We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Loneliness is a tough problem. We live in a world full of all sorts of people, but connecting beyond a superficial level takes a special and complex combination of factors, circumstances, serendipity, and opportunity. Another problem is that we aren't necessarily all that appealing to many people, but we can hope we are appealing to a few people who appeal to us. We all reach out to people who we enjoy, and sometimes it works.
As the article points out, loneliness can spiral into excess neediness, or avoidance, distrust, and isolation. That's not a happy life.
Early in my career, an elderly psychologist told me "If it wasn't for sex, I don't think men and women would have much to do with each other." He was exaggerating, certainly, but it was a point worth making.
Beer night, twice a month with guys at the church, and it has been nicely multigenerational. We didn't get the group I expected.
Assistant Village Idiot
That article on loneliness is making me head straight for the Bath Golf Club...
Part of what strikes me is that our idealized model of friendship has become based on the image of an extroverted 'popular girl' having long conversations with her BFF(s) which I think is why the go-to cure is supposed to be increased interaction and/or social skills. At least for men, as AVI implied above, the model for friendship is more likely to be activity-based which is the suggested course of action in both articles. Getting out and doing something, not just attempting to 'be more sociable', is a far better strategy for men, and likely for women as well.
Avoiding loneliness isn't about being in the presence of a lot of people, it's about making genuine contact. So many of us are determined to avoid the risk of real contact; we'll always be lonely as long as we keep that up. When we're disassociated from our own hearts, it's not likely we'll find satisfying intimacy with any friends.
I think having children raised right helps enormously, but it isn't a guarantee. Some children turn out ungrateful, or have difficult spouses. The good ones may live a ways away and have four of their own. Some may live a great distance.
Loneliness may come from expectations from free time. Farmers in history may have seen few others for 60-80 hrs a week, then fallen into bed. Villagers and traders likewise had their time taken up. Now we have shorter work weeks and labor-saving devices, so we seek entertainments. Because that only works as well as we are wired for, that may only keep us cheery for some maximum number of hours in a week. In the meantime, we become less able to endure solitude, addicted to stimulation.
Assistant Village Idiot
"Studies have found that creating more opportunities for social interaction, or even improving social skills, doesn’t really help reduce loneliness. Why not?"
Because people with a tendency towards loneliness, with poor social skills, aren't going to find those opportunities, as to find them you need decent social skills and be out there in society where those opportunities are being created.
Having "social gathering spots for lonely people" in a city doesn't work if the lonely people don't know about them or don't feel welcome there.
I'm just going to gently suggest that if you have a kid that was "raised right" but is "ungrateful" and has a "difficult spouse" you need to take a long, hard look at your (YOUR) contribution to that dynamic. It may be that gratitude is the reason they visit. You can turn that dynamic around. Better late than never is a real thing. It's a gift your kids probably are longing for and will always treasure.
I have been part of a parenting group of very decent Christian people for decades, and your statement is just wrong. I have wonderful relationships with all five of mine, but I know people whose children have exercised their free will and ruined their lives.
Your statement could be very hurtful to people who are already blaming themselves more than they should. It was not gentle in the least and please, please, reconsider your judgemental attitude. Excellent parenting is not a guarantee, as the scriptures clearly illustrate.
My job is doing the same damn thing I did 20 years of yesterdays ago. My hobbies are diversions. Shall I talk about Minecraft or Fortnite - to whom? Yes, I've had medical issues, bought a new car a few years ago, and got some stuff fixed in my house. Is gardening really center stage enough in my life to share with / afflict upon others?
Visited some churches and was generally ignored. Shall I stand naked for spiritual inspection? Tried some themed gatherings and don't know enough to participate.
And so on. Where's the break-even point where enduring the discomfort becomes worth joning the group?