Laura and Evelyn are not alone in their 30s, but they are often lonely: “Making deep connections with others is difficult.”

“People who feel lonely often don’t dare to admit it,” Helen emphasizes. “They feel like failures, have a negative self-image, and often withdraw for fear of getting hurt. You quickly end up in a vicious cycle.”

However, loneliness is not socially acceptable in all situations. “We can have a lot of sympathy for an elderly person who has just become a widow or widower. But for people who seem to have it all, it is often more difficult and loneliness stays under the radar. While it can be just as empowering to know that you are not alone, And that you might feel lonely, and you might even feel it.”

This is why we must place the responsibility for loneliness less on the individual, and more on society as a whole. Examples include poverty, disease, and unsafe neighborhoods where people do not dare to go out. “We can encourage loose, spontaneous connections with green, traffic-safe neighborhoods with lots of shops. A place where you really feel connected to your neighborhood.”

Finally, we must learn to adjust our perception of “oneness.” “Sitting alone is still often associated with sadness.” According to Helen, we can approach this in an accessible way, for example, by providing benches or chairs for one person. “This way we give people an extra boost to be among people.”

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Megan Vasquez

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