Why We Feel Lonely, Part 1
A boy says t0 his mom, “I’m bored.” The mom replies, “Then you should stop being boring.”
This lesson applies in different variations. If I’m lonely, then I should stop being alone.
In my early 20’s, I thought loneliness stemmed from feeling disconnected, and that disconnection was caused by having no people in my life who really understood me. So fixing my loneliness was about fixing the disconnection. I spent years finding people who understood me. However, when I did find a handful of people who I felt really got me, I still felt lonely.
It took me a decade before I realized that we don’t feel lonely because we’re disconnected. We feel lonely because we’ve made a habit of being alone. We can stand alone among other people. However, standing alone keeps us from connecting to those around us.
I was trying to fix the wrong problem. I was working on the disconnection when I should have been working on what kept me alone.
How We Become Alone
Being alone comes from separating our Self from others. It’s not about taking alone time in order to recharge. It’s the difference between “I’m alone” vs “I need some time alone”.
Introverts can take alone time in a crowded bookstore full of strangers. Being alone comes from a state of emotional separation. It’s that wall we place between us and the external. We can do this while having the physical presence of another person or having people in our lives. People who have many friends can still feel alone.
The Miriam-Webster dictionary gives three definitions for alone.
- separated from others : I want be alone
- exclusive of anyone or anything else : she alone knows why
- incomparable, unique : alone among their contemporaries in this respect
People who feel the most alone consistently hold attitudes and take actions that separate themselves, exclude themselves and hold themselves incomparable to others.
Part 1: Intentional Separation (Us-vs-Them Mentality)
A Basis for Friendship
To see how we separate, we first have to examine how we get together.
Friendships begin with interest. We talk to someone. They say something interesting and we have a conversation about it. However, common interests don’t create lasting bonds. Otherwise, we would become friends with everyone with whom we had a good conversation. Similar interests as a basis for friendship doesn’t explain why we become friends with people who have completely different interests than we do.
In time, we discover common values and ideals. However, friendship through common values and ideals doesn’t explain why atheists and those devout in their faith become friends. Vegans wouldn’t have non-vegan friends. In the real world, we see examples of friendships between people with diametrically opposed views. At the same time, we see cliques form in churches and small organizations dedicated to a particular cause, and it’s not uncommon to have cliques inside a particular belief system dislike each other.
So how do people bond if common interests and common values don’t seem to be the catalyst for lasting friendships?
I find that people build lasting connections through common problems and people grow apart when their problems no longer coincide. This is why couples especially those with children tend to lose their single friends. Their primary problems have become vastly different. The married person’s problems revolve around family and children. The single person’s problem revolves around relationships with others and themselves.
When the single person talks about their latest dating disaster, the married person is thinking I’ve already solved this problem. When the married person talks about finding good daycare, the single person is thinking how boring the problems of married life can be. Eventually marrieds and singles lose their connection because they don’t have common problems.
I look back at friends I had in junior high and high school. We didn’t become friends because of long nights playing D&D. That came later. We were all loners and outcasts in our own way. We had one shared problem that bound us together: how to make friends and relate to others while feeling so “different”. That was the problem that made us friends. Over the years as we found our own answers and went to different problems, we grew apart.
Stick two people with completely different values and belief systems on a deserted island where they have to cooperate to survive. Then stick two people with the same values and interests together at a party. Which pair do you think will form the stronger bond?
When I was 20, I was living on my own. I didn’t have many friends who were in college because I couldn’t relate to them. I was worrying about how to pay rent and trying to stretch my last few dollars for food at the end of the month. They were worried about term papers.
In my life now, the people I spend the most time with have kids, have careers, are thinking about retirement and are figuring out their changing roles and values as they get older. These are problems that I relate to. We solve them in different ways because our values though compatible aren’t similar. I feel connected hearing about how they’ve chosen to solve those issues in a way that works for them.
Problems Make Us Feel Alone
It seems that often we create problems that isolate us. Here a few common ones:
- I’m feel strongly about my values and don’t ever want to compromise them to make my life easier.Translation: Other people compromise easily and therefore don’t understand my problems of trying to live a life that matches my values.
