In the 2017 census, it was reported that approximately 45.2% of adult Americans are currently unmarried, a number that is up significantly from the past. We, as a society, are embracing single life more than ever, but is it everything that it’s cracked up to be?

Here are 12 harsh yet relatable truths about loneliness and being single:

#1 – Being single and loneliness are two different concepts.

Many of these points are going to discuss the struggles of loneliness, but not everyone who is single is lonely. There are those who have figured out how to fulfill their need for connection and human connection, sure. Unfortunately, many of those who are single also struggle with this negative side. Just because you know someone who doesn’t fit this picture doesn’t make it untrue, you just met the exception.

#2 – Loneliness will sometimes manifest in physical pain.

If you have been feeling unexplained aches and pains, know that you’re not alone. In fact, those physical pains are very real. Scientists have identified a number of physical symptoms associated with the experience of loneliness and social isolation. It can trigger inflammation and even block the body’s immune system, leading to a higher risk of ailments like colds and flu bugs. If you are single, make sure that you’re establishing deep connections with friends and family to prevent these struggles.

#3 – You truly miss the joy of physical touch.

This isn’t necessarily referring to sex (although you may be missing out on that too, and that’s totally understandable). Physical touch refers to a hug, a hand on your shoulder, holding hands, or any other point of physical connection with another. We are wired to seek this level of connection, as it triggers the release of ‘feel good’ hormones. While we experience some level of physical touch from friends and family members, it falls far short of the connection we have in a romantic relationship.

#4 – Loneliness isn’t a lifestyle choice.

While many people may choose to be single for a number of reasons, no one chooses a life of loneliness. You don’t want to long for someone by your side or to feel like you are completely alone in this life, you against the world. If given the opportunity, any one of us would give up the loneliness, even if we’d like to find a way to do it while still maintaining the single life.

#5 – No matter how you slice it, no one wants to be the third wheel.

If you’re the single friend, you’ve likely tried at one time or another to make it work so that you can spend time with your friends and their partners in order to avoid losing touch. However, being the third wheel sucks, there is no other way to describe it. You’ll put on a smile and make it seem like everything is okay, but in a way, it is nothing more than a reminder of what you don’t currently have in your life.

#6 – Everyone around you is paired up.

Doesn’t it ever feel like everyone you know is in a committed relationship except you? This is further enforced by the fact that many activities and events base their pricing on couples. Some even ask that you only sign up in pairs! It’s like the whole world that we live in is designed specifically for pairs, leaving those of us who are flying solo behind.

#7 – Loneliness can lead you to seek comfort in toxic places.

If you are feeling alone in the world, you may turn to some less than positive coping mechanisms. If you do, know that you’re not alone. Loneliness and social isolation will lead, in many cases, the use of drugs, alcohol or even sex to try to fill the void. It’s important to recognize that this is nothing more than a bandaid solution, and it won’t bring you happiness long-term.

#8 – Nobody is making you priority #1.

It’s one of those great feelings that those who are in a relationship often take for granted. When you need someone in your court, someone that will drop everything to be at your side – sure you’ve likely got a few great friends that you can count on. But there are going to be times when a priority in their own lives will prevent them from being there (and that’s okay, they should be making their own spouse and family a top priority). However, it’s normal to wish that you were the most important person in someone’s world, even for a short while.

#9 – No one else really understands what it’s like.

Until someone has been here and walked in our shoes, no one understands what our life is like. Sure, your friends and family have likely taken the time to express their support and sympathy when you’re upset. They genuinely want to be there for you, they just don’t know how because they don’t really know what you’re really going through.

#10 – The grass isn’t actually greener on the other side.

One of the natural responses, when someone questions you about the single life, is to start defending where you are at in life and why it’s, obviously, the best place to be. You’ll talk about how you don’t have to check in with anyone, you’ve got true freedom, you enjoy your ‘alone time’ and more. While some of this is certainly true, much of it is exaggerated to make your life look better.

#11 – The struggle with jealousy is real.

No one wants to be ‘that jealous person’, however, there are going to be times in life that it’s nearly impossible to avoid it. Living single is going to have those moments. Why? We are surrounded by the concept of love and romance, and the fact that we should long for it in our lives – just look at Hollywood. There will be days that it will seem like every person in a happy relationship is rubbing it in your face.

#12 – Sometimes, friendship just isn’t enough.

Going through this list, you may find yourself arguing that you don’t need someone in your life because you were blessed with an amazing group of friends or an incredibly supportive family. While this may be true, friendship just isn’t the same. It’s like trying to soothe your need for wine by drinking water – it’ll quench your thirst, but it isn’t going to satisfy you. A romantic relationship is a different experience altogether.

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