If you’re feeling lonely in life, these 7 behaviors might be why

Loneliness can affect anyone regardless of background, age, and social status.

In fact, there’s a loneliness epidemic going on, with one in four adults across the world feeling socially isolated.

So, ironically, if you’re lonely these days, you’re not alone in your struggle.

But before you start blaming society or your flaky friend group, take responsibility for how your own actions may have led to this predicament. 

If you’re feeling lonely in life, these 7 behaviors might be why.

You can’t force others to reach out more, but you can change your attitude.

1) You isolate yourself

I’m a content writer who works from home. I live alone. I’m single. 

I spend a lot of time in solitude, and I’ve been doing so since I quit my last office job eight or so years ago. Yet, I didn’t start to feel lonely until recently.

As an introvert, I’ve always enjoyed being on my own. It’s how I recharge. I love to read, listen to music, watch movies, take long walks alone. I’m rarely bored.

But something happened during the pandemic. I think the isolation got to me.

Also, I’m in my mid-30s, and people are busy. Gone are the days of spending entire weekends out on the town or impulsively grabbing drinks. Every hangout needs to be planned in advance.

I used to have a wider social circle in my 20s, but it dwindled as more people settled down, moved away, and got demanding jobs.  

I’m down to two close friends, and while I’m fine with that, we usually only get together once or twice every month. (It doesn’t help that the people I get along with best aren’t big fans of leaving the comfort of their homes either.)

When I first started to feel lonely, it was such a foreign feeling I had no idea how to handle it. I still struggle, but the one thing I’ve learned is that I need to be out in the world more.

Now, I read in coffee shops, attend events alone, and sit on a bench for a bit whenever I take one of my long walks. In short, I try to be among people.

Isolating yourself only exacerbates your loneliness. Get out of the house, even when no one is available to meet.

Take yourself on a solo date. Go to a restaurant you love instead of ordering takeout. Attend the concert alone. You might make new friends, you might not.

Simply being in the same space with others will ease the loneliness

2) You don’t show up for others

If you find yourself hemorrhaging friends, might it be because you underestimate the importance of showing up?

Being there for your loved ones matters, even when they insist it’s not a big deal if you’re not. Not showing up to celebrate or commiserate creates a rift that expands with time.

Weddings. Funerals. Births. Be there.

And show up for the little stuff, too.

If a friend gets laid off, take them out for drinks. If they get a promotion, insist you meet up to celebrate.

Remind them that you care, and they’ll reciprocate. If they don’t, check out the next point on the list.

3) You hang out with the wrong people

You can be surrounded by people and still feel lonely. Quality trumps quantity every time.

Having many acquaintances but few deep connections contributes to feelings of isolation.

My most recent romantic relationship, for instance, made me feel lonelier than I did when I was single. The same applies to friends, too.

The last friend break-up I went through happened because we became so different as we aged that we would fight whenever we hung out.

We recently reconnected and gave it another go, but realized once again that the friendship had run its course.

If you feel lonely even when surrounded by so-called friends, re-assess your relationships.

Are they still serving you well?

4) You refuse to be vulnerable

Connecting with others involves putting yourself out there and being vulnerable. You may get rejected or hurt, but it’s part of the process.

Without vulnerability, relationships remain on a surface level. They don’t provide the emotional intimacy necessary for meaningful companionship.

Opening up about your failures, insecurities, and mistakes, however, helps you connect with like-minded people.

I’m not suggesting you walk up to complete strangers and bombard them with embarrassing stories from your past. But as you grow closer to someone new, let them discover the deeper layers of your personality.

Being authentic is key to building trust. Putting up a façade, on the other hand, creates an invisible glass barrier between yourself and the rest of the world.

Pick up a hammer and break it down.

friends showcasing their perfect lives If you’re feeling lonely in life, these 7 behaviors might be why

5) You rely on social media too much

I’m a huge fan of social media.

I believe it can enrich your life as long as you use it mindfully and in moderation. It even helped me make a couple of online friends I hope to one day meet in person.

That said, excessively relying on it to feed your need for connection is foolish. Real connections go beyond the online world.

Social media platforms encourage quick interactions. Likes, comments, emoji reactions. These provide a fleeting sense of connection but lack the warmth and nuance of real, face-to-face interactions.

Without meaningful engagement, it’s normal to feel lonely and emotionally disconnected. Sliding into a friend’s DMs is better than nothing, but it doesn’t beat seeing them IRL.

Keep that in mind the next time you try to convince yourself that leaving a nice comment on a loved one’s status about them having a horrible day carries the same weight as showing up at their place; snacks in one hand, prosecco in another.

6) You stick to your comfort zone

Sticking to the familiar limits your opportunities for new connections.

I mentioned earlier that I recently started to go out alone. At first, it was anything but comfortable. I felt awkward going to lunch by myself, no one to talk to as I waited for my order to arrive.

Going to the cinema alone, no one to share the popcorn with. Going to concerts alone, and worrying that everyone will look down on me for it.

The more you do it, though, the more at ease you become. You begin to smile at strangers and chat with other event attendees.

Plus, you understand that very few people actually judge you for being out on your own and for attempting to connect.

Those who do aren’t worth your time, anyway. Before you know it, your comfort zone expands.

Soon, so will your social circle. 

7) You talk down to yourself

A critical inner dialogue undermines your self-esteem, making it challenging for you to connect with others.

Tell yourself that you’re dumb, ugly, or uninteresting for long enough, and you start to believe it. With time, you develop a deep-seated sense of insecurity, which marks every social interaction.

You begin to feel unworthy or paranoid that everyone else scrutinizes your every move, searching for faults. This makes you less likely to open up to others.

If you want to temper your inner critic, start here:

  • Question the validity of negative thoughts by searching for evidence of the contrary
  • Treat yourself with the same kindness you would offer to a friend
  • Focus on your strengths and achievements (repeating positive affirmations works!)
  • Identify sources of negativity in your life, like certain people or media, and minimize your exposure to them
  • Practice meditation to become better at concentrating on the present rather than ruminating on the past

Changing negative self-talk is a roller-coaster of a process that requires focus, time, and discipline. 

But it’s one that will shape your life for the better.

A mental health professional can provide valuable assistance as you embark on this exciting path.

Bottom line

If you’re guilty of the behaviors above, addressing them is the first step toward building more meaningful connections.

I’m sure there are many people out there who would jump at the chance to hang out with you.

All you have to do is get out of your own way and give them the opportunity.

Picture of Alexandra Plesa

Alexandra Plesa

Alexandra Pleșa is a freelance writer obsessed with television, self-development, and thriller books. Former journalist, current pop culture junkie. Follow her on Twitter: @alexandraplesa

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