Majority of UK adults feel lonely due to shyness or lack of free time, finds study

More than half of UK adults admit to feeling lonely because they are too shy or short on time to socialise.

A study of 2,000 adults, conducted by the Royal Horticultural Society, has revealed that 28 per cent of participants said they didn’t have enough free time to meet with friends, while more than 36 per cent experienced symptoms of loneliness because they feel shy or anxious in social environments.

One fifth of participants said they believe social media has taken over as the primary form of communication, while three in 10 put their loneliness down to lack of money.

The data also showed that while 52 per cent of Britons have experienced feeling alone, many have attempted to tackle their loneliness with one third joining up to a social group, such as a community garden, and almost three in 10 signing up to a sports team.

Furthermore, the study revealed that younger people tend to feel more lonely than those in later life, with 68 per cent of 18-24 year olds having felt alone often compared to 41 per cent of the over 55s. 

The average age when Brits feel most alone was revealed as 37, although one fifth felt they suffered most in their twenties. 

Sue Biggs, RHS director general, said: “It’s worrying to see that half of all adults suffer from loneliness and it really does affect all ages.

 “It’s clear from the study that the younger generation are affected by the digital age which has resulted in lack of face to face communication, while older demographics are suffering in silence living alone.”

The research also found that during the average week adults experience feelings of loneliness three times, however one tenth admitted to feeling this way every single day.

Almost two thirds – 64 per cent – of participants said they believe it’s possible to still feel alone even with lots of friends, while more than half of adults said they find it worse today than five years ago. 

Similarly, six in 10 worry about feeling even more secluded as they age, due to friends or family passing away or moving cities, and 44 per cent fear living on their own. 

The findings are supported by a similar survey which showed that young people feel more lonely than the over 55s.

The study of more than 2,000 UK adults was conducted by YouGov and found that 31 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds said they felt lonely often or all the time, compared to 17 per cent of over 55s.

While 24 per cent of young people admitted to suffering from loneliness at some stage in their lives, seven per cent said they felt affected every day.

In comparison, just two per cent of older generations said they felt lonely all of the time.

The market research company suggested the findings could be linked to the “new challenges” young people face for the first time, such as moving away from home or starting new jobs.


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