Those with an introverted personality are not immune to the sharp sting of loneliness.
When I spend too much time alone, I become cranky, irritable, and sad. But it’s more than that. Like many introverts, I am a thinker. Too many days all by my lonesome leads to overthinking, and eventually … obsession.
Has this ever happened to you, innie friend?
Your beautiful brain locks in on an experience or worry, and turns it round and round until you’re dizzy with fear. Or shame. Or the sense that you’re not good enough, and never will be.
Whew, I feel off balance just writing about it. This is not a state that any of us want to spend much time in. And yet, with an introverted personality, it’s all too easy to slip into the cycle of obsessive thoughts brought on by too much alone time.
You might be wondering, where is the line? How do you know when your sweet solitude has gone sour, and it’s time to reemerge from your cave?
You’d think it would be obvious. But loneliness, like obsession, has a way of sneaking up on us. It’s subtle at first, and easily brushed off as a passing mood swing, or a dip in blood sugar levels.
Are you addicted to loneliness?
Loneliness can even become addictive. I know, it seems so counterintuitive. But humans are complex creatures. And those of us with an introverted personality are as inscrutable as they come.
So, after days, or weeks, of aloneness, we lose interest in going out and socializing. It all seems like a nuisance. We’ve settled into our alone. Made a home of it.
Sure, we’d like to have someone to cozy up to, and share our secrets with. Someone who’ll lighten the burden of our busy brain by listening to our thoughts – however slowly or awkwardly we share them.
But loneliness is so stealthy in the way it sneaks up on us that we are surprised by its arrival.
“You again? I wasn’t expecting you for another week. Can you come back later. Now really isn’t a convenient time.”
Loneliness doesn’t listen. It hangs around uninvited like a teen loitering outside the 7/11 on a Friday night. It’s just as annoying, too.
What to do, what to do?
At this point, not anyone will do. We want true companionship. Party chit chat, and pleasantries only magnify our loneliness. Make it real. Loneliness, like sadness, isn’t supposed to dwell in crowded rooms full of smiling people.
It’s meant to be on the outskirts, in the shadows, curled up in a grungy old t-shirt that wreaks of Doritos and bad decisions.
What to do when alone becomes lonely
The first step to avoiding loneliness is to plan ahead. Every introvert differs in how much time they can spend alone before loneliness creeps in.
When I go more than a few days in a row without human interaction, I become restless. I begin to obsess over things that aren’t worth obsessing over. I start to feel agitated and morose.
Some introverts can go for weeks without seeing another human and feel fine. Others thrive on the comfort of constant companionship from a trusted partner or friend.
The important thing is to know what your needs are, and plan for them. Schedule in a coffee or hiking date with a close friend before loneliness sets in.
Know the ultimate cure for loneliness
When the head honchos at 7/11 wanted to deter those loitering teens, they did something totally unexpected.
Instead bullying the teens with threats, they began blasting classical music. The teens didn’t like it. So they left.
The same concept can be applied to loneliness. While loneliness will hang around in nearly any social situation, there are a couple of things it can’t stand.
Loneliness doesn’t like love and connection. It flees from them.
How introverts can connect in an extrovert’s world
“I am lonely, yet not everybody will do. I don’t know why, some people fill the gaps and others emphasize my loneliness.” – Anaïs Nin
I know that it can be difficult for people with an introverted personality to create the true connection they crave. This is why I created a 50-page Introvert Connection Guide to go from boring meet to meaningful friendships – no extroversion needed! Grab the free guide here.
What about you?
How much time can you spend alone before loneliness sets in?
What advice do you have for introverts who struggle with loneliness.
Please share your experiences in the comments below.
Lots of love,
With Michaela-s help (and I thank you for it Michaela, you really helped me a lot 🙂 ) I can now set priorities much easier when it comes of how much time to spend alone. Usually, my mind needs a few days of solitude to recharge and after that I call and see my closest friend/s with whom I can talk about interesting and deep things for hours. My advice for all introverts who struggle with loneliness is, first of all, don’t let it control you and dictate you’r mood. When you feel it coming, act, and by that I mean call you’r closest friend with who you can talk about deep subjects and meanings. Take a walk with that special someone, or just sit somewhere where it’s quiet, but if you have a forest near the place you live, a walk and spending time in nature would be perfect (I do it all the time). 🙂 Talk about interesting things that make you happy, discuss topics that are common with you and you’r friend, observe the suroundings around you, listen the sounds together… Believe me, nature is a perfect cure for loneliness, especially when you share it with someone close you cherish. 🙂 I hope this will help you Innie Friends. 🙂
Wonderful advice, Marko. Thanks for sharing. 🙂
i moved back into my house from another province last December and i don’t know anyone here and i am very lonely, but i am also quite introverted and don’t really want to meet anyone or at least that is what part of me feels because i don’t know how to meet people and/or what to say to them. I’m not a big conversationalist. I go for a lot of walks in the forest, i try and find people to go on hikes with. I feel that when people meet me, after awhile they get bored with me because I am quiet and just don’t talk a lot. I am frustrated and sad and not in a very happy mind set sometimes. Help, lol
Not sure how to deal with this.
