New York City is one of the most populated cities in the world. So why do so many good looking and successful people I talk to report feeling “lonely”? Probably because the value people place on having meaningful relationships keeps slipping down their priority list.
So it’s not surprising that the marriage rate continues to decline, with the number of people never getting married reaching new heights. To many, the idea of even being in a committed relationship is a complete turnoff. More and more people are opting to stay single because of personal preference, career or financial reasons. Let’s face it, relationships aren’t seen as valuable or needed as they use to be. In fact, for the first time since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking these numbers, there are officially more single people in the United States than married people.
But if you feel like you’re better off being alone for whatever reason you tell yourself, you could be putting your health at risk. A new study done by Brigham Young University involving millions of people over a 35 year span finds that loneliness and social isolation are just as harmful as, or even worse, than obesity, smoking or alcoholism. Since all three are taken very seriously, researchers say we need to take our relationships just as seriously.
Researchers studied the feelings of loneliness, even in social settings, and found that those who said they were lonely, felt socially isolated, or lived alone had an average 30% increased likelihood of dying at an earlier age. The impact of feeling lonely can be just as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, research shows. That’s because of the damage loneliness does to us both physically and mentally.
True, living alone has its perks like: being as messy as you want, walking around naked and eating peanut butter with a spoon, but researchers say physical and mental health is simply not an advantage to being alone, particularly for those younger than 65-years-old.
Social media may also be a contributing factor to increasing global loneliness. A separate study shows that social media reduces overall satisfaction and actually adds to feelings of loneliness.
So maybe now is the time to start taking those real (not virtual) relationships more seriously. Talk to your friends more, hug and kiss your significant other, or just allow yourself to be more open to loving relationships. It may just save your life.
–Ashley M. Papa