I'm Nobody - Who are you?
Are you - Nobody - Too?
Then there's a pair of us!
Don't tell! they'd advertise - you know!
How dreary - to be - Somebody!
How public - like a Frog -
To tell one's name - the livelong June -
To an admiring Bog!
Being Unsocial in a Social World
My whole life I've been told that if a person doesn't want to spend time with other people then there is something wrong with them. My family forced me to socialize with my classmates, and I believed that that is what I was supposed to do. For decades I was depressed and just accepted that as part of myself, believing I couldn't really be happy. Then one day I decided to spend a few weeks away from people, just to hide away for a little while and rest. I was so happy. I never thought anyone could be as happy as I was while I was alone.
Why Am I Writing This?
Social people make up far more of the population than loners do, so some people reading this may wonder why I'm writing to a social world about being a loner. Society tells everyone that they have to be social, that the only way to be is to interact with other people in meaningful ways. That's a lie. It's a lie that everyone has to be social and is supposed to enjoy being social, and it's a lie that kept me from happiness for twenty-seven years. The lie is so pervasive in society that people may find it unbelievable that a person can be happy being alone. So I'm getting the word out. While most people won't be happy being alone, some will - and the ones that will are being told that they won't.
The truth is, being a loner is a preference just like everything else - some people like eating meat, others don't; some people like playing sports, others don't; some people like being around other people, others don't. If being alone is a preference that you have, it is beneficial to accept this and build your life around it as soon as possible.
Benefit of Discovering the Joy of Being Alone Early
Some loners accept early on that they enjoy life more when they're alone. Other loners are born into social families that have trouble understanding that they want to be alone and they like only having a few friends. This society is made for people who are social, so navigating the world as a loner is sometimes difficult. But if a person discovers their preference early, they can develop skills to make living as a loner easier. For instance, there are several jobs that require socialization, whether as part of the job description itself or as a function of the work environment. The earlier a loner discovers their preference the sooner they can begin developing skills that are useful for professions that require little interaction with other people. Writing has been called the loneliest profession, being a pathologist or a lab technician limits the worker's interactions with people, working in information technology is notorious for being loner-friendly. I work nights to limit my people time.
My Journey to Becoming a Proud Loner
I didn't easily come to the conclusion that being a loner is the life for me. My whole life my family told me that I had to be around people otherwise I wasn't normal, there was something horribly wrong with me. I believed the lie for a long time because it's a message that society spreads as well. For years I agonized about spending time around people, stressing myself out over having "enough" friends and spending "enough" time with them. It took almost three decades before I realized I wasn't stressed out because I wasn't spending enough time with other people, what was stressing me out was the time actually spent with other people. I wasn't living my life the way I wanted to live it, I was living my life the way I was told I should live it.
Why I Love Being a Loner
Being a loner has definite perks for people who can stand to be alone for extended periods of time. Nearly all of my free time is spent only doing activities that I love. I have plenty of time to read and write and listen to music. I don't have to worry about making time for all the activities I enjoy, the time is when I'm not at work (and even sometimes when I am at work). My family would accuse me of doing "nothing" while I was alone, but the truth is my life is filled with joyous and mentally-taxing activities whether other people are there or not. Sure I watch television, but when I'm alone I also do puzzles and read and play chess against a computer. No activity suddenly becomes meaningless because there's only one person doing it.
Being a born loner I was never too concerned with what other people think of me. I was never the most popular person in school, so I had no status to lose. This set me free to do what I enjoy and not worry about being viewed as a dork. I watched Garfield and wore whatever clothes I wanted. I didn't really think about it then, but looking back I'm really glad I was never popular. I would have missed out on a lot of activities that I enjoy if I had been obsessed with how people view me. I'm also more independent than the average person due to my plentiful experience with getting along without other people.
