As human beings, we have an innate need for the comfort that comes as a result of feeling connected with others. When we are unable to gain a sense of connection with others, we will often begin to feel lonely. Sometimes we can even feel lonely when we are around others, which implies that feeling connected isn’t just in being around others, but maybe the quality of the connection matters, as well. The experience of loneliness is quite normal in college students, but there are steps we can take to promote meaningful connections with others.

Researchers have identified at least three different types of loneliness (Tiwari, 2013):

Being a College Student 

 As a college student, there may be times when you can identify with any one or more of these types of loneliness.  Oftentimes, as students adjust to being in college, the situational type of loneliness will ease its grip on us.  Once we figure out how to get involved and start meeting new people, we will grow accustomed to the new environment.  Developmental loneliness is often made better when we remember to be intentional in connecting with others.  This is where the more meaningful relationships can really be helpful.  Relationships that are more “surface” or superficial, might leave us feeling lacking or as though we are functioning at a deficit.  It’s important to work towards these more meaningful relationships when we can.  Take an inventory of your relationships some time and be curious about how you can cultivate more meaningful connections in them.  If you’re experiencing internal loneliness, you might be struggling with depression.  If this type of loneliness is a struggle for you, counseling might help you to better hear the story you’re telling yourself about yourself and how you might start to do something different with that. 

 If you’re feeling like you just can’t shake the loneliness that you’re experiencing, no matter the type, help is available at the Counseling Center.  Give us a call at (479) 968-0329.

Tiwari SC. Loneliness: a disease? Indian J Psychiatry (2013) 55(4):320–2.