Loneliness at university
Going to university can be the start of a whole new social life, but it can also be a lonely time. Loneliness comes from the gap between the social life you want and the social life you have. Any unplanned or unwanted alone time can leave you feeling lonely [1], particularly when you’re in a new place, away from all your familiar people. When you’re young and already going through a lot of upheaval, loneliness can be a powerful sensation. You’re trying to map out your future and your social world is rapidly changing. Your friends – even if they’re not be the same ones you had a few years ago – are becoming more important than ever before [1]. How does loneliness happen? The changes you are going through are often linked to some of the significant factors that can cause loneliness in young people: Changes in your social network. Becoming more independent from your parents and family. Exploring your identity [1]. As we grow up and start to figure out who we are, our social circles tend to shift from away from family, towards friends, perhaps because it’s easier to discuss the big issues with people in similar situations. When you leave home and go to university, you’ll be figuring out more about who you want to be. You may make new friends and start to let go of old ones, choosing to spend time with people who reflect your new interests and ambitions, people who can help you feel like you’re working towards the future you’ve just had your first glimpse of. This doesn’t mean that your family stops being important or that they leave your social circle entirely, but you might notice that the centre of your circle drifts closer to your friends. Transitional periods Feelings of loneliness can be exacerbated by any big life transition, including moving out of your family home and going away to study. A strong support network of close friends and family can help ease this pressure [2] but you may not always have access to this. If you’re going to university and you don’t know anyone, take advantage of the social activities on offer. Make plans to spend more time with the people you meet and seek out others who share your interests. And don’t go thinking you’ve got to rush to find a romantic partner to stop you from feeling lonely! Friendships can be just as good for you, boosting your self-esteem and mental wellbeing, and giving you all the benefits of intimacy and companionship that you’d get from a romantic partner [2]. The power of sharing One interesting way that you can deepen your sense of feeling socially connected is to share your possessions [3], which can be easily done in shared accommodation. As well as simple loans of things like books and clothes (if that’s your thing), there are a few other ways to think about sharing possessions. Setting up a TV or games console in a shared area means you and your housemates can enjoy it together. If one of you has a car, giving lifts is a good way to be helpful (in exchange for a contribution towards fuel, of course). Laptops and printers can be a handy loan for last-minute assignments. You can all save money by clubbing together for kitchen staples like salt, oil, teabags and washing up liquid. You can also save space by sharing kitchen equipment. If, say, one of you has a big frying pan and one of you has a colander, sharing these items can help you feel more connected – but do make sure you wash up afterwards! If you do lend and borrow possessions, be clear about what the boundaries are around when things are expected to be returned and in what condition. If you’re worried, a good rule is to avoid lending or borrowing anything that you can’t afford to replace.   References [1] Laursen, & Hartl. (2013). Understanding loneliness during adolescence: Developmental changes that increase the risk of perceived social isolation. Journal of Adolescence, 36(6), 1261-1268. [2] Lee, C., & Goldstein, S. (2016). Loneliness, Stress, and Social Support in Young Adulthood: Does the Source of Support Matter? Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 45(3), 568-580. [3] Gentina, E., Shrum, L., & Lowrey, J. (2018). Coping with Loneliness Through Materialism: Strategies Matter for Adolescent Development of Unethical Behaviors. Journal of Business Ethics, 152(1), 103-122.
Article | university, loneliness
“Emotional affair with my ex”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   My husband and I have been married for almost 12 years, together for over 14 and we have 2 young kids. I love my husband very much and we have a good, comfortable relationship but it has always lacked real intimacy and passion. Sex is just okay, and he seems fine with that. Over the years I have suggested doing things to spice it up and he’s always in agreement but has never really made an effort. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how to improve our sex life. Maybe that’s why I contacted my ex who happens to be the only person who’s ever satisfied me sexually. This is someone I haven’t seen in over 15 years and have only exchanged the odd message in all that time. I thought I’d just say hello, enquire after his kids and that would be that, like it has been every other time in the last 15 years. Instead, we got to reminiscing about the past, clearing up misunderstandings and just enjoying talking to each other after so long. It progressed from messages to Skyping and now I want to talk with him every day. Just to give a bit of background on our relationship; we met while he was married. His wife wasn’t interested in sex and he thought having an extramarital affair would save his sanity and eventually his marriage. I was a ‘good girl’ so I don’t quite know how I got messed up with him. All I know is that we had an unbelievable chemistry that I hadn’t experienced before or since. Now he’s divorced and single and I’m the one who’s married but it seems we still have amazing sexual chemistry. Fortunately, geography is not on our side so it’s unlikely that we would ever be together again but from our conversations I have come to understand myself better and more importantly, what I get from him that I don’t get from my husband. So now I’ve come to the crux of the matter, how do I get my husband to understand that sex is important to me and his lack of interest in improving our sex life is putting a wedge between us? How do I get him to care? Maybe someone could point me in the direction of reading materials and other resources that could help.
