In Defense of Being a Loner

I recently read the book Party of One: The Loner’s Manifesto, by Anneli Rufus, and I must say, it struck a chord with me.  I am a loner, and not only am I okay with it, I prefer it this way.

Cell phones are a marvelous thing, and I am so grateful to have one with me when I travel, or pick someone up at the airport, or drive home alone at night.  But don’t call me, please, unless you have something to say.  And even then, say it, then let me go.  I won’t be offended. Really.

Ancillary to my love of my aloneness is my love of silence.  I don’t need a radio or other device playing when I am home alone, or when I am in the car. I enjoy music, especially this time of the year, but often I find myself in need of quiet to calm my mind after a busy day at work.

Ms. Rufus makes the case that being a loner is  not the equivalent of being weird, or a freak, as is so commonly believed.  Nor is it abnormal.    Numerous artists and great thinkers have been loners: Emily Dickinson, Descartes, Greta Garbo, J.D. Salinger, Einstein, Michelangelo, Isaac Newton……

Yet much of our society insists upon telling us to get out more, socialize more, make friends, get a hobby.

I have hobbies, lots of them. I read, I play on the computer, I do scrapbooking and crafts.  I cook. I write.  And I never ever feel the need to have someone join me in those activities.  I am comfortable with this.  I do not need to join clubs or do volunteer work or have a busy career to feel fulfilled.  I enjoy my own company.

Going home at the end of the day is my greatest joy, and when a co-worker asks what I have planned for a weekend, I gleefully say, “nothing”.

If you think about it, this is an ideal way to live.  I have friends, both real and virtual. I love my family.  I enjoy being with all of them, but when I am alone, I am happy, too.

So please don’t feel sorry for me. Don’t feel you need to invite me to dinner if my husband is out of town.  I’m good.

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43 Responses to “In Defense of Being a Loner”

  1. herechilln Says:

    I agree! Silence is sometimes bliss. I’ve had some of my greatest conversations when I was alone. On the flip side though, I’ve also had some of my biggest arguments. But, afterward I always know where I stand, so that ain’t all bad either.
    There is nothing wrong with being alone sometimes.
    I like when it’s quiet enough to actually hear all the voices.
    At least then, I know they are all okay. ; )

  2. Corina Says:

    I can certainly understand how you feel. I’ve spent more time alone than not and it is mostly okay. The problem sets in when I don’t leave the house for a couple of weeks at a time and don’t talk to anyone other than exchanging comments on blogs.

    But I’m okay being alone. For the most part.

  3. Tonia Says:

    I relate so well to this, and in fact, need solitude in order to maintain some semblence of sanity. It’s nice to catch up with you.

  4. clare stella Says:

    Boy, I so agree with you. I have hermatitis and am perfectly happy with it. I thought I was the only one in the world who doesn’t play the radio in the car. I do sometimes listen to CD’s though – books. I am always perfectly happy to be home with no noise too. The phone annoys me when it rings and I am a bad phone talker. It feels awkward to me after about 3 minutes. So don’t feel bad if I hang up quickly; it’s me, not you.
    Great article, Nancy!!!

  5. madame donna Says:

    The best time of my life was the 4 or so years that I lived alone with my birds and a hamster. Yep. I understand solitude. I embrace alone time.

  6. Shawn W Says:

    LOL I could have written this, except that I must have background noise, if only to block out all the little sneaky noises that creep me out.

  7. nanis Says:

    I don’t have that issue, Shawn, except maybe when I am alone at night. Generally I love the silence.

