Loneliness NZ


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Single and lonely

Some people make a life-choice right at the beginning of adulthood to be single. Whether its manifested by entering religious orders where celibacy is essential, or accepting a life of short term dating, these singles have no intention of having a long term intimate relationship with another person. If you are one of these singles, making this kind of choice may have given you the feeling of greater control in your life. We appreciate that you can still get lonely – for lots of reasons – but in the main, you are comfortable with your relationship status.For many singles, however, you feel as if your life is in limbo… your vision for your life is to be in a stable intimate relationship with someone else and yet making that a reality is eluding you. Sometimes you aren’t really sure if it’s what you really want:- but you just know that you are feeling uneasy… perhaps your maternal biological clock is ticking; or there just is an implicit (and even often explicit) cultural assumption that all young men and women get married and have families of their own. Our heart goes out to you if you are getting lonelier and lonelier watching people around you fulfil what you see is your dream.And being single isn’t just a young adults phenomena… you may have been happily coupled in life, and imagined the happy ever after story… but events such as divorce or death of a spouse put you unexpectedly back into single life.  You would have gone through a great deal of other emotions, and we feel for you if your yearning to be back into another relationship brings you loneliness.So if you are one of the many folk who feels lonely as a result of being single – when all you want is to be in a relationship – or you know of someone who feels loneliness from this, then read on. In fact even if you suspect others might be lonely, and they stoically say they aren’t, it’s worth understanding being single and loneliness better.

Scratching the surface of being lonely

Just as you might find it hard to understand how people who are in marriages and long term relationships might be lonely, it’s also hard for them to really grasp how very lonely you might be: what it’s like:

Being on a treadmill

...having unsuccessful date after another.

Being patronised

...and hurt by people who comment on you being single.

Being worried

....that something is wrong with you, not being successful in a relationship.

Feeling pressured

...when couples are intent on setting you up with other single friends.

Covering jealousy

... of all the “couple milestones” of your friends.

Being single gives rise to many challenges with regard to feeling lonely...

… and in addition to these, you undoubtedly identify with many of the same loneliness problems that aren’t related to your relationship status.

Prevalence of loneliness

If you are single and feeling lonely, you are not alone.

New Zealanders who are single (and not in a family nucleus) are much more likely to feel lonely than couples without any children. Whilst two thirds of couples without children do not feel lonely any of the time, only 46% of singles (not in a family nucleus) feel the same way. Put another way, over half of singles (not in a family nucleus) feel lonely at least a little of the time.

The increased feelings of loneliness extend across all the different levels of loneliness – from being more lonely most/all of the time to being more lonely a little of the time. So, if you are single and feeling lonely we empathise with you.

Pie charts comparing couple without child(ren) and not in a family nucleus New Zealanders aged 15+ feeling lonely in last four weeks

Exposing loneliness

Feeling socially isolated occurs when people, like you, are not connected into their communities in a meaningful way.  Society, other people and we ourselves unwittingly contribute to loneliness. To name a few, loneliness resulting from being single might be exacerbated when:
  • The high focus that your culture puts on being in a relationship, romanticising relationships and perpetuating the stigma of being single.
  • All your peers are now in long term relationships and you are the only one still “looking for love”.
  • You consider relationships in terms of fulfilling a superficial checklist or ‘filling all the boxes’.
  • You struggle more financially than your friends who have the economic advantages of being a couple.
  • You really are desperate to have a baby and you don’t want to be a single parent.
  • You have been in a relationship previously and you see yourself best as being in a couple.

These are very real issues for you;
and some are not quick fixes! So despite these challenges it’s vital you actively find ways to ensure that you – and those around you – are emotionally healthy.

Exhibiting signs of being lonely

Solitude is very important for people to reflect and to come to grips with their situation. Being lonely for short periods is also not necessarily unhealthy. What we are considering is the type of loneliness which is prolonged and might be damaging to an individual’s health and wellbeing.  Some people talk about their loneliness; other’s don’t. Some might not recognise that they are actually suffering from loneliness.

When people are already lonely, having people around you that you aren’t able to connect with on a deeper level, might even make your loneliness worse.

Research has shown that when socially isolated people aren’t getting enough regular human contact that can create problems with their family members and people who they do end up talking to.

This manifests behaviour such as:
  • Putting pressure on a new relationship instead of letting yourselves take time to get to know each other well.
  • Isolating yourself from people who while well-meaning put pressure on you for being single.
  • Making disparaging comments about the ‘opposite sex’ , and your desire to be in a relationship.
  • Minimizing the many other achievements you have in your life as though they are less important than relationship achievements.
  • Your focus becomes more on what you get from relationships than what you give or could achieve together.
  • Becoming too clingy and smothering with anyone who shows you attention.

These are just the surface of the ways you might be showing signs of being lonely… and that you could recognise in others.
So where to from here?

Conquering loneliness

We appreciate…

you all have a unique story.

How long you have been lonely;  What you believe causes your particular loneliness; and what you have already tried to alleviate the loneliness.

To get to the heart of your loneliness we would like to get to know you!

Your personality, your eccentricities, and your values are all part of what makes you feel your loneliness more than some others.

Your next step

We appreciate the trust you would place in us to talk openly and frankly – so we promise no judgements – genuine empathy, respect and confidentiality.

Then when we have understood you better, we can help you move forward. Help you form better connections with your spread out communities, with your friends and your families…wherever they are in the world.

If you are ready to take the next step, click the button to get started addressing your loneliness:

People feel lonely for many reasons. To learn more about other life stage and lonely categories, select one of the coloured boxes below, or scroll down the “I’m feeling lonely” menu.

Loneliness NZ square I'm feeling lonely logo

With our help you can conquer your loneliness by taking better care of your inner self.

And we can conquer loneliness in New Zealand by better understanding and accepting each other.

So when you are ready…click here.

We look forward to hearing your view of the world!

Stats NZ (2016), “Well-being Statistics: 2016.” Download the data.