You can tell an emotion is universally experienced when it receives wide attention in pop music. From The Beatles’ famous refrain, “look at all the lonely people,” in “Eleanor Rigby,” to Wilco’s line, “smile all the time,” from “How to Fight Loneliness,” it’s clear that feeling lonely is a regular part of the human condition.
The American Sociological Association reported on the prevalence of loneliness in in a 2009 survey, which found that an increasing number of Americans feel they have no one to talk to about the most important issues in their lives. Strikingly in the study, 16 percent of Americans with post-graduate degrees reported they have no confidants, up from just one percent in 1985.
The study generated a lot of criticism and comments for its methodology. But it brought into focus the chilly confusion of loneliness.
If you count yourself among this socially isolated group (and not just someone seeking solitude), there are things you can do to change your experience. Start with the Internet, which offers many resources for making friends, finding dates and building community around common interests.
Read on to discover seven of the best apps and websites to connect with people and never feel lonely.
This app promises to help you meet someone “the old-fashioned way” through the modern world of social media. Unlike other dating apps, you only see candidates who are friends of your friends on Facebook. It’s like having friends set you up on a blind date — but without the awkwardness of the surprise part.
Hinge also helps reduce loneliness by pushing its users to connect in real life. Once you begin to communicate with a match, you only have 2 weeks to exchange contact information and take your relationship off-line or you’ll disappear from each other’s dashboards.
Download: Hinge (iOS)
Loneliness isn’t always about finding love. Sometimes what you really crave is a kindred spirit who shares your love of 16th Century classical music — or whatever your obscure obsession happens to be.
Chatous uses hashtags to connect you with like-minded individuals across the world. You can keep your conversation text-based or incorporate pictures, videos and audio files.
This app can help cure the blues by connecting you to new friends, some of whom may even live in the same city. You can also keep your identity anonymous — it’s up to you how much you want to share and invest in your Chatous friendships.
Speaking of common interests, Tastebuds is devoted to the love of music. This app helps you make friends in your area by matching people based on their favorite bands and songs.
If you love to go to shows and concerts but would enjoy it even more with a friend, Tastebuds can make your favorite pastime less lonely. And if you’re a musician looking for others to jam or form a band with, you’re likely to find them on Tastebuds.
Download: Tastebuds (iOS)
Party with a Local (Free)
This app offers pretty much what its title suggests: the opportunity to hang out with a native resident while you’re traveling. Loneliness often coincides with being in a new place, either permanently or just for a week or two.
Use Party with a Local to meet people who’ve lived in the area a long time and can share a fun night out with you. The added benefit is discovering the best bars and nightspots only in-the-know townies can introduce you to.
Happier (Free, Premium options $4.99+)
This app describes itself as “your personal mindfulness coach,” and who doesn’t need one of those?
Loneliness is usually a product of letting your thoughts wander to the past or future. You remember some supposedly better, happier time in your life, and it makes you feel sad and lonely in the present. You may also project your dissatisfaction with a current situation onto the rest of your life. For example, you’re single right now, so you get afraid you’ll be single forever.
Happier can help you shake these mindsets by reminding you of the positive in the present moment. Read their selection of inspirational quotes for a quick mood lift or share the best moments from your day with the Happier community.
You can also purchase premium mindfulness packs ranging from $4.99 to $24.99.
Download: Happier (iOS)
Akirah Robinson is a licensed social worker who focuses on helping women heal from heartbreak and loneliness. This affordable course offers daily exercises in self-love, questions to inspire reflection and additional resources and videos. After all, as the saying goes, you have to love yourself first before you can expect anyone else to.
In addition to her online course, Akirah’s site offers many free resources for beating loneliness, including a blog post on “24 Things You Can Do The Moment You Feel Lonely.”
The Zen Habits Sea Change Program ($10/month)
While it’s not directly targeted at curing loneliness, there are many indirect ways participation in the Sea Change program can help you feel better. Each month focuses on a specific habit change, such as de-cluttering or learning to meditate.
With daily emails to guide you through the new habit, you’ll have plenty to do and think about to keep your mind from wandering to thoughts of loneliness.
There’s also a large forum filled with fellow sea changers. You can join an accountability group or ask questions about the obstacles you encounter as you work on the new habit. Connecting with others who are committed to making positive changes in their lives will inspire you to stay on track and adopt a healthier attitude toward your life.
Say Goodbye to Loneliness
Loneliness is more than a bummer — it can have negative effects on your physical health and even increase your risk of death, according to a recent study published in Perspectives on Psychological Science, which states:
“Actual and perceived social isolation are both associated with increased risk for early mortality.”
What’s your loneliness situation? So, what will you do to feel less lonely and enjoy life more? Tell us in the comments section below!