There are two types of Loneliness.

Loneliness is an unpleasant feeling in which one feels a relationship deficit – the sense that one’s relationships are not satisfactory.

According to some, Loneliness can have multiple dimensions, including emotional and social.

People experiencing social isolation feel that they don’t belong to a group that shares the same interests and is isolated.

The majority of people who feel emotional Loneliness lack intimacy. While many singles are happy and content with their lives, ” voluntary singles” can be unhappy due to high levels of emotional Loneliness (i.e., they want but lack intimate attachments).

What are the risk factors that these two types can experience? Hofman and his collaborators have published a study to find the answer. The study is published in the July issue of Psychology Research. It discusses the differences and risk factors between the two types of Loneliness.

Emotional Loneliness vs. social Loneliness

Let’s first distinguish between the two types.

  • Emotional Loneliness: One feels they are missing an “intimate connection relationship” or an inadequate relationship. People who are widowed or have recently separated often experience emotional Loneliness.
  • Social isolation: A feeling of Loneliness resulting from a sense of being unconnected, a lack of social integration, or a perception of one’s social networks being deficient. People who move to a different country and have a new job or school are more likely to feel social Loneliness.

Investigating the Risk Factors of Social and Emotional Anxiety

Sample 7,885 people (57%) are female; about half of them between 50-64 years old; 84 percent Dutch; 75% living together or married; 43% living with children; 79 Percent working; 58% with no chronic disease and 20% with two or more; 20 percent currently smoking; 67% physically active.

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  • Social Loneliness: Five items taken from the 11-item loneliness scale by De Jong Gierveld. Example: “I can count on my friends whenever they need me.”
  • Emotional Loneliness: Six of the 11 items on the loneliness scale. Example: “I feel empty around me.”

Both types of Loneliness have equal effect sizes. Lower Loneliness was associated with drinking and being physically active.

Sometimes, the effect sizes of some cases were different. Living alone, being single, unmarried, and having suicidal thoughts were all more strongly associated with emotional Loneliness. However, poor health and multiple chronic diseases were more strongly related to social Loneliness.

Are there factors primarily associated with one type or another of Loneliness? The data analysis showed that social Loneliness was lower in women who are younger, more educated, and have a higher education. Lower levels of emotional Loneliness were linked to a paid job and low body mass.

Is it possible that those who exercise, as well as those who smoke and drink, are less likely to feel lonely than those who do not? Participation in social events may have contributed to the association between drinking and smoking.


There are two dimensions to Loneliness.

Social Loneliness refers to a lack of connection with others or difficulties integrating into social networks. According to the reviewed research, older men and those with less education were likelier than others to feel social Loneliness.

Emotional Loneliness refers to a lack or inadequacy in one’s intimate relationships. Unmarried people who live alone, are unemployed, and have experienced psychological distress (e.g., anxiety or depression) are likelier than others to experience emotional Loneliness.

If you are experiencing Loneliness due to any of these risk factors, taking steps to improve your situation is essential. This could include making friends or developing romantic relationships. This is because emotional Loneliness, isolation, and feeling unattached can increase your risk of depression and pain.