The Key Differences Between Social and Emotional Loneliness

The Key Variations Between Social and Emotional Loneliness



Supply: Vic_B/Pixabay

Loneliness is an disagreeable expertise during which one perceives a relationship deficit—the sense that the standard or the variety of one’s relationships are unsatisfactory.

It has been steered that loneliness has a number of dimensions, together with social and emotional ones.

Individuals who expertise social loneliness really feel like they aren’t a part of a gaggle that shares their pursuits, that they don’t belong.

Those that expertise emotional loneliness really feel they lack intimacy. As an illustration, although many singles are usually joyful and happy with life, “involuntary singles” are usually sad due to excessive emotional loneliness (i.e., they need however lack intimate attachments).

So, what are the chance elements for these two varieties of loneliness? For a solution, we flip to a examine by Hofman and collaborators.

Printed within the July challenge of Psychiatry Analysis, the examine discusses the variations between these two varieties of loneliness, together with their threat elements.

Emotional loneliness vs. social loneliness

Earlier than we take a look at the analysis, allow us to distinguish the 2 varieties of loneliness extra sharply.

  • Emotional loneliness: An disagreeable feeling ensuing from the notion that one is lacking an “intimate attachment relationship” or that the present relationship is insufficient. Emotional loneliness is a quite common expertise in individuals who have not too long ago divorced or grow to be widowed.
  • Social loneliness: An disagreeable feeling ensuing from the notion of not belonging, a scarcity of social integration, or experiencing one’s social community as poor. These extra more likely to expertise social loneliness embrace individuals who have moved to a brand new college or job or migrated to a brand new nation.

Investigating the chance elements for social and emotional loneliness

Pattern: 7,885 people (57 % feminine); about half between the ages of fifty and 64 years outdated; 84 % Dutch; 75 % dwelling collectively or married; 43 % dwelling along with kids; 79 % working; 58 % with no power illnesses and 20 % with two or extra power illnesses; 20 % present smoker; 67 % bodily energetic.


  • Social loneliness: 5 gadgets from the 11-item loneliness scale by De Jong Gierveld. Instance: “I can depend on my buddies each time I want them.”
  • Emotional loneliness: Six gadgets from the 11-item loneliness scale. Instance: “I expertise a way of vacancy round me.”

Supply: Alexandra_Koch/Pixabay


Threat elements related to each varieties of loneliness (equal impact sizes) included being an immigrant and having a low revenue. Ingesting and being bodily energetic, in distinction, had been linked with decrease loneliness.

In some instances, impact sizes weren’t related. As an illustration, dwelling alone, being single, psychological misery, and suicidal ideas had been extra strongly correlated with emotional loneliness, whereas poor well being and having a number of power illnesses had been extra strongly correlated with social loneliness.

What about elements linked primarily with one sort of loneliness? An evaluation of the info confirmed that being feminine, of youthful age, being a present smoker, and medium or increased academic stage had been linked with decrease social loneliness. Having a paid job and a low physique mass index had been related to decrease emotional loneliness.

Why is it that individuals who train but in addition those that drink and smoke had been much less more likely to really feel lonely? Maybe the affiliation with smoking and ingesting was because of participation in social occasions.


To summarize, there are two dimensions to loneliness:

Social loneliness refers to a scarcity of reference to others and difficulties with integration into social networks. The reviewed analysis discovered that older males and people with decrease schooling usually tend to expertise social loneliness.

Emotional loneliness means an absence or inadequacy of 1’s intimate relationships. People who find themselves single, dwell alone, are jobless, have a excessive physique mass index, or have been experiencing psychological misery (e.g., anxiousness, despair) usually tend to report emotional loneliness.

So, in case you have any of the above threat elements for loneliness, take a proactive strategy to enhancing your scenario—whether or not this implies making buddies or forming romantic relationships.

That is vital as a result of emotional loneliness, social isolation, and feeling like you don’t belong improve the chance for despair, ache, and lots of different unfavourable outcomes.


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