Ask the community | emotional affair, sexless
“Extreme confusion over breakup”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   Hi all, My girlfriend and I split up last week and I’m finding it all extremely confusing, with lots of different emotions and thoughts in my head. Hoping someone can shed some light. We got together just over year ago and I think I knew she had issues with relationships and intimacy when she’d explained things about her past relationships: she had seen those relationships as temporary and never considered they might last, she craved a lot of alone time etc. With me, she was totally different. At first and seemingly for a while, she couldn’t get enough of me - it may have just been the honeymoon phase but she assured me she’d never felt this way about anyone before, and it was totally different. I admittedly do suffer depression and low self esteem sometimes so I did have a hard time believing this; I had a voice at the back of my head with niggling doubts as I was afraid of getting hurt, but we carried on and had an amazing time together with lots of laughs, intimacy and fun. She met my family, I met hers, it was great. Then the old ways started to creep back in at the 6 month mark, as she said we were spending too much time together (a few nights a week) and she was losing sight of herself, she thought it was unhealthy to talk as much as we did. Just FYI I wasn’t talking to her 24/7 and still maintained good friendships throughout all of this. She said she wished we’d slowed it down from the start even though she was the one who first said ‘I love you’ (2 months in!) and kept saying she didn’t want anyone else, but also didn’t like the ‘girlfriend’ label until I put my foot down and said if we are exclusive then she must be my girlfriend. Anyway, after she said all this about losing herself I felt very hurt and backed off, only to have her resume the relationship as before; I’d tell her she was free to go home if she didn’t want to stay the night and she’d tell me she missed me. I felt like I was getting mixed messages which annoyed, hurt and confused me. She explained a lot of it was guilt - maybe she sensed her desire for excessive space hurt me. She then discovered her parents were going to get a divorce which I think triggered her own depression (which she has had for a long time and is on medication for). I noticed a change in her from then on, our sex life suffered and I grew increasingly insecure. She’d lost her spark and I didn’t know if it was me, her parents, her desire for space or a combination of things. Either way I felt unwanted. Long story short, we tried and tried and put a lot of effort in but the last few months all I can say is she shut me out. She couldn’t handle us having arguments and would completely shut down, unable to talk and kept referencing how when her parents spoke to her the same thing happened. The more I pushed the more she pulled away, til I finally gave her space (all the while I was riddled with anxiety) but said I’d be there for her and loved her loads, but I realised she’d just mentally checked out. We actually ended it over the phone in the end as I said enough is enough, this isn’t a relationship and she said she agreed and can’t give me what I want. Now she says she’s convinced we are just in different stages of our life: I know I want a committed relationship with future plans, she just doesn’t know what she wants but kept saying she did want me. Every time I talk to her she feels attacked and like I criticise her; if I say what behaviour of hers I struggle with, she says that she can’t handle hearing how much of a rubbish person she is. I obviously haven’t said that but that is how she hears it. Anyway, she now says she wants to go and work on herself but to stay in touch as she cares about me and doesn’t want to close off the chance of us making it work once she’s in a better mental place. But for me, being the cynic/realist I am, I just think it’s unrealistic to expect everything to perfectly align and I can’t hold on to the hope we will get back together because the breakup has already hurt me so much - if we reconciled only for it to fail again I’d have to heal again and I don’t feel able to put myself through unnecessary pain. Now I flit obsessively between I want us to work, she’s the one, I deserve better, it wasn’t healthy. I’m going mad over it. We met to exchange stuff the other day and spent four hours together. It was like girl I fell in love with was back for a bit - she kissed and cuddled and wouldn’t let go and I let her because I love her, but I came away more confused than I was going in. She said she’d go get some professional help and I said to look me up if she works out what she wants. She said we couldn’t speak for one week then we’d take it from there. I spoke to my friends who said it sounded more like a break than a breakup, but when I clarified this with her she said it was a breakup - I then couldn’t clock why she was kissing me and everything and she said it was to say goodbye. But she’s also said she’ll be there for me if I really need her which I don’t think is going to work because how can we heal? I guess I won’t know anything until some time has passed but I spoke to her yesterday and said I don’t want to not talk for a week and potentially go back to square one of all the breakup pain if we talk again at that point. I said it’s easier in my mind if I treat this as permanent and told her not to talk to me. She asked if we would remain friends on Facebook, I said I don’t know. I just don’t know what her motives are. She sounds extremely confused so maybe there’s no point trying to suss out what she wants when she doesn’t know herself. Sorry it’s such a long post - only as I read it now can I see how crazy the whole thing has been. Any tips for navigating this? Should I expect to never hear from her again? Is it beyond hope? Would people ever reconcile after years apart? (She thinks this is how long she’ll need to get past her issues)
Ask the community | breakups