The 'Lonely Gene?'
Researchers found that 50% of identical twins and 25% of fraternal twins shared this loneliness trait. They studied over 8,000 twins over a period of 14 years. Their findings showed a pretty strong correlation between sharing the same genes and environment and having feelings of being lonely.
"An interesting implication of this research is that feelings of loneliness may reflect an innate emotional response to stimulus conditions over which an individual may have little or no control," the research team writes in their article in the journal Behavior Genetics.
Why put so much study into loneliness? There's been a lot of research linking strong feelings of being lonely with physical illnesses such as coronary disease.
What about environment? What role does that play? "A caring environment can help lonely people overcome their feelings, but the research also shows that in some cases, the impact of heredity is stronger, said Cacioppo, a professor of Psychology at the University of Chicago.
They believe the trait of loneliness might have developed from early hunter gatherers being undernurished and not wanting to share food with the rest of the group. It was a case of having to survive famine - they learned to adapt by acting on feelings of anxiety, anti-social behavior, and distancing themselves from the rest - in order to get through the lean times.
I'm sure genetics plays a major role in setting the foundation for our personality traits, like loneliness. I also believe environment is crucial in shaping it. There are plenty of reasons people feel lonely. Some of them are things the lonely person DOES have some control over, however. Here are few, just off the top of my head:
Grumpy: Maybe you're just an angry cranky jackass. Anyone that tries to do something nice for you is sure to be subjected to a harsh look and some pretty mean-spirited words. Nothing makes you happy...except maybe watching others suffer. You are sadistic and take pleasure in making people cry. You're lonely because you are a mean person. You really deserve to be lonely, and you deserve having a flaming bag of dog poop flung onto your doorstep.
Bad habits: Perhaps you have flatulence issues or you pick your nose. Why would anyone want to hang around you? You're disgusting, and your behavior is that of a preschooler. No, I don't want to watch you roll up your booger into a ball and see how far you can flick it. I have no desire, and neither would anyone else. You'll never make friends.
Odorus Maximus: You stink. You wreak, you smell, you make my eyebrows fall out. No one wants to be around you because you smell bad. If you don't scrub your armpits while showering, all your doing is watering the nice stinky bacteria. Oh wait, you don't shower unless it's the 13th of that month. Maybe that's your problem. And no, just putting deodorant doesn't cut it. Now you smell like pine-sol mixed with ripe arm pit...put down that bottle of axe spray and get a shower - and then get another one, followed by another one. Scrub until you can't scrub no more.
Mouth Decay: Your mouth is a disgusting sesspool of bacteria. Gingivitis, severe hallitosis, and rotting teeth - that's why you're lonely. Everytime you open your mouth, it's like sticking your head into a sewer and taking a big whiff. With every word you say, you're releasing deadly gases into the atmosphere. Buy a toothbrush, some toothpaste, and Listerine. Brush your teeth for a week straight. You're lonely because no one wants to be around the smell of rotten eggs - especially when it's coming from someone's mouth.
Weirdo Geeko: You love Star Trek, maybe Lord of the Rings, and you are lonely because you are an alien among humans. You live in a fantasy world in order to avoid the real one. The computer is your best friend, and you chat online all the time to talk to your "friends" that wouldn't want anything to do with you if they were to meet you in person. You are anti-social and would rather worry about what costume to wear for the next sci-fi convention instead of how to get out and make some friends. Get your head out of the photon torpedo tube, and learn to socialize. If Mr. Sulu has the guts to finally confess he's gay, then you should have the guts to leave your parents' basement and talk to real people.
I wonder if sarcasm is an inherited trait as well...