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Lonely this Christmas? Being single in a room full of couples is the worst

It might sound a little fluffy, but loneliness kills more older people than cancer does, writes Rena Maycock.

WE’VE ALL BEEN there. It’s morning after the Christmas party, and in between the “fear” and hankering for a breakfast roll, you’re disappointed that last night wasn’t the night that Mr or Mrs Right dragged you under the mistletoe.

A burning sense of loneliness

December is a peculiar month in dating. It starts off slowly as most people are distracted by their packed festive calendar. But the end of the month sees a huge spike in activity on dating sites and a surge in people contacting matchmaking agencies who have lost patience with serendipity.

They start taking matters into their own hands. They don’t want to be feeling the same way this time next year.

Yes, Christmas is a time for family and friends, but it tends to throw being unattached into the spotlight as nights out come to an end and couples slope away arm in arm.

Being single in a room full of couples can often result in a burning sense of loneliness.

Loneliness kills

It might sound a little fluffy, but loneliness is no laughing matter. Loneliness kills more older people than cancer does and doubles the risk of death among the elderly, according to the Mercer Institute for Research on Ageing.

Being alone can also lead to social isolation and poor mental health, and those that live alone are at greater risk (Finnish Institute of Occupational Health). It particularly affects women. According to the last Census 27% of 65+ women live in single-occupancy homes.

Contrary to popular opinion, loneliness is not exclusive to the elderly though, it is an epidemic among all ages. You would think the rampant spread of connectedness through social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter would have made us all feel warm in the embrace of our many ‘friends’ and ‘followers’.

But University of Pittsburg research shows that the more time young people spend on social media, the more lonely and socially isolated they are likely to be. In 2010 the Mental Health foundation in the UK found loneliness is an epidemic among younger people and should be considered a greater concern among young people than the elderly.

Never been easier to meet new people

But why? It, literally has never been easier to meet new people. You can make 10 new connections in as many minutes from the comfort of your own couch.

So why is it that when we commissioned our own Amárach survey to test attitudes to dating a staggering 52% of single people over 25 said they felt they would never meet their special someone? Why are we so hopeless when it comes to finding love?

Our educated guess is that we have become jaded by the dating scene. We are not built to deal with disappointment after disappointment when potential partners don’t tick our boxes, or worse still, we don’t tick theirs.

Our skins are yet to evolve and become thick enough to deal with the regular rejection and occasional abuse we might face on dating sites or apps.

It is only the seasoned Teflon dater that can play the long dating game effectively and emerge unscathed. So, either we avoid the dating scene altogether for fear of being bruised, or perhaps truck along, even though we think it’s a futile exercise.

There is someone out there for you

A lot of us are perfectly content with being single and live full and satisfying lives, but for those of us who would like to share our life with a significant other, there are 1.55 million single people in Ireland with a further 418,000 separated/divorced/widowed people.

So no matter who you are, where you are or what age you are, there is really no reason at all to be alone if you don’t choose to be.

There is someone out there for you. Be hopeful, be positive, and be persistent. Be proactive and you will succeed.

Rena Maycock is co-founder and director of Intro Matchmaking and dating website

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