August 12, 2018

"Nurturing a few solid relationships without feeling the need to constantly populate your life with chattering voices ultimately may be better for you."

"Thus, if your personality tends toward unsociability, you shouldn’t feel the need to change.... [A]s long as you have regular social contact, you are choosing solitude rather than being forced into it, you have at least a few good friends and your solitude is good for your well-being or productivity... feel free to de-clutter your social calendar. It’s psychologist-approved."

From "Why being a loner may be good for your health/We tend to decry being alone. But emerging research suggests some potential benefits to being a loner – including for our creativity, mental health and even leadership skills" (BBC).

Those are some onerous conditions after "[A]s long as" and before you can "feel free." I'm not really seeing a robust justification of "being a loner." If you're really the loner type, do you "have regular social contact" and "at least a few good friends"? "A few" in my book means more than 2, and "good friends" seems like a pretty high standard, as if you need substantially more than 3 friends to be psychologist-approved to "de-clutter your social calendar." Even that phrase "de-clutter your social calendar" seems ridiculous. It assumes you've got lots of social options and you just want to be free to decline some of them. This isn't a real loner we're talking about. It seems to be about people who take on far more social connection than necessary and have had trouble admitting that it is crowding out something else they'd prefer.

38 comments:

Birkel said...

First, get to one solid relationship.
A second is a bonus prize.
A few makes somebody an overachiever.

The Crack Emcee said...

If my phone rings, I'm shocked.

Fernandinande said...

"It’s psychologist-approved."

LOL. As a social butterfly my social calendar is cluttered by the true social insects, some of whom - even the ones who can't dance - have thousands of best friends, and that makes me so jealous that WATCH OUT A BIRD

gspencer said...

Never fails to crack me up when I hear of some celeb having a party with 200-300 of his/her "closest friends."

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Can those few solid relationships be with cats? ( Asking for a friend )

Yancey Ward said...

Are you a loner if you don't feel lonely?

tim maguire said...

Most people I know with lots of good friends still have the friends they had in high school. I've moved around too much. Since the last (which hopefully is the last) move, I've been trying to make friends with parents of my daughter's friends but it hasn't worked out. So I have a handful of casual friends, I'm on good terms with most of my neighbors. Even just two or three "good friends" seems like an insurmountable challenge. But for the most part I'm fine being alone or with my family. It's not by choice, exactly, but I'm never lonely.

Wince said...

"One more thing, if anybody's listening, that is. Nothing scientific. It's... purely personal. But seen from out here, everything seems different. Time bends. Space is... boundless. It squashes a man's ego.

"I feel lonely."

William said...

I'm not really misanthropic. Throughout my life, I've known literally dozens of people that I've liked and been on speaking terms with. Still, I have found that social obligations require getting out of bed, getting dressed, and maintaining proper hygiene. Is it really worth it when there are so many good things on television........I think people socialized more in former times because tv just wasn't that good. Bridge tournaments. Baby showers. Testimonial dinners. People really went to elaborate lengths to entertain themselves back in the old days.

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

Quality over quantity. Nothing new. It's common sense.

jwl said...

The Atlantic - Caring For Your Introvert:

Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who loves quiet conversations about feelings or ideas, and can give a dynamite presentation to a big audience, but seems awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recuperate? Who growls or scowls or grunts or winces when accosted with pleasantries by people who are just trying to be nice?

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2003/03/caring-for-your-introvert/302696/

rcocean said...

To thine own self be true...

Ralph L said...

If my phone rings, I'm shocked.

Give certain charities your phone number or address, and you'll never be lonely again.

Yancey Ward said...

Can you be a loner if you have Twitter followers?

todd galle said...

I'm with Crack, if my phone rings it's a surprise, and often bad news. I'm also a loner if you will. I'm just as happy to eat lunch with a book as with co-workers. I do enjoy the company of our dog during lunch, though, he doesn't complain when I make nasty asides on what I have read. He's just hoping I drop something. I always do.

n.n said...

Some people are extroverted and are rejuvenated through socialization. While others are introverted and are rejuvenated through isolation. Each should indulge their nature in moderation.

todd galle said...

Editorial note: instead of 'nasty' in my previous comment, please read "incredibly incisive commentary'. Our dog Kipper has assured me, over lunch, that his perspective is not subjective to what I drop, but rather my assured reasoning. The wisdom of dogs.

Michael K said...

While others are introverted and are rejuvenated through isolation. Each should indulge their nature in moderation.

We are now dealing with my wife's sister who has isolated herself from everyone and is now showing serious signs of dementia.

We saw her at a family wedding several weeks ago and the changes were quite disturbing.

