It doesn't matter how many dinners, coffees, parties, drinks sessions or lunches you attend, you always feel like connection with people is fleeting. You try to keep your social diary full, but as soon as you part company, you feel lonely again. Empty. You don't exactly love time on your own. Time alone with nothing to do is very uncomfortable.
Or maybe you have plenty of people in your life, but it always seems so 'surface'. You don't really feel like you connect. You can feel lonely even when you're with people. You tell your stories, they tell theirs, but it's like you're inside a bubble. You're just entertaining each other, being 'sociable', but not really building relationships.
Or maybe you just don't have enough friendship in your life. If you didn't organise to see people, you could go for weeks or months without company. You have a sense that gravity is pulling you towards isolation.
In essence, for whatever reason, you don't feel embedded in a supportive social fabric.
There are many wonderful things about our modern world, but with them have come isolation and loneliness, even around other people. Our social networks can be far flung geographically. Social media might help us keep up with what's happening in their lives, but it's no substitute for being IN their lives.
Even the friends who are in our lives can be so busy that we never have enough time to talk about the things that are troubling us. We can count our 'good friends' on one hand...or maybe we only need a couple of fingers. We don't even know if we could call those two if we needed help.
We can also feel a pressure to be positive all the time, to ride over the top of feelings of loneliness. Admitting to loneliness can feel like it will make matters worse! Who wants to be friends with a lonely person? There must be something wrong with me if I don't have enough friendship in my life!
The need to belong is in our DNA. It's right up there after air, water, shelter and food. It's how our species survived in a world where we weren't the fastest or the strongest. It's a natural human thing to feel at risk if we are not connected. Owning this need without shame, taking responsibility for meeting it, and becoming a good friend yourself are essential ingredients on the path to salving loneliness.
You don't need the perfect partner, or the perfect personality, body, car, job, income, sense of humour, or anything else in order to be deeply and genuinely connected with others. In fact it's sharing the messy experience of humanity that builds strong friendship. This is a very important part of flourishing in your life.