- I can’t understand how people can ignore the suffering around the world.Translation: Other people are callous or oblivious and can’t understand my problems because of how deeply I feel about the inequalities in the world.
- Society is so materialistic and I can’t relate to that.Translation: Being poor is more spiritually evolved and since I’m more spiritually evolved, other people can’t understand my problems.
These were my views in my early 20’s and kept me separate from those around me. Those views were all about making myself feel significant by bringing other people down. I thought having special problems made me special. Problems don’t make people special. Solving them does.
My views created an Us-vs-Them perspective of the world. Solving my problem required finding more Us people and to avoid Them. I wanted a special club of Us people. The problem was that all the Us people I found thought that their problems were more unique than the other Us people. We never bonded. We were still separating ourselves by one-upping each other about the uniqueness of our problems.
The Downside of Us-Vs-Them
The upside to Us-Vs-Them is that we feel special being Us. Unfortunately feeling special doesn’t outweigh the significant downside.
There will always be more Them than Us
There has to be. Otherwise, the exclusively club of Us wouldn’t be exclusive. So to maintain the exclusivity, we make more rules in our head to keep others out. We become more dependent on less people and are devastated when those people don’t reciprocate by valuing our friendship with the same mindfulness.
Finding more people to connect with seems beyond our control because we automatically put everyone in the Them column and wait for people to work their way into the Us column. The problem is no one wants to have to prove themselves in order to become friends. We end up waiting and waiting.
Us-vs-Them limits opportunities
The most successful people in the world get along with the widest range of people. It doesn’t necessarily mean they like everyone, but they get along with everyone.
It’s incredibly hard to get along with people if we view them as our inferior. That’s what an Us-vs-Them mentality cultivates. We tend to ignore Them and sometimes openly dislike Them.
However, it’s from Them that most opportunities arise. Since we run in the same circle as our Us people, any opportunities they know, we know about. New opportunities come from Them. That dream job you’ve always wanted, that book agent you wanted to meet will most likely be an acquaintance of Them.
It takes longer to solve problems
If we view our problems as completely unique then we can’t try what others have tried. We feel their solutions can’t be applied. Unfortunately, all the Us people we know seem to be stuck with the same problem. An Us-Vs-Them mentality forces us to solve our problems by trial and error. Trial and error is time consuming.
I’ve been one of Them for decades now. Being Them is a state of mind. It didn’t happen all at once and the process occurred over many years.
Here are the main tenets of being Them.
1. Everyone is trying to get by the best they can.
No one wants to compromise their values. No one wants to work at a job they don’t like in order to pay rent. Everyone feels a bit isolated in their own way. Everyone does what they can to get by while avoiding doing things that make them feel bad about themselves in the morning.
2. My way of being happy is just my way of being happy.
I’m not a toy person. I like playing with toys but I find the maintenance of toys inconvenient. I have friends who love their toys. And I’m grateful they share their toys when I’m around them. I get all the benefits and none of the downside. They’re very happy acquiring more toys. I’m very happy playing with their toys. I’m not in any position to judge which way is better.
There’s no right way to be happy. There’s no such thing as a more meaningful happiness. Just because someone is doing something that would make us unhappy and unfulfilled doesn’t mean they’re unhappy or unfulfilled.
People play the society-is-too-whatever card (too materialistic, too apathetic, too whatever) too often. I have a favorite quote by Rabbi Israel Salanter, “Most men worry about their own bellies, and other people’s souls, when we all ought to be worried about our own souls, and other people’s bellies.”
3. Everyone is special.
The object of meeting people is finding out what makes each person special. For me, everyone is a Cracker Jack box with a toy surprise at the bottom. The fun is digging for the prize.
These beliefs keep me connected to others. They keep me from being alone. They keep my problems ordinary. Raising kids, too much work, not enough fun, car making funny noises, boring yard work are ordinary problems. They’re the same problems that other people have. We don’t get together and talk about problems all the time because that’s not the point of relationships. Other people aren’t there to solve our problems.
