Some Counter-Intuitive Facts about Loneliness.

Sometimes people ask, “If you had to pick just one thing, what would be the one secret to a happy life?” The answer is clear: strong bonds with other people. If I had to pick one thing, that’s it. The wisdom of the ages and the current scientific studies agree on this point.

On that subject, I just finished a fascinating book by John Cacioppo and William Patrick, Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection. The book underscores the conclusion that few things will challenge your happiness more than loneliness.

Without thinking it through, I’d assumed that being lonely would make people warmer, more eager for connection, and more accepting of differences in others. If you’re lonely, you’re going to be open to making friends and therefore more easy-going, right?

To the contrary! It turns out that being lonely has just the opposite effect:

–Loneliness “sets us apart by making us more fragile, negative, and self-critical.” (174)

–“When people feel lonely they are actually far less accepting of potential new friends than when they are socially contented.” (180)

–“Lonely students have been shown to be less responsive to their classmates during class discussions, and to provide less appropriate and less effective feedback than non-lonely students.” (181)

–“When people feel rejected or excluded they tend to become more aggressive, more self-defeating or self-destructive, less cooperative and helpful, and less prone simply to do the hard work of thinking clearly.”(217)

–Bonus loneliness tidbit: “People with insecure, anxious attachment styles are more likely…to form perceived social bonds with television characters.” (258)

Loneliness makes us so anxious and worried about rejection that it distorts our thinking and our behavior.

This argument supports the arguments against the two most pernicious happiness myths: Happiness Myth #1—Happy people are annoying and stupid and Happiness Myth #10—It’s selfish to try to be happier. Cacioppo and Patrick make the convincing case that socially contented people (a/k/a happy people) tend to be kinder.

The obvious next question is, “Well, I’m lonely, and I’m not happy. What do I do now?” Loneliness didn’t address that question, alas.

The book includes a quiz so you can score yourself on the UCLA Loneliness Scale. I scored a 31, where a score lower than 28 is low-loneliness; above 44 is high-loneliness; and 33-39 is the middle of the spectrum.

* A thoughtful reader pointed me to the wonderful My Big Walk — “One woman. One year. One thousand miles.” Laura Lico Albanese decided to celebrate a milestone birthday by walking one hour, every day, for 365 days — and to blog about it. A fabulous happiness project! I love it!

* I send out short monthly newsletters that highlight the best of the previous month’s posts to about 28,000 subscribers. If you’d like to sign up, click here or email me at grubin, then the “at” sign, then gretchenrubin dot com. (sorry about that weird format – trying to to thwart spammers.) Just write “newsletter” in the subject line. It’s free.

Other posts you might be interested in . . .

  • http://www.mybodytutor.com/ Adam Gilbert

    Great post, Gretchen!

    I know feeling like we’re a part of a community is a big contributor to our happiness, so I wonder if all the positive emotions gym enthusiasts feel is also because we know other people are doing the same thing.

    Does working out in a gym/class impact overall happiness/mood more so than working out alone?

    For many, working out in a gym, doesn’t work and that’s fine! Any type of exercise will make you feel better and therefore more likely to be social but I’m interested to know if that’s a double bonus; a two for the price of one so to speak without us even realizing it.

  • http://happinessinthisworld.com/ Alex @ Happiness in this World

    In describing the characteristics of lonely people, it seems to me what you’re really describing is depression. I wonder if these characteristics are due to loneliness or more to the depression that loneliness often brings.

  • Fawn

    I found this interesting and very meaningful. I have been trying to identify the worst or rather most critical aspect of working long hours, and I think it may have been staring me in the face all along – becoming socially isolated! Eureka! That’s why it feels like being in prison.
    Thank you Gretchen :)

  • http://positivelypresent.com Positively Present

    This is really interesting! Thanks for sharing these facts, Gretchen!

  • logoscoaching

    loneliness is like a vacuum, slowly drawing a person into themselves so they retreat more and more from society. Easier to come out of in the early stages but as one descends further and further, the pull within is often greater than the ease to interact with others.

    …your posts are always so thoughtful Gretchen and on a wide range of topics. Thank you

  • http://twitter.com/VictorMilan Victor Milán

    Thanks for sharing some of the book’s insights. What you quoted seems to accord with my experience and observation of others.

    It’s useful that the book supports counterarguments against “the two most pernicious happiness myths.” My own conclusions are that: 1) We can only share what we have. 2) We inevitably do share what we have. So we can choose which we prefer to spread: happiness or misery.