What Not to Call This
One of the reasons loners are viewed as "wrong" by society is a lack of understanding about what it really is. People use the word "antisocial" to describe loners without understanding what it means, just knowing that it's bad. Antisocial is not the same as unsocial. Antisocial means harmful to society, unsocial is just not wanting to be heavily involved in society. There is a big difference. Antisocial Personality Disorder is the psychological disorder that is colloquially described as psychopathic, and being unsocial isn't actually a big part of it. People who are Antisocial usually ingratiate themselves into society and are, in fact, very sociable. If a true psychological term is to be used to describe loner behavior, it would be Avoidant. This won't be completely accurate for all loners, though, because Avoidant Personality Disorder is distancing oneself from society due to anxiety. While some loners have anxiety disorders, not all do.
Recommended Reading - Here are some great articles about being a loner.
- Field Guide to the Loner: The Real Insiders
Loners are pitied in our up-with-people culture. But the introvert reaps secret joy from the solitary life. By Elizabeth Svoboda
- How to Be a Loner
How to Be a Loner. Are you a natural hermit, a seeker of solitude, the kind they call a "lone wolf"?
- Caring for Your Introvert
The habits and needs of a little-understood group.
The Loners' Manifesto by Anneli Rufus
For prospective loners who aren't sure if the loner life is the life for them, I highly recommend this book. If you're already one of us and proud about it, you are sure to like this book as well.
© 2012 Marigold Tortelli
Do You Have Anything to Add?
Gil Pardo on December 27, 2018:
Read More From Owlcation
I've trying to socialize more by having people spending a couple of days in my house, going out more often, but... I've never been so unhappy in my whole life. I feel like trying too hard, being unnatural, fake, mechanical, and it's exhausting to social events. But my house smells different now, a lot of things are misplaced, it feels dirty, desecrated, violated, vulgarized... I absolutely hate having people here and I don't intend to repeat the experience. I've been trying to be social having my worries about the future as motivation because I don't want to end my days being mistreated by pychos in some institution for elderly or rejected people.
Christopher wibberley on November 26, 2018:
The biggest mistake of my life was getting involved with other people
Dave Sloper on October 11, 2018:
I feel that i am becoming a loner and in some way accepting it. My family is at each other throats, i dont trust my friends and relationships have all been disasters. I dont trust anyone now and cannot explsin it to them. Tgey dont understand. Not depressed at all. Getting used to been alone. Is it right to be this way? Not sure where my life is heading and only looking after what i want from now on.
Phina on September 18, 2018:
thanks for writing this, people feel loners are antisocial but we are not. we just love to be alone. sometimes my friends called me a sadist but i wasnt bothered because i know for sure am not, i just wanted my privacy.
Mz on September 03, 2018:
I so agree. I love being alone. I enjoy my own company. I do many things and find that I have discovered so much about myself by just observing, listening and reflecting. I once considered always using conversation as a way to get along and have people like me; however am so much happier
bipolartoo on June 23, 2018:
Wow! There are people like me! All these years I thought I was the only one. My relatives have always talked about my otherness as if it is a defect. Associates and co-workers make light of it. Pointing out my flaws seems to make people feel more confident. They are glad they don't have my problem. The thing is, I don't see that being who I am is a problem. It's okay to be a loner. It's okay to different. It is okay to be me.
Thank you for writing this!
abby on May 31, 2018:
I like living my life as a loner as far as I didn't have to earn my living. When ever I think of earning my living, i end up being socialized, which i really do not like at all.
John Dague on May 21, 2018:
My son is extremely outgoing and social. When he's in public with his friends (his troop) he's the life of the party, he's the center of attention and excitement. When he's at home he becomes brain dead, he doesn't speak or interact with me. I am a very rational person, so he and I don't connect. Both very social people and very rational people tend to become quiet when they are outside of the things which provide them with their sense of safety.
