“Alone had always felt like an actual place to me, as if it weren’t a state of being, but rather a room where I could retreat to be who I really was.”
The sacred space of solitude truly is a wonderful place to be for introverts.
Until it’s not.
Often, there comes a time when our delicious alone transforms into an unwelcome feeling of loneliness. The problem is that for introverts, loneliness can sneak up on us without our realizing it. It hides just beneath the guazy first layer of alone, and seeps to the surface at the most inconvenient times.
Today, during a group coaching webcast with my Mastermind members, I discussed how introverts can avoid unpleasant feelings of loneliness, while still enjoying our solitude. Here are some of the tips I shared:
The ultimate cure for loneliness
Simply being around other people is not the cure for loneliness. For many introverts, being in a crowded room of strangers and acquaintances can leave us feeling more alone than if we were actually by ourselves.
We let very few people into our small inner circle, but we are fiercely loyal to those who’ve made the cut. Ultimately, when we feel loneliness creeping in, we are not looking for social interaction with just anyone; what we really want and absolutely need is intimacy.
Dictionary.com defines intimacy in this way:
“A close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person.”
Loneliness is a sign that we are starving for intimate relationships that involve a deeper connection of the mind and spirit.
The types of interactions we have with most coworkers, acquaintances and strangers are nowhere near as fulfilling as the familiar and affectionate relationships referred to in the above definition of intimacy.
Intimate relationships are not a “quick fix” solution to the sudden pangs of loneliness. They are a long haul investment in a richer more meaningful life.
So, how can introverts invite more intimacy into our lives, and prevent those utterly alone and lonely moments before they occur?
Find the protectors of your solitude
“The highest form of love is to be the protector of another person’s solitude.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke
Poet Rainer Maria Rilke once said, “A bore is someone who deprives you of solitude without offering you company.” His words are especially relevant for introverts, who need and cherish solitude.
If we’re only going to have a few intimate relationships, why would we choose people who don’t respect our need for solitude, and also don’t add value to our lives?
Consider the words of Hans F Hansen: “People inspire you, or they drain you. PICK THEM WISELY.” Wouldn’t it be nice to be with someone who respects, and even protects, your solitude instead of constantly pressuring you to “come out of your shell”? Better yet, wouldn’t it be refreshing to be with someone with whom you can quietly share your sacred space of solitude?
Plant seeds of intimacy
“’It won’t flower when you want it to,’ Mami said. ‘Keep taking care of it and you’ll see. One day it will surprise you.’” ~When I Was A Puerto Rican, Esmeralda Santiago
When you plant seeds of intimacy before feelings of loneliness set in, they are more likely to blossom just when you need them to. There a few ways that you can do this:
- Choose a time when your introvert energy levels are at their peek to meet new people who you could possibly have a deeper connection with
- Instead of always waiting for other people to make the first move, put out a few invitations to individuals who you find interesting. Even if they decline your invite, they are much more likely to contact you in the future.
- Be open. You can be very open and still be introverted. In this case, openness refers to being in a space of non-judgement, letting go of how your ideal friend ‘should’ look, and opening your eyes to the special people who are already in your life.
Be intimate with yourself
You’ve probably noticed already that it is very difficult to establish intimacy with a person who is disconnected from his or her inner essence, intuition, and emotions. Don’t be that person. Embrace your innate love of introspection and reflection. Take the time to get in tune with your true emotions, and practice expressing them in healthy ways. This will help you to attract and nurture more intimate relationships with other people.
If you want to learn the steps to go from boring meet and greet to more meaningful relationships, grab my 50-page Introvert Connection Guide – it’s free!
I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences with loneliness and intimacy. Please feel free to share in the comments section!
“when we feel loneliness creeping in, we are not looking for social interaction with just anyone; what we really want and absolutely need is intimacy.” Exactly, Michaela! When I feel lonely, I’m not looking for socialisation… I need connection, I need to share, to express my feelings with someone who could listen and understand. But it is very rare to find people who really can.
Sometimes, it’s difficult to imagine to have a intimacy relationship because I’m very very introvert. It’s make me feel sad, because I want romance in my life.
Thanks for this blog, Michaela.
Don’t worry. An intimate realtionship doesn’t mean that it’s gotta be romantic. I have a female friend (and I’m a boy) who totally understands my innie essence and is bassically the friend that Michaella describes. However, neither of the two would be able to imagine in a relationship with each other. An intimate relationship, is a relationship with someone who understands you. And don’t worry: that kind of relationship always appear, no matter how introverted you are (I know a friend who in the Bryer-Miggs got a 100% in the introverted section and had got a girlfriend.), just socialize when your energy levels are at their peak. And if someone doesn’t respect your introversion, keep searching. I won’t say much more — this post summarizes everything very well.