    Along with what to do about loneliness, I’d like to see answers for a corollary question: how does one balance a strong need for human company with a strong need for privacy?

    Like a lot of writers I know, I’ve struggled with that balancing act for years. I’m still further from a happy resolution than I’d like.

    • http://www.taracronica.com Jacquie

      When you say a strong need for privacy do you mean solitude? I am very social but really need my quiet time and this can be difficult to balance. As a blogger, my life is somewhat of an open book, so privacy isn’t an issue with me, but quiet time to reflect is. I need lots of it or I get edgy. I often feel torn between the two extremes and this causes friction in close relationships.

      • gretchenrubin

        I am EXACTLY the same way. I need a lot of time with other people, but I get
        very edgy if I don’t have a lot of time to myself, too. This is tough with
        little kids, because I also want to spend as much time as I can with them.
        Plus I try to get a lot of sleep! It’s difficult to find the right balance.

  • http://www.nataliepeluso.com Natalie Peluso

    Doesn’t this show us that we tend to keep getting more of what we are already getting? I’m not surprised that loneliness can attract such a downward spiral – it makes it even more important for us to reach out to those people who may be in the lower end of this “happiness spectrum” and grasp their hands before the cycle sucks them down too far…

    And to have this awareness personally – to really shake myself up and get out to meet other people – to interact, to spark, to connect – seems to me an invaluable kindness. To think of happiness as something to be nurtured, as a growing and living thing that you can swell with the attention you give it – very powerful.

    Thank you for sharing this with us Gretchen!

    • gretchenrubin

      Great point — we need to cut people a lot of slack when they seem lonely or
      socially anxious. All of us know how unpleasant this is, and how wonderful
      it is when someone is warm and friendly.

      Good to remember that lonely people may take a while to warm up — even
      though they want friendship so much.

  • lemead

    I just wrote about loneliness today on my blog! These facts are fascinating and while counterintuitive on some level, they also make profound sense to me.
    Thanks
    Lindsey
    http://www.adesignsovast.com

  • Debora

    I notice from the comments that some people seem to mix up being alone with being lonely. Something that always annoys me a little, as I love to be alone but am not lonely.
    Being lonely is not about being near other people or going to social events. It’s about feeling that there’s not many people that care about you. Feeling like if you would disappear right now, no one would notice. In the past I have been in situations where I was surrounded by people but felt very lonely. I believe that is what this author is talking about.

    • gretchenrubin

      Another point that LONELINESS made is that people are born with different
      “settings” for how much social acceptance and intensity of socializing that
      they need. For some people, the need is very great, so it’s easier for them
      to feel lonely.

      As you point out, as always, the secret is to KNOW YOURSELF and what makes
      you happy.

      Often, the question asked, to determine whether you feel a real connection
      to someone, is “would you confide an important matter to this person?”
      That’s the kind of bond that alleviates loneliness.

    • sylrayj

      I would also consider loneliness as relating to one’s sense of connection or disconnect. I’ve often felt like an alien creature walking among others. For me, it helped to find commonalities, traits and interests shared with others. There is no one person who fits all of my aspects, and odds are good there never will be – but having *some* of my interests shared shows that I actually am a member of the human race, and learning that we all feel similarly, at one point or other, helps me understand that I do belong. We’re all aliens, but it works anyway.

  • http://whynotstartnow.wordpress.com/ Patty @ Why Not Start Now?

    Belonging is such a basic, human need. Feeling a part of something. When we don’t have that connection, we feel lonely. The book sounds fascinating, and I’m wondering if the authors explored or speculated about whether loneliness is on the rise. A lot has been written about how people feel more isolated now than in days gone by, that it’s actually more difficult to create connections. I don’t know, maybe that’s because there are more lonely people out there feeling so fragile and self-critical that they unconsciously push others away. But I’ve certainly had many, many discussions with clients about loneliness and the longing to belong.

  • Stefanie

    I could almost write my own book about this. Loneliness and all the negative feelings that come with it are extremely hard to defeat and I’ve been asking myself the question of “What do I do now?” over and over for months now.

    There are very few people who are aware of other people’s insecurities and anxieties, so it wouldn’t be of great use to count on meeting exactly these people. It’s a constant struggle against one’s own attitude, like the way I’ve been beating myself up for several weeks now because I feel the almost desperate need to contact a few people, but feel as if I don’t have the right to do so.