We get together to enjoy the company of people who share and understand our day-to-day issues and want to get away from them for a bit. The company of friends is our reward for trying to solve our problems. We talk movies or books. We reminisce. We talk about relationships and goals. But in the end, we realize that we all have to go back to those same day-to-day issues. When we part, I silently wish each of them all the best and hope to see them soon.
This is how I feel connected.
Feb 3, 2011
For years, I thought I was lonely because I felt disconnected. Then I realized I was a loner, I enjoy time for myself. Even when in relationships, we need that “Alone” time.
This is a good article. Friends, family, relationships are very important, but we must never forget to take time out for getting to know-who we are.
Feb 3, 2011
I really enjoyed this article and found myself reading through the beliefs you had when you were younger and how they’ve changed. I, too, was and to an extent, still enjoy being alone. I think, though, that being alone and lonely are two different things. Like your Webster definition said “alone means being apart from others”. This does not constitute loneliness. Loneliness is an emotion while being alone is a physical distinction whether a thought or separation. Loneliness is a feeling of separation and not being understood; it is also an interpretation of a feeling inside you. I, too, felt like I couldn’t relate to people in high school because of my many interests in different subjects. Now, I don’t feel that loneliness because I know, through learning about myself, that I am never truly separate. I can sit all evening at a get together just listening and perhaps commenting once in a great knowing that no matter what is going on, I have a connection just because we’re all human beings.
Love and Light and Keep the blogs coming,
Feb 4, 2011
Very good reply Lauren. There is a huge difference between being comfortable being alone vs. The emotions of loneliness. I do feel we need that alone time, to seek our inner-self; breathing life into our own life.
Feb 9, 2011
I am INFP. If you as a INFP feel alone it is because of love; you cannot solve that problem thinking. And you know it. So try to substitute people with something else like music, literature…
P.S.: try to read about your birth chart
February 11th, 2011 at 7:36 pm
I think about my life now after being married 14 years and my life in my early 20’s, and I don’t think love has anything to do with being alone. I have INFPs writing me wishing they had more people in their life besides their spouses whom the love very much.
Being alone is much like being unhealthy. A person has a set of bad habits, bad eating habits and bad exercise habits that make them unhealthy. That applies for being alone. A person has a set of bad habits that keep them alone. So when someone advises substituting another activity to deal with the loneliness, it doesn’t actually fix any of those bad habits.
It’s like saying, well since your obese, instead of developing better health habits, try to substitute health with music, literature…
Feb 10, 2011
Amazing article! Thank you for your time Corin! I enjoyed reading it!
And, especially this part is SO SO TRUE….
“I find that people build lasting connections through common problems and people grow apart when their problems no longer coincide”
I just thought about my previous close friendships and almost 99.9% of the time I was friends with people who were trying to solve similar problems, if not the same. And, then once the problems were over; we became less and less close.
I’m going to start analyzing my life from this POV from now on!
February 11th, 2011 at 7:43 pm
I still consider people from my past who have moved on to different problem strong ties. Strong ties are people you have many things in common with. That past is just one more thing we have in common. But were not “close” in traditional sense where you have that relationship where friends tell each other everything.
However, when I do get the chance to see my strong ties, we pick up where we left off like no time has ever passed. That only happens with strong ties, not weak ties.
Feb 17, 2011
I so appreciate your view point. I read a few blogs about INFP that you wrote and learned so much about myself and how my view of friendship has limited my circle of friends and also limited those who are my friends and I just don’t realize it or rather I haven’t validated them as friends before.
Now you are showing me the same path I have been traveling for 53 years. The self exclusion that has worked it’s way into realizing that everyone has their own valid point of view from their own valid life experiences and circumstances. I have been in a very secluding family crisis of varying kinds for most of my life. But I have realized that seclusion isn’t always something thrust upon us. Sometimes it’s a seclusion that we thrust ourselves into and then come up with excuses, I mean reasons 🙂 for maintaining it.
I also understand that I have had a hard time forcing myself out of it without help. I sit around and expect either some flash of brilliance to show up because I have researched, read, thought for endlessly unfruitful hour, days, weeks OR waited for someone/something to inspire/trigger the proper response that takes me out of my head.
