When you’re in high school and college, interaction with your peers is a daily occurrence–you study together, work part-time jobs together, and even party together. But as you become older, establish a career and pair off with a spouse, social circles tend to narrow down. We become more particular about the personalities with which we want to associate. We worry about old friends getting along with new. And let’s face it, we start to prefer the company of the couch and television to the “work” of attending parties (hence the difficulty of staying in shape).
Before you know it, you might start to feel lonely. Especially if you’ve yet to find that special someone. And research indicates this isolation might actually be worse for your health than that cheese danish you eat before work every morning.
“Being lonely isn’t bad for you, but staying lonely is,” said John Cacioppo, a Social Neuroscientist from the University of Chicago, and he’s got the science to prove it. According to recent studies, people with the highest amount of prolonged loneliness were twice as likely to die compared to those with the lowest amount of loneliness.
And just being around people all day–say for your job or church functions–doesn’t necessarily help. “Some of the most profound loneliness can happen when other people are present,” says Harry Reis, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester. Just being in the presence of others can’t replace meaningful relationships.
Learn more by scrolling through the infographic below. And why not call up an old friend tonight? It might just save your life.