  8. Wendy Says:

    What I’d like to know, Nanis, is how you are a loner and also “have friends, both real and virtual”. How do you get those REAL friends, being a loner? I love being alone a lot of the time. Every so often I’ll get together with people via my Unitarian Universalist Fellowship group, or a group of us will go out after work, or I’ll call an Al-Anon contact. I keep in touch with some of them via email. But none of these people seem to be available or interested when I want to find someone to, for example, go out dancing. I don’t understand how to ease a casual acquaintance into a real friend. I don’t seem to know how to do it; it seems to require more regular maintenance than I, as an easily over-socialized loner, seem able to provide.
    By the way, madame donna, I envy you those years alone living with critters. I live with my husband, to whom I am not particularly close. (He likes constant TV noise and is rather a packrat, and addicted to movement and “doing productive things”. Yeah, I know. I ended up with a mismatch, but here I am! He loves me, he says, and doesn’t want to lose me. So I stay.)

  9. nanis Says:

    Wendy, I see no contradiction between having friends and being a loner. I have many friends, but most of them understand that I am not really interested in ‘going out’ very often. The good thing about internet friendships is that I can maintain them in my own time frame. For example, you may have written this comment at 9:22, yet I can read it later, or even if I read it right away, I can think about it a bit and respond when I want to. I like that.

    I do, on occasion, get together with friends, and I enjoy it, but my favorite plan for the weekend is to have nothing on the calendar.

    It’s interesting that you feel you don’t know how to take friendships to the next level, and yet you also do not want to put in the effort required. I am not criticizing; I pretty much agree with you, but it’s hard to have it both ways. If you want to dance, join a group that does that.

    I suspect you are lonely, and not necessarily a loner. But I am not a shrink, and would not pretend to know how you feel, but I think it is something to think about.

    Thanks for commenting.

  10. Zoe Says:

    Anneli Rufus’s book changed my life. I’m pushing to live happily alone and to be focused on the business of finishing college. Not all but most other things are just pretense and illusion.

  11. MariJoy Says:

    Well said. I grew up an only child, with the exception of a love affair in my twenties, I had lived alone (happily, I thought) until my “biological inperative” took over, the clock was ticking really loudly (you see, I DID want to have children),,,so, at age 30 I met a man through an ad in our local paper, had a whirlwind courtship, got pregnant, and married, all within the space of about six months.
    21 years later, and I am now living with myself, the husband, and two young adult children – more people than I have ever lived with at one time in my life. I long for my life of simply attending to only my own needs’
    I mourn the me I never got to know (having smothered her with people and their various demands upon her time and resources. And I envy you, deeply and terribly…I was you, once.

  12. Carole Says:

    All you married people are not “alone”, you have someone to talk to, or care for you. Being alone is having NO family, no husband and just a few people that drift in and out of your life. Being old and alone is worse because there is NO ONE to take care of you if something happens. All the hobbies in the world don’t give you the comfort of a real person. Spending every holiday and birthday alone gets very sad after awhile and lonely, much different then being alone.

  13. Richard Cooper Says:

    I love being alone! Quiet and peace are without equal. However, that being said, I recently have found someone who adds to my peace in life. That is a feat in itself.

  14. nanis Says:

    Carole, I do not mean at all to diminish your feelings. I think there is a vast difference between loneliness and being solitary. The important thing is that I was writing about me, and when I am alone, I am not lonely. For you, the issues are obviously different.

  15. Carole Says:

    Nanis….I am not lonely, I am solitary, but my remark was made for distinction, you are not alone if you have someone in your life, it’s completely different. I have “been” with someone and felt alone, and I have been alone with no one, no one is harder.

  16. nanis Says:

    Excellent point, Carole.

