hard feelings) or try to tackle the issue and resolve it. 

If you can, if there are relationships worth repairing, opt for the second option. 

Because one day in the future, when you are alone, aging, and reminiscing on the past, you may find that that argument you had with your best friend really wasn’t worth cutting all contact over. 

Or that the bitterness you’ve been holding onto over something your sister once said out of anger seems excessive now. 

I’m not at all saying you should give people a free pass to hurt you or forgive those who have done unforgivable things and have shown no remorse. 

I’m just saying that holding a grudge rarely gets anyone anywhere. But forgiveness, now that’s something worth practicing if you don’t want to be lonely later in life. 

8) Ignoring personal development

There’s something a lot of the points above have in common – to improve communication, become a good listener, and let go of grudges and resentment, you have to keep working on your personal development

You don’t hit 30 or 40 and think, “That’s it, I’m done.” 

No – no matter what age, we’re all capable of improving and learning new things. 

So never make the mistake of thinking you know it all. Or that you’re perfect just the way you are. Newsflash – none of us are. 

We’re all a work in progress, and if you don’t want to feel lonely one day, you owe it to yourself and to others to be the best person you can be. 

That more than anything will keep people wanting to be around you. 

To conclude, there’s no magic solution to avoiding loneliness. 

All we can do is make sure we invest our time into those who we love, keep our minds open to new friendships, and stay as sociable as possible, at all stages of life.

Kiran Athar

Kiran Athar

Kiran is a freelance writer with a degree in multimedia journalism. She enjoys exploring spirituality, psychology, and love in her writing. As she continues blazing ahead on her journey of self-discovery, she hopes to help her readers do the same. She thrives on building a sense of community and bridging the gaps between people. You can reach out to Kiran on Twitter: @KiranAthar1

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