Most people know it. Even just a day or moment, but every single person on earth had experienced moments of loneliness. It is a feeling of emptiness inside your chest, rock on your head or that squeezing feeling on your brain. A feeling that your energy is drained away and you are cold. It is that moment that you know how the little girl with the firesticks felt on that frozen night when completely alone. A near desperate feeling.

But what exactly is loneliness? It is a feeling, not a physical status, of being completely alone in this world. The feeling is of isolation, not connected to anyone or anything. This feeling can occur in a moment but more often is built over time. Many people experience loneliness even when in the companionship of others. They have no real connection with the other people who surround them.

That feeling is caused by a chemical interaction in the brain. It often starts with low production of dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins but also neurotransmitters and the withdrawal of external sensing. The complex is not yet understood but there is a clear indication that it has a biochemical origin. One of the reasons why these productions are down is that the individual has felt no real connection with other persons surrounding her or him for a period of time. They have tried to connect but got not the desired response. Some people thought they got the response but it did not go the way as expected.

The feeling of loneliness is directly based on the expectations of the person. If the expectation of relationships is high, it is very likely that the persons feeling is hurt when they are not met. Most people will not blame the others but consider themselves as the cause of failure. This blaming causes the beginning of loneliness in many, but not all, cases.

Loneliness is not referring to “being alone”. Most lonely people are surrounded by others. Many even live in houses with others sharing their space with them. The foundation of the feeling and the strength of it depends on the personal expectation of how interhuman connections should be. How do you personally define “intimate relationships”. The word intimate is directly referring toward the need for certain intimacy between people on a high emotional level.

Intimacy does not always refer to sex. The event of having sex could be an expression of intimacy but also could be a physical reaction to a need. Most males are known for their desire for sex without intimacy. This is the main reason for prostitution. Visiting a prostitute is not a need for intimacy but a physical desire. Females hardly have this need. Intimacy is important to most women. If there is no intimacy between two persons the female cannot have joy in sexual affairs. This is a natural protection of the female, as when she gets pregnant with a short interaction, she knows the consequences will take a lifetime.

From this vision, we can state that there is a difference between the experience of loneliness between male and female as there is on the matter of intimacy. Male and female experience a relationship in a different way and have another perspective on the interaction between people. Most males expect relationships to develop fast while female must do it in a thoughtful way. Both have completely different risk factors to calculate.

Males feel loneliness when not appreciated, no response for their work or activities, they need the approval of others to feel successful in life. Female need to feel connected to other persons, there must be a relation with “love” in one way or another. To them, a connection is through communication and feeling of liking. Appreciation is welcome but not needed.

From this, we see a difference mental development of the concept loneliness between male and female. Males can flock together and have a good time together competing for each other of physical and behavioral aspects. Their interrelationships are based on measuring capacities with each other. If a male cannot fulfill the needed skills or have chosen the wrong group to part with, he can become very lonely. “Misplaced” males are often the center of teasing.

Females compete on a very different scale. They walk the social expectation line. A female is expected to fulfill her social “duties” as having a relationship, children, housing and some form of security. Depending on the social circle there is also additional ownership of property of goods that count in the balance. Female who have no desire to participate in any of these activities become the center of attention and correction by the socially accepted persons. This delivers a huge burden on their capacities and mental state.

In this article, I only give a shortened expression of facts to make clear that loneliness is mainly caused by external factors. The external pressures cause internal conflicts in the individual which can lead to depression, mood changes, and loneliness. There are ways to combat this problem and I will get back on that in the next article.

Arnaud van der Veere