As a sex & intimacy coach I work with a colorful demographic of people who come to see me for all sorts of issues, ranging from bizarre to mundane. Despite their many differences, the most common emotional state that most of my clients share is the feeling of loneliness. Loneliness does not discriminate between genders or orientations; loneliness does not spare those in relationships, and loneliness can affect us when we are surrounded by people. Loneliness is experienced by anyone who lacks the intimate connections they crave.
Many people feel lonely even while in a romantic relationship. This happens when one or both individuals in unable to share themselves fully with their partner(s), which creates a sense of isolation within the relationship. You might experience that feeling of isolation despite being in a crowded room, or feeling hurt and helpless after an argument with a partner. Loneliness leaves us feeling trapped within ourselves and unable to connect with people sitting right next to us.
Loneliness is genuinely dangerous for one’s health. The impacts of loneliness on the body include heart disease, impaired immune system, and substance abuse; as well as psychological effects. People who suffer from loneliness have less regulation over emotional responses. We have less impulse control and an impaired ability to cope with stress. People who feel profound isolation often fall into depression, which is an emotional state that makes people feel alone, which downward spirals. Luckily, breaking free of that loop is possible.
The cure for loneliness is connection.
Healing loneliness and isolation begins with an intimate connection with one person. Sharing your fear, shame, vulnerability and hope with a single person can suddenly make one feel no longer alone. For the majority of my clients I am that first person. When someone sits on my couch and shares themselves with me, they are no longer alone. And supported by our connection nearly all of my clients have been able to reach out to others, reconnect with their partners or begin to form new relationships. Like learning to dance, you can train yourself to let in connection and let out vulnerability. Even if you and I never meet I hope you will reach out to someone you trust. All it takes is one connection - a therapist, a mentor, or another coach.