More than a fifth also revealed the pandemic has strained existing friendships because close acquaintances have failed to reach out to them.
A study of 2,000 adults found recent restrictions have exacerbated the UK’s loneliness problem with a fifth feeling increasingly isolated during the past three months.
A new survey found one in 10 Brits had knowingly broken lockdown rules so they could see friends and family, and 14% fear they have lost friends forever during the coronavirus pandemic
The study, commissioned by Santander, also found more than one in 10 knowingly broke lockdown rules so they could see friends and family – because they felt so lonely.
The lockdown has left a quarter of adults thinking they have NO real friends and feel totally alone.
Sue Willis, trustee of Santander Foundation, said: “It’s clear that during lockdown many people have been affected by loneliness and isolation.
And 14% fear they have lost friends forever as a result of not being able to visit them in person.
“We are very proud to be working with Age UK and Alzheimer’s Society to support the fantastic work they do to support older people and those living with dementia during this difficult time.
“It is heartbreaking to see the impact it has had on some people’s lives and friendships.
And this hasn’t necessarily improved since the restrictions were introduced – as 37% said they’ve had days where they’ve had no contact with anyone at all.
The study also found that, prior to the lockdown, it was common for a quarter of the population to go several days without speaking to anyone at all.
“While coronavirus has put the spotlight on some of these issues of loneliness, we are committed to providing long term support for vulnerable people in our communities who suffer from loneliness through our work with the charities.”
Currently, 26% of adults feel lonely, with one in 10 finding this the most challenging aspect of the lockdown.
Video calls have proved beneficial in reducing feelings of loneliness among 25% but one in 10 admitted they feel even more distant afterwards.
A third of those who haven’t discussed their difficulties opted not to because they didn’t want to worry anyone and a fifth find openness too hard.
But despite being burdened with feelings of isolation, more than half of those polled haven’t shared any of their struggles during the lockdown with another soul.
But the most common effect of loneliness is missing friends and family – and older people have perhaps felt this most.
Instead, 40% of those suffering with loneliness have taken to comfort eating, while a quarter now regularly exceed the recommended alcohol consumption limit.