I have overcome this situation many times but have not been able to figure out the way the mechanism works in order for me to trigger it at will. AND I seem to want to spend countless hours figuring out what I did to trigger the seclusion mode.
February 18th, 2011 at 10:10 am
Have you checked out Morty Lefkoe’s Belief Elimination program? Those situations you’re talking about sound like a bunch of limiting beliefs. And a part of you is comfortable going through the same thoughts over and over again because changing them is scary. I waited for that flash of inspiration also, then it faded and I was left in the same place. I eliminated 19 beliefs and 4 conditionings with his Natural Confidence program and it’s like being re-born. It may be the life-change you’re looking for as well. Just go to recreateyourlife.com and you’ll find a free belief eliminator and information on his program.
Love and Light on your Journey,
April 24th, 2011 at 9:32 pm
I did check out the recreateyourlife.com and really love it. I did not spend $200.00 on his program but I will be getting the book! Thanks for sharing that.
xaxa mason Reply:
October 29th, 2017 at 6:09 am
Hi Lauren thanks for sharing that, I enjoyed it too. Interesting list of the 19 common self limiting beliefs people have 🙂 which he gives techniques to eradicate – see below. For me just becoming aware of them and their untruth and power in my life is helpful to start with. (Also didn’t spent the $200, but enjoyed the free videos etc.
Mistakes and failure are bad.
I’m not good enough.
Change is difficult.
I’m not important.
What makes me good enough or important is having people think well of me.
Nothing I do is good enough.
I’m not capable.
I’m not competent.
If I make a mistake or fail I’ll be rejected.
I’m a failure.
I’m not worthy.
I’ll never get what I want.
People aren’t interested in what I have to say.
What I have to say isn’t important.
It’s dangerous to have people put their attention on me (something bad will happen).
What makes me good enough or important is doing things perfectly.
Conditioning: Fear associated with criticism and judgment.
Conditioning: Fear associated with not meeting expectations.
Conditioning: Fear associated with people putting their attention on me.
Conditioning: Fear associated with rejection
February 18th, 2011 at 9:04 pm
The seclusion mode you have sounds very much like my downtime where I give myself some space to re-evaluate my life. But even though I don’t see many people during my downtime, I keep in touch and show interest with those people. I find that if I completely shut myself off from others, they won’t be waiting there when I get back. And why should they?
If you read most of my blog post, I focus on writing about the why and the what. I write about my opinions of why INFPs do certain things and what has to be done to fix it. What I leave out is the how and I do it on purpose.
Self-help is vary much like martial arts. I took aikido for 6 years and kung-fu for 5 years. After talking with people more knowledgeable, I found that no one singular martial art that’s superior above all others. However, certain martial art techniques fit certain body types and size much better than others. That’s the same with self-help, some techniques work better than others for various personality types. The object is to find out which techniques fit your personality best.
Feb 21, 2011
Fantastic article, yet it serves as another stark reminder of why I feel a disconnect from other INFPs. I score very low in the Introvert portion of the test, but I AM an introvert. I need the time to myself to recharge the batteries. However, I am very comfortable around others to the point of even being the life of the party. Some have described my personality as the “Outgoing Introvert.”
I find my personality is centered on being an Intuitive Feeler with the I & the P shaping that personality. However, so many INFPs seem to be defined by being Introverted.
Like I said, this is a fantastic article, and I was able to glean some nuggets of wisdom for myself, but I will tell you that I have been fully invested in people, loved by literally hundreds, and still painfully lonely. Don’t get me wrong, my life has been enriched by the relationships I’ve made, but being an intuitive feeler (sensitive) in an insensitive world can make life pretty lonely.
February 21st, 2011 at 2:15 pm
Having many people in your life is on the first part of not being alone. I’m still trying to fully form my thoughts for Parts 2 and 3.
I’ve been a social introvert since my mid-20s. For the longest time, I thought that if I learned social skills and always have people to be with then I wouldn’t be lonely. It took me another 10 years to figure out why even though I had people in my life I still felt isolated.
