Most people have experienced loneliness at some point. Whether for a brief or prolonged period, the sensation of isolation is well known. Yes, this year more than ever.
In Australia, one in four people say they experience loneliness - a statistic from our pre-pandemic world, before populations at large were mandated to socially distance and loneliness, understandably, increased.
Today, loneliness is being dubbed the ‘silent epidemic’. Dr. Vivek Murthy, the former Surgeon General under the Obama Administration, spoke with Mamamia’s 'No Filter' podcast about the different types of loneliness and ways to manage it.
Here are the three different types of loneliness, according to Dr. Murthy, as well as how to lead a more connected life.
1. Intimate loneliness.
The first type is intimate loneliness, whereby the person is “missing a connection with somebody who is a trusted confidant”.
This could be a partner or best friend, or anyone with whom you “don’t have to have any facade”.
Side note... Here's what it would look like if a man lived like a woman for a day. Post continues below.
2. Relational loneliness.
The second type of loneliness is relational loneliness.
“That's when we're missing friendships - the kind of relationships with people with whom we may spend weekends and go out to dinner with on a Friday night,” Dr. Murthy explained.
"These are folks that we may have over for a barbecue or for a social gathering or birthday parties. And when we miss those friends, we experience relational loneliness."
Dr. Murthy said there's a difference between having friendships and experiencing friendships. He added that the absence of 'experiencing friendships' gives rise to loneliness.
Experiencing friendships, he explained, means social interactions including phone calls, visiting friends, and having conversations with friends.
"When you realise how extraordinarily common loneliness is you start to realise that many of those friends who you are no longer in touch with are probably struggling with loneliness as well."
“Reaching out to them could be a lifeline for both of you,” he shared.
3. Collective loneliness.
The third type of loneliness is collective loneliness.
“This is when we miss being part of a community with which we have a shared identity or a common sense of purpose,” Dr. Murthy explained, adding this can come in a variety of forms, including a Facebook group, a volunteer organisation or even at the office.