Why are there so many people who are lonely? Why is it so hard for people to make real connections when almost everyone wants to make real connections?
What is your advice on how to ameliorate this situation?
I doubt there is one absolute answer to those questions. I can only speak for myself. I'm lonely because I'm shy and not good at meeting people and not attractive and I don't have much of a social life. Blind dates don't interest me, bars are creepy, and I think it would be a bad idea to date anyone at work (assuming I was interested in anyone there). I've accepted the likely fact that I'll remain alone for the rest of my life and though I'd rather it not be so, I can accept it.
Maybe people feel there is something wrong with a person who is lonely. I think lonely people feel the same way. There's a natural desire not to be around people who have something wrong with them, like avoiding a disease. So the lonely avoid the lonely, ensuring loneliness..
Some say it's the result of the American custom of sticking bottles in babies' mouths and dropping them off at the babysitters while the mothers work. Studies show that children who were given prolonged nursing, held and cuddled a great deal, etc. had a happy, optimistic outlook on life, were steady, and loved themselves.
At least one study showed it actually changed the babies' genetics to be cuddled.
Cuddling Babies Regularly Can Actually Improve Their Genetics, Study Suggests [womansworld.com]
Some of it boils down to people not being their authentic selves. They are too afraid.
Some of it is down to capitalism. It costs money to socialise and travel. You can't go to the cinema like you used to. Everything costs more these days.
Some of it is cultural. We watch other people live their lives, through television. (Again, capitalism, because it costs money to do stuff.)
Much of it is down to social skills, or lack of.
Most people are afraid of exposing themselves to others and I am not talking about taking of your clothes. They are afraid that if people really knew them than that knowledge would be used against them on a later date and that unfortunately leads to limited communication. And there you have the circle of not connecting.
We are taught to be competitive, to be independent and outdo others so offering support and encouragement is foreign to most of us. So many of us are too busy seeking something we are not giving, so offer support, encourage others, check in on sick friends, say thank-you, give eye contact, hold the door, pay for an extra coffee....if we all did little things to show kindness to others it would change.
I personally smile at nearly everyone and even offer an occasional hug to someone I can sense needs one but I tell them it is for me. "Could I hug you? I really need hugs and I don't know anyone in the area." I have only been told no twice in the past decade. I also make little trinkets and give them out randomly when I am sad or depressed because they really make people feel noticed and the energy in the entire place changes sometimes. It does not take much more than a sincere thank you, your help is appreciated for us to feel noticed but far too often people only speak up when they are mad. Even as a waitress I gave free coffee or discounts to the nice people because they assholes always got stuff free but the kind people usually get abused or ignored.
I don't feel lonely often, I did feel painfully lonely when I was younger. I was lucky to make some solid connections when I as younger. THey accepted me as I was/am. I think there is a lot more flexibility in youth and now I am more like I am now than I ever was before. I used to compromise a lot more but am less willing to do so now.I won't compromise just to be with someone. (on certain issues) I am a fairly eccentric person and don't expect to be an easy match