    The only thing that has helped me so far is to remember and treasure every single positive experience, and if it’s ‘only’ a stranger taking two extra seconds to hold a door open for me, or getting a compliment from one of my friends (even though I immediately tend to think “They felt obliged to say this, they didn’t mean it”). These things show me how distorted my self-perception is and that I do not, in fact, have “social outcast” stamped on my forehead.
    It’s got a lot to do with self-awareness. One has to know one’s own deconstructive thoughts and behaviour in order to make changes. And it takes a lot of time.

    • Huger Legare IV

      Another nice comment!

      Treasure your real friends… With social connections, it’s about quality, not quantity. A few of good friends in other states is worth more than being near a bunch of people who really don’t give a crap.

  • http://www.GetOrganizedWizard.com Michele @ Get Organized Wizard

    I remember (from psych studies) something similar happens with depressed people – they behave in ways that alienate others, yet those others could help to lift their mood.

    It’s an unusual idea in this do-what-feels-good age, but following our natural tendencies doesn’t always get us the happiness goodies.

    • gretchenrubin

      Yes, that’s true — and of course loneliness and depression, as an earlier
      commenter has pointed out, are probably often linked.

      Having read LONELINESS, I wish the authors would write about steps people
      can take to alleviate loneliness. Many of the things that work for people
      who are pretty happy and social content — yet want to boost that feeling —
      might be very tough for someone who is feeling anxious and unhappy.

      Like “Join or start a group.” I’ve joined or started many groups, and
      they’ve led to HUGE happiness, and lots of new friends, but I will admit
      that they take a lot of mental and social energy. I think joining or
      starting a group would be a great boon to a lonely person, but it might be
      tough to do. You risk social rejection, for sure.

      • http://www.GetOrganizedWizard.com Michele @ Get Organized Wizard

        I guess starting *small* might be more achievable – beginning a conversation with someone at work, making one new friend, or even joining a class where the pressure to be part of a group can be avoided until there’s a degree of comfort.

        I’ve also read that online social networks give people a strong sense of belonging, and so perhaps happiness (I blogged about it here: http://www.happinessstrategies.com/blog/2009/02/26/web-20-and-happiness/).

        M :)

  • alexfayle

    When I lived in a small French village and all the people I knew had kids and therefore disappeared as of 6pm, I was never so lonely and never so hermit-like.

    However instead of making me unhappier, knowing that the stay was not forever, I embraced the loneliness and had a wonderful time by myself. If I hadn’t knew it was going to end, however, I’m certain I would have just gotten sulky and more withdrawn…

  • RK

    There is also a difference between being LONELY and being ALONE.

  • sherrie_sisk

    Great post. Unfortunately for those of us with chronic pain, we tend to lose our friends to our illnesses. There’s just so many times I can expect a friend to hear “Not today, my fibro’s flaring up” and still keep calling.

    Another friend wrote about this at The Fibromyalgia Experiment – http://fibromyalgiaexperiment.com/2009/11/14/dear-non-fibromites/.

    As I commented there, for us, there are no easy answers. But I retain hope.

    • Guest

      I have a recently made and very dear friend who is mostly homebound due to a chronic pain problem. She does get very lonely, because few people make time to visit her and she can’t get much. I don’t see her as often as I should, but that is due to busyness and even poor priorities on my part, not due to my hearing things from her about how she is in too much pain to socialize.

      The thing is, she is one of the most wonderful people I have ever met. While she is not a Pollyanna, she is generally cheerful and focuses more on the blessings in her life than the many things she does not have. She is very interesting — well-read, and she has wide-ranging musical tastes. I can and do talk to her for hours when I visit.

      The way I met her? Through Facebook, actually. She goes to my church, but I had never met her. She is friends with lots of people at my church, so I kept seeing her comments on Facebook and really liking them, and I sent her a friend request. She invited me over for morning tea, something she can manage most days, and that’s how we became friends.

      I tell you this to give you hope. It’s not perfect hope — like I said, she is lonely — but perhaps seeing how she became one of my best friends will help you feel that even people suffering from chronic pain and other disabilities can add friends to their lives (albeit, imperfect friends like me).

