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How to Understand the Difference Between Loneliness and Wanting to be Alone

Lonely or Alone?

It is true they are both adjectives, but they are a world apart in their meaning. Being alone sometimes is a choice. But feeling lonely comes from feeling abandoned. It sounds too extreme, but we are trying to make a point here. Let us explore these with an example or two. Say you are surrounded by friends and family, no matter how much you try, you are unable to participate and connect with them. You feel lost and almost like an outsider. Eventually, feelings of loneliness creep in. Loneliness is an inability to do and a be a part regardless of the company you are surrounded with. This is one form of feeling lonely. The other one is where you feel low when your friends and family are not around.



Let us reverse the situation and think of a situation where you wait for other family members/friends to leave the house so that you can get on with your life including doing productive stuff and thing you like doing: planning projects, exercise, cooking, even working perhaps. It is not about being occupied, you might simply want to be left alone to gather your thoughts and connect with yourself. This simply means you are able to feel delighted in your company and the surroundings.

How to tell the difference:

You will know the difference if you delve deeper and ask yourself if you like having support for managing your day-to-day living and find the presence of people energising and they provide you the necessary motivation to get on with your life. I am positive you have all had friends that radiate and glow with energy when surrounded by people. And left on their own, there are chances they might feel lost. It is not as if they cannot manage on their own. But they would rather be surrounded by friends and family. I have a friend who loves coming over and spend time with me every time her husband has to travel for work.

A person who prefers to be alone looks forward to spending time on their own. At least some part of the day, they like spending on their own. I have a colleague who makes it clear that lunch and break time at work is his time and none of us are allowed to socialise during those breaks. He loves listening to music, watches shows on his phone, some days he can be seen gazing out of the window. For him it is simply an act of being by himself.

How do these traits affect your relationships?

Be it friends or family, relationships mean understanding and accepting of various traits and features in people/person. Accepting of different personalities and co-existing is the key here. If the person wants to be left alone, it is better to give them the space they need. It helps these people to recoup and build their energy levels. It simply means that they are comfortable in their own skin and they find getting stuff done easier when they are left alone. On the other hand, if a person feels lonely, it is important to make sure they don’t feel abandoned. And to do this, you do not have to be physically present all the time. Just make sure to be a part of their life by showing support in any which way it is possible for you. Let us tackle the people who harbor these traits.

Me Time vs Needy Time:

Being honest about your needs is the first step. And for that you need to know if you like being alone or are feeling lonely. It is easy to understand with a bit of introspection. Make a check list of things you like doing with people vs on your own. You will get some idea about your personality type. Once you arrive at a decision, inform the people around. You do not have to make an announcement. At the same time, remember not every individual is capable of understanding non-verbal cues.

How to tackle loneliness:

It is okay to love having people around you. But it is not okay to depend on them for fulfilling your emotional needs. Find your weak spot and work on it by cultivating healthy habits like working out or watching a comedy show, experimenting by trying to stay on your own for some part of the day. No amount of outside energy, forces and other factors can help you unless you deal with your issues first. Learn to be there for yourself and also try and take part in other people’s lives.

Author Bio: 

My name is Ranga Rajah and I am a lifestyle journalist based out of Mississauga, Ontario in Canada.
Currently, I am contributing, articles, and features on a freelance basis for different publications.
I have a blog where I post at least twice a week.
I am also working on my book.