Being Alone vs. Being Lonely

I lived alone for almost 32 years.  That’s more than half of my life.  So, I know what being alone means.

As an introvert, being alone is not a big deal.  In fact, it’s required.  While I love spending time with my friends and family, I MUST have alone time.  I think that’s not always easy for extroverts to understand.

This post is not meant to discuss introversion, but if you’re interested in learning more, I can recommend a good book.  It’s called “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”, by Susan Cain.  If you’re an introvert who’s always felt like something was wrong with you (or let others make you feel like something was wrong with you), then you need to read this book.  It’s amazing how I saw myself through this book and finally realized I’m not the only one who feels the way I do.

Being alone

There are so many nice things about living alone.  You can watch whatever you want on TV, and there’s no one trying to talk to you when your favorite show is on.  You can sleep without someone rocking the bed or pulling the covers off you.

You can eat what you want when you’re hungry and not have to think about someone else who might be hungry before you’re ready to eat.  You can absorb yourself in books or projects and not be disturbed.  You have the whole garage to yourself.  You can listen to your own music.

You can stay up as late as you want without bothering anyone. You’re responsible for the money and how it’s spent.

I never struggled with being alone.  And until I started reading articles on this subject, I never thought I was lonely.  But I was wrong.

Being alone vs. being lonely

From a definitional standpoint, being alone is “having no one else present; on one’s own.”  Being alone forced me to become very independent.  When something went wrong, I had to take care of it.  Sure, there were people around who could help me with the really big things, but usually, I dealt with everything on my own.  There were times when I wasn’t sure if I could make another decision on my own, but I always did.

Being lonely is defined as “sad because one has no friends or company; without companions; solitary.”  It’s this last part that finally registered with me.  I have plenty of friends; probably fewer than some of you but I prefer having just a few close friends.  I have old friends and new friends, and at times, I actually like meeting new people.

For me, the sadness only came at certain times.  Holidays were tough.  Coming home from time spent with family to an empty house.  Going to bed at night and thinking no one would even know if I didn’t wake up.  Most of all, wanting one other person to really know me.

Dealing with it

Over time, I learned to deal with being lonely.  Honestly, loneliness didn’t rule my days.  I was working and many days, it was nice to come home to an empty house – my sanctuary.

Most of my hobbies/interests are solitary.  Sure, I could go to my local knitting shop and sit with others and knit on a Saturday.  But that’s just not me!!  I’d rather find out a friend likes to knit and spend an afternoon or evening with her.

I tried online dating and that was pretty much a waste of time and money.  I think you have to be extremely lucky to find someone that way.  I got tired of the way everyone described themselves and even the pictures they chose to share.  Come on – what guy looks great when he’s running a marathon?  I love sports and athletes but you’re not going to impress me that way.

At that point, I was learning to be content with my life.  And I was most of the time.  I’d still have that achy feeling when I first shut off the lights at night, but it would pass and I’d be fine.

When things changed

Almost three years ago, things changed.  I like to think God had a hand in this.  He was waiting to find the right person for me.

Now I don’t always watch whatever I want on TV, but there’s someone sitting next to me when I’m watching any show.  Now I can’t sleep without someone rocking the bed or pulling the covers off me, but I know there’s someone there if I need him.

Now I can’t eat what I want when I’m hungry without thinking about someone else who might be hungry, but I can cook for someone who appreciates it.  I can’t absorb myself in books or projects and not be disturbed, but a hello kiss is always worth it.

I don’t have the whole garage to myself, but who needs more than half of it anyway?  I can’t always listen to my own music, but I love hearing old albums on the turntable while I’m reading or making dinner.

I can’t stay up as late as I want without bothering anyone, but it’s nice having someone to go to sleep with. I’m not solely responsible for the money and how it’s spent, but my life is so much richer.

And best of all, I no longer have that ache when I turn out the lights at night.

8 thoughts on “Being Alone vs. Being Lonely”

  1. Came across this post while searching for answers, help or some kind of way to make myself feel better about my situation. My husband passed away a year and 4 months ago. And the loneliness is really settling in. Currently share an apartment with my grown daughter, but she’s met someone and has talked of moving out. The thought of being completely alone terrifies me!! I instantly well up with anxiety and burst into to tears, scared. Scared of losing the last person in my life who truly means anything to me. I’ve clung you her since he’s passed and I don’t know how to deal with her leaving. I don’t how to be alone.

    1. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. My mom passed four months ago and my dad is very lonely. He’s never lived on his own. My sister and I can only do so much; he needs to let his friends fill some of the void. I know that’s not the same and COVID has made things a hundred times more challenging. I hope you can find some way to feel less alone. Thanks for reading my post.

  2. Love this post Linda. Unfortunately, I’ve felt lonely even when I wasn’t alone. That’s when I knew my marriage had come to an end. Now, although I live alone, I seldom feel lonely. 🙂

    1. It’s sure better to be alone than lonely with someone else. When I was alone, most days were great. Being alone isn’t all bad!! There were just those few times when I felt what I now know was loneliness. Thanks for continuing to follow my blog!!

Comments are closed.