Social people exhibit traits which existed in early civilization. They are adapted to surviving in a group, so they have good verbal skills. They have a weak memory and their memory can be corrupted by verbal suggestion (they may remember something that they have heard and recall it as something that they experienced when it is not). Their poor memory makes them lack empathy, they cannot recall emotions that they had that are connected to any particular experience, so they can not interpret the emotions of others. They tend to forget lessons learned and they lack a moral compass. They are not able to make independent decisions related to morality or intellect. They must constantly check in with their troop to know how to think and act. They need to have written laws to know how to act. If their troop is religious, they must constantly check in with the church, the temple, or the mosque to know how to act morally. They are very trendy, if one member of their troop has a new trendy toy they must all go get the latest trendy toy. Because they lack a strong mental connection or past events, they can not forecast the future results of their actions. They live in the here-and-now. They depend upon their troop for survival and protection, so they are extremely confident when they are in a very strong troop. When they are without a troop for protection they feel vulnerable and uneasy so they tend to withdraw until they can connect with their troop. They tend to live by the idea that there is no right way or wrong way, there is only the direction that your troop is heading, any other direction is suicide. Without a troop for protection they may act out in a destructive manner to attract the attention of a troop which they can join.
John Dague on May 15, 2018:
Whether you are a loner or a joiner, it is an inherited trait. Joiners are attracted to large crowds, they often choose to live in urban areas, so in a large city you may find more joiners, in rural areas you may find more solitary people. I've spent some time thinking about what it is that makes people one way or another. I'm a very rational person, I like learning and thinking and listening. Large crowds and distractions aren't my thing. I've got a son who is never alone, he can't tolerate it, he has to have constant distractions, excitement, talking, and interactions with people. My frustration with people who are that way has led me to an understanding, I now realize why people are one way or another, and I see the character traits that are generally associated with each group. It is created by natural selection, it's evolutionary psychology.
Loners - This is the personality which would tend to be selected in rural populations when women are free to choose their mates. Individuals in this group tend to think logically (they have a good understanding of cause and effect), they are good at building and making things (like shelter and clothing and tools), they are patient, they have the skills required to nurture and care for and grow things (like crops, herds, and flocks), they have an instinctive love of nature (which is necessary for their survival), they tend to be kind and caring and affectionate, and they believe in treating others fairly and they tend to understand how to cooperate with others.
Joiners - This is the personality that would tend to be selected in urban civilizations when powerful, wealthy male leaders have the authority to choose the women they included in their harems. These individuals tend to be very physically attractive, they value physical strength and beauty, they have the authority to take what they want so they have no need to grow or nurture anything, they have no need for patience, they have difficulty with logic (they do not see the connection between cause and effect), they are skilled at bringing groups together, they enjoy being a part of a large group that is acting with a common goal, they tend to be warriors and leaders, they are good a taking and defending and destroying, they are very good public speakers, they value organizations which are created to control the actions of others (government, politics, law, military, nations, religion), they are very charismatic in a group, but they may not be very affectionate or interesting when they are alone, they love sports and competition, risk and gambling, wealth and power, excitement, entertainment, and crowds, they may have a greater tendency to do things that are destructive or self-destructive, they are more likely to be involved in risky behavior, they have a greater probability of becoming addicted to stimulates or opioids.
So there are pros and cons of each type of individual. Being a loner doesn't mean that you are anti-social or introverted, it's just a different way of being. Since joiners tend to take an unfairly large share of resources, they've got an advantage when resources are plentiful, right now they're more successful and their reproducing faster than loners. And since they tend to be destructive, we'll soon be headed for another Dark Age. At that point, the advantage will be returned to resourceful people who know how to survive and cooperate. Either way, you are who you are, so you have to embrace who that is.
WILLARD MUBVUMBI on May 15, 2018:
Am a loner and am proud of being a loner.
Troy on May 09, 2018:
It's called Introversion.
