Social Question

wundayatta's avatar

For those who have difficulty being alone, why do you think that is?

Asked by wundayatta (58599points) April 28th, 2010

I have had a live-in partner almost continuously since I was a junior in college. There have been times when I paid little attention to my partner, but just knowing she was there in the house made a huge difference.

I’m not sure what is going on here, though. Is it that I feel loved or lovable? Is it companionship? Is it knowing someone is there in case I get in trouble? Is it knowing someone will be checking up on me? Is it having someone to make love to? Is it feeling like I’m not a person if I don’t have a partner?

I really don’t know. If there are others of you in this situation or like me, what are your thoughts on why you have difficulty being alone for any serious length of time?

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41 Answers

Rangie's avatar

My guess is that humans are social creatures and not meant to be hermits. Being alone for short periods of time, is sometimes needed to recoup. But, not particularly natural for very long periods of time.

kenmc's avatar

Being alone doesn’t bother me. I rarely feel lonely. All of the societal pressures to conform and behave are gone. When I’m alone, I talk to myself, I sing out loud, I laugh more, and have a higher self-esteem.

When a feeling of loneliness hits, I spend time with people. But those times aren’t common.

zephyr826's avatar

I have always had trouble being alone for long periods of time. Maybe it’s because I have three siblings and shared a room until I was 14, but I’m much more comfortable with a roommate than I am by myself. When my husband was deployed for a year, one of the hardest parts was the solitude.

DominicX's avatar

My roommate took a week-long leave of absence because of mono (he’s back and he’s fine now), but during that week, man, even though we basically argued right before he left, I missed him quite a bit. I missed having someone else there that I could talk to automatically. I like knowing that I have someone there I can talk to and spend time with easily.

I know this isn’t the same as living with a partner, but I do not like being alone for extended periods of time. Of course I can handle being alone for short periods of time as can most extroverts (a common misconception is that they can’t), but I definitely prefer having someone else around.

scarlet1's avatar

Some people need more human connection than others. There are loners in the world and then there are those that need a lot of meaningful interaction and affection continuously.

thriftymaid's avatar

I’ve always heard that those who hate to be alone do not like themselves.

chels's avatar

When I lived back at home with my parents and siblings, life was pretty tough. My mom got really abusive all throughout high school. There were times where I would be left alone in the house. One time that I can specifically remember was when I was at home with my siblings, my mom had called and told my brother we were going out to dinner and to be ready when she got home. She came home, came in the house, and saw me getting ready. She then proceeded to say “What are you doing? You’re not coming.” and I ended up staying home alone while the rest of my family went out to eat. Why she did this? I’m not sure. This shit happened all the time.
However, ever since things like this happened to me, I started noticing something. I started to really dislike being alone and also leaving others alone.
I guess it was just knowing how shitty it felt to be alone or be left alone to make me this way. I can’t really think of anything other than that.

Foxtrot's avatar

While I’m not in that situation, I do find that I feel much better when I have people around. I do enjoy the time where I’m home alone and don’t have to worry about anyone else, but I almost need to know there are people close by if I need them.
I think this is mostly due to my childhood and being left alone constantly for a majority of my life.

As for being in a relationship: Until the end of my last relationship, I was almost afraid of being alone. I let myself get to the point where I needed them in my life. I needed someone to tell me I wasn’t worthless, I needed them for my self-esteem. I needed them to talk to me when things got bad. I needed them to tell me it was going to be okay. Need, need, need. I’m quite upset with myself for letting it get to the point where I needed them more than I wanted them.
I wanted to be around them constantly. Even if we weren’t doing anything. There would be times when I was sleeping upstairs and they were downstairs doing something else. I felt better knowing that we were safe with each other.
It wasn’t until the end of the relationship that I realized I was being ridiculous. I’ve come to realize that I don’t need anyone. I want people around, and sure, I sometimes I still feel better when people tell me I’m not worthless and that they are here for me, but I don’t need it. My self-confidence is higher than it ever has been, and it’s because I realized I don’t need a partner to make me happy.
Despite my family constantly questioning why I am single, I’m not sure that I want a relationship anytime soon. For once, I’m happy being alone.

Cruiser's avatar

Never had that problem in fact I have to work real hard to get that time alone and it is never long enough when I do! Pup tent along side a North woods river is ideal!

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

My wife has been away for several weeks and won’t be able to return until July because she is again helping out her daughter who was widowed last November. I don’t like being away from her at all but I can cope and I do. It is my way of supporting her.

At least I can speak to her on the phone. I have our two dogs to care for and they are some company. I miss the human contact and the opportunity to be close to her. I don’t need her to be away to have time to think!

