3 Kinds of Loneliness

There is lots of interesting bits in the The Secret to Making Friends as an Adult episode of Dr. Laurie Santos’s The Happiness Lab podcast. Here’s one. Vivek Murthy talked about how there are three kinds of loneliness:

  1. Intimate loneliness: you lack a close confidant or someone that knows you deeply.
  2. Relational loneliness: absence of friendships.
  3. Collective loneliness: missing identity as part of a larger group.

You need avoid all three. So for example you could have lots of friends, both fairly good in person friends, and perhaps have a large social network following and be respected in your field, but then lack a significant other and be missing that intimate loneliness and really feel it. Or you could have a great peer group and a great marriage, but be lacking friends and really feel that.

There were all sorts of other little interesting nuggets…

  • Every 7 years you lose half your friends.
  • People say they prefer friendships that just happen naturally, but people that intentionally cultivate friendships are more successful at doing it.
  • It’s not enough to put yourself in situations where friendships could theoretically happen. You can’t just join a yoga studio and wait for yoga friends to appear. Once you are there you have to put in the effort. Marisa Franco called it covert vs overt avoidance. Overt is just avoiding putting yourself out there entirely. Covert is showing up, but then avoiding people once you’re there.
  • People want to like you. You don’t have to be the most clever or the funniest. The best bet is being affirming to other people. There is an irony to when you clam up and be protective of yourself and avoid rejection — it appears as if you aren’t interested in them and they are the ones that feel rejected.

One response to “3 Kinds of Loneliness”

  1. Rach Smith says:

    I realise after reading this, I’m a covert avoider. Oops.

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