The joy of lonely – breaking the taboo.
Ever been lonely? It would be an odd person who says ‘no.’

But have you ever thought about being lonely as a good thing?

Psychologist Vassia Sarantopoulou runs the Anti-Loneliness Project:

“Periods where we feel lonely are good for self-exploration, for expanding yourself, for getting to know yourself. So, it is not actually a bad thing being lonely.”

The joy of lonely – breaking the taboo
Everyone goes through loneliness at some stage in their life and yet it is a big taboo.

This week in the Here in Holland podcast a fascinating interview with the psychologist Vassia Sarantopoulou who is the founder of the Anti-Loneliness Project.

Embrace lonely and break the taboo

“There is this taboo around the word loneliness everyone has the feeling that they shouldn’t be lonely that it’s not a good thing.

The joy of lonely - breaking the tabooActually it is a good thing – it is okay to feel lonely sometimes. Everyone goes through this at some stage in their lives.

The thing is that we don’t dare to admit it and that makes it hard. Especially in the social media age when everyone seems to be having a blast of a time and posting wonderful pictures of themselves the whole time.”

Sarantopoulou says people need to recognize loneliness for what it is and use is as a chance for self-reflection and examination.

“When you go through a period of loneliness it is a period where you have to draw some red lines and mark your boundaries. It can be a very rewarding period.”

“I see loneliness as an umbrella and under that there are a lot of issues or challenges – if you find the root causes you can solve other issues at the same time.”

The joy of loneliness – breaking the taboo

The psychologist says expat spouses are sometimes susceptible to loneliness. Moving without having a job and in a supporting role of a spouse can lead to a suppression of emotions.The joy of lonely - breaking the taboo

Without network and family things can become tricky and this group of internationals can become isolated.

The advice here is to get out and establish a network, try volunteering or take a hobby and make
sure you find something that interests you and build some friends around that.

Anti-Loneliness Project on Facebook.

Anti-Loneliness Project on Twitter.

Self-knowledge is key

“Loneliness is that you have a feeling of being disconnected with others even though you are among a lot of people,” says the psychologist.

“It’s quite deep inside us – the sign of loneliness is that you are in desperate need of yourself. So, you need first to be a friend of yourself and then a friend of others.

This means that when you are with yourself you don’t feel that something is missing.”

Sarantopoulou adds that by embracing loneliness people can embark on a journey of deep self-knowledge and find out what really drives them. This discovery will help in relationships and create a virtuous circle of happiness.


“Be present, enjoy the day that is here and now and don’t confuse past experiences with future goals and stresses. Just be present – just live what you have today and be grateful for that.”

The Here in Holland podcast has interviews and stories each week for and from internationals living in the Netherlands each week. Share your story:
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