I will visit my daughter and grandchildren next month and my wife will fly up for a few days so we can spend a little time together. I’m really looking forward to that!

Being alone for too long gets me depressed. Too much of my own company fails to nourish my soul. Being close to her and being able to hold her is the only remedy.

Rangie's avatar

@Dr_Lawrence aw, how sweet. you make me tearful. Sorry about your son in law.

free_fallin's avatar

I enjoy being alone. I lived with an ex for 7 years and was pleased to be alone again. It doesn’t depress me. If anything it inspires me. I adore my friends but always look forward to coming home to an empty house.

Rangie's avatar

I have never really been alone, except when I was in he hospital. The most my husband and I have been apart would be a couple of hours, when one of has appointment or something like that. We even call each other, on the intercom, on the phone, to have a fun start of the day conversation. He gets up before me. This has been going on for 35 years. “have fun, don’t fight”

silverfly's avatar

I haven’t read others’ posts, but most people are trying to fill frozen needs. Mom and Dad weren’t around very much and you felt lonely, so you’re constantly trying to fill that void. You didn’t receive adequate love and attention and therefore developed the habit of being lonely.

Coloma's avatar

IMO too many people ‘use’ relationship for their own selfish and insecure issues.

Warehousing another for their own needy neediness rather than a genuine desire to GIVE.

If ones primary motivation is to take/recieve rather than give it is not a loving situation, it is exploitive.

I am an extrovert by nature but also cherish my solitude and have no ‘need’ to drum up relationship action to salve any neurosis.

Who the hell would want to be nothing more than a security blanket to another?

Loving care and interaction is one thing, being a neurotic barge of neediness is entirely another.

I think it’s tragic how many relationships exist that have outlived their expiration date yet people cling out of habit & fear of change.

DominicX's avatar


Just because a person prefers to be around other people doesn’t mean their parents “didn’t love them enough”. This is starting to get ridiculous. In b4 Freud.

MorenoMelissa1's avatar

People who are people persons often have a difficult time being alone because they crave socilization and the company of others. Usually people with love in their hearts hate to be alone.

liminal's avatar

I used to be someone who had a hard time being alone, even though I am an introvert who needs time alone to restore my energy sources. For me, it was a matter of being a stranger to myself. Stephanie Dowrick in her book book Intimacy and Solitude quotes Margaret R. Miles as saying:

“What would the shape of our aloneness look like if we questioned it form the perspective of delight instead of pain? It would look and feel like uniqueness, a perspective of amazing richness that no else quite duplicates; it would also look like responsibility to give some kind of form to this uniqueness; it would look like a basis for the enjoyment of other human beings.”

I found the uniqueness of me to be a mystery. When I was alone I felt like I was with a stranger and uncomfortable so I tried to avoid it.

BoBo1946's avatar

I live alone and very content with my best friend!

Think goes back to childhood…insecure would be my guess for not feeling secure as a child. And that would be a pure guess…

Coloma's avatar


Yes, I agree 100%!

I have come to cherish my space and peace after divorcing some years ago.

Self enjoyment is tantamount to healthy realtionships, otherwise one is using others as a drug to fill up and distract themeslves from themselves.

I am very wary of anyone that cannot be alone.

The healthiest approach to relationship is to be self fulfilled and then, if realtionship happens, thats great, but not necessary for ones happiness.

Same goes for every other possible desire.

You enjoy whatever it is but no longer are seeking ‘completion’ in anything outside of yourself.

netgrrl's avatar

There was a time I had trouble adjusting to being alone. After my divorce in ‘95 it was a huge adjustment. I had children fairly early, and in 18 years, I’d never spent more than an occassional weekend away from my children.

Every other weekend was bearable, but the first time the children went to stay with him for 2 weeks, I was such a basket case, I asked him to bring them back after a week. (He got the other week the next month—I wasn’t trying to keep him from the kids.)

So I had to learn how to be alone without being lonely. By the next summer, I was fine with it. Bye! Have fun! Let me know if you want to stay longer!

I don’t think much of it now. I don’t have difficulty entertaining myself and I can get out & see people when I’m feeling sociable.

pearls's avatar

I have been alone for over ten years and at first it was hard. Very hard. I still have a hard time, but those times are very few. I spent more time at work in the evenings because it was difficult coming home to an empty house. But in retrospect, I prefer being alone than in a loveless marriage.

DocteurAville's avatar

If you can’t stand be on your own you are just naive. Being on your own is what makes you grow up.

liminal's avatar

@DocteurAville This thread shows there is more reasons than that.