Hi Sandra, I understand what you are going through. It is natural for introverts to get frustrated when trying to create meaningful connections. It can be exhausting. I cover this in depth in my free ebook Alone But Not Lonely, which you receive when you subscribe to my mailing list.
I have subscribed to your mailing list a few times?
It comes in the welcome email. In any case, I just sent you the pdf to your gmail.
not on the ball with computers but did receive the book via email.
thank you very much, will give this a read 🙂
What if you dont have a single friend in the world?
You do have friends,you just have not meet them yet .Lifes a long song.
Michaela, loneliness seems to be the ugly sister of alone?! I know the feeling. Of course I would call a very close friend at once in such situations – if I only could reach this “special” person, but I can’t (for various reasons) and so I need to help myself. –
Like Marko I’ve realized that the “loneliness” of silent nature can calm down my loneliness. – I’ve also learned, that there’s still living a “little boy” inside me, it’s the little boy who I was a long time ago. – This little boy causes all my dreams and my longings, this little boy knows what’s really important for me! – Unfortunately I sometimes forget this little boy completely – and THEN I’m feeling awful lonely, because the most important part of me is ignored.
At these times I forget my dreams, my ideas, my longings – I forget everything, suddenly it’s all “bullshit” and senseless for me – and then I’m feeling so lonely and I’m even depressed. I’m feeling emtpy! – Luckily and surprisingly (and I don’t know how this can happen?) this “little boy inside me” seems to kick my ass again: “hey fool, don’t forget me!” – As soon as I take care about this “little boy” I’m happy & active again and I no longer feel lonely. – Strange, huh? – Matthias
Love this, Matthias! I often think of the little girl me too (a.k.a my inner child) and remind myself to take better care of her. She needs love and protection. Xo
Yes, I often feel that most people have forgotten their inner child, but that is the pure, joyful part of our nature that needs attention in order for us to be happy. Doing simple things that you once enjoyed as a child helps to fill loneliness when it appears.
I have never paid attention to how long I can be in my loneliness before I got some social contact. It usually goes in bursts, I just know when I need people time. Never relied on family connections and move so much that I don’t bother making lasting connections. Mostly I go to a Christian church to be around people and have connected but just in that setting or small groups that were of interest to me. In the past I did some volunteering. Other times I go to different Expos or business open houses. Have pleasant conversations with strangers and it works out okay but not really. I am someone who likes to connect at a deeply personal level. What I really want is to create a romantic relationship with a man and have a very small group of male or females to take about whatever without being judged wrongly, as my thoughts prove very interesting. Yet, at the same time, I am so used to being alone that I have a difficult time making time to let someone into my life and it has to do with everybody has a schedule and that opportune time for me is not there for the communication or rather unloading of my thoughts. Just being me with this snippet into my introverted-ness. Much love.
Never lonely life is too exciting . I love my self and people and try to express it. Even when it’s not reciprocated from the from the intended person it always comes back. I know it sounds corny,love is the answer.
This has been one of your most interesting series. I cannot remember ever experiencing loneliness. And I’ve pondered upon this often – well before your writing on it. Has anyone else ever experienced this?
I think you are very lucky to have never experienced loneliness. Would be interesting to hear how many others share share your experience.
Well, first of all, we have a great hole in our soul and this space need be filled. What kind material do you put in this space? I mean, in your heart or mind. However, I have no doubt this is a spiritual issue, so this is not about religion but this is all about if you believe in a creator or not.
As an introvert we suffer with this problem in a different form than an extrovert people but I believe everyone (intro and extro) need to face this question because we are a social animal.
So, I live alone because I don’t have family, but despite this reality I always have my hobby and I constantly refuge in my hobby in order to escape from this inconvenient moments of struggle with loneliness.
