People with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) often struggle with loneliness, not the concept of being physically alone, but the emotional feeling of isolation and separateness. Especially young adults and teenagers are dealing with it, for a good reason. Even if you have a partner or a loving family, the fear of being rejected or abandoned can make you feel lonely. If you have depression in addition to BPD, you may separate yourself from others which amplifies the feeling of loneliness.
We often question ourselves, how can we feel alone in a room full of others? In this article, we'll discuss what loneliness is, what loneliness feels like, what the correlation between loneliness and social media is, and where the feeling of loneliness comes from.
At this moment, while I talk to you, I'm alone sitting in front of my screen. However, this feels like the opposite of being alone. I'm feeling a form of connection between you, the reader, and myself. To feel loneliness, someone doesn't have to be alone. It can be felt in a room full of others.
Normally, here at MentalCurve, we talk about something that can be thoroughly explained, solved, or brought awareness to. Loneliness, however, is a little more complicated. Since we can't see the underlying problems, we often don't know how to help someone with loneliness.
For example, it's easier to help an individual who is dealing with heartbreak. We can't immediately fix a broken heart for someone, but we can give useful advice. Since loneliness is personal and experienced differently by every individual, it's difficult to give fitting advice. Therefore, loneliness is hard to unravel, and it has to be treated, in a different way, for every individual.
We can't fix something unless the underlying problem is identified. We'll gather as much information as we can, and then we'll see if we can come up with a solution to help you deal with your loneliness.
What is loneliness?
Loneliness seems to be a state of mind. It's a subjective feeling that your social relationships are noticeably less than the quantity or quality that you desire them to be. Loneliness is a condition that exists and a warning sign that something is missing from your life.
Defining loneliness as one singular emotion is a convenient way to state it, however, it's a cluster of emotions. Loneliness is a very imprecise word that has a lot of different interpretations.
"Pain and distress are the difference between loneliness and being alone."
Loneliness can affect people that are old, young, married, single, and even social butterflies.
What does loneliness feel like?
Loneliness is one of the least pleasant feelings to experience. Loneliness feels like an empty void, a sense of no one understanding who you are, a chronic state of stress, and the thought of it being a never-ending experience.
"It's a joy to be hidden, but a disaster not to be found"
Due to an underlying belief of not being good enough, someone can self-blame for not feeling any deep connections. It could make someone want to put on an (emotional) mask in public. After a while, loneliness and isolation will become a comfort blanket with thorns on the inside.
In the end, we're social animals at heart. We want our inner selves to be recognized and found by others.
What is the correlation between loneliness and social media?
Using social media to stay connected is important. However, loneliness is increasing, especially among young adults and teenagers, which is not a coincidence.
18 to 35-year-olds experience loneliness at higher rates than ever before. With this generation, the most significant difference from other generations is social media.
Engagement on social media is a lot different than in real life. In real life, you share both the good and the bad, the triumphs and tribulations. After you shared something, they might share something of theirs. That's how we build connections and grow intimacy in the real world. On social media, we're only seeing people with their good sides. It unconsciously harms our sense of self and gives an inaccurate perspective on others.
"Social media is a bridge but never will be the real world."
According to studies, it matters who you're following on social media. The more "influencers" or strangers you follow, the more distressed and depressed you're likely to be. The more actual friends you follow, the less distressed you're likely to be.
Where does the feeling of loneliness come from?
Being unable to form deep connections with other individuals is the root cause of feeling lonely. When lacking confidence, we put on an emotional mask in public, making other people interact with our fake selves. It withstands us from forming any real connections with other people. It reinforces insecurity since any positive feedback is towards the mask. Putting off the mask is risking that the actual self may not be liked, which makes the individual feel stuck and isolated.
"The more people like your mask, the harder it is to be yourself."
When other people seem to like the mask, we do not want to take the risk of showing our actual selves. Over time, we get addicted to wearing masks.
With every interaction, you've built a connection between the individual and your mask. In the end, you feel empty on the inside because you are craving human connection.
If you catch yourself wearing different emotional masks depending on the person you talk to, you might have something called a Chameleon Personality Trait.
It's easier to deal with when the mask gets rejected instead of the actual self. It requires a lot of courage to put off that mask. You have to be vulnerable. You don't have to do it all at once because you can do it in little steps.
For example, when someone asks: "how are you doing?". Be honest and say, "not great."
See it as a game of ping-pong. You hit it to the other side and watch what happens. Sometimes, you don't get a reaction back, but that's fine. But often, you get an honest response back, and you can choose to share more. Keep going back and forth and, hopefully, you start to feel more connected to people.
If you're experiencing chronic loneliness and it's something you've been dealing with for a long time. It's not because you are unloveable, unworthy, a reject, or that no one wants to be with you. Somewhere in your life, you've probably experienced bullying, inconsistent parenting, or neglect. Long ago, you've learned that having connections is unsafe. It results in designing a living environment for yourself that keeps you isolated. Seek professional help if you need it.
"Isolation breeds depression, and the opposite of addiction is connection."