It’s Monday morning, and you’re holed up in your absolute favorite coffee shop on a breezy Autumn day.
The air smells of freshly brewed coffee and the place is buzzing with people having animated conversations about their weekend.
And there it is. That unmistakable vibe that you’re all alone.
Loneliness can truly sneak up on you when you least see it coming.
So, how do you figure out whether you’re lonely in life?
This article will take a look at the signs that you might secretly be battling loneliness:
1) You have a lingering feeling of emptiness
Have you ever felt like something is missing, although you can’t quite put your finger on it?
Well. you might be relieved to hear that this is more common than you think.
A sense of hollowness that sticks around, no matter how busy your days are or how much you fill your calendar, might be a tell-tale sign.
Our hearts long for connection. It’s in our make-up as human beings.
Loneliness isn’t just about being physically alone — it’s the absence of deep emotional bonds.
When these connections are missing from our lives, it can leave behind a void, an emptiness that often gets mistaken for something else.
It’s like a puzzle piece that hasn’t found its match.
2) You overindulge in food and alcohol
Do you often find comfort in that third slice of cake or an indulgent bottle of wine, especially when you’re alone?
Overindulgence in food and alcohol can be proof that loneliness is lurking beneath the surface.
Emotional eating and drinking can be a temporary escape from the ache of loneliness.
Food and alcohol provide a fleeting sense of comfort, a short distraction from underlying feelings of isolation.
It’s a way of filling the emotional gap with something physical.
I had a close friend who had a highly demanding job that often left him feeling isolated.
He discovered that his nights were marked by overeating and consuming more alcohol than he want to have.
He realized that these behaviors were actually a direct response to his loneliness.
Seeking support from a therapist helped him get to the root cause of his emotional eating and develop healthier ways to cope with his feelings.
3) You tend to over-idealize past relationships, usually romantic ones
Do you often find yourself reminiscing about past romantic relationships, believing they were the peak of your happiness?
If you’re idealizing these lost connections, it could well be a sign that you’re lonely in life.
Idealizing past romantic relationships can be a way of longing for the emotional intimacy and connection you once had.
When loneliness creeps in, it’s natural to yearn for moments when you felt deeply connected to someone, even if it’s in the past.
4) You can’t stop scrolling on social media
Here’s one a few of us might be guilty of. The dreaded doom scroll.
Endlessly scrolling through Instagram or TikTok, especially when you know there’s nothing new for you to see, can be a hint that loneliness is tugging at your heartstrings.
Social media can be a double-edged sword. While it connects us to friends and wider networks of people, it can also bring feelings of inadequacy and loneliness.
The constant need for validation through likes and comments can be a subtle cry for connection, a yearning for someone to notice you and engage with your online presence.
One of my family members used to spend hours scrolling through social media, seeking validation through likes.
One day, she realized that this habit came from a desire for more meaningful interactions.
So, she took action. She decided to curate her online experience, focusing on genuine connections rather than seeking approval.
Gradually, the urge to scroll aimlessly died down, and she began to feel more like herself again.
5) You have a habit of hoarding possessions
The habit of hoarding physical objects can be a subtle mark of loneliness.
This can involve holding on to a number of possessions, particularly those with little practical value.
Hoarding can manifest as an attempt to surround oneself with a sense of abundance or security.
This is because loneliness can make people resistant to change or of letting go of the past.
Hoarding can be a means to hold onto memories — especially if those memories involve happier times or relationships.
In a way, it’s filling the space with objects to make up for the emptiness one feels emotionally.
6) You keep engaging in escapist activities, like gaming, thrill-seeking adventures, or gambling
A tendency to dip into escapist activities like gaming, thrill-seeking adventures, or gambling can be an indication that you’re trying to fill the void.
Of course, this isn’t always the case, but if other signs are present, you might be attempting to escape from underlying feelings of loneliness.
Escapist activities feel good because they provide a temporary sense of excitement, offering a break from the emotional weight of loneliness.
They create a world where the feeling of isolation fades, even if only briefly.
I had a friend who was an avid gamer. He spent hours upon hours immersed in virtual worlds, sometimes not emerging from his room for days at a time.
It wasn’t until a friend invited him to a local board game night that he realized his gaming habit was a way of distancing himself from feelings of isolation.
Fortunately, he started to seek out genuine connections in the form of face-to-face interactions, and was able to balance his love for gaming with his need for real-life connections.
7) You’re frequently become ill
Loneliness can also take a physical toll on an individual’s well-being. In fact, studies have found it has flow-on effects to other physical health conditions.
One subtle yet telling evidence of this impact is the emergence of frequent illnesses or ailments.
When we experience loneliness, our bodies often respond by activating the stress response system.
This chronic state of stress can lead to the release of stress hormones like cortisol, which, when elevated for extended periods, can weaken the immune system
Loneliness can also trigger inflammation in the body. This inflammation, associated with feelings of isolation, can contribute to various health problems, including cardiovascular issues, digestive disorders, and mental health conditions.
Additionally, loneliness can sometimes lead to neglecting one’s physical health.
Individuals who feel isolated may be less motivated to exercise, eat a balanced diet, and sleep well, all of which are needed for a healthy immune system.
8) You online shop more than you need to
Online shopping is not a sign of loneliness on its own, of course, but it can sometimes be linked with feelings of loneliness or used.
It can even be used as a coping mechanism by individuals experiencing loneliness.
According to Jorge Barraza, shopping is often driven by emotions, suggesting that our feelings play a huge role in our purchasing decisions. (He is a program director and assistant professor at the University of Southern California’s online master of science in applied psychology program.)
When people feel disconnected from others and lack social interactions, they may turn to online shopping as a way to fill that void or distract themselves from any unpleasant feelings.
The act of making a purchase and receiving a package can provide a temporary sense of satisfaction and excitement.
Also, social media and online platforms frequently expose people to the lives and material things of others, leading to comparison.
People experiencing loneliness may shop online to keep up with social norms or to put forward an image of success and happiness to their followers.
Online shopping is also convenient and can be done from the comfort of one’s home, making it an accessible way to acquire items without the need for in-person social interactions, which some lonely individuals may find daunting.
Some online shopping platforms and communities even provide a sense of belonging.
For example, online forums or review sections can build a sense of connection and shared interest among shoppers, which may be appealing to those who are feeling lonely.
9) You often binge watch TV shows for long periods of time
A study found a link between loneliness and binge-watching, suggesting that people experiencing loneliness tend to engage in extensive binge-watching as a coping mechanism.
Excessive binge-watching of TV shows can be a sign of loneliness for several reasons.
Binge-watching TV shows can fill in for a lack of socialization, as it provides companionship through the characters and storylines.
It’s important to note that while binge-watching TV shows can temporarily weaken feelings of loneliness, it is not a real substitute for social connections.
Also, binge-watching allows people to run from their feelings of loneliness and temporarily immerse themselves in fictional worlds.
Part of that escapism lies in TV shows depicting relationships, emotions, and social dynamics, which viewers can relate to and emotionally invest in.
Spending time on streaming platforms requires little effort and interaction compared to engaging in real-world social activities or hobbies that involve other people.
For lonely people who might lack the motivation or energy for more active pursuits, TV can serve as a passive, comforting escape.
So, it’s time to sum things up. Loneliness isn’t always loud and obvious.
Rather, it can whisper to us through these subtle signs, nudging us to seek connection and emotional fulfillment in different ways.
As we work through these feelings, let’s all bear in mind that loneliness is a universal human experience.
Life definitely gets better, and it all starts with genuine connections, meaningful experiences, and the warmth of human companionship.