It’s OK to Crave Being Alone

Solitude gets a bad rap, but for some of us, it’s dreamy

Robert Roy Britt
Wise & Well
Published in
5 min readSep 6, 2022

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Image: Pexels/Andrea Piacquadio

Psychologists tell us we’re social animals, and therefore solid social connections are vital to mental well-being and happiness, even good physical health. Loneliness is unhealthy, they say. No argument here. There’s a lot of solid science on all this.

But what about those of us who really just like being alone much of the time? Is that unhealthy? Are we doomed to a life of mental misery and poor health?

I don’t think so. And here’s why: There’s a huge difference between loneliness and solitude:

  • Loneliness is a negative feeling, a sadness characterized by a sense of isolation, real or perceived.
  • Solitude, on the other hand, is a physical and temporal situation, one that can be undesirable for some, but for others is highly sought as a preference for some marvelous me-time.

Going it alone

I crave solitude. Especially when I’m around a lot of people. In fact, my loneliest moments often come when I’m around others but feel on the outskirts of their social circle. While I can be comfortable in a small group or even a mass gathering for a stretch, ultimately I just love being alone, sometimes to simply sit and do nothing.

I’m not suggesting it’s the best way to go through life. Seeking solitude has definitely closed some doors. I’m a lousy networker, a joiner of very few in-person or online groups, and not always the greatest friend. But I thrive on my alone time and have since I was young. I recognize the trade-offs and work to balance them so that I’m content and productive, even happy, while maintaining my most treasured relationships without being a completely aloof, cold-hearted jerk.

Sure, socializing is great. But in the extreme, there’s potential for a dark side to socializing.

Not to overemphasize the point, but intense social connections can lead to tribalism and ostracism, as group members discriminate against outsiders, create rumors, and even undertake hostile behavior and vigilantism, researchers concluded in a recent review of psychological research, published in the journal Nature Humanities and Social Sciences Communications. Not…

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Robert Roy Britt
Wise & Well

Founder/editor of Wise & Well on Medium & the Writer's Guide at writersguide.substack.com & author of Make Sleep Your Superpower amazon.com/dp/B0BJBYFQCB