Temporary vs chronic loneliness
Loneliness can be temporary or chronic. Temporary loneliness may happen when you are going through a transitional phase. Your circumstances change and these changes fuel temporary feelings of loneliness. For instance, this may occur in case of:
- relationship breakup
- moving to a new city or country
- loss of a loved one
- changing school or job
Many people feel lonely because of changes like this from time to time. According to psychologist Guy Winch, 40 percent of people experience temporary feelings of loneliness at some point in their lives. And in circumstances like mentioned above, it’s perfectly normal to feel lonely for a while. In fact it would be more worrying if you didn’t.
Now, temporarily experiencing feelings of loneliness is unpleasant, but you will get over it. The good news is that this type of loneliness goes away. You’ll get to meet people in your new city or country, meet a new lover or get acquainted with your new colleagues.
Chronic loneliness on the other hand is the type that sticks, sometimes for years, sometimes lifelong. If you feel lonely often, or almost always, then you suffer from chronic loneliness. And that’s a different story.
Research shows that about twenty percent of people “feel sufficiently isolated for it to be a major source of unhappiness in their lives.” An estimated half of them (one in ten people) feel seriously lonely permanently.
That type of loneliness, says loneliness expert Olivia Laing, “cuts right to the heart of what we value and what we need.” Chronic loneliness affects your identity, affects your entire life and can even become an existential problem.