My husband and I moved to a new town about a month ago for his job. Loneliness really set in this week. While I’m thankful to have the companionship of my husband, he’s been working a lot, especially with evening meetings. I desperately miss my friends that I could meet one-on-one for a cup of coffee and have a great conversation. How do you “sow the seeds of intimacy” when loneliness has already set in?
Great question. When you are already lonely, the best thing to do is take the opportunity to do inner work. Take time to journal your feelings, spend time in gratitude,and do affirmations related to the kind of relationships you want. It is also a great time to be really kind to yourself and take yourself on an innie date. You can go to dinner, a movie, or for a walk by yourself. Most of all, get really clear on what kind of intimate relationships you want to have in your life. The more clear you are on what you want, the easier it is to receive all that you desire with ease.
Thanks for another great article. I especially love the tips at the end of this article. This is precisely what I am going to do. Even though I am an introvert, there are pockets of time in my life where I am a bit more sociable and would love to go out to meet and talk to people. So I am going to make an effort and be more sociable during those times and see what kind of friendships I can make during those times!
I love this article. I am going to take the words to heart and follow your tips and advice.
I am having a hard time knowing if what I feel is loneliness or the need to recharge. I find my feeling of loneliness is intensified today after a day like yesterday, I put on a workshop and then met with a client and then had a family dinner with about ten family members.
Today I feel very lonely because I do want friends but as other introverts have a difficult finding and keep friends. And I did enjoy yesterday immensely, although I am feeling the effects today!
Wow that does sound like a very intense day! I’m glad you can relate to the article, Shelly. xo
I am feeling lonely and i dont have souce of intimacy i need to fill in. And you saud ” You can go to dinner, a movie, or for a walk by yourself.”
i am feeling unease and insecure going out alone in the crowded place. Any suggestion what should i do ?
I used to feel self-conscious going out alone, too. But now I realize that there is nothing wrong with it. You don’t have to go to a crowded place to take yourself on a date. You could go to a smaller indie movie theatre or a quiet cafe in your neighbourhood. That might make it easier. Baby steps. 🙂
You are absolutely right. As a member of the “gifted community” we seek solitude with our thoughts, and require intimacy as a soft spot to land! There is a difference! Thank you
“Ultimately, when we feel loneliness creeping in, we are not looking for social interaction with just anyone; what we really want and absolutely need is intimacy.”
Spot on. Thank you.
You’re welcome, Melody! 🙂
Thnks for the post. I don’t know i am introverted or not but i feel lonely. I can’t make new friends… it feels …how to talk to strangers. i overthink and just pass away. i like staying in solitude but sometimes i need to share feelings but got nobody out there.I just don’t talk to anyone i meet.
Hi Deepak. A lot of introverts can relate to what your struggle. It’s a tricky balance, to maintain our energy and enjoy solitude, while also connecting with others. My first suggestion is always to start where you are with what you have. That is start by focusing on the friends and family you do have. And focus on just opening up a tiny bit to let in someone new. It only takes a small crack to let the light in. Xo
Hey, thank you so much for the article. I’ve always known that I’m an introvert. I have friends whom I have intimate relationships with, but sadly, the fact that I’m studying overseas means they’re really far away. I’m in my twenties, in a community where everyone seems to all be extroverted and the feeling of loneliness has been creeping up so much lately. The only person whom I connect intimately with is my boyfriend. He’s pretty social, but he believes that he doesn’t really need anyone but himself. He simply doesn’t get it why I seem to need someone on a deep emotional level, and he’s barely there when I need him to comfort me. Things has been really hard, any suggestions to make things better? Thanks so much I appreciate it:)
I can sense that my friends are not really interested in chatting with me. I don’t know why they are not interested in me.Is that due to introversion ?
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few pics too drive the message home a little bit, but other than that, this
is wwonderful blog. A fantastic read. I will certainly
loneliness a very sad life.
come to think of it there must have a solution we can or i can beat this. It is reason why this happening no intimate relationship no partner children grown up etc.more excuses. now i realized that you are right about to be intimate to yourself go alone by yourself just be careful to what you can stumble that will you more headache and loneliness. The people now are very tricky that makes life complicated.
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Hi Michaela.. this one is really a great article and can totally relate with the same.. just one point.. I am very introvert sort of person.. I have few persons (eg office colleague, classmate etc.) in my life who are my go to person or the person whom I can talk / discuss without hesitation..
But once they are parted say office colleague is changing the job, classes completed etc. and we are not going to be in regular touch with them, then per se because of the basic nature as introvert, they are not the go to person sort of that we can be in touch that much.. At least in my case, we are in touch on casual basis.. Further, when we know the next person is moving ahead in their lives and not going to continue your go to person as earlier.. It would be very difficult to be normal during the transition period when we know other person would not be as earlier.. Nothing feels good n all these.. Any suggestion as to handle such situation..