Types of Loneliness (Psychology Today article)

I’ve been thinking a lot about being alone lately, so an article in the latest Psychology Today caught my eye. The online version doesn’t seem to have the 7 Types of Loneliness that I’ve put in my poll. <shrug> Don’t know why, but glad I bought the paper copy.

I’m practically a poster child for aloneness these days. My mother is close to death in hospice care (she’s in no pain and is fading slowly and peacefully), and I’m going through my part of the experience completely without any family or relatives. At all. Yes, I have friends, and yes they say, “If we can do anything, let us know,” but frankly, I don’t know what to ask of them. I’m in this alone. No siblings, no children, no partner, no extended family. And the saddest thing is that I won’t miss her (although I’m doing the right thing by her now, and have for the last two and a half years), because she has always been a troubled and withdrawn person. (But that’s another story.)

And yes, I know that aloneness and loneliness are not the same thing. I’m an introvert and enjoy being alone. I can amuse myself and don’t need to be around other people all the time. Or even most of the time. One of the loneliest experiences in the world is lying in bed at night and hoping the other person in that bed won’t reach out to you. One can be very lonely in a large group, even, presumably, a group of family members. It can be hard to admit that you’re lonely, as the ideal in our society is to be a happy, social, partygoer, never alone on a Saturday night or a holiday. To be alone when you don’t want to be is to admit to the fear that nobody wants me–a demon that has haunted me since toddlerhood.

When I read the sidebar in this article about types of loneliness (as I said, missing from the online version), I saw that all of them don’t apply to me, But three of them hit me right between the eyes.

So please take the poll–more than one answer is permitted. And then share your thoughts on this sensitive topic.

I’ve been in my situation for decades, hate all non-human animals, spend ample time with friends and family, don’t want significant intimacy with a non-romantic-partner, and am perfectly cool with being alone a lot of the time.

Nobody understands me and I want a girlfriend. (Preferably, one who does.)

I don’t really feel all that alone most of the time, so my mild levels of loneliness aren’t a big deal. But still I’d like a girlfriend. It ain’t about the physical stuff; it’s about the companionship and partnership.

Thanks, begbert2, for your comment. I guess this is a hard subject to talk about. And there is a certain amount of shame in admitting that we’re *ever *lonely. I get that. I feel it.

The three I picked were no sweetheart, no time for me, and quiet presence. Regarding the second one, all of my friends have partners, children, and grandchildren. Getting my group of seven women friends together for lunch once a month is like herding kittens. They all have something better to do.

Regarding the last one, I get together with friends but we get together for the purpose of getting together. I miss just having someone around that I don’t have to talk to. A couple of friends live out of town Dead air on the phone is awkward.

Of course, back when I did live with someone, I often wished I could be in the house alone. It’s a paradox.

The only one I can relate to is “I’m different”. I hate feeling like I don’t belong and that I’m an alien.

I checked most of the boxes. I’ve always been somewhat different from the people around me, no romantic partner, on’t really have space or time to take care of a pet, all but my closest friends are really casual acquaintences, and I’d really prefer to spend time quietly reading, hiking, kayaking, or something fairly unsociable than going to a party. I’m just fine with being alone and actively prefer it most of the time. Unfortunately, the weight of the evidence on mental health and aging well strongly indicates that social bonds and community activity is key to maintaining cognitive ability and general wellness, which does not bode well for a future I already don’t really want to think too much about.

Stranger

I have a husband, kids and grandkids. Pets, galore. I love them all. But as an artist, introvert, and kind of agoraphobic, I spend alot of my time home alone. I live inside my head many days, not speaking very much. Sometime I shock the pets by talking outloud to something I hear or see on a screen. I am lonely for someone to just be in the house sometimes. Not entertaining me or talking to me. I don’t need that. I just need to know a human is close. My baby went to college this past fall, I assume this is an empty nest thing, that will pass with time. Me and Mr.Wrekker are fine not talking alot. We have a shorthand way of communication that is just fine. He is recently retired and is doing some things he’s wanted to do for many years and it takes him away from home. Those are the worst times.

