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Loneliness affects the vast majority of people at some point in their lives. Loneliness can be momentary and linked to a specific situation. It can also be more permanent, affecting many areas of life. For some, loneliness eases over time as life circumstances change. Others are more deeply affected by loneliness, and some people have to live with loneliness all their lives.


Loneliness is most commonly perceived as the absence of close people. On the other hand, even those who seem to have a lot of people around them can experience a painful, emotional loneliness inside – a lack of close relationships. Social loneliness, on the other hand, is when loneliness is linked to a lack of a social network or a feeling of not belonging to any group.

Voluntary solitude is different from loneliness. Loneliness is forced and oppressive, while solitude is a choice and can be positive. Being alone can give you a chance to relax and calm down with yourself and your thoughts. Being alone is as important as being with others. It’s important to learn to be comfortable on your own.


There is no single cause or explanation for loneliness. The experience of loneliness often has several causes and can vary from person to person, at different stages of life.


We often experience loneliness when our life situation changes. Loneliness is often highlighted in the life of a young adult, with several major life changes happening at the same time, such as

  • separation from parents and childhood family
  • starting one’s studies
  • moving away from home and moving to a new study environment

The transition to a new phase of life poses many challenges. Taking responsibility for your own life can feel scary. Uncertainty about the future feels worrisome. Feelings of loneliness can be exacerbated by a break-up or long-term singleness. Some may experience loneliness when starting a relationship or a new phase of life in cohabitation or marriage.


Study advice often emphasises individual performance and independent work. In many fields, there are no close study groups familiar from primary and upper secondary schools. Only just over half of students feel they belong to a study-related group. Many people live alone.

Finnish culture, and student culture in particular, is associated with heavy alcohol consumption. If you want to avoid alcohol-related situations, you can easily be left out of social events. This can increase loneliness and feelings of being an outsider.


Sometimes, an inability to function in social situations leads to a cycle that can lead to loneliness. Shortcomings in key interaction skills such as listening and paying attention to others, or even opening up a conversation, make it difficult to interact with other people and make contact. If you don’t get practice in different social situations, your social skills will not improve, either. This can lead a person to spiral into loneliness.


A history of being bullied can make it harder to make friends in adulthood. Bullying often leaves painful wounds. It can be difficult for a bullied person to trust people even after the bullying has stopped. Making friends feels scary.

Experiences of being left out feel bad. This can easily lead to cynicism and a belief that making friends is not possible. The bullied often blame themselves and believe, even later in life, that they are not good enough to be anyone’s friend.

Sometimes, bullying has left such deep wounds that it is difficult to overcome them independently. If this is the case, you should seek counselling, for example from a psychologist.


If you have not experienced enough closeness as a child or have often been rejected, it can feel difficult to establish close friendships as an adult. Safe experiences of being alone in childhood are necessary in order to experience loneliness as a positive force later in life.


People are born with different temperaments and traits. For a shy person, it can be more difficult to meet new people and form new social relationships. For an outgoing temperament, this is easier.

It is important to know and accept your temperament. There is no need for a shy person to become more social. Instead, a shy person can consider the easiest, most natural ways for them to make contact with another person. Emails, text messages, and online chats can make it easier to communicate and share your feelings.

Shyness is also an asset, and it does not necessarily prevent or hinder relationships. There are also benefits and advantages to being shy. Shy people are understood to be more empathetic, pleasant, and trustworthy than others. It’s important to be able to accept yourself exactly as you are – others will then accept you more easily.