Loneliness has reached epidemic proportions. According to a recent Meta-Gallup survey, “nearly one in four people worldwide…feel very or fairly lonely.” (Ironic, really, since social media connects us across the nation and globe.)
We can point to many reasons for this: the pandemic, declining participation in communal worship, and an increase in the amount of time spent online.
If this trend continues, the results will be devastating for individuals and society. We need friends. As St. Thomas Aquinas said, “Friendship is the source of the greatest pleasures and without friends even the most agreeable pursuits become tedious.”
If you feel lonely, here are some tips for connecting with people and building long-lasting relationships.
Reach out to others.
If you’re waiting for someone to reach out to you, consider this: Many people are just as lonely as you and waiting for someone to approach them.
Ask God whether He’s calling you to initiate a connection with someone. It could be the man or woman you notice sitting alone at Mass and leaving directly afterward. Or maybe it’s the new person you see at a parish event.
God may want you to start a community of Catholics revolving around a common interest. If your parish doesn’t provide great social offerings, talk with your pastor about creating a group.
If you’ve already made a connection with someone on social media and feel comfortable enough, ask to meet them in person.
Cultivate relationships that seem most likely to deepen.
You may have a lot of acquaintances and wonder if some of them may be potential friends. If you have a lot in common with an acquaintance — such as a shared hobby or passion for growing in the faith — make an effort to nurture that relationship.
Don’t feel compelled to further a relationship you have no interest in or time for, even if the other person wants to become friends with you. You have to pick and choose the best people to fit into your life.
God calls us to be charitable to all, but He doesn’t require us to be friends with everyone we meet.
While God sometimes may lead you through seasons of loneliness, He doesn’t want you to spend your life alone. Offer your loneliness to Him and pray that He reveals to you those people who will stand by your side and help you reach your full potential.