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Signs of a Loner

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on December 02, 2020

What is a Loner?

Being a loner means that you would prefer to be by yourself rather than with others. Depending on the context of the situation and your personality and preferences, this could be a good or bad thing.

Some people view loners in a negative context. However, some studies show that being a loner can lead to happiness for the individual and could actually be good for your health. Some people in this study experienced greater life satisfaction with less frequent interaction with their friends.

Introverts can also sometimes be considered loners. These are people who enjoy time alone, not necessarily because they don’t like being around other people, but rather because they are more interested in their own inner thoughts and feelings. Spending quality time by themselves is how they are able to regain energy.

Types of a Loner

Loners display varying degrees of wanting to or needing to be alone. There are positive, healthy reasons for being a loner, as well as negative, destructive reasons. Here are several general categories of loners:

The Intentional Positive Loner

These are individuals who have specifically chosen to be alone because it fits their personality or lifestyle. Recent research has found that positive loners describe themselves as autonomous. Their behaviors, values, and interests are “resistant to pressure from others,” and they are “interested in learning more about their personal experiences and emotions”.

The Intentional Negative Loner

These people have chosen to be alone because they dislike other people or have strong anti-social tendencies. They have negative outlooks on society and prefer not to associate or assimilate with others. These can be a beginning sign of an antisocial personality disorder.

The Unintentional Loner

These individuals are forced into isolation because they are or feel like they have been rejected by society. They want to belong to a community, but mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia isolate them from others. 

Short-term Loner

These people get away from others but only for a short time, either to rest or just because they enjoy solitude. It can be for a couple of hours or days, but they usually tend to spend significant time both being alone and being with others.

Chronic Loneliness

Short-term episodes of loneliness are normal and can occur at any point in our lives. If the feelings of loneliness persist or get worse; however, that could be a sign of chronic loneliness.

Signs of a Loner

Regardless of whether you are an intentional loaner or an unintentional loner, there are several signs that can mean that you are a loner:

You Enjoy Doing Things by Yourself

Does a night watching a movie or reading a book by yourself sound like a wonderful time? Do you love traveling somewhere and exploring on your own? Are you comfortable making a dinner reservation for one? Being able to not only enjoy but look forward to doing things by yourself is a sign you are a loner.

You Don’t Enjoy Superficial Social Gatherings or Unnecessary Meetings

If a feeling of dread fills you when you get an email from your boss scheduling a last-minute meeting of the whole team, or one of your friends is nagging you to come with them to a party, you might be a loner. While you are probably fine going to planned events, last-minute ones are not your cup of tea.

You’re a Self-Starter

You enjoy putting your earbuds in and shutting the outside world out so you can get stuff done. You’re able to manage your own schedule and can stay on task much easier without everyone stopping by to bother you. And you have set a clear path for your future that you know you can achieve on your own. These are all traits of people who like to do things their own way and by themselves.

You Take Your Time

Rash, spur of the moment decisions are definitely not your thing. You prefer to sit and mull over your thoughts and be well-prepared before having to speak. You rationalize ideas and formulate plans with your inner voice instead of your outer voice. And you are totally fine with taking time to formulate answers and solutions.

Dealing with a Loner

Loners, by nature do things by themselves and therefore prefer to solve any issues or problems their own way. When dealing with a loner, make sure to give them plenty of space to think and breathe. Don’t rush them to make a decision, and don’t pressure them to move too quickly.

Patience and understanding are appropriate approaches when dealing with loners. Allow them to recharge and become comfortable with where they are before trying to engage. By providing them the space they need, they will more likely open up and let you into their solitary world.

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

American Psychological Association: “The pain of social rejection.”

BBC: “Why being a loner may be good for your health.”

Bestlifeonline.com: “30 Signs You’re a Loner.”

British Journal of Psychology: “Country Roads, Take Me Home… To My Friends: How Intelligence, Population Density, and Friendship Affect Modern Happiness.”

Cigna: “Signs and Symptoms of Chronic Loneliness.”

Cole, A., Dykstra, R. Loser, Loners, and Rebels: The Spiritual Struggles of Boys. Westminster John Knox Press, 2007.

Harvard Health Publishing: “Antisocial Personality Disorder.”

Peer J. “Under Which Conditions Can Introverts Achieve Happiness?”

PsychAlive: “Being Alone: The Pros and Cons of time Alone.”

The British Psychological Society: “Who likes to be alone? Not introverts, according to a new paper on personality and the experience of solitude.”

The University of Arizona: “How to Take Initiative and Become a Self-Starter.”

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