A “SIGNIFICANT minority” say they have no close friends and rarely feel loved, a new study examining relationships has found.
One in ten people in Yorkshire and the Humber don’t have a single close friend, “concerning statistics” released by the charity Relate today reveal.
And almost one in five, 18 per cent, said they never or rarely felt loved in the two weeks prior to the study.
Findings from the survey, which spoke to 5,000 people across the UK, add further weight to the scale of the loneliness epidemic blighting the country, first highlighted by The Yorkshire Post in February.
The changing face of family life was highlighted, as it was revealed that more than a quarter of people in the region, 28 per cent, have experienced the breakdown of their parents’ relationship.
The charity, which offers counselling and support across Yorkshire and has centres in Bradford, Doncaster, and Leeds, said the study finds a clear link between personal relationships and wellbeing.
Ruth Sutherland, chief executive of Relate, said: “Whilst there is much to celebrate, the results around how close we feel to others are very concerning.
“There is a significant minority of people who claim to have no close friends, or who never or rarely feel loved - something which is unimaginable to many of us.
“Relationships are the asset which can get us through good times and bad, and it is worrying to think that there are people who feel they have no-one they can turn to during life’s challenges. We know that strong relationships are vital for both individuals and society as a whole, so investing in them is crucial.”
The “incompatible” struggle to achieve a work-life balance was also made clear, with 39 per cent in Yorkshire saying their bosses believe the most productive employees put their work before family.
Nationally, 42 per cent of people said they had no friends at work.
Relate said that as the boundaries between home and work have become “increasingly blurred”, with many connected to the office by email out of hours. Successful work relationships were “not easy to achieve” when workplace attitudes and the practicalities of family life clash.
Former deputy head teacher Katie, 37, of Pudsey, near Leeds, left the profession after work stress put her relationship with her husband under strain.
She said: “When I left my teaching job, I felt like everything I had planned was falling apart. Now I see the change that this has made in my life and how much more I feel able to enjoy my relationships with family and friends, it seems like one of the best things that could have happened.”
Relate Mid-Yorkshire centre service manager Eugene Gallagher said the recession and financial pressures had made people fearful of not committing to work in case they were seen as ”not putting in the effort”.
Work pressures placing strain on relationships, family breakdowns and loneliness were some of the key reasons people got in touch with them for help in Leeds, he said.
He said: “An absence of these relationships and someone to support you when you are going through difficult periods will have an impact on a person’s wellbeing.”
Relate’s survey also examined personal relationships and revealed that 26 per cent of people in Yorkshire are dissatisfied with their sex lives, and one in four report to having an affair. Money worries put the biggest strain on relationships for 61 per cent of respondents.
However, the charity said the vast majority in the region have a good relationship with their partners - 86 per cent.