7 Subtle Signs You're Suffering From Chronic Loneliness

Yes, your feelings are real.

lonely woman SB Arts Media / Shutterstock

Despite social media, cellphones, and other technology today that's meant to make us feel more connected, a 2020 survey found that 61 percent of U.S. adults suffer from chronic loneliness.

What is chronic loneliness?

Chronic loneliness is the pervasive sense of isolation that some people feel even if they are surrounded by people and seem otherwise happy. People with chronic loneliness are desperate for connection, but feel like they seldom, if ever, find it. 


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Chronic loneliness is a side effect of my own depression that it took me years to get a handle on completely. I still struggle sometimes — and clearly, I'm not alone. 

If you think you might have chronic loneliness, here are some signs to look for. 

1. You've got loads of acquaintances, but not many real friends.

Wherever you go, you're the life of the party. You know the people in your local coffee shop. You're the easiest person to talk to, and everyone is always excited to see you! 

It would surprise all of the people in your life to learn that you don't view very many of them as friends, but it's true.


You've got one or two friends, but even they seem impossible to get a hold of or even just emotionally distant most of the time. 

2. Feeling isolated and alone is your default setting.

You could spend an entire day with your friends having a blast — but when you get home, you feel totally alone.

For you, feeling not alone is the exception, and feeling cut off from everyone and alone is the rule.

It doesn't matter what you do, it feels like being alone is a part of who you are. 

3. It feels like you're always trying to make plans.

It might not even really be the case, but it always feels like you're struggling to make plans.

Either people are busy, or you play phone tag and nothing comes to pass.


You might hang out a few times a week, but even that can feel like more of a struggle than it should be just for some face time. 

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4. You feel like there's a barrier between you and the world.

When you have conversations with people, it feels like everything is on the surface.

You long for deep, real connections but it feels like nothing really gets as deep as it is supposed to for real connections.

You struggle but feel held back by an invisible barrier. 

5. You crave a real connection, but it takes a lot of time for you to recharge your social batteries. 

For all of your hunger for true connection, it takes a lot of your energy, just like it would for an introvert.


You can spend days in your home recharging and getting me time and just one party is enough to leave you feeling depleted again.

6. You feel like no one really sees you.

The one idea that makes you happier than any other is the notion of really connecting with someone. 

But that just never happens... or at least that's how it feels.

You might make a new, awesome friend, but you worry that they don't see or understand the real you no matter what you try.

7. You can't remember the last time you didn't feel this way.

There are two types of loneliness: "State loneliness" is something we've all experienced. It's temporary and situational. But for people with "chronic loneliness," the feeling never goes away.


Chronic loneliness doesn't have to last forever. 

Just because you're suffering through chronic loneliness now, there's no reason it has to be this way forever. 

Keep on striving to make those personal connections, and as you do, you'll probably find other people out there just as hungry for real connection as you are.


Stay strong, you've got this, and you aren't alone. 

If you or somebody that you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, there is a way to get help. Call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or text "HELLO" to 741741 to be connected with the Crisis Text Line.

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Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. She writes about relationships, psychology, pop culture, and news.