Mike on April 20, 2018:
I am a loner as well its how i feel the most comfortable but i also enjoy friends when i have them, probably because i am short i am only 5 feet tall and all my life so people think i am wierd no one wants to date me, so i am constantly alone
Marcus Lundgren on April 14, 2018:
I'm 41 year-old man.
I'm pretty much as much of a loner as anyone can be without
being forced into solitary confinement.
I used to enjoy having a few close friends when I was younger (never more than 3), but if they had somewhere else to be, I couldn't care less.
The problem I face today, as an adult, is that, in addition to being a natural born loner, I also suffer from Avoidant Personality Disorder (which you mentioned), which has made me extremely sensitive to criticism and judgement.
I don't like myself, and I don't like being criticized by others, because I take it all as confirmation of how worthless I am.
So it's easier to just hide away and not deal with life.
So yeah, even though I sometimes feel the need to talk to someone for a few minutes, whereas I had no problem doing so in my younger years, today, I never leave the apartment unless I absolutely have to, so I'm forced to be alone due to my mental illness.
That's the worst part for me. I have no problem being on my own as long as it's my choice. But I feel as if this disorder has robbed me of that choice, just as it has robbed me of so much else in life, and that's very hard to accept.
I've never been able to hold down a job or date or have intimate relationships with anyone. No one has openly expressed an interest in me, and even if they did, I wouldn't feel worthy of it.
Up until the age of 14, I was just a loner and fine with being one. For the next 27 years after that, I've been a loner and a forced recluse, and that's very very different.
Con on April 11, 2018:
I’ve been a loner for as long as I remember, it brought me peace but it also brought me evil “solitude breeds evil” more evil than peace, I never chose to be a loner but I sorta prefer it but when you invite people out and verytime you have done they say no and this gets me overthinking about a lot. I convince my self I’m going crazy and this is why no one wants to hang with me. I have one or 2 friends. But I hardly see them ever. being lonely can make people happy but for a20year old guy who has been lonely since day one it is driving me mad! I don’t even feel comfortable in social situations. I meditate quite frequently, solitary brought me spiritual guidance, id like to think I was one with nature and the universe. I guess I replaced my social life to be with the universe and nature.
Sarah on March 25, 2018:
I have always been a loner, since I was a three year old, as far back as I could remember. Other kids bullied me and that pushed me to be a loner even more. I do socialise, but year after year, I socialise lesser and lesser. One of the reasons I chose to be a loner is a combination of shyness and my inability to tolerate low IQ and unintelligent people for long periods of time. I can pass easily for an extrovert, someone who is outspoken and opinionated. Nobody could understand why I was a loner and they forced me to socialise. I loved swimming alone, going to the gym alone, shopping alone and doing almost everything imaginable alone. When I got into my first relationship, my ex never understood why I wanted to be alone a lot. I haven't been in a relationship for over 10 years and the main reason is hardly anybody understands my need for loneliness and solitude. I was diagnosed as bipolar and suffer from depression. I ate myself into obesity to repel a lot of people and I push people away whenever they come close to me. I have also been used and abused by people althroughout my life so I refuse to be friends with people easily, especially other women. But I find my loneliness and solitude diminishing over time due to having to look after my extroverted autistic younger brother who shames me for being asocial despite the fact he has been very badly abused by people althroughout his life. I hope to achieve my dream one day of living off grid in a tiny house on a rural countryside where I only interact with people as needed.
Nadia Ribadu on February 16, 2018:
Christopher, I am so sorry about your struggles and pray that you really do enjoy being alone. You have dealt with a lot. I have this un-asked-for ability to keenly feel other people's pain. I really wish I wasn't as empathetic as I am, especially since I'm powerless to help others. I do what little I can. I'm a loner, too, mainly by choice. Cannot stand the upsetting drama in which people seem to bask. I can only cope in conditions of harmony.
