What I discovered
I read some interesting articles (including www.psychologytoday.com/blog/notes-self/201212/universal-relationship-needs) about our relationship needs, and how companionship for most people is essential to health and well-being.
As babies and children, we are dependent on others for almost everything – physical and human needs. As we get older, many of us learn how to meet a lot of our needs ourselves (e.g. how to feed ourselves, etc), though we are still dependent on others for a number of things including companionship, a sense of belonging, affection, and emotional support.
These needs are met through romantic relationships, family and friends. When our needs for companionship are unmet we feel lonely. If we experience this a lot and/or for prolonged periods of time it can lead to depression, anxiety and other negative experiences.
I am not sure I necessarily learnt anything ‘brand new’ by reading up about loneliness and companionship, but it did make me think about how Western culture can tend to overlook our needs for companionship and emotional support (value is placed on being able to ‘do it alone’ and not ask for help). I’d like to think there is nothing wrong in wanting and needing company and supportive relationships in our lives, and I’d definitely like to encourage people I have relationships with or interact with that there is no shame in showing dependence on people for emotional support, company and affection.
I took part in creating a short film about the befriending programme offered by the IHC. 2 years ago I joined the programme and have developed a close friendship with a lady with intellectual disabilities. IHC and similar charities are always looking for more people to spend time with others who may not have many acquaintances and friends.