How to Increase Closeness When You’re Lonely

Jan 24, 2022JOURNAL

Increase Closeness with Friends

Our lives have become consumed with protecting ourselves. Connecting with others and cultivating meaningful relationships has fallen through the cracks. Loneliness is an epidemic. And many of us are wondering how to increase closeness and rebuild our connections.

I recently read this post by Jewel: “Did you ever consider that if you feel lonely, there’s a chance it could be your own fault? Often times, we’re lonely because we aren’t willing to be honest and vulnerable about the truth of who we are. We’re so busy trying to present a better version of ourselves that we never feel seen. The result is loneliness.

This got me thinking. I’m not lonely because I’m trying to appear better than I am, but I’m playing it safe. We’re overwhelmed by social divisiveness, opting into isolation. We’ve become less vulnerable for fear of judgement. We create safe, shiny public perceptions of ourselves. It’s not real; it’s lonely.

“One of the biggest joys in life is activated by friends you connect with on an undeniably deep level. There is a special energy between you that is rejuvenating. Their presence functions like a clear light in your life that helps you remember what is actually important.”

—Yung Pueblo

Together: The Healing Power of Human Connectedness in a Sometimes Lonely World

Dr. Vivek Murthy wrote the book above about human connectedness. He cites powerful research behind loneliness and how it can cripple us. He explains there are three kinds of loneliness: intimate, relational and collective. Intimate loneliness is when you lack connection with your spouse or best friend. Relational loneliness is when you lack connection with friends you’d meet for dinner. Collective loneliness is when you lack a sense of community.

“Some people think they are in community, but they are in proximity. True community requires commitment and openness.”

—David Spangler

Studies show 22% of Americans are struggling with loneliness. Society tells us we’re not thin enough, good looking enough or rich enough. This impacts our ability to connect with other people. We’re approaching each other from a place of insecurity rather than a place of groundedness.

Casual connections are harder to establish in adulthood. We’re knee-deep in family and career demands. But, it’s important to keep trying. Because connection reduces stress and promotes well-being.


UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center and HopeLab created Greater Good in Action. It’s an awesome site to help us increase closeness. The goal is to meet with people whom we want to connect on a deeper level. This can be in-person or virtual. Upon meeting, you alternate asking interesting and vulnerable questions they provide. It’s enlightening how informative, comical, and emotional these conversations can be.

Sample Questions:

1.  Is there anything you would change about your childhood?

2.  If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about something, what would you want to know?

3.  If you knew you would die within a year, what would you change about the way you’re living now?

“On average, it takes 50 hours of interaction to go from acquaintance to friend and 200 hours to get to close friend. Real friendships build over time through sharing moments of joy and of heartache.”

—Adam Grant

It’s time we break free from our safe, shiny social media posts. We need to take a vulnerable deep dive into ourselves and each other. Let’s dare one another to take off the mask of perfection. Let’s feel the relief and freedom of being real. Sharing honest, non-judgemental and trustworthy human experiences is what the doctor ordered. And like my wise grandmother used to say, “Leave the politics and religion out of it.” —xo

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