7 signs you’re much more lonely than you realize

You know that feeling when you’re scrolling through social media, and everyone seems to be living their best life? 

Meanwhile, you’re on the couch, eating microwave popcorn and wondering if your cat is secretly plotting against you.

And you might think that you’re okay. That you’re choosing peace and focusing on yourself. That you’re happy being alone.

But if this is all you ever do – and you have no one that ever comes into your bubble – you might be lonelier than you think. 

Loneliness is sneaky, shows up uninvited, and overstays its welcome. 

Before you know it, you’ll be used to its presence and have a hard time realizing that it’s not all that good for you. 

But fear not! There are some signs that point out how lonely you really are – and if you relate to any of these, you can start addressing them and get your energy back. 

First up, you’re lonelier than you think if…

1) You’re constantly trying to escape reality.

One sneaky sign that you might be lonelier than you think is escapism behavior. You know – those hours spent watching movies, playing video games, or doing crafts…

We all enjoy a little Netflix or binge-scrolling, right? But when it becomes a constant thing, like escaping to social media for hours on end, it can be a sign that you’re trying to fill a void. 

You might not even notice you’re doing it at first. 

I went through this a while ago. 

Terrible news and the realization that I had almost no friends to help me through it led me to doom-scrolling TikTok and playing CandyCrush more than I’d like to admit. 

Dealing with reality was just too harsh. And because it felt like I had no one to talk to, distracting myself with things that didn’t require much effort seemed like the best option.  

The problem is – it was a quick fix. 

Escapism makes you miss out on possible opportunities to make genuine connections with other people. Which, in turn, leads to healing whatever causes those dark feelings of loneliness. 

It’s okay to unwind and relax. It’s also good to have hobbies and do things that make you feel better. 

But when it becomes a full-time job, you need to take a closer look at why. 

Try to balance spending time alone and interacting with other people. You can even start by joining a book club, video game chat groups, or hobby get-together sessions. 

Ease into it. 

And remember to be authentic and look for people you can form long-term connections with. Because another sign that you’re just trying to ignore how lonely you really are is if…

2) You seek out superficial, fleeting relationships. 

It’s hardly possible to form genuine connections with hundreds of people at once. This is why someone who has a ton of friends often feels lonelier than someone who has one or two close ones.

We all crave human connection – even those introverts who deny it. 

And when loneliness creeps in, it can make you settle for the quickest and easiest interactions.  

These superficial connections come in many forms

You might engage in small talk with strangers but never go beyond that…

You could prioritize followers and comment sections on social media over face-to-face interactions…

Or maybe you surround yourself with large groups of people who never interact with you beyond the surface level…

While these relationships can provide a fleeting sense of connection, they’ll never leave you feeling fulfilled. 

The thing is, deep, meaningful relationships take time and effort. 

You have to be open, vulnerable, and have a genuine interest in the other person. 

If you’re drawn to superficial connections, you’re just trying to fill a void. And no matter how often you find new ones, your deeper emotional needs will never be satisfied. 

Try to make an effort the next time someone wants to be your friend. And look for people who want genuine connections, too. 

Invest time and get to know the other person beyond their favorite color or where they spend their 9-5. 

3) You abuse substances. 

Loneliness can be a heavy burden, and sometimes, using substances to numb the hurt feels like the best way to escape. 

It isn’t, though. And if you’re not careful, your temporary method of relief can turn into a full-blown addiction. 

Substance abuse is also another form of escapism behavior

Whether you’re drinking stronger cocktails than usual or experimenting with recreational drugs, whatever you’re using to numb feelings of loneliness can lead to dangerous roads.

Once your body and mind are used to what you’re consuming, you’ll crave something stronger to beat the dark feelings again. It can turn into a cycle with a devastating end.

Many people use substances to cope with difficult emotions, but it’s not a healthy or sustainable solution.

You need to sit with your loneliness and find ways to fight it. 

