What’s Wrong With Being a Loner?


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The media equates us with the mentally ill psychotics who go on murderous rampages.  Society follows with resounding cries of:  "no friends, no fun!  No friends no fun!"  And we, the loners, feel an immense pressure to change ourselves.  We want to hide our faces in shame, increasingly rejecting ourselves more and more, and our way of life.  So what's wrong with being a loner exactly?

1#  The Only Problem With Being A Loner Is Whether You Have A Problem With It.

In the end, you are the one who determines how you feel about yourself and other people.  It's true that nothing can hurt you unless you let it.  Unfortunately, many loners have a problem with being loners.  These involuntary loners have a problem with themselves firstly because they aren't accustomed to being alone.

For instance, they may have found that through death, estrangement, poverty, or other misfortunes, that they have lost friends or family.  Consequently, these people may have fallen into depression and distanced themselves from others, becoming loners.  They may have also failed to re-establish connections with people after the shock of their life situation.

Secondly, many involuntary loners look for their self worth externally.   When they observe the ideal of the "social butterfly" in all the magazines, Facebook walls, TV shows, books, movies and other media that floods their existence, they see how far they have fallen short.  As a loner, I used to hate reading the blatherings of Facebook statuses, and how social everyone sounded.  I felt depressed and perpetually like the outsider, the weirdo, and the lonely loner.  This is the perfect example of how low self esteem can lead you to compare yourself with others.  If you aren't esteemed by other people, then immediately your own self esteem drops.  Loners who fall into this category do not accept themselves because they aren't accepted by others.

And thirdly, involuntary loners may have previously found their joy and stimulation outside of themselves.  They therefore find it hard to accept and adapt to their situation.  Through one reason or another, these loners may find themselves alone and alienated from other people.  Immediately they find that no friends = no fun, and they wilt and fade by themselves, feeling bored and lonely.


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So Why Are Loners So Disliked?

From school kids ostracizing us as being "weird losers", to news columns condemning us as being serial rapists, loners have dealt with a lot over the past century.  Take a close look at the following picture I took from searching the word "loner" a couple of months ago:

Notice how the word loner is constantly applied to tragic circumstances and the mentally unstable?  As journalist Anneli Rufus points out in her Loner's Manifesto, "loner" is a word crime writers love to use.  It is constantly applied to what she calls pseudo-loners who, because of rejection, seek revenge.  "They do not wish to be alone", she writes, "their dislike of being alone is what drives them to violence."

Basically, these people rely on others and need others to validate their existence, to build reputations, and to be accepted into social clans.   Not being accepted burns.  Being cheated by people burns even more.

What initiates the majority of violence, as pointed out by Rufus, is not being something - in this case a loner - but feeling something.  "Anger.  Envy.  Desire.  Betrayal.  Resentment.  Rejection.  Love".  All these emotions are intimately bound up with other people - they are social motives, far removed from the quiet, self-sufficient loner.  However, to make things fair, loners are not exempt from committing crimes.  In the cases where loners truly are responsible for horrible crimes, we must not lose sight of the many social, charmingly gregarious criminals there have been: Capone, Heinrich Himmler, Bernard Madoff, Don Lapre, Ted Bundy.

So why does the media favor the loner-lunatic cliche so much anyway?  I can see two different reasons why.  Firstly, people don't like what they can't understand.  It's very easy to understand the need for social interaction and friendship.  It's harder to understand why others like solitude however.  Don't you feel lonely?  No.  Don't you feel depressed?  No.  Do you hate people?  No.  Then why are you by yourself?  I like it that way.  What??  

If you've never tried fried ice cream you won't like it.  Similarly, if you haven't experienced the clarity and wholeness found in solitude, you will lack an understanding of those people who do.  This can easily result in rejecting others out of confusion and fear of what we can't comprehend.  Hence why loners are ostracized and consistently thought of negatively.

The second reason is that since loners are already thought negatively of, the word "loner" is perfect for crime cases which demand a certain air of negativity and mystery.  Labeling killers continually as "loners" is the perfect psychological trick to separate the psychopaths from the 'normal' people.  They like being alone?  We don't understand that!  They must be crazy!

