I am a Loner and happy this way. Read this insightful article that explains loners. Any other loners out there?

Loners are pitied in our up-with-people culture. But the introvert reaps secret joy from the solitary life.
By Elizabeth Svoboda, published on March 01, 2007 - last reviewed on December 28, 2011

Miina Matsuoka lives by herself in New York City. She owns two cats and routinely screens her calls. But before you jump to conclusions, note that she is comfortable hobnobbing in any of five languages for her job as business manager at an international lighting-design firm. She just strongly prefers not to socialize, opting instead for long baths, DVDs, and immersion in her art projects. She does have good, close friends, and goes dancing about once a month, but afterward feels a strong need to "hide and recoup." In our society, where extroverts make up three-quarters of the population, loners (except Henry David Thoreau) are pegged as creepy or pathetic. But soloists like Matsuoka can function just fine in the world—they simply prefer traveling through their own interior universe.

Loners often hear from well-meaning peers that they need to be more social, but the implication that they're merely black-and-white opposites of their bubbly peers misses the point. Introverts aren't just less sociable than extroverts; they also engage with the world in fundamentally different ways. While outgoing people savor the nuances of social interaction, loners tend to focus more on their own ideas—and on stimuli that don't register in the minds of others. Social engagement drains them, while quiet time gives them an energy boost.

Contrary to popular belief, not all loners have a pathological fear of social contact. "Some people simply have a low need for affiliation," says Jonathan Cheek, a psychologist at Wellesley College. "There's a big subdivision between the loner-by-preference and the enforced loner." Those who choose the living room over the ballroom may have inherited their temperament, Cheek says. Or a penchant for solitude could reflect a mix of innate tendencies and experiences such as not having many friends as a child or growing up in a family that values privacy.

James McGinty, for one, is a caseworker who opted out of a career as a lawyer because he didn't feel socially on-the-ball enough for the job's daily demands. He has a small circle of friends, but prefers to dine solo. "I had a bad cold over the Thanksgiving holiday, but that spared me from having to go to my brother-in-law's," he says. "I'm not a scrooge; it's the gatherings I dread." Matsuoka feels his pain: "I can't do large crowds with a lot of noise," she says. "It's stressful to maintain positive interactions and introduce yourself 20 times. I really have to turn on my motor to do that."

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"Contrary to popular belief, not all loners have a pathological fear of social contact. "Some people simply have a low need for affiliation," says Jonathan Cheek, a psychologist at Wellesley College. "There's a big subdivision between the loner-by-preference and the enforced loner." Those who choose the living room over the ballroom may have inherited their temperament, Cheek says. Or a penchant for solitude could reflect a mix of innate tendencies and experiences such as not having many friends as a child or growing up in a family that values privacy."

I find, too, that the more I keep to my self I can keep my emotions in check. I have not gotten angry, yelled at anyone, been upset or even cried (except for back pain and a good laughter overdose), well, since my last interaction with an 'outsider'. My partner and I live a very quiet life in every way. My moods are very stabilized and I do not suffer from stress. It is a very agreeable lifestyle and along with living as organically as much as I possibly can, my health and state of mind are at peace. I don't think that I have ever been this peacefully happy in a long time. Being able to share what I feel here, online and at AN gives me the companionship when I choose rather than having it 'forced' upon me.

Same here Sandi. However, I find even the AN can be very stressful for me. Especially when there is strife. And lately there has been a lot of contention on the site. I try as best I can to avoid it.

I've noticed that too, in the short time I've been a member. At times it's discouraging, but really, atheists are people. People behave differently and think differently, and having a lack of faerie tales in common doesn't change that. Taking the good with the obnoxious ;)

So true, but at least here, you can choose to opt out of a conversation or simply log off. You can't always do that with physical confrontation.

And yes, just because we have Atheism in common does not make us 'all the same'.

It's true that our society values extroverts, especially the bubbly optimistic types with the finely-honed Dale Carnegie social skills.  Networking, for business or pleasure, is the expected means of establishing one's social identity.  If you can't hobnob, there is something glaringly amiss.

But there's a flip side too, courtesy of our "family oriented" culture.  It is considered to be uncouth and outright repugnant to delve beyond superficial social graces outside of the confines of our families.  Coworkers are expected to be friendly and responsive, but not to divulge genuine frustrations or deep feelings.  That's reserved for talking with one's spouse or parents.  But what if you lack such a family?  Then coworkers or friends become the next best thing for the person seeking such support.  But society frowns upon such interaction.  It is comparatively easy for people with established, fulfilling family structures to wear their "game face" at work or at cocktail parties.  But what happens when say there's a disaster and workers are dismissed early to go home to their families, and you have no family to which to go home?

So the point is that our society values extroverts, but only to a point.  We are expected to be warmly receptive to superficial interaction, while circumscribing the depth of that interaction to polite levels.  So perhaps the least happy person would be the one who neither craves large crowds for self-actualization, nor is happy being completely alone.

Wonderful reply Michael!

As Michael points out, extroverts are 'valued' in our society and no one seems to understand us that choose not to socialize in a big way. As a loner, my family often asks why. I often choose not to go to parties etc, and no one seems to understand that I simply do not enjoy these 'events'.

I am quite happy to be at home gardening, reading, researching, spending time with my dogs. I can amuse myself in many ways without interacting with people.

It seems that the more people I have around me, the more trouble there is. Gossiping, back stabbing, drama. Frankly, I find people boring and repetitive and often a little crazy and choosing not to be a part of that seems to upset some people. Thankfully my partner feels the same way, so we enjoy each other's lonely company and it works well. We don't argue because we don't have the influence of others in our lives, there is no jealousy because our attention and affection is directed at each other.

I think it quite amusing that the only person I can handle talking to in my little neighborhood is a young man with a learning disability. I find his conversation a lot more enthralling than 'regular' people.

Loners should be respected for their ability to avoid bullshit.

I also do not like to go to parties and I avoid them. That is so true Sandi - we should be respected for avoiding the bullshit from other people.

Basically, a person who likes being alone. Unlike the social attitude that says people who are alone are really unhappy inside, many loners are actually the happiest when they're alone. Rather than finding solace in friends and family, they find solace in things such as video games, Internet, books, etc.

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