The Social Needs of Humans

The excerpt below is from The Duchenne Life, our weekly livestream with DJ Kimble and Ryan Russell. Thank you to psychologist Dr. Natalie Truba of Nationwide Children’s Hospital for being our guest on this episode. Click here for the podcast.

The Social Needs of Humans

“Relationships” is a single term to describe a lot of different ways that humans form bonds. And humans do that because we’re social creatures. We have evolved and developed as social beings, and we are our best selves when we are our healthiest.

Our Best Selves

Different types of relationships serve different purposes and different functions.

  • We have relationships that feel like a friendship role.
  • We have relationships that are more for an intimate partner.
  • We have relationships that are acquaintances’ relationships.
  • We have shared happy relationships.
  • We have family relationships.
  • We have mentor relationships.

We have all kinds of relationships. We’re our best selves – even if you are somebody that is an introvert, who needs to recharge – when we have social connection and relationships.

Loneliness and Isolation

Loneliness and isolation kills. It has a real impact on your physical health and a real impact on your mental health, too. And your mental health and your physical health have a direct impact on each other.

Humans are not designed to be in complete isolation and in complete solitude – there are people that seek that out and want that – but by and large, as a biological species, isolation is not something that is good for us.

And so when you want social connection and you don’t have that, it can cause a lot of negative and ill effects for your mental health. There is anxiety, depression, adjustment type of issues, increased substance use – all sorts of things that people do to cope.

There are real physical health effects and mental health effects from not feeling supported and having social relationships and isolation. And physically, it can cause a lot of damage to your body.


The tricky part here is perception, too.

You can feel alone, even if you’re surrounded by people. You can perceive yourself to be isolated and not supported and socially alone, even if you are around people.

So it’s not just that you have people in your life – your parents or whoever it is you live with, the people that help you take care of you – that doesn’t mean you have your needs met. That doesn’t mean life feels the way you want it to feel.

Feeling alone is a special type of hell, right? When you’re surrounded by people that you love and care about – and still feel alone – that is a really, really challenging place to be.