Journalists like separating the murderous lunatics from the pack.  No one wants to think that any normal citizen would commit such atrocious crimes.  It's a self denial and self defense, on that says "no one like me could do that".  So the loner is further ostracized, even to the point of losing their own humanity.

 ***

I have known, been friends with, and read the stories of many loners. Charity working loners, thumb-sucking loners, book-reading loners, all perfectly content in their quiet world - not hateful towards humanity, or vengeful, or disturbed.

When you ask yourself what's wrong with being a loner, keep in mind that the very people who make you ask that question are fundamentally ignorant, confused and many times afraid of the unknown world of loners.  All it takes to understand something is to ask questions and go exploring.  If this is not even attempted blind prejudice - like that towards loners, can easily occur.

 ***

If you have any opinions, feel free to add them to this discussion below.  Also, feel free to take our Loner Test.


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  1. Carlos says

    I don’t see any problem with being a loner, although I have to admit that I’ve felt bad about that before. I got used to it and kind of get angry when people say I am anti social, or tell me I should be more outgoing.
    I became a loner as a fact of life, I got depression and I know how heavy it is, to be called names just because you can barely understand what’s going on.
    Another thing I have to admit is the fact that I’ve learned so much at this point of my life, when I was depressed, so many things became crystal clear in my mind, I’m not going to say I’m thankful to the universe (and bla bla bla) for such happening in my life, because I’m not at all, but as I said: I came to understand so profoundly so many things of life, as if my soul was some sort of dark room and for some reason my depression came to give it light, I know I don’t know everything, but I know a tiny part of everything.
    I know the topic here is not about how good you have made through your depression, but I had to say that, because after it all, it seems that no one has the power of making difference in me even if they try with all they have, I’m the only one who can do it..
    O F**K enjoy your loneliness…

    • says

      Depression, although it doesn’t seem like it, does sometimes bring the gift of clarity. Suddenly you stop the commotion of your life and become very self-focused, and this brings forth many revelations — although some of them do tend to be dramatized and distorted. When I went through depression I would spend hours in quiet reflection, and without that experience, I wouldn’t be the person I am now doing what I do. So I can see where you’re coming from Carlos. It’s very true that we are the only people who can help ourselves — we must be the people to decide — no one else can do that for us.

  2. Abbe says

    I am a loner for a decade. It was by choice, and while I don’t regret this decision. I do feel the lack of having a person in life. At times, when I’m sad, or joyed, I’ve no one to share that with. As I’m growing old, the void hurts even more.

    I feel like hypocrite, when I do admit, that I have wish to have someone in my life.

    Not sure, how to stop feeling like this. Work is where when it gets busy, I just love it. The times when you don’t have time to think of anything else are the best. But it doesn’t always stay like this.

    Do you’ve any thoughts, about any possible solution?

    • says

      Abbe, don’t feel guilty. It is actually very normal to crave human contact. Some of us just need it more than others. Don’t be afraid to challenge your self-concept. It is all too easy for us to get stuck in a label of who we think we are “I am a loner” – when often we are much more complex than that. So yes, you might like to spend most of your time alone, but that doesn’t make it bad to want to spend your time with another. I consider myself to be a loner, but I am also flexible with this self-concept. I am a loner most-of-the-time, and at other times I do enjoy other people’s company.

      So my advice would be to listen to this natural yearning. Try to find groups in your local area that meet up with each other over common interests, e.g. book clubs, spirituality groups, pet enthusiasts, etc. Alternatively, you could try online dating sites, or other sites like meetup.com to look for people in your area.

      Hope this helps. :)

  3. Solitary man says

    Hi

    I have just read this article today and thought perhaps I would my own story to the mix, I am in my 50’s and I am married to a real nice lady , who is intelligent and thoughtful and has some of my attributes, but above all, along with my mother one of the only two friends who know me and love me, more importantly I trust their advice and value their friendship, so in saying that shall I start off ?, I came from a broken home ( I often joke I broke it myself…..hint joke ! ), as a child growing up I found solitude in the bush that I could get lost in ( I never did get lost in thousands of acres though ), I made cubby houses as a young boy, explored learning about native plants, snakes and other things in the wild, I loved watching the stars at night and seeing the clear night skies and hearing the night sounds of animals moving in the darkness, from earliest age, I found that most people lied or needed others to complete who they are, I always knew who I was, I used to trust too many people who in my youth I thought were my friends, so often at high school I was bullied and influenced by other brutish boys into doing bad things to gain exceptance, it was a process of learning for me, I could always think a situation through to its logical conclusions and ” see ” outcomes before most other people could, as result I detest bullies still and have hesitation in stickng up for myself or anyone else when needed, I learned to be a free intelligent thinker and to ask questions no else will ask when needed, I certainly do not just except what a person says, be they a Cop, Politican, Doctor or Pilot just because they have a uniform on, my attitude is always ask questions back, no matter how it makes anyone feel, but never be rude or impolite if it can be helped.

