Is it normal for introverts to feel lonely? After all, introverts are known for wanting and needing plenty of alone time. But how do you know how much alone time is too much? And if you are a lonely introvert, how do you deal with that?
As an introvert myself, I understand the loneliness dilemma all too well. There was a time in my life when I spent so much time alone I wondered if it was unhealthy.
At the time, I lived on a tiny island near Vancouver, Canada. The island, which was home to roughly 300 people (mostly hippies, retirees and artists), was a magical place.
My home overlooked the ocean and I could see and hear the salty waves as I worked on my living room couch.
My little island sanctuary is where I wrote my first book The Irresistible Introvert. It’s also where I created many of my introvert courses and workshops, which have helped hundreds of quiet souls gain confidence and forge new friendships.
During the two years that I lived there, I spent countless hours alone in solitude. Sometimes I would go days without talking to anyone.
When I look back at that time it is with great fondness. But also regret. Because here’s the thing…
As much as I enjoy my alone time as an introvert, I now see that there is, indeed, such as thing as too much alone time.
The thing about aloneness, which can sometimes transform into that oh-so-formidable word “loneliness”— is that it can be addictive.
This quote by Jim Carrey sums it up well:
“Solitude is dangerous. It’s very addictive. It becomes a habit after you realize how peaceful and calm it is. It’s like you don’t want to deal with people anymore because they drain your energy.”
I don’t know if I would be quite so dramatic as to say that solitude is dangerous. But I do believe that being alone can become a habit that’s hard to break. Before you know it, you’re living in a cycle of isolation that you can’t seem to escape—even when you want to connect.
That’s how I felt when I was living on that magical little island. I loved being alone, but it soon became harder and harder to get out of that ‘lone wolf’ mentality.
I’m sure you’re familiar with this way of thinking.
It thrives on the belief that you can and should do everything on your own. Then it transforms into a stubborn determination to keep people at a distance, even when loneliness sets in.
Eventually, your mind starts to think that this is who you are—the Keanu Reeves-like lonely introvert who eats birthday cake alone on a park bench.
But guess what? Even Keanu needs love, as evidenced by this quote about his most recent ‘bliss’ moment:
“A couple of days ago with my honey. We were in bed. We were connected. We were smiling and laughing and giggling. Feeling great. It was just really nice to be together.”
Luckily, just as aloneness can become a habit, so too can kinship.
As introverts, we can find a sweet balance between solitude and connection. And that might look different for you than it does for me.
Dr. Anders Hansen, author of The Happiness Cure, puts it this way:
“You can’t quantify the number of friends you need, or time spent in company. Some people are happy with two good friends, while others need several. I can go two or three days by myself just reading and I still feel connected to people, while I have friends who feel their mood slipping after one day spent alone. The true test is this: if you feel lonely, you are lonely.”
So simple, and yet so brilliant!
When my introverted confidence clients wonder if they “should’ (such a dirty word!) spend more time socializing, this is what I ask them:
Is what you’re doing now working for you? And does it align with your bigger goals and deepest desires?
If the answer is “no”, then make a change. If the answer is “yes” then let go of the ‘shoulds’ and live your life as you damn well please.
A warning about overcorrection
One big stumbling block for a lot of introverts is overcorrection. This is when you adjust too much to offset an error or flaw.
For introverts, this can manifest as packing your calendar with parties and pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion.
Overcorrecting your social life inevitably backfires because a) It drains the life out of you, and b) It distracts you from what you truly want—REAL connection.
What works instead?
I always recommend that introverts make small shifts towards connection that are doable but a stretch.
Say yes when you’d otherwise say no. Reach out when you’d usually retract. Express your feelings when your M.O. is to hide them.
Helping introverts to make these small, but powerful shifts is what I do.
If you’d like the opportunity to work with me closely to build social confidence and make real friends, check out my 1:1 Confidence Transformation Program.
The most important thing is to remember that it’s okay to be an introvert who loves your alone time.
What matters is that you can connect meaningfully when you want to.
Lots of love,