  17. Bryan Says:

    I don’t know, I love being a loner. I’ve been alone ever since high school ended, and that was 11 years ago. I love hanging around the house even though my dad thinks there’s something wrong with me. He believes it’s unhealthy for someone to distance themselves from the rest of the world, and he’s worried about me as a result, but that’s just what a parent does- worries a lot. It’s understandable and I love him for that. However it’s completely true that I sometimes go weeks at a time without seeing a single person. I live in the middle of nowhere in a small town on some back road that you’d never find on a map. I’m surrounded by cow fields and corn fields. I talk to internet friends, but I never want to actually meet up with any of them. I have no desire to because they have interests that are either not that great to me or interests that I can’t relate to. I love listening to music, watching movies and TV shows, playing video games, surfing the internet, exercising, doing house and yard work, and that’s really all I want out of life. I don’t want a relationship nor do I want kids. Too many problems are created out of marriage and kids and I have no desire to put up with any of that stuff. I had crushes on female classmates but upon talking to them I lost interest after a few minutes of conversing. It’s the same way now, as an adult. Crushes never lead to anything more appealing. I never really got along with my classmates throughout the 12 years of school, especially the boys who were either into drugs and ruining their bodies as a result, or just partying and living dangerously. Not my kind of lifestyle. A lot of them were just plain jerks and totally rude but I never said anything as a response, hence the loner thing. Participating in sports never appealed to me either since I never had the right body size to become a competitor. I don’t consider myself smarter than the average person either- a myth about loners is that they’re supposedly smarter than the average bear but eh… I don’t agree. I spent most of my school days in the special help room, and these days I have to rely on my dad to help me with money situations pertaining to bank statements and paying bills. I just have trouble understanding that kind of stuff without someone to put everything in perspective for me. I spend a lot of my time clearing my voice because I’m so used to not ever speaking that I guess what’s happening is that my voice box forgets how to be useful. In other words, human beings are supposed to talk and without that ability, your body adjusts to a quieter approach. I suppose there could be another explanation but I don’t know what it would be. Actually sometimes I yell at the TV screen when I’m playing a video game and I’m losing and getting frustrated, or when I’m playing music and attempting to sing along. In conclusion, I don’t believe I’m weird at all. When I have to talk for a phone call or someone’s at the front door, I speak and laugh and conduct myself normally depending on the other persons actions. I just don’t feel the need to actually hang out with anybody. So this mini story I just typed up describes me pretty darn well.

  18. Logan Says:

    I’m a bit thrown off your whole loner concept because at the end you mention that you’re married. Now I feel like a super-loner because I don’t even have a significant other.

    • nanis Says:

      Being a loner and being alone are two different things. Some single people are very social, and some married people are loners. I revel in aloneness, and cherish every moment of it. You will never hear me say I am bored because I am alone, nor will you hear me say I am lonely.

      This is not, of course, the same as saying I always must be alone. I enjoy company sometimes, other times not.

      I guess my point is that alone-ness as an option is, for some of us, a good thing. I do not expect everyone to agree.

  19. Marisol Says:

    Hey! I totally agree with you I am not that old I am actually 17 and I just relized I am a loner and I like it I actually love been by myself at school and I don mind talking to people but when it happens that someone tries to talk to me i get annoyed:/ well not really I just don’t know what to say and/or how to tell them i don’t want company I love been with my boyfriend and hes actually the only person I like to spend time with other then that I just prefer been by myself . And not worry about anything

  20. Bryan J. Says:

    I’m exactly like nanis in every single way.

  21. Jason Says:

    I don’t know much about silence because I was born with tinnitus but the loner part is great. No one to please me, myself, and I. What simple bliss.

  22. Trina Says:

    I hate being a loner! I dont have a family, and not even one friend. Im not sure if its just me? I cant talk to people. Sometimes i must think im a freak. I dont know how to accept this. I have ahusband, he goes out with friends, but because i dont have any, i stay home with the kids regularily. Hes always saying ” its too bad you dont have any friends. Ive tried to make friends with his friends wives, but they ignore me, like im not worth their time. Jealous of me? Does my personality suck? I dont know. I have to wonder all the time what imdoing wrong. Im friendly. My guy ishot, friendly, makes awesome money, so ehat does he see in me that these others dont? Im so frustrated….

