By David Joel Miller.
Where you live can make you lonely.
Where do you think people, are most likely to be lonely?
When I saw the research on location and loneliness, I was surprised.
It seemed logical the people who live in remote, rural areas would have less human contact and would be lonelier. That’s not what the research showed.
The highest rates of loneliness are reported in crowded, urban areas. It’s not surprising then that with more than half the world’s population living in large cities loneliness is on the rise. Here are some of the reasons we think people who live in large cities experience more loneliness.
Not knowing people in the neighborhood makes you lonely.
One of the common complaints about small towns is that everyone knows everyone else’s business. It’s harder, maybe impossible, to be anonymous in a small town. The upside of having everyone else know about you is that you know about them. In a large city, you may live in an apartment for years and never get to know other people in nearby apartments. That lack of connection results in loneliness. One cure for loneliness is to frequent places where people know your name.
Lots of crime around you increases loneliness.
If you live in an area with a high crime rate, you avoid other people. In cities with high murder rates, people stay indoors at night. If you believe you live in a high crime area, you are likely to stay boarded up in your dwelling, hiding from other people. Work with other civic-minded people to reduce crime and dispel the loneliness.
Not expecting help makes you feel lonely.
When you don’t know people nearby, you don’t expect them to help you. People who have close relationships with those around them feel safer and are less likely to feel lonely. In crowded areas, people are often reluctant to help those around them. When there are many people present everyone tends to think someone else will take care of it. The result of this thinking is that when everyone expects someone else to help no one may act.
Not feeling safe where you live can make you lonely.
Lack of safety, feeling at risk and vulnerable increases your isolation and loneliness. People who feel unsafe barricade themselves behind locked doors.
Being afraid to leave the house makes you lonely.
Fear isolates people. As your fear of leaving your house increases, you will feel a corresponding increase in loneliness. People in poor, crowded, environments, become increasingly lonely because they try to avoid contact with others who they fear will harm them. Not feeling safe has resulted in a generation of kids who grow up playing in their homes, connecting only with electronics because their parents are afraid to let them go outside.
People who are afraid to go walking after dark experience an increase in loneliness.
Have you noticed the news stories about a group of people who all go walking together after dark? The premise here is that people’s fear of leaving their homes after dark increases their loneliness and increases isolation, and turns the streets over to people out to harm others.
If you live in a neighborhood was well-lit streets and have a busy shopping area close to your home are more likely to go out at night. When you must travel long distances, alone in your car, to connect with other people are likely to stay home and feel lonely.
What do you do if where you live makes you feel lonely?
The greatest cure for loneliness is human connections. Get to know your neighbors. Enlarge your social network. For some people moving to another neighborhood where they feel safe and accepted is an option. For other people, the solution is to work to change the neighborhood in which you live. Join community groups dedicated to making your neighborhood safer and a better environment. Make friends and be a friend. Loneliness, the feeling, tells you that you need more human connection. Increasing your social connections will help you overcome that feeling of loneliness.
David Joel Miller MS is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC.) Mr. Miller provides supervision for beginning counselors and therapists and teaches at the local college in the Substance Abuse Counseling program.
Staying connected with David Joel Miller
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Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.
Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.