February 21st, 2011 at 2:42 pm
Yeah, I was pretty tired of not getting invited to the Ball, also, and I went through a self-help transformation. I’ve read How to Win Friends and Influence People countless times as well as many other books. It’s changed me enough in a good way that I’m comfortable with people and enjoy being outgoing while understanding that I still need to make time for putting myself back in “the charging dock.” 🙂
The BAD part of it was that instead of “snapping out of my Depression” or “pulling myself up by my bootstraps,” I created a histrionics disorder to add to my Depression. When people ask me what “histrionics” is, I tell them it’s “Chris Farley Disease.” 🙂 People are always surprised by the hidden sadness, darkness & loneliness of the Chris Farleys & Owen Wilsons, etc. but I’m not surprised one little bit.
So, I became outgoing & charismatic, but I was just as lonely. That’s where the Intuitive Feeler part comes in, and I’ve been learning how to embrace loving people without being a “People Pleaser.” It’s been an interesting journey.
Like I said, I REALLY liked the article, and I’m excited to see what parts 2 & 3 have in store. Thanks so much for replying! 🙂
Apr 16, 2011
Loneliness /depression can tie together so closely. I have at times experienced both. But, like I mentioned above, I do for the most part, accept being alone-I have my busy work schedule-working a full time job and a part time job-keeps me busy-and keeps me surrouned by people from all parts of life. I have friends, we have our get togethers, but not often. I really would like to be in a relationship-but due to past failures-I’m not willing to settle-I have established better values in myself and what I expect to receive from someone-but I am content with my life-as I make the best of each day. Having a humerous disposition about life-keeps me going, as well as the serious side when its feasable. I love to laugh, and enjoy life. Life is too short to live with regrets.
Apr 23, 2011
I read somewhere once that we become real friends with people when we both agree to play status games with each other. That means that we may tease each other, lowering the other, but at the same time we agree to lower ourselves.
Sep 30, 2011
Thank you Corin, I sat down at my computer today trying to find just this type of information so that I can figure out how to stop ‘excluding’ myself and feeling alone. I do all the things you wrote about, especially the ‘thinking of other people as inferior’ – I am ashamed of myself that I think that way, but it is true, and I think writing it ‘out loud’ is a good first step to changing my attitude.
Thank you 🙂
Jan 27, 2012
I am really grateful for this article. It rings true to how I view socializing.. always thought that shifting my perspective to more of understanding the other party’s perspective helps keep myself in check. That keeps me connecting with people.
December 17th, 2013 at 1:56 am
Thanks, I am thankful too to have read this. Anymore advice would be more than appreciated. Thanks.
Feb 22, 2012
This is a good article for INFP. Last time I read this was during last year. Everything take time to resolve. I’m studying in college and it’s been a shaky ride with few crashes and occasional swerve. As long as I have my alone time I figured out I can always try to re-connect. Though as an INFP I’m not the best at initiating small talk with people I already knew but it’s okay.
In college there’s more surprise. You meet all kinds of people – introverted SPs, SJs. In my case when I got to listen their side of story somehow I feel less burdened and less alone. When I feel it’s right time, right energy, I go out with extroverted friend. One or two at a time is more than enough. It’s weird how some people do expect you to come back though I know full well it’s not worth it to try maintain contact with one person on daily basis.
Meaning to say, I used to think just because I rarely to talk to one person means I’ll have little chance to connect. But it doesn’t work that way, everyone is more concerned of their own life and sometimes I exaggerate the way I view my own problem. That gives me better perspective on how to face the ups and downs of life.
Mar 8, 2012
I still feel like alone even though i not only have many friends but i share in their happiness and their pain. I help them through their problems so their lives our happy. so why does it feel like im alone? i have all these deep connections with my friends but i still feel a huge disconnect and i have no idea how to fix it>
March 8th, 2012 at 9:30 pm
The key to connection is vulnerability and I haven’t written Part 3 yet since I’m still practicing it. But connection is has everything to do with vulnerability and what we are willing to expose in order to be seen. It’s not about what other share with us. It’s about what we choose to share with others.