  23. Annie Says:

    After we were married my husband turned into a loner. Weve been married 45 years and this loner thing has went way to far. He had friends long ago but he lost alot of them in viet nam. Then when we were married it got extreme. After our wedding night he started to work mid nights I was left alone and depressed then he moved all his things to the basement where hes been all these years. We only had sex once since weve beenn married. He goes no where except for groceries and doc appoitments. He refused to have kids, said they were annoying little buggers, who turn into dopers and steal all ther parents money. He never wanted my help or go to a doctor for help. I really don’t know what to do any more

  24. nanis Says:

    I think some people are confusing “loner” with “depression”. Depression is a serious, mostly treatable, illness that can isolate us and keep us from even trying to feel better. In my experience, medical help is not only advised, but necessary, for people suffering from severe depression.

    I can say from personal experience that a low-dose antidepressant and weekly visits with a shrink helped a great deal.

  25. ruiasa Says:

    Reblogged this on sparkling Music and commented:
    i am i aiaiam a loner and i am glad about it..bu

  26. ruiasa Says:

    i am loner but i have 3 great friends..and family.

  27. nanis Says:

    A few great friends and a loving family are often enough. I am rethinking the whole concept of socialization as a healthy thing. For some people, it surely is, but not all of us.

  28. JDS Says:

    I’m definitely a loner and wouldn’t have it any other way. I have an amazing wife, a loyal dog, 3 or 4 really close friends I see when they are in town and I’m content with that. I’m cordial and polite to people but I’m just not a social person. My wife likes going out and spending time with her friends which I have no problem with since none of them are partiers. She knows not to ask me to go and she’s perfectly fine with that. By being a loner and it just being my wife, dog and few life long friends, my life is virtually drama free! My wife is social and I’m not. She would never try and change me and I’d never try to change her.

  29. FDiddy Says:

    I don’t understand this why people don’t get that being alone is ok… I know this sounds crazy but I have a bday coming up and my gf insists on a get together, she doesn’t want me alone on my bday. I don’t know how to say it politely look I don’t want to do anything. WE don’t live in the same city, it’s a weekday and I absolutely have no desire to do anything and I like it that way. It’s like she can’t accept it, it’s not what she would want, but she can not accept people are different. I really do appreciate the gesture but I’ve always had this problem when dating. I’m not always this way it’s extreme for me either life of party or extreme solitude, when I get in my mood that’s what I want though.

  30. nanis Says:

    That was the point of my post, FDiddy. I suggest you buy the book I mentioned above and give it to your girl friend (after you read it, of course). In our culture, loners are equated with losers, and it just ain’t so!

    My suggestion to you would be to say, “Let’s celebrate on Saturday. We’ll have dinner,” and leave it at that. I know, you did not ask for advice, but there it is.

  31. leesajoy01 Says:

    Wow so glad I found this site. I was starting to wonder if me being a “loner” or anti social was the norm. I am married (to a man who also is not a big social person) we live on acreage and I just love being at home. I’m nearly 50 & feel the older I get the less social I want to be. I am lucky, as I have a big loving family, whom I am very close with, but don’t live near, so I am not “alone” as such. I have a close group of girlfriends, who also don’t live close to me, but I know will always be there if I need them.( we might catch up a couple of times a year, but do speak in the phone) I am a outgoing person and in the comfort of people I know, am known as ” the life of the party” but put me out somewhere I don’t know people and have to mingle with them, I really feel awkward and don’t seem to mix well. I know I must sound like I’m contradicting myself, but here’s an example of the point I’m trying to understand) I have a woman that does hairdressing from her home & we have become quite good friends. We’ve only been out once together to a show & she has come over my place a couple of times. This is where the problem starts, as she just turned up the other day to give me something ( I’m sure just an excuse just to come over) I would really prefer people ring first, as I’m not interested in people being here!! ) she had her teenager with her, so I asked her in for a drink( only because I didn’t want to seem rude, not because I wanted her to come in) . Well, since then, she has rang me a few times saying how her daughter wants to come & swim in my pool..so far I’ve managed to make excuses , as in reality.. No! I don’t want you here in my pool & i don’t want visitors!! This is my haven and I’m sorry, but unless I invite you around (which won’t be often, if at all ever!!) this is why I don’t have any ” friends” in the town I live in, because, I just want to have our space & tranquility by myself( well & hubby, but he works away a lot and is gone weeks at a time.. I like that too lol) Now, I’m at the stage of distancing myself from her, as I have a feeling she wants my place as her getaway!! No way hosay!! If i want company, i will let you know, but don’t hold your breath, as i can also go places on my own & enjoy the company I’m in… my own!! I guess I could explain it to her, but i know it would come out all wrong… So does this class me as a loner, anti-social or maybe a little weird? I guess I’m comfortable being all 3.. I think!

