What We’re Learning About Loneliness

Will hundreds of Facebook friends make you feel less lonely? Not likely, say researchers from The University of Arizona. It’s close family and friends that help us stave off feelings of detachment, their studies show.
The point is, relationships that don’t have a strong connection don’t help with loneliness—and lonely people tend to have fewer close connections. In fact, having close family and friends appears to be more important than romantic relationships when it comes to making us feel less lonely. But living away from close family and friends didn’t seem to make people more lonely, and relationships over the phone or email weren’t necessarily weaker than those in which the people got to see each other (though the strongest ones were those that were well-established in person).
There’s another interesting finding here: Personal perception matters most when it comes to feeling lonely. As Chris Segrin, head of the communication department at The University of Arizona, explains in a write-up of the studies:

Loneliness is the discrepancy between your achieved and desired level of social contact, and that has important implications. The portrait of a lonely person is very difficult to paint because what is really important is what is in your head.

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