As you get older, isolation is more problematic. She does not even have a TV or internet connection.

ALP said...

Ann, you took the words out of my mouth. I could swear I've seen articles about studies that show most people only have 2-3 true 'friends' if we define it narrowly enough. If we only consider people we would feel comfortable asking for help or giving help to - or other way of identifying friends from mere acquaintances or co-workers, that's the number I most often see. So are all these people with 2-3 close friends closet loners? I doubt it.

I am in a relationship with a true loner; a man with one major interpersonal relationship by choice - his female partner. Imagining him with 2-3 additional friends is tough.

wild chicken said...

Well, I'm a loner and I'm also lonely. Can't help it, my friends died or moved away. Other supposed friends were band mates with no use for me now.

Trollope wrote that it's really hard to make good friends past age 40. I believe that is true.

ALP said...

William: I think people socialized more in former times because tv just wasn't that good.

***************
I think you are onto something. My loner partner and I get wrapped up not only in tv, but the interpersonal dramas of particular YouTubers. Modern Soap Opera, but in real life. The best part is - you shut it off when you have had enough.

Makes me think of Gawron's "Dream of Glass" and the "dailies" decribed in the book.

Robert Cook said...

"I'm not really misanthropic. Throughout my life, I've known literally dozens of people that I've liked and been on speaking terms with. Still, I have found that social obligations require getting out of bed, getting dressed, and maintaining proper hygiene. Is it really worth it when there are so many good things on television........I think people socialized more in former times because tv just wasn't that good. Bridge tournaments. Baby showers. Testimonial dinners. People really went to elaborate lengths to entertain themselves back in the old days."

Social gatherings such as you describe were not merely means of entertainment, but were also means of establishing and solidifying one's connections with others. We need more than just "Entertainment," which is not particularly mentally or emotionally nutritious. (I say this as an introvert and loner myself.) I recommend the book "Entertaining Ourselves To Death," by Neal Postman.

wwww said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bilwick said...

I'm a loner, and I love solitude, dislike feeling isolated because I don't conform. The older I get the more wisdom I see in Samuel Johnson's comment that one should cultivate as many friendships as possible* because as one ages, friends die off or disappear from one's life through other means; and eventually you will find yourself isolated. (I forget the exact quote but Johnson phrased it more elegantly than I did.)

*Provided, I would add, one does not turn into a needy "social prostitute" type.

Rusty said...

I am often alone. I am never lonely.

The Godfather said...

Remember John Waynes's character in "The Searchers"? He was a loner. He had family and friends; he wasn't often entirely alone. But he was a loner. A hero, but a loner. Not a role model I'd choose.

Or "Desperado": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-bwXhts8Zg (Great song)

FullMoon said...

But he was a loner. A hero, but a loner.

Didn't he intend to kill the girl kidnapped by the Indians?

Robert Cook said...

"Remember John Waynes's character in "The Searchers"? He was a loner. He had family and friends; he wasn't often entirely alone. But he was a loner. A hero, but a loner. Not a role model I'd choose."

His character was tortured, and not necessarily admirable.

"Didn't he intend to kill the girl kidnapped by the Indians?"

Yes.

madAsHell said...

I am often alone. I am never lonely.

My wife often asks me "Why are you smiling?" I always answer, I just told myself a funny joke.

Anthony said...

Yancey Ward said...
Are you a loner if you don't feel lonely?


I think that's the definition, IMO.

wild chicken said...

I hereby retract my confession of loner lonliness, for being Totally Uncool.

daskol said...

In terms of indulging one’s nature in moderation, Trump is clearly extroverted. that’s why I found those stories of him padding around the White House in a bathrobe, watching TV alone, reassuring as to his personal development. an extrovert who’s learned also to spend time alone.

daskol said...

CS Lewis on philia is worth a look and listen. friendship is no longer regarded as a "main course" in the modern world.

Yancey Ward said...

If you drink alone, are you a loner?

Bilwick said...

Thanks for the C.S. Lewis link, daskol. I found it very interesting. Of course, Lewis lived in an environment where it was, if not "easy" to make friends (British stand-off-ishness, if that isn't just a stereotype, may have been an impediment*), at least easier, since he was an intelligent, educated person who moved among intelligent, educated people. (Note his friendships with J.R.R. Tolkien and Charles Williams.) I live in a philistine town surrounded by philistines.

daskol said...

the decline of male space no doubt plays a role in the decline of companionship and philia. unless you hang at the VFW or belong to Lions club or an analogue, there just aren't that many opportunities for single male socialization with other men.

daskol said...

then there's the virtual salon that is this blog and comments section.

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