  • Pat

    Very interesting article! Great comments and insights from everyone. Just want to add a couple of my own thoughts. In my life I’ve found (advice from a great counselor) that writing down my blessings every day helps me focus on how great I have it. This exercise can change your whole outlook and attitude. I’m happier now than ever because I focus on what’s good. These can be little things, like a hot shower, a chocolate chip cookie, etc. Or bigger things like having a positive interaction with someone. What we write down is kept at the forefront of our mind, so writing it on paper every day is critical. Once you get in this habit, it’s amazing, your list can get so long. We live in the greatest country, in the greatest technology age, etc. etc. Speaking of technology, I really believe that it is hindering social interaction. We love to sit alone on our computers and twitter or facebook each other. But we are losing face to face contact and social interaction. One thing that has saved me is being active in my church. There are constant social functions, opportunities for service, and interaction. Many times I’ve not felt like going (I’m tired, I just want to relax and watch TV) but I’m always grateful I committed myself to go. These experiences are always rewarding and uplifting. I am definitely a person who is energized by being around and interacting with other people. My husband on the other hand is one who gets energized from within himself. He doesn’t need to be around others like I do. So we are all different. I hope anyone out there feeling lonely will know there is always hope and not give up! Thanks for the opportunity to share.

    • Pat

      PS, me again. I also agree with the comment below. Exercise boosts our endorphins and makes us feel good!!

  • http://www.anagentofchange.com/ Jill MacGregor

    Hey Gretchen,
    “People with insecure, anxious attachment styles are more likely…to form perceived social bonds with television characters.”

    That is the last time I have a *conversation* with Oprah during her show…
    Enjoyed this post!
    Jill

  • mary

    Hello, Gretchen.

    In a previous post you mentioned how taking notes of things you read makes you happy. I am this way myself, but have no system for my notes so it makes me unhappy when I can’t find something.

    Have you anything to share of your note taking practices?

    Thanks.

    • gretchenrubin

      I have a very loose way of taking notes. I have one gigantic document and
      putting everything in there — I find what I need using the search function.
      Ah, the search function! It has revolutionized my life.

      I also have a different document for my favorite quotations — those I just
      put in as I find them.

  • pamwalter

    I think most of the comments by the author are right on. I make it a point to interact with another human being at least once per day; sometimes it’s even a total stranger. http://www.satisfiedsole.com

  • http://twitter.com/bencasnocha Ben Casnocha

    Glad you enjoyed the book, Gretchen! :)

  • KimB

    I LOVE the Happiness Project. Many years ago I determined to find my way out of depression and loneliness. Counselors and prescription anti-depressants hadn’t worked, and the fact that the counselors weren’t helping made me feel even more isolated, weird and desperate. So I began a study of those strange, annoying happy people that I knew.

    What I discovered changed my life. I discovered that they had no less problems than anyone else, some had faced horrific childhoods, severe financial or health struggles, imperfect relationships and weren’t born happy. These people made a choice to be happy. The “choice” aspect is what changed my life. I figured if they could choose happiness then I could too. This not only changed my happiness level, but changed my loneliness level.

    I’ve tried to share this with others, but it seems that this cycle of loneliness, depression and unhappiness is a hard one to break. Most people look at me like I’ve got three heads when I share my path out. And it is like you and other posters have said: you have to do the thing that you don’t want to do, the thing that is really hard to do. You have to get up and leave the house when you feel like staying in bed all day. You have to walk out with a smile on your face, though at first that smile feels forced.

    Since starting on my own happiness project I have faced severe challenges: chronic health conditions, chronic pain, loss of job, terrible financial struggles, loss of loved ones, and in each challenge I have found my way back to choosing happiness. I choose cheerful and happy.

    After all, I’m going to be in pain anyway, or my wallet will be thin anyway, I can either wallow in misery or choose happiness. In both cases my circumstances will not change, but I can add to my misery by failing to enjoy what I DO have. And when I am happy and cheerful in the midst, that draws people to me, so I am not lonely.

    • Huger Legare IV

      Very nice comment there, KimB

    • SJ

      Kim this is a brilliant, positive comment, thanks for sending some insight. I’d love to email you regarding all of the above! :)

    • Webbman

      i agree hapiness is a choice. Is the cup half full or half empty? I always have a tendency to see it as half empty. I am struggling with loneliness, depression, trying to make friends etc. But there is always something to be thankful for, always something to be happy about. As hard as it is to see any light in the pit of despair. It is there. If you’re like me we need to gather all our strength (even what we dont have) and make the choice to be happy. wether its forcing a smile, or writing a list of all the good things in my life.
      its too easy to be lonely, its takes effort to be happy; it starts with a choice

      • ssm1970

        Happiness isn’t necessary a choice; not when you’re mentally ill.