Christopher on February 13, 2018:
I've experienced social anxiety not only because of my Aspergers but due to having dealt with childhood trauma as a toddler, and then emotional abuse from people that weren't my mother. I never really had anyone to teach me things, and growing up I grew to distrust people greatly as by the time I turned 16 my anger festered into a rage as I felt so out of place in the world I live in. At 171/2 I was later confirmed by my mother and stepdad to have been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. I denied it at first then all the pieces fit together and I accepted it. My last year of high school a year later I still kept quiet about my Asperger's despite the fact I didn't know that I was the only person in my high school who had the disorder.
It doesn't matter know because in time i'll overcome my social anxiety one way or another. Nowadays I find myself enjoying spending time alone despite having a roommate. Thankfully my roommate who's one of my best friends understands my need to have time and space to myself.
Matt on January 28, 2018:
Sounds like denial sorry just being honest. I enjoy being alone because it's much less stressful. However I experienced life without anxiety my first 17 years of life. It was magic. I'm now 38 and lately I've been making better choices in my life like getting fit and learning to play guitar. The better I feel about myself, the less anxiety I have around others and in general. Make yourself talk to people and get comfortable with it. You must overcome social anxiety to truly be happy. Love yourself, you deserve love we all do.
Curtis on January 13, 2018:
I'm a loner myself and don't have much of a desire to even date. I'm kinda shy and don't talk much to women. I do but it's more because of my job. Once I go home I stay home and don't interact and only when I need too. I'm not a social person. The last girl I was with wanted me to be more social, but it wasn't in me. I try some but it makes me uncomfortable and I back off now it's just me like it used to be and I think I'm more happier being alone than worrying about someone else. But I go back and fourth on it.
Lexi on December 09, 2017:
I completely get you when you say that your parents have forced you to be social in a way, mine also wanted me to be social but now that I'm older I do see where they were coming from, but I choose to be by myself because I am happy this way.
I even believed my former best friends of over 10 years were my best friends but they were really just using me so that they could be social and once I stopped going out with them I felt so much better.
Just because this is part of my story, I am gay and my friends have been my support system my whole life, but I found that they were pushing me towards relationships that were just no good just so that I can identify as gay. Because according to them if I wasn't in a relationship I wasn't allowed to identify as gay...or whatever their weird way of thinking was.
Yes, I have also never had a romantic relationship even at 25 years old but that is okay because I am happy with myself either way. I have also had gay friends, but I found them jumping into relationship after relationship with less than good quality people, and I did not want that for myself. Even if it takes years, I just want a good quality person in my life, and then I might consider a relationship but I do not want one for the sake of having one, nor do I want a friend just for the sake of having a friend. If I am going to have relationships or friendships, I want them to be good and each person putting in 50/50 effort, because in the past with my friendships I felt that I was putting in 90% and they were only putting in 10%.
Many people mistake me for a selfish person who does not like people, but after having a friend who tried to tear me away from my family, get me to spend all of my money on them and tried to get me to force me to take drugs with them, I can say that I am better off and happier in my own company. My family tries to convince me that not every person is like this, but I have only come in contact with people who are. Just happy taking a long break from being social!
Eve12judie on December 04, 2017:
Sibling abuse is what caused me to become a loner. I used to be very extroverted as a child but when I reached 12 years of age I found myself changing from extroverted to introverted and my older siblings bullied me for being introverted, and solitary things that made me happy they hated. Because of that into a shell and didn't let other people in. The bullying I endured from them still affects me to this day
lotuswithbigleaf on November 12, 2017:
I agree with *Happytobelonely* (by the way I guess you're happy to be alone) that socialising and talking with people can be draining. To me,both physically and emotionally.
Entertaining people is physically very tiring and having to listen to crap/having to put up with it makes me feel emotionally drained when I get to be alone. Feeling emotionally drained is the most debilitating feeling ever and it takes weeks to recover from one such episode.
Therefore,the best decision is to avoid socialising at events where there's a large crowd of family or friends. I feel that people are becoming more and more pretentious so the less small talk the better. I find small talk is such a waste of time and is pointless as well.
