Being a loner comes with a sort of unspoken “job description.”
1) You like spending most of your time alone,
2) You are self-sufficient and don’t “need” other people to fill your life, and
3) Socializing is your arch-nemesis.
If you’re a lone wolf, this job description, this self-definition, is carried throughout your days giving you a sense of freedom from social burdens, but also a sense of lurking loneliness and craving.
But how can you be a loner that enjoys your solitude but still desires to find a lover or friend? Isn’t this completely incompatible with who you are? Isn’t there a problem here?
Recently I received two separate emails, and in the past I’ve received many more, detailing such a frustrating and seemingly self-contradictory feeling.
Arman, one of our readers from Lithuania for instance, writes:
Being a loner is not a problem for me. I don’t see myself changing out of this way of living anytime soon. But in the last year or so the lack deep connection (real – not online) has started to get me a bit weary. Mostly the feelings of loneliness for me are equated with a desire for romantic partner but also other connections are missing, too.
And Jennifer from the United States recently sent us a message, describing:
I don’t have any friends (I don’t mean that in a light way, I really don’t have any) and I am single. I love my alone time and am completely comfortable with living alone but I have been finding lately that I want a friend or someone who isn’t my mother to connect with and have a meaningful relationship with. I feel so paradoxical. When I find myself wanting this I tend to isolate myself until the feeling goes away but it always comes back worse than before. If I am fine with my alone time how can I want to form a bond with someone so strongly?
As a lone wolf (or the nicer term is “introvert”) myself, I can relate to these feelings – and today I want to help you out.
4 Things You Need to Know About Being a Loner and Finding Love
Being a loner and wanting to find love can feel like self-sacrilege, or at the very least extremely unsettling and uncomfortable. Going out into the world and “extroverting” yourself not only feels inauthentic and tiring, but it also feels hopeless and dead-ended.
I know that when I first started the dating game a few years back I felt as though I was putting myself up in the “meat shop” of modern relationships, and the feeling was completely unnerving. But you don’t need to extrovert-yourself, go to pubs and clubs, or download Tinder (or other modern dating apps) to find people you can connect with. And you don’t need to feel paradoxical or unfaithful to yourself.
Here is what I’ve learned that you can find out for yourself as well:
1. Wanting to find love and friendship is normal – for ANY personality type.
Being a loner doesn’t mean that you are exempt from your evolutionary, biological cravings. Although you might feel separate or somehow self-sufficient, you are nevertheless inextricably linked to others. Your appearance in this world was due to human effort, your survival as a baby and child was due to human effort, and your ability to live as you live, watch, read, eat, and drink right now is due to collective human effort. As Aristotle once said, “Man is by nature a social animal” and although this doesn’t necessarily mean that he always enjoys socializing, it does means that he naturally gravitates towards collaboration with others. You might feel this urge to collaborate, to co-create, to connect, and that is completely natural. Go with it. It is your cellular right.
2. You don’t have to be inauthentic to find someone you authentically connect with.
In other words, you don’t need to drag yourself into large sweaty, drunken, libido-ravaged hoards of people (i.e. clubs, concerts and pubs). You don’t need to pretend to be someone you’re not. If anything, pretending to be someone else is a recipe for disaster as you will attract people into your life who don’t share your same likes, tastes, dreams and values. Being a loner in the 21st century is a real blessing: you have the entire internet at your disposal! Hop onto a dating site, research a local meetup group or join a forum. There are unlimited ways to find and connect with people who might resonate with you.
3. Don’t let your self-definition bog you down.
Don’t let the loner label restrict what you do: you are a multi-layered person with complex needs. While identifying with a label or personality type can make you feel accepted and understood, it can also box you in and restrict you – that is partly why I described being a loner as a “job description” earlier. The first two messages from Arman and Jennifer that I include at the start of this article reflect this perfectly; the sense that if you’re a loner, somehow you shouldn’t want to have a friend or lover. Yes, you might be a loner, but you are also many other things. Hold your self-definition loosely and allow yourself space to breathe, branch out and grow.
4. Think about what is REALLY holding you back from finding love.
Perhaps your self-identification with the loner label is holding you back, or perhaps something else is. For instance, you might be using your social preferences as a guise under which you hide fear, anxiety or self-mistrust. Remember that opening new doors and making new connections is difficult and scary for almost everyone. You aren’t the only one who struggles with this.
One Last Thought
Besides from giving your self-concept space to breathe, remember to give yourself time. It’s really difficult to go from homebody to socializer overnight. Give yourself time to find someone you connect with, time to adjust to meeting them, time to adjust to being in foreign situations, time to feel comfortable, and finally, time to recover and rediscover your love for solitude. This is a slow process and shouldn’t be rushed. Be gentle with yourself.