    • Jocelyn K Says:

      No, you are not weird or anti-social. I totally understand how you feel: my home is my haven and I hate people dropping in – I feel like they are invading my privacy and I think it is rude (people should ring ahead first to see if it’s convenient!). Other people just don’t “get” it. When people walk past that line with me ie: you start chatting to someone and get to know them a little and then they decide it’s OK to drop in on you, I HAVE to distance myself from them as I just can’t stand them being ‘in my face’ to be brutally honest. I am married with a husband and 11 yo daughter and I class myself as a loner which until very recently, now embrace whole-heartedly. I find social gatherings draining – mentally exhausting – and I like my own company (apart from enjoying the company of my husband/daughter whom I love dearly). I go out to cafes on my own and I love every minute of it! I don’t want to spend hours chatting to other women and going out with them: I prefer my own company and I don’t want them to drop in – NEVER EVER!! I just want them to leave me alone and I relish my privacy and detest people knowing my “stuff”. I love, love, LOVE my life – even if other people don’t understand or think that I am weird – and I think I am at the point where I just don’t care what they think of me. I am not rude or obnoxious to people – I just like my own company! It is so refreshing to hear of others who feel exactly the same way😀

  32. Mac70graphics Says:

    I LOVE being alone. I’m not a sexual person, so that obstacle is out of the way. I just turned 70 and definitely don’t feel it. I am the last of a nuclear family. For one reason or another, I wasn’t there to attend any of their funerals, or any funeral for that matter. JFK’s funeral was the closest I came to a funeral. I see what the first 3 letters of funeral are and there must. Be a reason for it.
    I have often been made to feel guilty by others about being alone, all to no avail. I don’t make “apologies” for the simple fact that I enjoy my own company and am very comfortable being a solitary person. No drama. My imagination has ALWAYS been my BEST friend. After surviving being put in a foster home at the age of 7 I never experienced love from anther human. So being able to love myself, seems to be sufficient for me. I could never understand why people in real life and in the movies have such a hard time letting go, when the “relationship” is over, and it seems that ALL relationships end.
    I have my Mac devices to occupy my time. I enjoy my reading, music and being able to prepare my own meals, as a vegetarian and save money by NOT eating out. It’s been close to to 2 years since I ate out. I’m 5′ 9″ and weigh 144 lbs, almost my ideal weight. And I don’t have diabetes or high blood pressure, so I must be doing something right. I have my own home, and have tried roommates both male and female, and it never worked out. Now that I DON’T need others for financial support I love the freedom I have and am able to get by on social security, money that I paid into and now can live off of. It’s true, money doesn’t bring happiness, as I have often heard. I can accept my own mortality, and have no fear of dying.
    We come into the world alone and leave alone. I am at my most contentment at this point in my life and love the freedom of being able to make ALL my OWN decisions.

    • Pee Wee Dee Says:

      Mac70graphics – Of all the posts here, I enjoyed yours the most. You make such a great case for the joys of solitude I’m a bit younger than you (56) and can only aspire to have such a wonderful next chapter. GO, LONERS!

    • Jill Says:

      I really liked your answer. Loner means really alone. Apart from people you might have to work around if you still have to work, there is no network of supportive family and friends or spouse you live with. I have a similar experience to yours and its just left me with an inability to engage socially with any success at all. I’m glad you found some happiness.