GyanAdom on November 09, 2017:
It is so good to hear others express how I've felt for more than 6 decades.
lotuswithbigleaf on November 07, 2017:
Very few people enjoy being alone but I do very much. I do not like visiting and do not welcome guests either. However the general society do not understand us and think we are lonely. In fact,society should feel sorry for those who are afraid of being alone.
These people always need somebody to do any activity with - shopping,exercise,watching movies etc They are unable to shop,eat,attend the symphonic orchestra or play a game alone. It's easy when I shop on my own bcs I go where I like. If you shop with somebody else it always ends up a wasted outing bcs in the end it would be just buying the other person's stuff. I don't like to be hurried and I like to slowly choose what I want to buy.It's easy eating alone bcs you just eat what you want.
I find drinking a cold beer while eating a meat dish and watching the waves rolling into shore as the best alone activity. It's enjoyable reading a book alone or watching a drama/movie online alone. In the cinema just laugh with the crowd if you're alone. You do not need to be distracted by a friend sitting next to you. Just watch whatever movie you fancy.
Travel and tour agencies should arrange for *aloners* to travel cheaper. They always charge more for singles. I find it easy to travel alone bcs we choose what we like and do not have to bother about anybody else. If I want to drink coffee I do not have to bother that somebody else wants to look for a tea house.
One reason I avoid friends and family is bcs of the things they say which can be very unsettling. I used to get upset after attending a gathering of friends or family so along the way I decided that spending time alone or with people of like mind is the most productive. It's such a waste of time to listen to gossips and to mind other people's business.
Happytobelonely on November 02, 2017:
OMG! This perfectly described my life. I don’t like socialising or talking to people. It drains me. Makes me overthink. Adds drama to my life. Being alone is the best thing ever. No one around me understands that. They think I’m weird. But my happiness times are when I’m alone . And I love it. But off late.. due to the people around me..I’ve been feeling unworthy..since I’m not social , I don’t do the things that they do..but this post made me feel better about myself and made me realise that this is what I want.
Joao on October 20, 2017:
My friend please read "thus spoke zarathustra" from nietzche. Good article. Um abraco
Pat on October 18, 2017:
I have been "loner" all my life. As a child when I was growing up I really didn't have any friends and I really didn't think about it and just went did my own thing. I travel & learn about the city I lived in. In school, I didn't really fit into any of the groups of people I did knew and I didn't fit any sports stuff and when going to school dances was not fun either. I just thought maybe people didn't know I even exist. As I got into my teens, I had found out that I was raised in foster homes and that made me feel even more of a loner. As of today, I am married with a grand daughter but I do not see much of. Our daughter talks more to her mother than me and I can understand that... but lately I do feel more and more of being loner & independent within my own family. I still do my own thing.....
Karl on September 14, 2017:
Welp my parents give me no freedom. Yipee. And nobody understands me wanting to be a loner.
David on September 05, 2017:
Being alone gave me the chance of putting things into perspective. Meanwhile trying to be sociable for almost all my life I always felt an emptiness... I've struggle for a long time and still am today but I realized it is all a question of perception. To be able to enjoy ourselves in our truest form is one of the most beautiful gift people. Our world cannot be define but yours can plz don't be sad for your own sake.
Joseph if you read this hear me when I say: you are not weird, not at all I feel you brother!
Joseph on August 28, 2017:
I'm a loner but hate it. It's not because I was brought up to believe that being a loner is bad. My parents actually tell me it's okay and it's not a big deal. I have no friends literally. Currently been friendless for the past three years since i was 25 (Now I'm 28).
It's really depressing. I go to work, come back home, eat, play playstation/watch TV shows, go for Jujitsu practice then home and that's it. I always want to enjoy activities with friends like going to the beach, jet skiing, hiking, etc. You name it and I feel like I am burning precious days just sitting at home. I am socially awkward too.