I hit five of them, but it’s been less than a year since my spouse died - so I no longer have the quiet presence to share space with, most of my family is gone, and I’m having to rebuild my social networks - which is happening, but all that takes time. Oh, and I’ve always felt different from the usual crowd, but that’s nothing new.

I could only check one box in your poll, No Sweetheart.

I find it ironic that I spent so much time early in my life working to find the right romantic partner, failed the first time and succeeded wildly the second – only to have the wrong one die way too soon. I learned from the first spouse that loneliness is not confined to being alone. From the second, I learned how acute a loss can be when the relationship is right and then they’re suddenly gone.

Many of my friends (and I am fortunate to have a wide circle) assess me to be extroverted, and to a point, that’s true. But I’m equally comfortable going for very long stretches – years, even – with little contact with friends, family or anyone else. All who are close learned that to maintain a relationship, they must call – because I won’t. Well, not often. It’s not a repudiation of any kind. I just usually find something else that needs doing more. Will always make time when someone else makes the effort, though.

I do have one marvelous companion animal, many friendships that go deep but require little care and feeding in between, some of those spanning decades. We just pick up where we left off.

So mostly, I’m good. But I miss the quiet conspiracy that happens between loving couples, the “I’ve-got-your-back-no-matter-what,” the fellow that holds the other end of the board, the one to cast a quiet, meaningful glance across a crowded room (cliche though that scenario is), the man who will walk with me down to the barn and bravely offer to disturb what might be a den full of skunks.

It’s a sense of wistfulness, mostly.

Thanks, y’all. More later.

I didn’t vote because I couldn’t find one. I get really lonely for stimulating conversation. I realize few people have similar interests to mine so I tend to hang out at new places and every now and then stumble across someone I have a great couple of hours with. I have always been romantically involved with someone but I have never really cared for relationships, I tend to get sucked into them because I do like sex.

Ugh. I hit almost all of them.

I’m Different
No Time For You
Only Casual Friends

None of those are absolute. Some of my interests are eccentric, but not completely unique to me. My friends have time, but I never seem to see quite as much of them as I want. And some of them are more than casual, but still don’t seem quite as deep as they might be. I didn’t select “No Pets”. I’ve had pets that meant a lot to me, but I don’t feel empty without one.

No Sweetheart

That’s the one that really gets me. Just a few times in my life I’ve felt myself totally falling for someone, but I don’t know if I’ve communicated it well, and I don’t think anyone’s ever really felt that way for me. I’d rather not do it than do it wrong, but I don’t see any signs I’ll ever get it right, and I don’t even know why.

All but no pets. I have plenty there, that’s for sure.
I say new situation because I’ve honestly invested 99.98% of my life in to my daughters and as they grow older they need me less and less. Next week my oldest is moving away. For 28 years she’s been my world, well she shares it with her 13 year old sister but since around age 18 we’ve called each other best friends. We are together every single day, even spending hours together just hanging out and watching videos or chitchatting about everything. Other than these girls I’m alone. All the time. I work from home. I have no activities other than taking my 13 year old to her therapies every week, but even that is mostly spent alone in a hospital lounge. There is nothing at all to do around here unless you’re religious or have money to burn. I haven’t had a partner in eight years. I have a best friend and we do talk a few times per month but we haven’t seen each other in about 10 years despite living about fifteen minutes away. Same with my brother. We live five minutes apart and I see him on Christmas. I have a roommate who lives downstairs. We are friendly but even after living in the same house for almost four years we still aren’t what I’d consider buddies. We help each other out if there’s a problem and that’s great, but we don’t hang out. I’m really, really lonely but I’m horrifically shy and awkward so I don’t see it ever getting better.

But at least I have my cats!

Outside of my husband and friends who no longer live in the immediate area, I find it very difficult to click with people in general. Part of it is my social anxiety, but a lot of it is also education. I can shoot the sh*t with my coworkers but I will never have deep conversations with them. If I say anything that’s over their heads I get the disdainful <i>college girl</i> look with a healthy dose of <i>why are you still working here?</i> Yeah, it’s something I’ve had to endure for a lot of my career.