  • Lucy_Alligator

    humm…I got a 23 on that test…guess that just proves further that while I may be alone, I’m not lonely :)

  • Shazam

    Sorry, but I have to object to this book. What good is it if it doesn’t offer strategies to pull out of loneliness? For anyone who has ever experienced loneliness, these ‘insights’ are a frustrating set of common sense realities. For anyone who has never experienced loneliness, they are irrelevant.

    It’s a lot like all the books that tell you how to get what you want when what you really need is help figuring out what it is you actually want.

    • gretchenrubin

      I’m sorry, I hope I didn’t mischaracterize the book.

      This book doesn’t purport to help a person deal with loneliness, but rather,
      it’s an examination of loneliness as a factor in human life. The authors
      argue that we have overlooked the gravity of loneliness — not taking it
      seriously enough for the emotional and physical challenges it creates.

      It also examines how loneliness affects people’s behavior — in ways,
      unfortunately, that tend to amplify that loneliness. As I said, I hadn’t
      known much about that before, so found the book very helpful.

      But I agree — the question becomes — how does a person conquer
      loneliness???

      • Shazam

        I didn’t mean to imply that you mischaracterized the book – I don’t think that at all. Nor am I dismissing the importance of the research to the medical and mental health community. It is important evidence that needs to be considered.

        What I meant to really say is that books and research like this has little true value to a happiness project from my perspective. If the evidence in the book applies to you, it’s because you are unhappy and/or lonely – in which case what you really need is a strategy to get out of the negative cycle, not confirmation that loneliness is a self-perpetuating circling of the drain. If one is not unhappy or lonely, then the research doesn’t seem to apply.

        Or, maybe it’s just the holidays and I’m feeling a bit of a curmudgeon.

        Keep up the good work.

        • Chrissy Goss

          I completely agree. As someone going into the mental health field, I see way too much focus on maladies and problems. If you are diagnosed with a disorder, does it do any good to show an individual statistics of how much worse their life is because of the disorder? Does it do any good to tell them what they’re doing wrong all the time? No. Of course you must accept these negative things, but you MUST do more than just focus on them. You MUST provide encouragement and hope. You really need to tell a person what they’re doing RIGHT so that they have something to grow off of, and not just constantly tell them what not to do.

          Books that do this aren’t very constructive in my opinion. I don’t mean to suggest that I wish to deny the truth about the struggles of life, but the truth isn’t all negativity. There is a positive side, and when that side is not shown, I think there’s something really crucial missing and the entire truth is in fact not being shown.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1642414556 Sonya Trejo

        Shouldn’t the point be to reach out to lonely people, even if they seem unwelcoming? They might really appreciate it. 

  • http://www.iskrafineart.com/ Iskra Johnson

    I found your post as I searched for response to the recent study that “loneliness is contagious.” The news spin has been glib to say the least, and much of the reader commentary online has been merciless to those “confessing” to loneliness, which now may rank among the deadlier sins of emotional honesty.

    The book excerpts above are well-chosen and intriguing, and I look forward to reading more in depth on this topic. I agree with your notes below about the dearth of solutions offered: all the strategies suggested for warding off isolation or depression are the hardest things for depressed people to do.

    I have posted recently on the subjects of happiness, its antonyms, and political complacency at my website, http://www.iskrafineart.com, where I am engaged in a personal visual version of the search for happiness.

  • HoliHelp

    You are absolutely right! Strong bonds with other people might just be the best advise you could give anyone. And the truth is, it’s like money – it takes money to make money & it takes strong bonds with people to make strong bonds with people. When you start at ground zero it is extremely difficult to build up a support network. Perhaps others sense how desperate you are for connection, or perhaps your social skills are just too underdeveloped from lack of use. But one way or another you have to create connection. If you can find people who are similarly situated, or at least open to meeting someone who needs them like a family member, you would have a better chance of breaking the cycle of loneliness. There is a service dedicated to helping people in that situation, try CreatingExtendedFamilies.com

  • SJ

    This and your other blog about how to expand your friendships are both brilliant and really inspiring
    I came back from the brink 3 years ago, got divorced ( yippie!) moved back to the town i am from and began to build a whole new group of friends. My late teens and the whole of my twenties had been blighted with depression…
    3 years on I have some wonderful people around me, a good relationship, a secure (ish)job, a place to live and a new career that I have studied hard for, you know what? I still feel lonely and like I am just not getting it right. Thats why it’s good to get updates from people like you, thanks :)

  • http://www.embracingchanges.com/ Intuition in business

    Relax
    your mind. You can focus on what actually matters by slowing down your
    thinking. Aroma therapy can be helpful too. You can sit comfortably and close
    your eyes to focus on the aromas or fragrances to alert your perceptions.