March 13th, 2012 at 9:07 pm
So in order to stop this loneliness i need to open up more? I dont know thats very hard for me to do i hate feeling vulnerable….but thank you thank you very much for your response i feel that this could help me greatly
Mar 15, 2012
I remember ‘liking’ everyone when I was young and as I grew older, I began to see that as a fault as did everyone else around me,there was always the refrain that ‘you cannot like everybody’; I truly did not hate or despise anyone and they are strong terms to use; you can accept everyone and that would be a better option to take up as a bolster against loneliness; acceptance can be termed as liking; I feel lonely now, disconnected and do not feel at all like ‘accepting’, maybe it is better to go back to the past and pick up on some of its lessons. Thanks for the article.
Jun 22, 2012
this article is great! I’m glad that you’ve created such an amazing blog to help all INFPs! I think it helped me a lot to learn more about my problem & connecting as a INFP!
Jul 13, 2012
Even if I wanted to feel a connection or find a way to open up and be vulnerable, I wouldn’t know how?
Aug 7, 2012
in your article it says….
I find that people build lasting connections through common problems
– hummm? maybe I can’t connects on the same problem cause I always try to help people with their problems, I look like I have it all figured out (which I don’t) which probably makes them not feel good.
I find I feel most alone when I’m with other people, but not when I’m by myself.
Oct 21, 2012
Holy crap, this is so spot on. I just turned 19 and am having this crisis of feeling lonely. Somehow I’ve convinced myself that it’s for the best. I’ve actually pulled away from the few friends that I do have because I thought it would be better, because I thought I had so many problems, I didn’t deserve friends. Those thoughts you listed above are exactly my thoughts right now, and your translations are humbling. I’ll try and make more of an effort to talk to people, friends won’t grow on my doorstep, I have to go out and scout for them. (Although I wonder if I might end up being too pushy, or desperate?)
I like the succinct way you wrote this article. It was easy to read, and engaging. Thanks very much.
Mar 12, 2013
Well said, Corin! Thank you for sharing your wisdom on this matter; I am just recently coming to a renewed understanding that INFPs live in a world of Others, and that not all those Others are ‘bad’ people — there is so much to be learned in this world of ours….
Jul 18, 2013
As a young INFP, I can relate to all of these problems of self imposed loneliness, despite others always trying to reach out to me. I’ve known for a while I was doing something wrong, but I just couldn’t figure out what. Thank you for enlightening me. I hope I can really put this to good use.
Nov 28, 2013
There is no right way to be happy, you say.
I know that this is not the right thing to say or to think, but, let’s face it, how can a person with values (and that has difficulty compromising!) really think that all ways to be happy are fine?
Values means also believing that some things are not right to do, no matter how happy they make people or, better said, no matter how momentarily cheerful they make people. In fact I can’t help believe that some ways to pursue happiness aren’t as good as others, first because they include doing things that I judge wrong (like buying toys, if they are made by children enslaved in other countries) and secondarily because they just don’t work as well, they give the impression of happiness (at a high price for us and others), but not the real one.
I’m too judgmental, I know, and I want to try to be more open-minded. If I wrote honestly what I happen to think it is to get a honest feedback, one that I can value because based on my real thoughts. I didn’t write openly what I think because I’m proud of my thoughts. At all.
November 28th, 2013 at 10:06 pm
Are you saying that you have the right values and that your values are better than everyone else’s? If that’s the case then you’re way to be happy is the right way and everyone else is wrong and they should have your values and should be like you.
Otherwise, you’re way to be happy is only right for you because other people have other values that they find more valid, more gratifying and more meaningful for them and that’s why they have those values and not yours.
There are many values that I conflict with mine and I do find them wrong. However, I said, it’s not big ticket value conflict that make for poor relationships. It’s not about conflicting views about child labor laws that bring about poor relationships.
It’s the belief that your values and beliefs about friendship is more right than someone else’s beliefs and values about friendship.
November 28th, 2013 at 10:43 pm
So how do you determine when something is truly wrong? Take a teenager that parties and drinks and is very destructive to him/herself, yet also proclaims that this gives him/her “happiness.” Should that still be accepted as a valid path towards happiness even though it’ll poison the future for this person? Obviously, everyone has disagreements about virtues and morals that guide our lives, but there are virtues that are concocted in our minds that are meant to hurt us even though the seem to bring temporary happiness or pleasure. So is it actually possible that there is only maybe a handful of “good” paths and virtues to live one’a life? I would say yes.