    In my teen years after I filled out with broad shoulders and started to learn to not wear my heart on my sleeve with every friendly person I met, I found that going hiking alone and camping alone and being alone I loved, I don’t crave being social, my mother at one stage took my to a shrink to find out why I was so differant from other children, my younger brother for example, cannot stand being alone or being without people, most people ‘ need ” other people, I don’t need to be with anyone else to validate me or nor do I care what others think of me, I am very comfortible in my own skin, like who I am and I am a very calm person by nature, I am affable , but I don’t trust people as a rule of thumb, if a person wants my trust, they must earn it, they must show me they are worth trusting, I don’t like useless small talk and I don’t like false people or liars and people who deceive, I stand up for people less fortunate and I don’t worship money, I find too much falshood in human society, I find my Russian blue cat is a better person than most people on this planet, some of you will understand what I mean by that.

    I am not on Facebok, Twitter, YT and really want to be just left alone to explore the bush, rivers, lakes and mountians in peace !, I like to draw alone, I like to hike alone , I like to motorbike alone, I like to explore the mountains and plains alone , I hunt alone, I fish alone.

    I an fully confidant of physically lookng after myself alone !…….and I love all animals and respect them.

    I might add, I have a strong belief in God and was brought up a Christian, but an extremely intelligent one ! one who does not leave his brain at the door of a church !.

    • says

      Thanks for sharing. :) I particularly like your comments about not needing other people to validate you. That’s so important. Obviously you are doing something right in life!

  4. rolltides says

    I am a huge loner I barely go out all I do is go to work and then I come home and drink like 3 or 4 glasses of wine. The last time I went on a trip was like 7 years ago. Sometimes I feel like I am a loser and most people I think probably think I am. Then what makes me so weird I have never had a girlfriend in my whole life. I think I am a huge loser for that. I am 25 years old and never had one g/f in my life.

    • says

      Ironically not accepting your solitary nature and criticizing yourself makes you even less desirable in the eyes of women. Learn to accept that you are a loner and learn to embrace the person you are, and soon others will as well.

  5. Gina Di Camillo says

    I was raised as an only child we owned a store in philadelphia and lived upstairs in an apartment i spent lots of time by myself when i wasnt downstairs with my parents. We had people who worked for us mostly teenagers or very young adults so there was lots of contact with them.
    At sometime in my younger years i began to feel lonely and for the longest time wanted to be around people and when i got married had kid then divorced and moved back home i wasnt ever lalone but still felt lonely? anyway my parents are now dead my kids are grown and live on there own and somewhere things switched i LOVE being by myself and to much social contact overwhelms me i find myself craving for just the peace and quiet of being in my own space and not being obligated to tslk to or be around other people i much prefer emailing using facebook and simetimes talking on the phone
    now i even turn my cell off for days at a time this way nobody can bother me ir ask me to do anything! crazy because i use to live on the phone which annoyed my family.
    I do not think there is anything wrong with being a loner sometimes it just makes life easier to just be by yourself its not that i dislike people i just dont feel like dealing with their drama or their petty problems or listen to theor opinions thoughts or feelings its like i am emotionaly cold where i was once much different. Also people always comment how friendly and easy to talk to i am? Am i weird strange different i have no idea and i dont really care!
    I feel my two dogs are great company. Although they cant talk its still company.
    I dont harbor bad feelings to the very social people because i believe some people just NEED lots of people in their lives to feel complete i am just not one of those types!

    • says

      That is a healthy perspective Gina, to not harbor feelings of dislike towards others who are different from you. Acceptance of who you are and who others are is one of the greatest gifts in life. Thank you for sharing. :)