  • G3KAKNES

    happiness is a folly!!!! you will never quite reach it so stop trying. i am happier alone with money and cats. the sooner you give up on being happy the happier you will be. or at least with me. social skills are not the only thing that makes you happy. trust me i have asperges syndrome  and i am always saddend by being with every on else who hate science and studys heck id rather have bookks(THEY DONT JUDGE!!!!!)

  • G3kaknes

    anyone who tells you that sole mates exist is a liar by the way.

    • kehknee

      soul mates do exist but i believe they only exist for like 25% of the population. 60% (give or take) of marriages end in divorce. So that’s like two out of every three people will be single for most likely the majority of their lives which means that last third will have a chance at living happily. Most people are too untrusting or stubborn to be suited for a relationship, let alone a serious one. They just seem too eager to start one and too immature to make one last I don’t care how old anyone is I’ve seen plenty of immature and very irresponsible adults. Couples end up fighting for petty things and they have the social skills to work it out but not the patience.
      I’d say your in denial choosing to give up on happiness (there are also people in denial about being sad and pretend to act happy at least you chose your side). But I’m pretty sure at least half the happiness is a choice I’m sure someone with a different personality around the world would be happy to be in your shoes because they learned to make the best of things. Don’t feel bad though depression is a clinical problem and not your fault and neither is it yours alone their are tons of people like you and with aspergers also. Maybe you should look for groups that openly welcome people such as yourself.

    • Guest

      I agree with you about this statement (soul mates do not exist), but I’m coming at it from a completely different place. Kehknee’s approach to marriage (soul mates exist for 25% of the population and many of the other couples divorce) is a romanticized version of love (sorry to disagree so strongly, kehknee — I do appreciate your understanding of the need for people to be socially mature to succeed in a relationship).

      The fact is, most people with some level of maturity can succeed in a romantic relationship with more than one person. That’s why some people who are widowed successfully remarry. It would be distressing to think that you might miss your “soul mate” and marry the “wrong” person, and some people use that as an excuse for infidelity (“I’m with the wrong person. This person over here is truly my soul mate.”). When you marry, you are picking one of many people with whom you could be compatible, and you are choosing to be faithful to that person.

      I do agree that sometimes you make a bad choice and marry, for instance, an abusive person. There are marriages that should end. But many could succeed if we gave up the romantic notion of the soul mate and acknowledged that marriage is work, hard work, and sometimes we don’t feel in love with our partner, but we can choose to love him/her anyway, in the sense of acting loving, and the feeling love can grow back.

      G3kaknes, I know Asperger’s can be a real challenge. I don’t even pretend to be an expert at it, so I’m not going to advise you on how to handle it. I will say that you can get help, somewhere. Of that I am sure. And if you are willing to invest in a relationship, with help, you can probably succeed at one.

      Yours,
      A socially awkward woman who has seen days in her 21-year marriage where she wasn’t sure the marriage would continue, but with hard work, it did, and things are tons better now :)

  • Anon

    Trying to break loneliness is like this: not only are you alone because of rejection, but you have to pretend such rejection and isolation doesn’t bother you. Trying to pull off “happy” when you kinda feel like dying inside is like trying to write your master’s thesis while conquring the Matterhorn. You can’t be needy, depressed, angry, miserable, or heaven forbid lonely. Appearing lonely is a social kiss of death. So you pretend and fake your way through the social world, all the while hiding your real feelings because nobodywants to deal with somebody else’s “crazy”.
    Oh yeah, interacting with others is the way to go! (gag)

  • HopeNotHateBNP

    I know what it is like to be lonely, having spent 9 years out of the last 25 totally alone. It eats you up and does indeed make you feel even more alone. It is indeed “paralysing”. For me the only solace was the drink (every other day) and computer games. The weird part is that the drink was more of a medication for me. (I am not suggesting everyone try it as everyones’ perspective is different) I just needed three nights where I could numb the pain. I am what you call an ‘abandoned child’, I didn’t run away from my “parents” they ran away from me. But you CAN get over it, eventually if you work hard at defeating the meance of loneliness.