The study of 265 adults ages 19 to 85, showed that stress serves a crucial function for those who reported being lonely. Lonely people were prone to have fewer close connections, were less apt to manage daily stressors well, and tended not to keep up on their health. Also, lonely people don’t get adequate sleep.
Having oodles of friends on Facebook—or followers on Twitter—won’t do much to stave off loneliness if those relationships lack any kind of strong connection, new research finds. Even worse, superficial relationships can not only result in feelings of detachment, but also contribute to certain health-related problems.
“Loneliness is the discrepancy between your achieved and desired level of social contact, and that has important implications,” says Stacey Passalacqua, a researcher at the University of Arizona. “The portrait of a lonely person is very difficult to paint because what is really important is what is in your head.”