Loneliness is a gap between the kind of social relations you want and what you actually have. It’s a perception of social isolation that doesn’t always have to do with how many people surround you. You can be lonely with colleagues, with friends, and in a marriage.

Loneliness is a hot topic in social science these days because of growing scientific evidence that a lonely life is an unhealthy one. It’s truly a killer.

Sobering finding. A meta-analysis of 70 studies found that loneliness increases the risk for an early death by 26% That makes it about as great a public health threat as obesity.

Good relationships improve our satisfaction with life and enhance a sense of meaning and purpose, and that in turn makes it more likely we’ll take good care of ourselves. Close bonds also.

Source: Bottom Line Personal May 2018 interviewed Julianne Holt-Lunstad, PhD, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. Her research focuses on the long-term health effects of social connections and includes a meta-analysis on the effects of loneliness and social isolation on mortality.