I developed a group of friends and they are introvert too and we gather constantly for talk, help each other a of course we pray for all of us.
In this life I think we always will have an existential question for life, sometimes this question become a great trouble too, but our creator left to us an important tools in our hands and we need to explore those abilities in order to make our life better.
I really appreciate a sincere friendship, I love to spend time with people who need care and I think the most important thing is: Pay attention what people trying to said to you, but unfortunately I have very difficulties to find someone to hear me.
But I never give up and I feel I am getting success in my objectives.
I have had enough friends all useless. I dont have any now. I am 26 since 5 years I have spent most of the time in one room and it is gonna continue that way, some times i think of waiting for my death but still long way to go. I am used to loneliness now, I like to endure that negative feeling..
is there no conversation going on here. Am I being heard. I would love some feedback and to talk with others or someone
Sandra, you are indeed being heard.
These past few years have been my loneliest. I cried yesterday because I couldn’t rid myself of the emptiness I felt. I have surpassed the lonely phase. I do not know how to fix this.
Im 35 years old and ive been lonely since I was 16 if im being honest.When I was younger I didn’t know anything about introversion so I didn’t understand myself or notice any of my good qualities,I was brutal with myself…I just thought I was wrong,a shy geek that didn’t really fit in.I wasnt good enough.Thankfully over the last few years ive really started to understand how I think and the unhelpful limiting and negative beliefs I carried around which held me back from being happy and accepting myself in a positive light.Ive also learned that how I saw myself wasn’t always how others saw me…people actually thought I was a nice lad so remember to be nice to yourself:)Although im in a positive place now and don’t feel I need to fix myself anymore,loneliness is still a problem.Ive cut myself off for a long time so my advice to anyone similar is baby steps!:)Im naturally quite shy as well as being an introvert so just little things, which maybe seem very simple to others, Iike walking around with my head up,shoulders back and smiling and saying hello to people,I do all the time.I used to walk round with my head down and not say a word!:)I also try and say something early in a conversation if im in a group…just to get involved…as the longer im quite the harder I find it to join in..I just close up.Again,a very simple thing but something to practice:)I enjoy keeping fit so I got in touch with a personal trainer and have a training session once a week.Another small positive step.I had guitar lessons for a while too.All little things I know but I had become stuck in “my story”…I was a loner,id accepted it…so you have to challenge your own opinion of yourself sometimes…..how you think shapes your life and your decisions so take care of what you say to yourself :)Hope that helps in a small way:)
I’ve struggled with this ever since moving out on my own. I don’t view my introversion as a bad thing, but I’ve also had really poor self esteem my whole life. It’s so much easier to just be alone then to be surrounded by people that emulate qualities you wish you had. It’s hard to be reminded of all the things you hate about yourself, you know?
“Instead bullying the teens with threats, they began blasting classical music.” loq
Loneliness is a complex topic. One of your articles pointed out how an introvert wants to skip chit chat and get into deep meaningful conversation. I discovered that yrs ago when I’d go out with some acquaintance and wonder “can I get into a deep conversation about feelings and life with this person, or will she think I’m wacko, troubled, and a bother?”
I also discovered loneliness creeps up as you’ve said. I spotted that it would hit me late at night when I was powerless to take action pretty much. Waited too long. I’ve since decided sometimes I just need to go to bed because the late night thinking is different from morning thinking.
If we dwell on lonely, negative thoughts, they will grow, sometimes into depression. I read an interesting article on how depression may be linked to inflammation in the brain and that treating the inflammation might be the solution. i.e. it may not be that you need a friend, it may be that you need to take an anti-inflammatory.
It’s too easy to compare our lives with what we think others have and that can be a culprit too. Understanding we are okay the way God made us is important to prevent self-badgering after self-analysis. Your movement and explanations have helped me accept myself more.
Sometimes the lonely feeling is a desire to connect with someone who truly knows us at our core. Last night I had a conversation with God about who that childhood friend is that I seem to seek. I reconnected with my high school friend via Facebook and she acts like she has lost her memory of our relationship. Another college best friend has so many other friends I am just one of many. I have a great husband, but even he doesn’t touch the core of my being. I often wonder if these people mean WAY more to me than I to them. For me last night I thought it was a childhood friend who I longed to connect with. After my conversation with God, I sensed him say that He is my childhood friend. He is the one who has been with me thick and thin, everywhere I’ve gone. So I’m okay because He is still with me, listening, fighting for me, and so on.
