In the 21st century, people feel more alone than ever before. This is the conclusion reached by the authors of a recent study conducted in the United States. Moreover: today loneliness has turned into an epidemic.
It is generally accepted that those who live alone have no one to whom they can turn to in difficult times. In their research, the authors included both those who live alone and those who feel lonely among the participants. It turned out that you can feel loneliness even in marriage.
Social activity is the “hobbyhorse” of loners
But that’s not all: it turns out that single people, especially those who have been single for a long time, are well socialized and very active.
Another study involving 300,000 subjects from 31 countries found that widowers and widows, divorced and never married, date their friends 45% more often than married people. The fact is that often people who choose marriage close themselves to their families, sever ties with friends and relatives, and therefore feel more lonely.
Being alone and feeling alone are not the same thing. But both are the hallmarks of our time
Loneliness is a separate issue that should not be confused with the issues of choosing a status: to marry / get married or live alone. Moreover, sometimes it can be a good solution.
John Kasioppo, author of Loneliness, states: “Being alone and feeling alone are not the same thing. But both are the hallmarks of our time. Those who prefer solitude are still looking for a relationship: they are driven by a sense of guilt. However, they feel even more guilty when they finally get married. To be happy alone is as good as looking for happiness in a couple. “
Is it the right decision to be alone?
Comparison of the behavior of couples in 1980 and in 2000 showed that couples “model 2000”, in contrast to couples in 1980, communicate less with friends and are less socially active. But modern unmarried people are better socially adapted. It is married people who are becoming the loneliest people in our time, and not single people who keep in touch with friends.
This means that the increase in the number of people choosing not to enter into a relationship inspires hope, not anxiety, because it is easier for them to maintain social connections.
The family used to be the cornerstone of the support system, but over time, there has been a shift towards the formation of “lonely communication”. Friendship is a source of strength for such people, and the support that was previously received in the family now comes from other people with whom communication can be no less close. “I have quite a few friends with whom I communicate almost every day,” says 47-year-old Alexander.
This type of relationship is also preferred by those who want to be alone at the end of the day. These people return home after partying with friends and all they need is peace and quiet to regain balance.
In Europe and America, more than 50% of young people say they do not plan to get married or get married
“I spent 17 years completely alone. But I was not lonely, – recalls 44-year-old Maria. – When I wanted to, I talked with friends, but this did not happen every day. I enjoyed being alone. “
The problem, however, is that many still believe that such people are antisocial. This, for example, is evidenced by the results of a study in which 1000 students took part. It is not surprising that they themselves believe in stereotypes about themselves.
Be that as it may, loners do not behave at all as expected of them. In another study, subjects aged 50 and older were asked to talk about their relationships with family and friends. The study involved more than 2000 people, and it took almost six years. The subjects were divided into three groups: those who live alone, those who have been in a relationship for less than three years, and those who have been dating for more than four years. It turned out that singles spend more time with friends, family, buddies and neighbors.
In Europe and America, more than 50% of young people say they do not plan to get married or get married, and for good reason. And most importantly, it’s not scary: on the contrary, if there are more singles in the world, we may have hope for the best. Maybe we will begin to help others more, communicate with friends and become more actively involved in social life.
About the Author: Eliakim Kislev is a Doctor of Sociology, author of Happy Solitude: On the Growing Acceptance and Welcoming of Solo Life.