Understanding Loneliness

Loneliness is an abtruse, multidimensional phenomenon. Yet surprisingly, some people rarely, if ever, feel lonely.

Sometimes people are lonely because of an immediate situation. Situational loneliness appears based on the state or situation a person is going through at a particular time. A more persistent loneliness can be referred to as "trait" loneliness, as it appears as a trait of that person.

Situational lonely people have a proactive approach at overcoming their loneliness as they often utilize active coping strategies like exercising, listening to music or working on a hobby. These things take their mind off of the loneliness, which makes more positive use of their time.

In contrast, trait lonely people seem to have given up on solving their loneliness problem. They withdraw from painful situations and end up using sad passive strategies. This does not solve the problem of loneliness; it is an attempt to deflect some of the pain of loneliness.

Loneliness is more complex than simply not using the right kinds of coping strategies. Research has shown that loneliness can be associated with other negative components such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, stress, etc. Additional research indicates that loneliness may be a link to a person’s past, such as confounding problems that may have resulted in a barrage of negative symptoms, one of which is loneliness. Some degree of counseling would be required to resolve these issues.

Ironically, a common goal of trait lonely people is to find that special someone for themselves. One definition of loneliness is “separation distress without an object”. Some lonely people look for their attachment object everywhere and are in distress when they can’t find that special someone to love. Why is that?

Possible reasons could be that a person lacks the social skills to make and form friendships. Another may be culture…society prides itself on individuality and personal freedom. Successful relationships, however, require some degree of compromise. Compromise may require some encroachment on one’s personal freedom, which may not be desired. The end result is you don’t find that special someone because that special someone is more of a figment of your imagination rather than an actual person. The last reason is being unwilling to let down one’s defenses. When people have been hurt by past loved ones, they are more unwilling to be open to love in the next relationship. Being in a relationship requires one to let some of their defenses down and being open to the possibility of being hurt again. Only then can a true meaningful relationship form. If you can’t be hurt, then you cannot be loved.

Loneliness is very painful. Understanding what causes your loneliness will not only enable you to conquer it, it’s the first step on the road to happiness.

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Bonnie Morét is an award-winning photographer recognized by The Georgia Council of the Arts as "an exceptional representation of contemporary Georgia art work." Her photography is featured on Georgia Public Broadcast's Georgia Traveler. Her exhibitions include Fifth Annual Exposure Awards at Musee du Louvre in Paris, France, Art Takes Miami at Scope Art during Art Basel Miami, Metro Montage XIII at the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art, World of Water at the Georgia Aquarium, Open Walls at Black Box Gallery in Portland, Oregon, Wholly Georgia: A Look at the Effects of Southern Religious Culture, sponsored by the Art History League and Georgia State University, at Mint Gallery in Atlanta, Georgia, 6x6 at the Rochester Contemporary Arts Center in Rochester, New York, @Phonography: Dialogue in the Wireless Age, at 3 Ring Circus in New Orleans, Louisiana, and About Lands and Lives of the Civil War at the 6th Cavalry Museum in Ft. Oglethorpe, Georgia. Her photography appears in Modern Luxury/The Atlantan, Jezebel Magazine, and hangs in the executive offices at the Georgia State Capitol as part of the Art of Georgia exhibit. Corporate clients include Atlanta Ballet, Atlanta History Center, Chanel Cosmetics, Christian Dior Cosmetics, Sharp Mountain Vineyards, PM Realty Group, Granite Properties, Road Atlanta, Patrón Tequila, Georgia's Own Credit Union, StubHub, CBM Records and The Washington Auto Show.