  33. Bob Says:

    I don’t want to expose myself. Sorry😉

  34. Elise Says:

    I LIKE TO BE ALONE TOO! EVEN THOUGH I STILL GET OUT AMONGST THE WORLD AS OFTEN AS I CAN, I JUST FEEL LIKE THIS WORLD OFTEN TIMES DUMPS THE WHOLE: YOU GOT TO SOCIALIZE CRAP, UP ON ME! AND THERE’S THE NOSY TROUBLE MAKERS IN THIS LIFE, SUCH AS NOSY TROUBLE MAKING APARTMENT NEIGHBORS, SUCH AS MRS. ROBINSONS OR ROBLES, FOR EXAMPLE! THOSE KINDS OF TROUBLE MAKING IDIOTS, SUCH AS TROUBLE MAKING AND NOSY APARTMENT NEIGHBORS, SUCH AS ROBLES OR MRS. ROBINSONS, JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND, THAT SOME OF US HUMANOIDS, JUST LIKE TO BE LEFT THE HELL ALONE IN THIS WORLD AS WE KNOW IT! THEY JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND, THAT OUR LITTLE HUMANOID LONER SYSTEMS, CANNOT TAKE THE JOLT, OF THE WHOLE SOCIAL WORLD! IT IS A JOLT, TO OUR LITTLE LONER HUMANOID SYSTEMS, AND IDIOTS LIKE THAT, JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND US! AND OTHERS DO MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE A FREAK! THEN YOU TRY TO SOCIALIZE WITH THE SOCIALS, AND THEN THE SOCIALS THINK YOU’RE EVEN MORE OF A FREAK, WHICH CAUSES THE LONER, TO BE A LONER, PROBABLY! TO BEGIN WITH! IT’S LIKE A VICIOUS CIRCLE YOU KNOW! IT REALLY IS LIKE A VICIOUS CIRCLE!

  35. Alan Says:

    I am a loner. I have never been able to get along with people. I get sick of what I perceive as stupid comments and problems which I don’t wont to play out in this life. The world is constantly trying to stop us from facing loneness and being still with it, constantly. God help you if you didn’t do well in school and got that great job. God help you if you don’t know who is on the ‘top of the charts’ this week. I find I just wont to do my job and go home. But god help me, I am not allowed, people see you a mile away and do their very best to antagonize, tease etc. to get you to react to get you away from your stillness your love of being still or quiet and not absorbed by the external world people hate that!

  36. Elise At Yahoo Says:

    I’m Going To Start Using Social Weirdo, On Job Applications! That Is What I’m Going To Start Doing: Using Social Weirdo, On Job Applications!

  37. Jill Says:

    Wait just a cotton pickin’ minute. With all respect, I’ve met “loners” like you. You’re not loners at all-you just like to think you are because I guess it sounds romantic or noble or something. You have a job where you’re surrounded by people you interact with all day. You’re MARRIED. “Don’t invite me to dinner when my husband is out of town”. “I have friends”. “I have family”. You’re just a person with a life full of happy relationships, a nice job and frankly, you’re almost never ALONE. When you happen to find yourself alone, which is obviously not that often and when you choose to be, you’ve got your activities going on. So that’s it-you’re not a loner by a long shot, sorry. I joined a group for people with social anxiety and shyness. Most fit the bill, but there were those few whose lives were full of supportive relationships and and spouses, and yet they liked the idea of mooning over their “isolation”. That’s just taking on a persona you really don’t have so you can get more attention.

  38. nanis Says:

    Your comment is so angry! I am not claiming to be anything but what I am ~ a person who prefers solitude. I like my own company, and enjoy being alone. I prefer aloneness to being in a group.

    You have made some assumptions about my life that are not accurate, but I will not address them here.

    Being a person who prefers to be alone does not necessarily equate to being “isolated”. And I was not “mooning over [my] “isolation””. I am HAPPY about my choices. I like being alone.

    That’s all.

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