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Understanding loneliness

Lone person sitting on rocks at the beach, looking out to the water at sunset.

Loneliness in the City of Rockingham

Loneliness is a growing concern, with one in three Australians feeling lonely. By asking our local residents we will soon know what our community loneliness level is. A high level of loneliness is 13, with the lowest possible score being four (less lonely) and the highest 16 (more lonely).

What is loneliness?

Loneliness is an uncomfortable feeling people get when they don't have the relationships they would like to have. It is something that can affect anyone through different stages of life.

Being alone is a physical state people are in when they have less interaction with others. For some people, being alone or socially isolated, can lead to loneliness. Others may enjoy being alone. 

Loneliness and social isolation are different, but together they can intensify uncomfortable feelings. 

Things to know about lonelinessWoman walking her dog at the beach.

Experiencing loneliness for long periods of time can have a negative impact on your health and wellbeing. 

It is important to know that loneliness doesn't have to last and there are many things you can do, for yourself and others. 

Everyone's experiences are different and things that have worked for yourself or others may not work for everyone. Listen to yourself and acknowledge what works for you.

Why do people feel lonely?

Loneliness is an uncomfortable, but important feeling that lets us know that we are craving more meaningful relationships in our life.

Everyone's experience of loneliness is different and so are the causes of their loneliness. Loneliness can be triggered by certain life events such as:

  • friends of family moving further away
  • loss of a loved one
  • relationship breakdown
  • moving house, job or school
  • loss of work.
Different types of loneliness

There are different types of loneliness. Understanding this might better help to address loneliness in yourself if someone else. 

Social loneliness

Social loneliness is when someone has a small or non-existent social network, including family, friends or community.

Emotional loneliness

Emotional loneliness is when someone lacks one or more emotionally significant and meaningful relationships, even within a large social network.

Signs of loneliness

There are a number of things people who are feeling lonely might say or do. Some examples of what people might say when they are feeling lonely are:

  • No one understands me.
  • There is nobody I can talk to.
  • I can't just be myself.
  • I think I am too different.
  • Why don't people like me?

Remember that everyone experiences things differently and even if they express everything on this list, they might not be lonely. It is also important to see what people do. Some signs could be:

  • avoiding rejection by withdrawing from others
  • poor eye contact
  • less engaged in conversations.
Man and dog sitting on the beach looking out to the water. Man and dog sitting on the beach looking out to the water.

Things to do if you feel lonely

Most people will feel lonely at some point in their lives so if you are feeling lonely, remember you are not alone. Loneliness doesn't have to last forever and there are things you can do if you are feeling lonely. It probably won't happen overnight, but by taking small steps, you might be able to make a big difference.  


Get outdoors and connect to your natural environment. Try kicking off your shoes and walking on the grass. The City of Rockingham has so many wonderful parks and beaches, there is sure to be something not too far away.

Taking part in regular physical activity can help improve mental and physical health as well as being a great way to meet people. It could be something as simple as regular daily walks or participating in a social sport or hobby with others. 

Other things you can try are joining a club or group and getting to know your neighbours.


Changing the way we think about things can be helpful with dealing with uncomfortable feelings. 

You might want to try practicing mindfulness. Be aware of what you are sensing and feeling in the moment. There are many ways to practice and many resources available. Here are a couple to get you started. 

Meaningful relationshipsMan with his arm around his son.

Most discussions about loneliness touch on the importance of creating and maintaining meaningful relationships, but why? Meaningful relationships with friends, neighbours, work colleagues, loved ones and your community can help grow feelings of happiness, a sense of security and belonging. 

Feeling lonely isn't just about not having enough relationships, it can also be a sign that the relationships you have do not have the depth, or are not meaningful enough to fulfil your needs.

What is a meaningful relationship?

Meaningful relationships can mean and look different to different people, but generally they involve:

  • feeling joy and excitement when you spend time or have interactions with someone
  • being able to truly be yourself around someone
  • taking time for and having interest in the other person and feeling they do the same for you
  • open communication
  • a sense of trust and respect with someone
  • sharing similar values with someone.
How to build meaningful relationships

Be yourself

When developing and maintaining meaningful relationships its important you are your authentic self and not who you think someone wants you to be. Trust and honesty are central pillars of a meaningful relationship. You should be honest about who you are and trust others can accept that. You don't have to agree on everything or share the same interests to build meaningful relationships. 

Sometimes it's our differences that make our relationships with others exciting and meaningful. 


All relationships have disagreements and that's ok. What matters is how you talk and listen to each other. Exchanging thoughts, feelings and ideas with people around us can help build meaningful relationships. Listen to and understand what people are saying. Don't just listen to respond. The more you practice, the better you will get. 

Be fair

Meaningful relationships should be fair in meeting both people's needs and expectations. There needs to be give and take and consideration for each other. A healthy relationship should have commitment and a willingness to be more accommodating to each other's needs.

Make time

Quality time provides space for meaningful relationships to develop, mature and strengthen. It may seem difficult to juggle quality time with all the other responsibilities of life, but it's not impossible. It doesn't really matter what you spend time doing with someone, as long as you are both committed to giving each other undivided attention. 

Nurture current relationships

You don't have to make new friends or meet new people to feel less lonely. You can strengthen bonds within existing relationships to make them more meaningful to you. Existing relationships could be old friends or new acquaintances you would like to spend more time with. Make time to check in and see people you know.

Reflect on the relationships that work best in your life, what qualities these relationships have and how you can bring these qualities into other relationships. 

two women walking a dog in suburban street two women walking a dog in suburban street

How you can help

There are some simple things you can do to help someone who might be feeling lonely. Learning about loneliness, starting conversations and including people is a great place to start. 

Learn about loneliness

Understanding loneliness can help you recognise the signs. There are many resources available on this page and across the internet. 

Starting conversations

Once you know more about loneliness, you may find it easier to start an open, non-judgemental conversation with someone you are concerned about. Some tips are:

  • accept the person exactly as they are
  • don't make assumptions about what someone is feeling or the reason they might be feeling that way
  • try to get on their wave length to better understand their situation
  • genuinely listen to what they are saying.
Include people

Provide regular opportunities to do things with people you might be concerned about. Having options and knowing there are people who care, can really help someone who is struggling with loneliness. Even if they don't take your offers, continue to reach out. 

You might want to invite someone to grab a coffee, walk on the beach or attend a social gathering with you. Why not ask them about their interests and organise something around that the next time you meet?

Don't take it personally

If someone you know feels lonely, don't feel like you are doing something wrong or that they don't like you. The type of connections people want or need can change over time. 

You could try giving them information on loneliness, or encouraging them to learn more. 

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