Let us examine how different groups of people are affected by loneliness.
1. Single Adults : We hear much more about single adults population today than we did 20 years ago. The reason is that there are more of them than ever before. The booming of our highly technical society has caused more adults, male and female, to focus first on getting their careers off the grounds and then on setting families.
This does not mean that emotional needs are put aside while the single adults are trying to climb the ladder of success.
On the contrary, the emotional needs may actually be much stronger. While status-seeking may have its rewards, it can leave a person starved for love. Ideally, of course the strong need for love can be met in a marriage relationship; marriage offers two people a chance to obtain a level of intimacy unparalleled by any other type of relationship. Unfortunately for the single adults, the need for love must be filled some other way. Most singles will admit that one day they hope to be married. But in the meantime, they look for alternative ways to find emotional satisfaction.
In our culture, the single adults have at least one major obstacle to finding contentment. That is, our society is extra ordinarily obsessed with erotic love. Finding this type of love is the ultimate dream that is drilled into our heads constantly. The vast majority of popular songs praise love, wail over love lost, or tell us we are nothing until we are wrapped in someone’s arms. This can suggest to the single adults that he or she is incomplete without a physical love relationship. It is a brain washing that never ends.
Because of this public obsession with physical love, single adults assume that it is not good enough just to have friends, workmates, or close family ties. Many are duped into believing that unless they have that one special relationship, they are emotional cripples. Consequently, many feel panicky about growing older without a spouse. Some will allow themselves to compromise their moral standards or do whatever it takes to find the right person.
For many, the search for love becomes the major focus of their lives. They fail to develop hobbies or outside interest for fear these interests will pull them out the limelight. Love is their only hobby.
The only reason many men and women go to church is to meet the person in their dreams. Most want to meet a partner, get married and settle down. They do not even make any major plans for life until they find Mr. or Mrs. Right.
What pressure! People like this may well be setting themselves up for serious disappointments and loneliness. There is little chance to be content with the present circumstances as long as a person is yearning for a future love. And, to top it off, the intensity of this desire may result in making the wrong choice for a mate. So much emphasis is placed on finding THE right one.
Being realistic, we must admit that we are indeed a couple’s culture. No doubt, a single adult can feel out of place merely because of his single status. In our culture, this is fertile grounds for loneliness to grow.
It is reported that of all people in our nation, the adolescent has the most problems with loneliness. The teen years are the time in life when the need for social acceptance is at it’s peak. Adolescents regard themselves as no longer children, and most are making efforts to become more independent from their family. Ties with peer groups are extremely important and the resulting pressure can be tremendous. Even if a teenager has a pleasant family atmosphere, loneliness can be a great problem if there are inadequate ties with other teens. One of the most common problems experienced by teens is a feeling of being left out, of being a misfit. A teenager feels resentful when parents and teachers try to to place restrictions on him as they would on a child. No teen wants to be treated like a child. Yet teenagers make awkward mistakes and errors in judgment when they try to act as adults. They just do not fit in the adult category either. Caught between their own struggle to grow up and the inevitable dominance by adults, many teens wind up feeling like outcasts.
The teen years are also a time of questioning and idealism. Children simply mimic the words and attitudes of mum and dad regarding subjects such as politics or religion. But during the years when they are learning to deal with abstract concepts, and being encouraged to think for themselves at school, many teens take on a crusader’s view regarding complex social issues. They develop a critical mind-set with respect to the problems the adults have created in the world.
Teenagers who do not have proper guidance and understanding are very easily drawn into a lifestyle that guarantees loneliness. Because change and transitions are key experiences in the adolescent years. Teens are easy prey for worldliness. Temptations seem to be at an all time high during this stage of life since virtually every kind of experience is a new experience.
No one ever said that growing up will be easy. That is, particularly, true today since we have a far more permissive and promiscuous society than ever before. Thus, the possibility for loneliness in the teen years is greater than ever. Unfortunately, this problem does not just disappear as teens grow older. It can set into motions patterns which will reach far into adulthood.
To be continued…