November 28th, 2013 at 11:01 pm
I don’t judge things by right or wrong. I judge things by useful or not useful. What does this person state they want in their life? Are their current behaviors getting them closer to further way from what they want? This method of evaluation can be measured.
“Happiness” is subjective and cannot be measured. You can only take their word for it.
However, if someone says they want a meaningful relationship and has been wanting that for years. And they’re not getting that result. You can measure how useful their current behavior has been over the years towards getting that meaningful relationship.
May 6, 2014
I am 21 and i just discovered that I am an INFP. This realization has made me become much more self aware and thanks to blogs like these I can find comfort knowing that their are others out their just like US. Now I can search for solutions to my irrational behavior and start to really connect with THEM. Thank you for posting. I needed this.
May 9th, 2014 at 4:11 pm
Don’t think of your behavior as irrational because there’s a perfectly rational reason why you’re doing what you’re doing. My daughter is 11 and an INFP. She does things that make no sense to my wife (INTJ), but make perfect sense to me since I was doing that too at her age. For example, my daughter is currently doing that shut-in thing where she’ll spend 8-10 hours all by herself in her room.
There’s a list of a dozen things that I know my daughter enjoys doing with people. I break up her alone time by inviting her to do any of those activities with me. She can never say no to going for gelatto with the family. The moment she says no to doing any of those things than that’s when I’ll start worrying that her alone time is avoidance and not introversion.
Aug 29, 2014
I realize this post is from a while back but I just stumbled upon this blog today. This was so eye-opening. I’ve always felt alone despite having friends and being surrounded by people, and I am definitely guilty of the Us- vs – Them mentality. I also had never realized that what creates a friendship is bonding over common problems not common interests. After reading this post I’m definitely going to be more conscious of how I isolate myself, and work on Being Them. Thank you!
Mar 8, 2015
Just wanted to thank you for your insights- I always love seeing value come through just as relevant today from something written or created years ago with purpose. I am an INFP guitarist and this is extremely helpful to me. I often fantasize about having more alone time, yet at the same time I love being around others (friends & family) and love playing games, excitement and adventure.
This has given me many insights into why I’ve often felt like a loner even being part of various groups and having others around on a regular basis. Very key to separate being alone vs. being lonely, as well as the distinct need to “retreat” at times to reset. All of your posts have been great, thank you for sharing with all of us.
— John B.
Sep 28, 2015
Thank you so much for sharing! This post and your previous one about not having a best friend really resonated with me. I’m in my early 20’s, and for the past year I have really been struggling with feeling alone and disconnected. I in part decided to move to a new city because I think I felt resentful that the friends I had were not putting in the effort I felt I was putting in.
You post gave me a good perspective on why I’ve felt lonely and how I have unknowingly isolated myself. What I am still struggling with though is accepting making many different friends, but not having a close friend. I have high expectations for friends but that is only because I put in equally as much in the friendship . I see others who have strong life-long bonds, so why can’t I have the same? Either way seeing things in a different perspective is helpful. Thanks!
November 21st, 2015 at 4:36 am
carissa, i appreciate the comment you posted as i totally understand what you’re going thru and how you feel as i feel the exact same way. ive decided to be more proactive about it and find people of my personality type to befriend and discuss with. i live in san francisco and have found an infp meetup group and will be attending their meetings. perhaps you can do the same in the city you live in?
November 21st, 2015 at 4:38 am
i have also attended a social intelligence seminar that teaches people how to connect better with people, what to say, how to act, etc. perhaps you can also find such self-help classes that can teach you how to better socialize with people and meet the types of people that you might have something in common with and be comfortable to befriend.
Nov 17, 2015
An excellent article..as a 51 yr. old I have been struggling with this issue and recognize it from various times in my life.
This is lucid and helpful.
