The human being is a social animal , made to live in the company of his fellow human beings. However, one thing is the dynamic of life for which we are prepared, and another is our way of subjectively living our social life.
Because yes, everyone has a social life to a greater or lesser extent; only hermits who are totally isolated from others are excluded from it. But that doesn’t prevent millions of people around the world from feeling lonely… even though they are not , objectively.
Why is this apparent incongruity? Why can loneliness appear when we are surrounded by people who feel sympathy and affection for us?
Why loneliness appears when accompanied
Loneliness is a feeling that responds to needs for social contact and affection . Both factors have to do with the possibility of getting the cooperation of others when it comes to achieving personal goals, but there is something else. Affection is a source of physical contact and intimacy, elements that have been proven to be indispensable from birth.
Babies who grow up with access to food, water and an environment with the right humidity and temperature, but who remain isolated, develop abnormally and often develop serious mental disorders. Similarly, people who report a greater sense of loneliness are more likely to become depressed and die relatively early.
In a way, then, contact with others not only has material implications, but the psychological impact of loneliness also matters. However, this subjective aspect also adds a certain degree of uncertainty when it comes to knowing which social situations produce loneliness and which do not. This is why there are people who, despite relating to many people, feel lonely . To explain this, several hypotheses are considered.
In some cases, people who, due to the demands of their day-to-day life, interact with several people day after day, including friendly people, may feel lonely because of a social skills problem. As much as a dialogue is apparently two people talking, for someone who feels that his or her public image is being compromised by what he or she does or says is something very different; specifically, a test, something like an intelligence test. Something that produces anxiety, in short .
As social interactions are seen as challenges, the person with low social skills ignores the possibility of connecting with someone and concentrates on not making a fool of himself or simply going unnoticed . This means that what is objectively a social context ceases to be a social context and becomes an annoying and stressful situation through which one has to go through as little suffering as possible.
Of course, understanding the company of others in this way makes the feeling of loneliness the only thing left. Sometimes you yearn for an honest relationship with someone, but when the opportunity arises, you try to avoid that situation, make it short lived and compromise as little as possible.
Lack of time for active social life
At the other extreme, it is also possible to find people who feel lonely but who, in this case, do not owe their situation to a lack of social skills .
There are people so extraverted that they live oriented to others, making the network of social interactions that surrounds them flow day by day, that they stay alive. Parties are organized, friendships are made who did not know each other, outings to the mountains are proposed… anything goes to involve several people in stimulating situations.
Moreover, normally extraverted people who comply with this pattern of social behavior not only do not live in isolation, but others resort to them with the slightest excuse. This is normal, since they act as dynamic nuclei of groups of friends and colleagues. These are popular individuals and very appreciated by the people who know them .
So where does loneliness come from? The answer is simpler than it seems: lack of time. These people’s free time is taken up with relating to others, but not in any way: acting as the nucleus of a social network (beyond the solitude of computers, though).
There is not much room for deep relationships with intimacy , since the task of energizing groups necessarily requires maintaining a behavioral profile oriented towards the public, the visible by everyone. Even if one tries to break this dynamic, others will continue to act as before so it is complicated to “start over” if one does not radically change habits in many ways.