Jeruba's avatar

I’ve wondered this myself because I don’t really understand it at all. I am perfectly happy alone. I like having somebody there (somewhere), but there doesn’t have to be somebody here. I was happy living alone for ten years before I got married, and my husband and I give each other plenty of space. A couple of years ago I went on retreat and lived alone in a cottage in the mountains for six weeks. It was lovely. I was happy to come home, but the solitude and quiet and freedom were delicious.

Coloma's avatar


You sound like a healthy person…cheers to solitude!

DominicX's avatar

I don’t think there’s anything unhealthy about not preferring extended solitude. People are just different. Some are okay with being alone, some are not. Neither one is inferior to the other and I’m a little tired of this pseudo-psychological “analysis” of people who don’t like being alone and the gross generalizations.


There’s a difference between being on your own and being alone. A person can be on their own with other people.


Then you’ve heard wrong.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Like you, I’ve never been alone since my college time whether it be a live-in partner or roomates. I’m most comfortable when in company. I like knowing someone is in the house with me even though they might be doing their own thing. Meals are more enjoyable when I can cook for others, I am better at housework when it’s for more than just me. I like having company to the house. I’ve never felt another person infringes on “my space” or is keeping me from peace of mind, no one has ever been a pest to me or obstacle to any of my wants.

DominicX's avatar

I like knowing someone is in the house with me even though they might be doing their own thing.

Exactly the same with me. Even though my roommate and I might be doing our own thing, it’s just nice having his presence there and knowing that I can go and talk to him if I want to. It doesn’t mean that I have to be talking to another person who’s right there next to me all the time, not at all. But I like there to be someone else there at least, which is why I wouldn’t want to be in any extended period of solitude.

Rangie's avatar

I am a social person, and I like someone in my life for many reasons, of which I couldn’t possibly list here. Loving, holding hands, watching your spouse doing something, is all endearing and worth every minute of living with someone, verses being alone.

BoBo1946's avatar

@pearls understood…I really like it…maybe, i’m a hermit and don’t know it…ahh, that could not be true! loll

Snorkledorf's avatar

Marti Laney’s “The Introvert Advantage” says that introverted people have more internal stimulation going on all the time anyway (more mind chatter), while extroverted people tend to go out and get their stimulation from other people instead, becoming under-stimulated when left alone. If this is the case, then it’s just differing methods of reaching a similar, comfortable level of stimulation.

I know in my case there’s always a thousand different things going on in my mind, so though I really like people, those times when I’m alone allow me some cozy time to finally settle in and play with all those toys.

netgrrl's avatar

@Snorkledorf That’s an interesting thought, only I am very much an extrovert (an ENTJ according to Myers-Briggs) but I have no problem being alone much of the time without feeling lonely.

But then maybe it also has something to do with being involved in social networks so that I can get outside stimulation when I want it without leaving the house. smile

Coloma's avatar


Me too! Same temperment reading, and I love my solitude.
I think it’s a maturity thing.
Yes, I am social here, talk on the phone with friends almost daily, do my thing, work with a variety of people, but don’t feel needy or lonely
I was much more insecure about being alone in my younger years.
Ain’t maturity grand! lol

netgrrl's avatar

@Coloma That must be it. I’m just floored these days whenever someone complains they’re bored.

liminal's avatar

I think there is a distinction between liking or not liking alone time and an inability to feel whole apart from romantic relationship. I also think we have to be careful about moralizing either. That somehow there is a right way or wrong way to approach these things.

Coloma's avatar



Big. dif. between neurotic neediness and inner peace.

DocteurAville's avatar

Sure treads like this are a good reason, among many many others.

Sure there are differences. I guess the question is, can you be alone and be okay with it? If you can’t you better start thinking about it and adjust. Maybe trying to figure how to be alone with yourself is the door to learning more about yourself.
Maybe it doesn’t work the same for everyone. I just happen to think that yes, it does.

DominicX's avatar


Can I be alone and be okay with it? Of course. I’m alone right now. It’s fine.

Can I be alone for extended periods of time? Weeks of being alone? I could do it without going insane, but I would strongly not prefer it. I don’t think that means there’s a problem with me. I think it’s just because I’m a different person from other people. Some don’t mind being alone for extended periods of time, others wouldn’t like it. It doesn’t mean something is “wrong” with that person.

Rangie's avatar

@DominicX I think you are more normal than those that don’t feel that way. True, everybody need some space and a little time, but little is my key word here. :)

BoBo1946's avatar

“Thanks to Life Alert, you can live alone without being alone and that’s why I wear one.”
C. Everett Koop, M.D.
Former United States Surgeon General,

Awww…now, all you lonely people…here is your answer! ummm…but, that would not keep you warm at night…forget it!

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