How to talk about loneliness
What’s the best way to deal with loneliness?
Loneliness and social isolation can be a result of many different factors – anything from life circumstances and changes in family dynamics to feelings of inadequacy, friendships ending, struggling with depression or anxiety, and more.
For many who are dealing with these difficult feelings it can be hard for them to start conversations and ask questions about loneliness with their loved ones, however doing so can make a huge positive impact.
Here are a few tips on how to talk about loneliness for both the person who is feeling lonely, and for their concerned loved one.
How do you talk to someone about loneliness?
- Start with “me too.” Often, validating someone’s feelings can help them open up and share. We all feel lonely at times. Acknowledging that shame and guilt have no place in the conversation can be the first step to creating a new connection.
- Ask questions that prompt your friend to reflect on their needs. You can try something like, “What or who are you missing today?” or “What are some experiences, conversations, or people that have felt most meaningful to you in the past?” Listen thoughtfully to their response, and keep the conversation going in a positive direction.
- Don’t dismiss someone’s feelings of loneliness. Even if they seem like the strongest, most extraverted and friendly person you know, they still may feel alone and disconnected. Statements such as “But you have so many friends” or “I wish I was lonely – I am just so busy” may make feelings of self-doubt worse. Instead, ask open-ended questions. “What kinds of experiences make you feel connected to others?” or “What would you like to do together?”
- Invite them to a get-together with you, and possibly other friends. Be understanding and accommodating but firm on your desire to spend time together. Sometimes just the effort speaks volumes!
How do you cheer up a lonely person?
Though sometimes there are other contributing factors to someone’s loneliness such as mental health struggles, using the conversation prompts listed above is a wonderful place to start. It’s not your sole responsibility to make someone feel less lonely, but by doing your part and knowing how to talk about loneliness, you’re making a big impact.
Explore more activities and insights on how to talk about loneliness.