One in five Britons have nobody to open up to about problems

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
April 18, 2019, 11:00 PM GMT+0

Men are less likely to have a person they can confide in, but the problem also afflicts a significant number of women

“We all need somebody to lean on” sang Bill Withers, but new YouGov RealTime research finds that one in five Brits (22%) don’t have anyone they can open up to about their worries and issues.

Men are more likely than women to feel they don’t have someone they can confide in: a quarter (24%) say they have no one to turn to, compared to 17% of women.

Who are Britons confiding in?

Overall, 72% of Brits say that they do have someone they can confide in. That person is most commonly their spouse or romantic partner (67% of people who do have a confidant said this). Men are slightly more likely than women to give this answer (71% versus 64%). This is possibly a factor of mortality: the difference is most pronounced over the age of 60 (73% of men versus 54% of women) and women tend to live longer than men, and so may have given this answer because they have outlived their partner.

A majority of people with at least one confidant (56%) said they had a friend they could talk to. Here the gender results are reversed, with 62% of women having a friend they can turn to but only 48% of men saying the same.

Women of all ages are roughly as likely to say they have a friend they can confide in (55% among 18 to 29 year olds, then between 62% and 65% among all older age groups). But for men the number sadly declines as they get older.

While 63% of men aged from 18 to 29 say they have a friend they can confide in, this figure falls to 50% among 30 to 44 year olds and subsequently to 42% among those aged 60 and above. This could reflect a reluctance among older generations of men to be open about their feelings with their pals.

The third most common type of person people feel they can confide in is a parent. Three in ten (30%) of those who feel they have someone they can confide in say that person is a parent. Unsurprisingly this answer is given less frequently as people get older – doubtless because their parents have passed away.

Women feel more able to confide in children than men (23% versus 11%). While this answer is virtually non-existent among 18 to 24 year olds, the gap is especially wide amongst the oldest Brits – those aged 65 and above – of whom 49% of women feel they can confide in a child compared to only 25% of men.

Photo: Getty

See the full results here

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