That doesn’t negate my need for people with skin on or fun times. 🙂 I have a dog that gets me out and it’s amazing how a dog is an icebreaker. Total strangers talk to people with dogs. If I go to the dog park it’s easy to start conversations. Conversations won’t likely be deep but it is people contact.
🙂 I go to church which is fine for my spirit, but it is in joining a small group I find a deeper connection with a few people.
🙂 The search for relationships is troublesome and I’m just trying to accept it isn’t a problem, it’s just life. For instance, one of my go-tos is to talk to store clerks. I’ve found many of today’s clerks don’t want to talk. It’s off-putting. But I can’t take it personally. Acceptance helps.
🙂 Once in a while I look at courses in the community center brochure. It is something to fall back on. But I never sign up. Is it self-sabotage or is it something else? That something else may be that I know participating will give me people time, but it may not meet a deep need of my heart.
I used to go to a mom and tots group at a church. It was my sanity, but often, once returning home I felt waves of loneliness. I think it was partly that no one connected with me in a meaningful way. Knowing I’m a 4% INFP helps me understand that others probably don’t “get me.” My needs are unique. Perhaps it is my constant search for better or the need for greater self-expression.
🙂 As a writer, I get to express myself through articles and eBooks I sell and through my many blogs.
🙂 I am on Facebook for business networking and in several groups and have found that eases my loneliness a lot. I have a few select people I can share my joys and struggles with there.
🙂 Years ago I was on a Christian chat line that helped.
🙂 I have used counselling by email rather than putting myself in a counsellor’s office. I know being in person in a counsellor’s office mighthave been a better choice, but I did what felt most comfortable at the time.
🙂 I have also worked with life coaches now and then.
🙂 My introvert son says his connection with his online gaming friends via mic and headset makes him feel connected.
So there is no one answer for this loneliness question. I despise advice that says, just volunteer, just go to a meetup group, blah blah blah. I’ve volunteered and it didn’t meet the need. I gave my time and skills and got little in return. Nevertheless, staying busy helps get my mind off myself.
Most of all I think realizing the small ways we help others or contribute to the world is fundamental to our well being. Also fundamental is putting our idealism in check. That we even want to solve our loneliness problem or think we can is an ideal we need to question.
As others have said, it’s helpful to take baby steps, plant seeds, stay positive and put our possibility thinking to the test in action, but in balance with reality and our energy levels.
What has made a huge difference for me is to learn to accept myself as I believe God made me. I wasted a lot of my life not liking my introverted self. What helped me to get there was a support group for wounded people. It was so healing to have others speak to the positive qualities they saw in me. I also worked with a therapist for awhile. As I learned to be more comfortable in my own skin, I became more open and more friendships came. Not that I still don’t get lonely, but it’s much better. We all have gifts to share. Please know that your quiet self can be a gift to others who need to be heard.
10 years alone and no closer to being able to connect. I’m not a loner. All the people I interact with in my hectic daily life would be surprised to know I’m lonely. In fact it’s not just personality but childhood experiences that formed that invisible bubble.
I consider myself loner. I was never popular in school. I never had friends. I went to college, focused on my studies. I tried to interact with people in college. I could never fit in. I became depressed. I consider myself unattractive, overweight, never had serious boyfriends. In my early thirties, guy at work showed some interest in me. I fell for him but he used me. Then, I met my ex husband. It was a fast courtship. I found out too late he used me financially and left me when the money ran out. I didn’t see it until it was too late. I guess I fell for these 2 guys due to the lack of attention I received from men. Even, when I was thin, I was an ugly duckling. I tried to fix myself up but it didn’t work. I am very depressed, sometimes I cry myself to sleep. I have certain family members who mean well by telling me things. Instead of helping, it hurts me inside. I see family members with their significant others, kids, and grandchldren. Family members say they understand my situation. If I never need to talk, they would be there for me. Problem is they do not understand my situation. They tell me, go out, meet people, it’s not that easy. Financially, i’m struggling, have no friends, I mainly just go to work, come home. Same routine everyday. Unfortunately, I could never have any children. I had 2 miscarriages and due to medical reasons, unable to have kids. I did everything right. I graduated from high school. First in my family to attend/graduate from college. I have a job. I never been in trouble with the law. I have gone on dating sights with no luck. I’m like a disease, everyone stays away. Sometimes, I wonder why I was even born.