What is a loner? A Loner with a capital L. The dictionary says it is a person who likes to be alone. Or to not associate with other people. Synonyms include outsider, hermit, introvert, and recluse.
Before I go on to talk more about loners, I find myself wondering what you are doing here, on this article. Are you worried that you are a loner? That something might be wrong with you?
Or perhaps you know someone who likes to spend a lot of time alone. Maybe this “alone time, all the time” is a new thing. Your child, spouse, best friend, perhaps?
Being a loner can be a character trait (like it is just something that defines a person) and it can also be a habit, something that can be developed for various reasons, and changed. How you feel (as the loner or as the concerned loved one) depends on the situation and what sort of life your “loner” has.
So what’s the big deal about being a loner?
Loners get a bad name in the news. In the United States, it is most likely a “loner” who is the cause of some of the mass atrocities occurring around the country (and now around the world).
He was a bit of a loner and He pretty much kept to himself are what the neighbors tell reporters, when asked to talk about the bad guy. Very few people knew all that much about him.
But the truth is, being a loner doesn’t make people do bad things. There are many, many completely normal people who like to spend most of their time on their own, without having other people around them. It can, however, be a symptom of a greater problem, such as depression or mental illness.
But in most cases, being a loner doesn’t mean that a person is crazy. It just means that they prefer to be alone more often than not.
Being a loner isn’t a bad thing. There’s actually plenty of pros to being a loner.
While relationships and commitments are the life blood of some people’s lives, they are also cumbersome. When you spend more of your time on your own, you have plenty of time to do the things you need to do for yourself, such as:
- You can focus on self-development. Read that Grant Cardone book. Attend a self-actualization seminar. Watch Youtube videos about meditation. Do naked yoga in the backyard. The rest of the world is obsessed with social media and doing what is necessary to win the approval, while you can avoid all that and work on what you need for yourself.
- You can avoid the anxieties and pettiness and unnecessary drama created by other people. Social media is a hotbed for people who want to complain about everything, and how everything is horrible, even though they are probably in the privileged 1% of the world (who has a home, smartphone, running water, and plenty of food. Think about it. Do you have PEACE in your own life? When you come home, do you relax and take a deep breath and feel the world fall away? Or do you get hammered with even more obligations and responsibilities and stress?
- Your free time (outside of work you might have to do) is YOUR time to do with what you want. Do you want to read? Great! Take a nap? Great! Play video games, crochet, visit the local museum, travel to the beach? Great! Let’s go!
- Decisions are much easier to make. When you don’t have to take into account other people’s feelings, thoughts, input, or problems, you can make the call quickly and decisively.
- You are your own Judge. You don’t have to try to be something or anything for anyone else. No expectations.
- Your boundaries and safe and observed.
- You don’t annoy other people with your idiosyncrasies and habits.
- Your brain has time to recharge.
- You are much more productive without distractions of others.
People from the outside don’t agree
It feels totally normal and healthy to be alone, if you are a loner. But people outside of that think that it is bad, and that you are not normal. They see you through their eyes, what they like and need, and cannot imagine how you could be different.
However, I would say that if spending time alone is a sudden thing, or the result of something that has happened (such a a divorce, death, loss, major life change, health), I would probably agree that it is not totally healthy to be alone all the time. You might think that you are coping, but it could be that you are avoiding.
Personally, I went through some very difficult and emotional times in the past few years. As a result, I have spent a lot more time on my own, for so many reasons. I didn’t want to be around other people. I wanted to simplify my life. I was tired of people’s drama and I was struggling to achieve my own goals due to the noise in my life created by other people.
So in my case, spending more time alone has been a good thing, for the most part. I don’t feel lonely, and I am not upset, sad, disappointed or feel negative in any other way about spending more time alone. But I am also aware that being alone is enabling me to avoid addressing some of the reasons why I needed to spend some time alone.
As a result, I am finding that there are feelings which continue to pop up and bother me, though a lot of time has passed. I’ve been able to avoid dealing with them, and over time, it is becoming clear to me that I need to eventually turn around and confront them.
Cons of being alone
When you are alone, you have only yourself to deal with. That can be a good thing, but if you are not careful (and aware), you can focus on your inner voice a bit too much. If you are critical of yourself, you may never get another (and perhaps more accurate) reflection of yourself that you might otherwise receive if you talked about the issue with someone else you trust.
When you are alone, you may not experience the wide range of emotions humans are capable of. Yes, you may be avoiding the negative ones (such as frustration, anger, desperation, jealousy, resentment). But you may also be depriving yourself of experiencing joy, excitement, attraction. Your ability to empathize decreases as well.
Humans are biologically meant to be around each other, based upon research. Social isolation can increase the likelihood of mortality dramatically (source). If you are “lonely” (which I think of as being different from being “alone”), your body actually begins to exhibits signs of inflammation and stress.
I don’t think it is bad to spend a lot of time by myself, and I don’t think you should either
I believe in balance, and doing the things we need to do in order to be the best versions of ourselves. If spending a lot of time alone works for you, and you are happy, then who cares what anyone else thinks?
We spend too much of our lives worrying about what other people think about us.
What do you think about spending time alone? Let us know what you think in the comments.
Emily Anderson is a mother of three children, ages 8, 6, and 3. Located in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, Emily is a full-time mom and part-time blogger, jumping in front of the screen when the kids are occupied. She can be reached through the Contact Us page.