Dec 7, 2015
Cool. Atleast there is also somebody who knew my thoughts.. I thought i am an abnormal kind of person, i thought nobody understands me and i also tend to separate myself from other with a different sort of perspectives. You are right that people bonds through problems.. Hmm.. Now i know. I always tend to wonder how I make friends with other people. Why am i friends with my friend right now whom ideas are different.. Sometimes we just should let go of all our thoughts and appreciate every single thing we have right now. Thanks for your blog, i have learned something for myself. 🙂
Nov 1, 2016
I kinda agree with you, but wanted to say that feeling alone or feeling lonely always had to do with love for me. Once I shared a very deep connection/love with someone. Something I never experienced before. After losing him I always longed for such a connection again but it never happenend. Since than I feel lonely every single day of my life and don’t know how to make it stop. Yes i do have friends but it’s just not the same. And I fear that I will feel this disconnection forever.
I’m an infp
February 18th, 2020 at 10:38 am
Wow, that’s exactly how I’ve been feeling for years now. I can have more friends than I can shake a stick at, but if I am unable to cross that barrier of vulnerability and connection with someone of the opposite sex, I feel mostly empty, and longing. I have had two people like that in my life before, but they were mentally unhealthy, so they both broke things off. Perhaps vulnerability is our problem, but I’m not sure.
Because, it seems that everytime I try to be vulnerable just by sharing simple thoughts (like why a chicken strip sandwich can be better than a filet sandwich), I feel rejected and alienated by the person/people I shared that thought with, because they just don’t care to understand. How much more would my feelings be misunderstood and rejected if even my thoughts are? So, I instead relegate most of my social activity to trying to get inside a person just enough to try and help them, perhaps so they’ll turn around and see that I have problems too, and if not, then I still helped someone.
June 30th, 2020 at 11:02 am
I have also spent a lot of time, often unintentionally, trying to get inside another person just enough to try to help them, and I suspect that it is partially because I want them to see me and my problems, as well.
Jan 7, 2017
It’s the Us vs Them that makes me alone and disconnected. The thought that My values are Superior to theirs separates myself from others, makes me alone (and lonely) and at the same time wishing to be understood. It’s the Me Me me being special that makes me disconnected from others.
Mar 5, 2017
I really was feeling alone in this world and thought noone understands me. I’m 18 years old and gonna be a computer engineer. I really feel the need of a speaking environment which i could speak with other infps around world through it.i think if you are a web dev you can do some thing for it and help all infps..:) TY!
Jul 17, 2017
This is incredibly insightful, and I seriously hope this does not get lost among all the other potentially useful articles I save (with the best of intentions). I really think you get to the root of loneliness, at least for this INFP. The idea that “us” versus “them” creates a self-limiting barrier is not one I want to forget, ever. It is humbling to realize that I may sometimes possess an unintentional sense of superiority, creating unnecessary divides between myself and others. Thank you for this, it really is very impressive.
May 18, 2018
I hope that this is still active. I wanted to say that this is exactly what I needed to read/hear right now. 10 months ago, I was faced with the hardest life challenge, and am still in recovery. It seems to have brought out more of my INFP then I ever knew (I used to think I was ENFP or ENFJ). But in going through this and recovering, which is really important, I have simultaneously created these walls from any one who I don’t think will understand me or what I am going through. I never used to be this way, I seem to be becoming more introverted, partly simply because I allow myself to be alone and enjoy it now, where before I was ashamed of it, but it is also creating this complex that you have described here.
I think it’s important to remember that you can develop VALUABLE connections with people even if they don’t understand your problems (emotional for me, which I have deemed more significant then other types of problems). It has taken such a front seat in my brain to the point where I feel pressure to always have an explanation as to what I am doing/recovery/my limits and the belief that they will automatically reject me because of our differences, when now I realize as I read this, is differences I have created and am rejecting, not them. Geez.
That being said, the beliefs/thoughts that you wrote down are what I used to tell myself, and I have faith that they will come back again naturally as I recover, but I have to be careful to not impede this any more then I need for recovery.
I will also put more effort into maintaining connections even when I take alone time (which a lot of time is weeks).
Thanks! Very much needed.