Are you lonely?
Photo by Samuel Austin

Are you lonely?

Highly sensitive people are not more prone to loneliness than anyone else, though we may experience it in a more profound way. Everyone has some degree of loneliness, and it can manifest in many different ways.

Although highly sensitive people often have social anxiety and may socialize less than average, there are many people who can feel lonely in the middle of a crowd. In other words, a sense of isolation is not always just the result of limited social contact. Many other factors, such as emotional withdrawal, lack of trust, or just not being able to make adequate connections, can cause feelings of loneliness and isolation. Thus, not only is it important for us to reach out to others, but also to do it in a way that feels comfortable. When we feel “safe”, we are able to make much more meaningful connections.

The desire to connect with others and to have friendships is a basic human need. The conflict arises when we don’t know what specific action to take to fulfill this need.

Some questions to think about:

  • Do you feel that you’re a “misfit” in society because you’re different?
    While many of us have been conditioned to adapt our attitudes and behaviors to the mainstream, this kind of thinking doesn’t serve us. Being different is not a bad thing. Rather than trying to be something that you’re not, why not seek out people who share your interests and value your differences?It’s also important that we extend the same courtesy to others. It’s easy to get frustrated when others don’t share our world view. Perhaps these expectations arise out of our highly sensitive, perfectionist tendencies. For example, we may get frustrated when others aren’t as conscientious or compassionate as we are. The fact is that nobody is “perfect”, and we all come from a unique perspective. The sooner that we realize this, the better all of us will get along with each other.
  • Do you feel that you don’t have enough friends?
    It’s quality, not quantity, that we should consider when choosing who we befriend. Keeping up with friends requires time and effort. Why not focus your energy mainly on the friendships that you find the most rewarding, rather than trying to accumulate as many friends as possible?
  • Are you afraid of being rejected?
    A fear of rejection occurs when your self-esteem is too closely tied to what others think of you. If someone rejects you, then your whole self-image is threatened. The way out of this is to strengthen your inner core and define yourself on your own terms. Once you understand and feel good about yourself, rejection becomes less of an issue.
  • Are you uncomfortable in social situations?
    Socializing with others is a skill that many of us haven’t learned. It’s not something taught in school, and it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. I plan on having programs that will address this issue.

These are questions that many highly sensitive people struggle with, and I want to emphasize that you’re not alone.

Rather than trying to change ourselves to meet the expectations of others, we simply need to honor who we are. Our “true” friends and allies will do the same. When you connect with other like-minded and like-feeling people, you will gain the support you need to deal with any life situation.

Are you lonely? I’m interested in any thoughts or comments that you have.

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Thanks for writing about this. In my experience when I was younger I had a hard time with loneliness and I think a big part of that might have been the cultural expectation that I was projecting on myself to have lots of friends be “popular” and not alone. Often times when I was not hanging out with friends in my teens and younger years say on the weekend I would beat myself thinking something was wrong with me for not having those people to spend my time with. I did have some good friendships but in my mind it wasn’t enough and being alone was hard on me. Looking back I think I could have had that flipped in my mind where I understood that I could make the most of my alone time and my temperament that often was at its best being alone exploring my thoughts creativity etc. Good thing it is never too late to learn these things.

    1. You’re welcome Jacob!

      I wish I would’ve known about my high sensitivity earlier in my life. My life would’ve been a lot easier. Learning about oneself is a lifetime pursuit.

  2. Great article! Quality, not quantity, is the most important thing. I’d also emphasize that loneliness is an issue with oneself as well. I need to be a qualitative friend to myself to be a qualitative friend to others, and vice-versa. It is parallel development.

    1. Thank you! You made an excellent point! I need to remember it!

  3. Yes I’m Lonley. I was always finding friends that were toxic for me. I would work hard to get people to like me. Drinking lots. Smoking pot. Which I hated. I recently cleaned house. Got rid of toxic people. The party people. Shortly after I learned of this personality trait. Then everything made sense. I have a new understanding of myself. Now I just have to accept who I am. I am more careful of who I let into my life. And yes. I believe having one or two great friends is better than having lots and being popular.

  4. Yep I’m lonely. But I realize it is up to me to change that.

  5. I must say first that I am VERY much blessed with true friends and loved ones who are infinitely caring and concerned for me, though they may not be close in physical location. Even my family, distant as they are, is also very caring and protective of me.

    Even so, I still feel “lonely” spurts now and then, but these seem to crop up most when I encounter opinions, perceptions, or “hype/fads” that I just don’t agree with or see eye-to-eye. I worry and fear that something must be wrong with me if I’m not thinking along the same lines of these people, who most likely are wiser, stronger, and more well-balanced than I am. It’s hard for me to fathom that my own feelings and opinions, personal as they are, could ever be “right” (even if just for me).

    Of course I feel SO much better when I find that rare kindred soul who nods gently and says “I understand.” Hell, that person doesn’t even need to AGREE with me…all they need to do is UNDERSTAND why I feel the way I do, accept it, and let it be. I think I’ve dealt with too many people in the past who have tried to sway my opinion or push me into things that I really didn’t feel comfortable with (violent/painful movies were the biggest thing, and the worst).

    I must also say (to remind myself as well as others) that I am blessed with a partner who loves me deeply and would NEVER press his opinion too much on me. In fact, he’s learned to simply let go when necessary, just as I need to learn myself. So such people do exist. And though they may be rare, they are so worth finding. Until then, know that they EXIST. You are not alone in this overwhelming world.

    Thank you for this wonderful article and for letting me speak these words. 🙂 Writing out my thoughts has always been therapeutic…too bad that physically writing them tires my hand out! LOL

    Hugs and love to you all. <3


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