A sense of belonging is the feeling of being connected to and valued by other people. Whether it is sourced from family, friends, co-workers, club members, or a church community, people have an inherent desire to belong and be part of something greater than themselves.
Having a sense of belonging is a protective factor that strengthens people’s resilience. In contrast, feelings of loneliness are a risk factor and are argued to indicate a deficit in one’s sense of belonging.
Loneliness is distinct from aloneness or the lack of social ties per se: a person who feels lonely might be surrounded by or connected to many people (none of whom satisfactorily fulfil his or her need to belong). At the same time, a person can be alone or have a limited number of social contacts without feeling lonely.