If it feels like you’re already at a point of no return, reach out for help. Online support groups and free counselors are available with a quick Google search. 

There are healthier ways to address loneliness and work towards building fulfilling connections. 

4) You overwork and always keep busy. 

grew up lonely 7 signs you're much more lonely than you realize

Like substances, work can become addictive. 

Do you feel like you’re constantly on the go? Do you fill every minute of your day with work? Is there always something else you choose to do when feelings of loneliness pop up?

If so, you might be more lonely than you think – and afraid to confront these empty moments. 

And while packing your schedule to the brim will help, the void inside will just continue to grow. 

Sure, it’s important to stay productive and focused. But when working becomes an avoidance strategy that leaves little room for genuine human connections, you’re in unhealthy territory. 

Working tirelessly to escape emotional discomfort isn’t the way to go. It’s okay to recognize that you feel lonely and need other people for support and fulfillment.

5) You always feel tired.

You know that feeling when you’re chronically exhausted, even though you think you’re getting a whole night’s sleep? It’s like you’re running on empty after filling up. 

And it doesn’t matter how much coffee you down or naps you take- the exhaustion just won’t let up. 

Well, there’s a chance this might have more to do with loneliness than you think. 

You see, loneliness is about a lack of quality connections. When you’re not getting the emotional stuff you need, your brain will start running on low. 

Without realizing it, your energy reserves drain faster than usual.

Loneliness creates a sense of heaviness – like you’re carrying an invisible emotional backpack. Its weight is hard to describe, but it will make you feel tired all the time. 

Your mind, body, and soul will reach a point where it starts yearning for those deep connections that can recharge you.

6) Your emotions are inconsistent. 

Have you ever noticed that your emotions are all over the place? Like you’re happy, and then suddenly, in the darkest pit known to humanity?

Loneliness can cause this. 

You might feel satisfied and happy while you’re in a virtual world, in crowded rooms, or on an alcohol buzz, but if you’re lonely at the core, it will all come crashing down once those moments pass by. 

You might end up overwhelmed with sadness, frustration, or even anger. 

You see, content people stay connected to happiness even when the source of it is gone. They don’t experience a void once the people or things that made them happy disappear. 

If your emotions are inconsistent, your mind might be trying to tell you that something isn’t right in your social or emotional life. 

So, take a moment to reflect on your relationships and how you feel when you have no one around you or nothing to do. 

7) You’ve gained weight.

This might not be true for everyone, but if you’re binge-watching shows, abusing substances, getting low-quality sleep, and having stress-related mood swings, your weight will possibly fluctuate. 

Weight gain could be trying to tell you something about your emotional state, particularly loneliness. 

It’s not uncommon for loneliness and depression to be associated with weight gain. Let me break it down for you:

Imagine you’ve had a long, tough day, and you find yourself reaching for that bag of chips, a tub of ice cream, or any other favorite comfort food. 

Sound familiar?

We’ve all been there. 

And when we’re alone or just feeling down, we rarely have the energy to prepare healthy meals or don’t care at all. 

Loneliness influences eating habits. It can be one of the biggest drives toward overeating. 

Food just has a nurturing effect. And when we feel lonely, filling ourselves up with something helps. 

Those late-night snacks could be a subtle cry for connection – a signal that you’re missing meaningful interactions and intimacy. 

It could be your body’s way of saying, “Hey, I need some emotional food too.”

So, if your jeans start sitting tighter, you should take a look at your emotional health. You might be lonelier than you think. 

Eating healthy and exercising is a great way to boost your energy levels and get your spark back. If you feel good about yourself, it’ll be easier to connect with other people. 

And once you start using your time on more positive things, you’ll have less time to retreat into that dark hole you’ve been hiding in. 

Remember: one step at a time. 

 

 

 

Natasha Combrink

Natasha Combrink

Nats is a writer who loves creating content for purposeful brands. She enjoys spending time outdoors, crafting, and diving down rabbit holes. After rediscovering life, she wants to help others live to their full potential. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

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