Preferring to Be Alone

Solitude is often viewed negatively. However, many people like to be alone.
Preferring to Be Alone
Gema Sánchez Cuevas

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Gema Sánchez Cuevas.

Written by Yamila Papa

Last update: 21 December, 2022

We usually think of solitude from a negative point of view. However, being alone has certain benefits. Indeed, many feel better on their own than being surrounded by others. For this reason, research is beginning to be conducted regarding whether solitude is healthy.

It tends to be believed that all activities, when done in a group, as a couple, or as a family are more fun. This ranges from going to the movies to having dinner, to celebrating Christmas, or just having a coffee. Also, exercising, walking in the park or going shopping. Nevertheless, what’s the problem with doing these kinds of things alone? Is it because it’s considered that it implies bitterness, depression, sadness, and abandonment.

Indeed, why is it that solitude is always associated with bad feelings? After all, perhaps you’re one of those people who really enjoy those moments when you’re on your own. In fact, you might even put aside family and social customs or traditions to do what you prefer. If so, you certainly won’t think that spending New Year’s Eve at home on your own is crazy. Nor will you believe that planning a vacation with only your luggage for company is an absurd idea. In fact, for you, these kinds of experiences will be second to none.

Girl alone thinking that she no longer wants to socialize.

Why wanting to be alone is viewed negatively

The negative view of solitude tends to be based on the idea that the human being is meant to live in a society surrounded by other people. Therefore, we have a tendency to fervently believe that solitude is something negative no matter which way we look at it. However, what if you prefer to be alone and don’t feel at all depressed or sad when you are? This doesn’t mean that you’re a hermit or an antisocial being, but you simply want to enjoy your space and connect with your inner self.

On the other hand, there are those who, for fear of loneliness, make unwise decisions, such as being in a relationship with the first person who comes along. Or, they join a group, with whose members they have absolutely nothing in common. Nevertheless, they remain there, pretending to be who they’re not, just so as not to feel ‘alone’.

The psychologist, Cecilia Rodríguez Díaz, explains that solitude should be defined as “a completely personal and subjective experience”. Indeed, it can be experienced in many ways. For instance, you might be surrounded by people yet feel alone. Alternatively, you may be completely on your own yet feel far from lonely.

Solitude tends to be related to a lack of close ties, networks, and relationships. As a matter of fact, it reflects the kind of society we live in today. A society where it’s extremely difficult to maintain close contact with others, even though we live in an age of technology, with the availability of text messages, social media, and video calls.

Is there anything wrong with wanting to be alone?

Before answering this question, we need to understand the type of solitude that’s being referred to. Experts say that there are different kinds. Furthermore, it all depends on how you feel about it, and whether the solitude is induced or ‘forced’. Indeed, you’ll know why you prefer to be alone and what you’re experiencing at any particular moment, as well as what’s happening inside you when you’re surrounded by others.

Nevertheless, there are some behavioral patterns that are evident in those who choose solitude. For example, shyness, fear, difficulty relating, fear of rejection, being wrong or being hurt. Therefore, they avoid going out with others and talking to groups of friends. This triggers feelings of loneliness. On the other hand, there are those who really prefer to be alone because they feel better that way. In fact, they consider that they’re self-sufficient, don’t need anyone else, and their solitude makes them less vulnerable, etc.

Other types of solitude include the kind where people seem to relish it and they really don’t care if weeks go by without them speaking or seeing their loved ones. Indeed, they seek to isolate themselves from the rest, never get together for birthdays, and prefer solitary jobs, etc.

Finally, there’s ‘circumstantial solitude’. This is the one that can appear for different reasons, such as divorce or death. It’s not something that’s sought, but it comes completely out of the blue. Therefore, it requires grieving and the understanding of loss.

A girl sitting alone on a dock.

Healthy solitude

This is undoubtedly the most difficult concept for most people to understand. That’s due to our conception, as sociable and social beings, the need to live in a community, to have a family, and to ‘belong’. This makes it extremely difficult to understand that solitude can also be synonymous with fulfillment or happiness. In other words, with health.

Nevertheless, solitude can become an extremely harmonious and enriching experience when you don’t overstep the limits. It doesn’t mean going to live alone at the top of a mountain or to stop talking to your parents from one day to the next. It’s simply based on dedicating certain moments of the day or week to just being alone, with yourself.

As a matter of fact, your relationship with your inner self is really important and can only be achieved with solitude. It helps you to recognize what’s happening to you. Furthermore, to defend yourself from what’s happening around you and to listen to what your body tells you.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.