Loneliness is a common emotion. Everyone experiences it at some point or another during their lifetime. There are many reasons why people develop feelings of loneliness, and while feeling lonely isn’t a pleasant emotion, it’s perfectly normal to experience it.

Everyone is different and can experience loneliness due to different causes. To gain a better understanding of how loneliness feels and how it can affect you, it’s best to learn about some common root causes of it. By having a better understanding of what can cause loneliness, it can be easier to quickly identify these emotions within yourself whenever you experience them.

Cause 1 – A Major Life Change or Transition

A major life change or transition into a new stage of your life can cause intense feelings of loneliness. Even if the change or transition doesn’t involve the loss of a relationship, it can involve changes in the way that existing relationship operates.

Any time your life changes in a big way or you transition into a new stage of life, it affects many aspects of your life, including your routines, your relationships, your comfort zones, and many other things.

For example, consider the major life change of moving to a new city for a new job. This transition won’t end any of your relationships – your family is still your family and your friends are still your friends – but moving to this big, new place where you don’t know anyone yet (and can’t see your friends and family as easily) can create intense feelings of loneliness.

Cause 2 – The Ending or Changing of a Relationship

Ending or changing a major relationship in your life can cause feelings of loneliness. For example, if you end a relationship with your romantic partner, you can experience loneliness afterward – romantic relationships involve lots of interactions with the other person, and when the relationship ends, so do those interactions. In place of the time you spent together, you might find yourself feeling lonely.

This loneliness can also happen when a relationship changes. Even though it didn’t end, the changes can be enough to invoke feelings of loneliness. When the shape of the original relationship morphs into something else, it can leave gaps in your life that loneliness fills. For example, consider the example in the previous paragraph – if you move to a new city and can’t see your best friend in-person every day, that doesn’t mean your best friend is no longer your best friend; the relationship has just changed in a way that may leave you with feelings of loneliness as you both adjust.

Cause 3 – Mental Health Issues that Cause Isolation

A bad mental health day can leave you feeling less-than-perfect. When your mental health is struggling, it can cause you to seek out some alone time to rest. Doing so is a perfectly normal reaction to having a rough day or a difficult time with an existing mental health issue, such as anxiety or depression. When life feels overwhelming, taking some private time to separate yourself from other people and the outside world is a natural reaction to experiencing mental health stressors.

However, if these mental health issues cause you to keep yourself isolated from others,  for a prolonged period of time, it can lead to serious issues with loneliness. Taking a day or two to spend on your own from time to time is a healthy way to rest and recuperate from mental health stress, but if your issues cause you to isolate for long periods of time, you may begin to experience feelings of loneliness.