Getting together with people has to be planned in advance because of schedules, babysitters, and such. There’s no “just dropping in” anymore. If I had kids it’d probably be different because the kids would be running in and out of their neighborhood friends’ houses like my neighbor’s kids do.

We have each other and we can each do our own thing while being in the same room. We also have dogs, which forces us to get out of the house and practice dreaded small talk.

I can relate to both of these. I long for stimulating conversation at my level. What can I say? (Frankly, I think that applies to lots of Dopers, which is one reason why we hang out here.) To people who say that’s snobby, I say, if you’re an experienced, very good tennis player, you don’t want to play with a beginner who isn’t good. It’s just not fun for either of you.

I have one friend, a man, with whom I can have the deep, intense intellectual discussions that my soul longs for. Once we spent 12 hours together working on a project and never ran out of things to talk about. Of course, I fell in love with him (as we shared many other interests and values, too), but he had come out of a long, bad relationship and was totally *off *romance. Period. Forever.

We’re still friends, and I’ve become someone to lean on as his health has gone south, but that has been one of the bitterest rejections I’ve ever endured. We stayed friends, because we CAN still have those conversations… it’s just that I wanted to have them while naked and horizontal, and he was Mr. Never Again. I’ve been in several other long-term Rs, including being married twice, but he’s the only one I’ve ever connected with intellectually that way. :frowning:

Thelma that is a story line I am working on where two people who enjoy each others passion for a common interest think they have fallen in love until it comes time for the next level. Both my characters are married.

I’m different. I’ve always known I was different.

One of my old managers said something to this effect about me, putting himself in the “beginner” side. We had a fairly close brother/sister relationship for the 2-3 years we worked together. He wasn’t the brightest bulb in the socket but he was always interested in learning stuff, which in turn lit the teacher in me on fire (I was a teacher for a bit in my 20s, btw). Sadly, most people aren’t like him. They either want to remain in their own little bubbles or have absolutely no idea that not everybody is like them. I guess my education makes me a threat? I don’t advertise it but it must emanate from me somehow?

I had a similar intense relationship maybe 20 or so years ago. We were engaged for a short time. Our breakup was very painful – so much so that I swore off romantic relationships forever. I mourned losing his intellect and therefore his friendship more than anything else.

My husband and I have those type of conversations. However, we’re more often clothed and standing/sitting than not.

I suffer from the No Sweetheart, and No Friends.

The No Sweetheart is the most acute, because I am married. Sorry for me, for a variety of reason, I’m with a poor match.

Which could be OK, if I had a quality friend life outside of the marriage. But, wheeeeee! Don’t have that either. My work life doesn’t provide an avenue for that because I am a traveling consultant, moving from project to project, and team to team. I don’t really have “outside interests” because the traveling work lifestyle seriously impedes that.

I too long for long discursive intellectual witty conversations at my level. There are occasional people I run into where this can happen, but it is ephemeral.

So, I slog on…

I clicked “No time for you” and “Quiet presence”.

I used to suffer from “I’m different” (I still am) but I got over it, in a sense. I’ve managed to find groups where I’m not different or where it doesn’t matter that I’m different or just eschewed trying to be with others and spent time by myself being different.

I also used to suffer from “no sweetheart” until I realized that I just didn’t really want to be with anyone because no one seemed to be able to treat me the way I deserved. It’s much easier and healthy for me to focus on loving myself than to keep being disappointed by people who didn’t love me. And now I have a sweetheart, but it’s kind of an arm’s length situation and it works for both of us.

Which is why I checked “Quiet presence” because even though we’re “together” we spend much of our time apart, and I am still doing everything alone and showing up most places on my own and I still prefer that. Because I’ve spent many years perfecting it and becoming cool with it.

I would like to see my friends more but almost all of them have kids, and the ones who don’t are making their lives rich and full “despite” not having kids and really, I can respect all of that. It’s nobody’s duty to entertain me.

I’m alone - I live alone, I work from home alone, I have this arm’s length boyfriend - but I’m rarely lonely. It took a really long time to work up to this point but I am the most content I’ve ever been.