If you were to google types of loneliness, you might be surprised at how many lonely types there are. One loneliness researcher found eighty different types of loneliness. Loneliness can range from existential loneliness to physical loneliness. Any loneliness can lead to feeling unseen, unheard and unloved. Here are some of the types of loneliness that I have encountered while working with grief, relationships, complex trauma and PTSD.
Physical loneliness can be a longing for someone to hug you, hold you, or be intimate with you. Physical loneliness can happen when families, friends, and companions separate for long periods. It also happens with single people who are searching for a romantic partner. When people lose a pet or a person, they can also feel physical loneliness. When we grieve, our attachment system looks for our lost pet or person. That might feel like seeing, smelling, sensing or dreaming about the lost loved one. There might be a feeling of yearning or pining for their touch or comfort. People who were abused, suffer from complex trauma or PTSD might suffer from physical loneliness because they might feel unsafe to be touched.
Physical loneliness can also appear in marriages and romantic relationships. Everyone has a different level of desire for physical touch and affection. When these desires don’t match, one partner might be left feeling lonely or unwanted. Over time, these feelings can lead to resentment and low self-worth. A couples counsellor or a sex therapist can help couples find their way back to a comfortable level of intimacy for both partners.
If you aren’t in a relationship, some ideas for physical touch can be adopting a pet, asking a close family member or a friend for a hug, getting a massage. Any activity that helps you release oxytocin, the connection or love hormone, can provide relief. Sometimes negative beliefs about yourself or others can lead single people to believe that they will never find their person. Reframing these beliefs can lead to dating success.
Emotional loneliness can also be a feeling of a lack of psychological intimacy in your life. Sometimes when people grieve, they feel that there isn’t anyone that understands their emotional pain. They might also think that their emotional pain is so deep that they do not want to burden anyone else with it. Certain types of disenfranchised grief can be particularly lonely. For example, when people lose a pet, miscarry or terminate a pregnancy, they might be expected to get over it. This can feel particularly isolating.
Connecting with others emotionally can also be problematic for those who feel emotionally dysregulated. They might suffer from trauma or anxiety tremors, self-harm or suicidal ideation. Those who have been abused and suffer from complex trauma or PTSD might also feel unsafe to open up and connect with someone. A part of them might want to connect with someone to ease the loneliness, but the other might feel it safer to stay home and withdraw.
Dr. Borschel specializes in Attachment and Loss. She is experienced in helping adults, children and families adjust to anxiety, trauma, abuse, divorce, separation, loss of a loved one, and loss of finance.
At MindnLife, we provide assessments, psychology, and child therapy programs, designed to strengthen and support optimal social and emotional development. Our psychologists work closely with parents to provide all-rounded support to the child. We strive to create an environment of trust where the child will feel safe to share. Book your appointment with Dr. Borschel here: