Is being alone the same as being Lonely?

Alone V’s Lonely and some thoughts on what to do




Being alone is a million miles away from being lonely – that’s often an imposed interpretation of another – their thoughts – their emotions, their life.  Savour every moment of your ‘aloneness’ – given the opportunity it will feed your heart and soul x



“He who does not enjoy solitude will not love freedom”    Arthur Schopenhauer

Do you ever ache to be alone?  Away from prying eyes and the hustle and bustle of day to day existence.  To sit in solitude and just BE.  Are you someone who can go inside and nestle comfortably in the space of who you are?


Or are you a woman who aches for company? – Someone – anyone to fill the void – the emptiness of being alone – being lonely?  What’s the difference anyway?



We only invited you ‘cos you’re lonely …


I tell this story, which I find funny nowadays – I was invited to tea – and even though the lady in question and her hubby weren’t actually my ‘cup of tea’ I went along out of politeness – and hey, you never know perhaps peeps are different on their own turf – or not!!


After an unusual concoction of courgettes stuffed with gooey rice and something else I’m not sure of, the rather stilted conversation stumbled amongst us broken by him watching, commenting on, and flicking through TV channels to the topics of life, their exotic hols, possessions, jewellery, kids – and then it came – like a bolt out of the blue – that statement, “Well, of course we only invited you because you’re lonely” !!! ** WHAT!!?


I have to tell you, I am VERY good at holding my tongue, graciously accepting people, their comments and the art of non reaction!  Well, ordinarily anyway.  I have to admit to fireworks and drum rolls playing a screeching symphony inside my head, but at least they weren’t aware of my desire to stomp my feet and march in an indignant manner out the door.  I stayed a little while longer, grimacing through clenched teeth and glazed eyes until an appropriate amount of time had elapsed to make my escape.  Phew!! Exclaimed I, wiping my brow and speeding away.

So what’s the definition of lonely anyway?


What is it that makes people assume that to be alone necessitates loneliness?   Is it a projection of their own needs and fears, or is it merely a societal, requirement that we must be one of a pair to survive? – Maybe, but not always.  I have so many childless friends these days, I’m always surprised by the number, though not so many singletons – I guess that comes in the later stages of life – statistics indicate women generally outliving men so I guess more of us will be on our lonesome in the fullness of time.


Being forced into a state of aloneness by divorce or bereavement is considered a state of affairs to be endured, tolerated, suffered, but what then?  Are we supposed to fall into the arms of the next available he or she so as to fill the aching void or to fulfill the status quo?  Is it necessarily the right course of action?  I can bring to mind of a number of people who are more isolated in a relationship than many singles.  It’s often been said that you can be lonely in a room full of people and they don’t necessarily have to be strangers either. Simply having different interests – or even an interest – thinking differently from the rest of the crowd – can make life feel like an endurance test – can make us go inside – locking our thoughts and feelings away for fear of misunderstanding, or worse – ridicule.


What is it that allows some to be contented, happy even, with a state of affairs outside the norm?  The drawbacks are obvious:


– No one to share our stories, our day, to hold and to cherish.


– The disadvantage of being the lone householder lumbered with all the bills and household maintenance.


– Being alone could be a scary place health wise without support, and if we dwelled on these instances, yes, loneliness could definitely be a factor – especially when life events makes us feel hard done by.


However, on the other hand, being alone constitutes – freedom of space to do as you please, to create, and just Be.  It gives time for  thought and contemplation.  No one to answer to … Being responsible for yourself, your own well being.  Freedom to be yourself in your own private environment, (even if you conform outside).  Being alone can give you the opportunity and courage to embrace life on your terms.


Does being alone have special rules?


It might seem unconventional, even unlucky to some and even evoke pitiful responses from those unable to step outside the parameters of the ‘norm’ but you don’t have to take an oath of silence or celibacy to be alone.  You don’t have to sit Buddha like atop of a hill to be happy.  You can be contented knowing about yourself, your likes, dislikes, what makes you happy.  You have time to be yourself, for yourself and actually come to like yourself.  And you know what, those people who invited me for tea didn’t know that being alone can make you very happy and contented.



Small steps …


Baby-Steps-to-Big-DreamsAnd, if it doesn’t make you happy there are ways to do something about that too.  Maybe it’s about forming relationships outside the status quo.  Maybe it’s about meeting people where they are at.  Letting go of our neediness to be a couple.  Nothing scares people more than the prospect of a ‘clingon’ – It is possible and desirable to strike up day to day conversations with people in general – don’t assume that others won’t be interested.  Be curious about those you meet, ask about what’s going on for them, people love talking about themselves and often have fascinating stories to tell given the opportunity.  Give it a try, it works wonders.  I always used to tell my kids to smile at someone and say ‘hello’ because they might be the first person they had  shared a word with that day.  Rather than wait for someone else to give you that gift, offer it first and see what transpires.



Where are you?


Maybe you’re in an ‘alone place’ where you know there’s more to life than you are experiencing right now?  You’re oh so ready for change but can’t figure out who you really are, never mind what it is you want or what’s possible for you?  You can’t see how things could possibly alter?  You’d like support and inspiration to find the courage to discover the light inside of you?


Loneliness is like a blackness that clouds the sight with fear and dread, whilst being alone can be akin to a bright star sparkling in the vastness of the night sky, lighting the way for the soul.  Maybe it’s about expanding our perspective, even for a little while – looking beyond what’s familiar, accepting the positives rather than dwelling on the lack of, and notice how your feelings, thoughts and perceptions shift incrementally


Now let me hear from you – does this resonate on any level with you?  Do you have a point of view to light the way – would love to hear your thoughts.



  1. Marianne on August 28, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    Excellent. It was just like reading my own thoughts out loud. I enjoy sharing my life with others but love being alone to just BE. I have an absolute need to be alone on a regular basis just to balance my equilibrium.

  2. Patricia Anderson on August 30, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    You realise that asking me to comment on alone v loneliness is like opening Pandora’s box … I have been a single parent and after my divorce and a few live-in relationships now live on my own. I have no problem with this. It is, afterall, my choice and I believe there lies the crux to it all. Choice. Choosing to take a certain path is not easy and yes there are times when you need someone to be there, even if it is only to get the lid off a jar or to have a shoulder to cry on. But this is just being you whether you are in a relationship or not; and more often than not your friends will gather round to help out. But I can honestly say that the only times I have felt lonely is when I have been in a relationship with the wrong guy or with folk who … not sure what to say here but … folk who make me feel alone … they project their uncomfortable feelings onto me. For example, I was at the cinema, alone, and neighbours came into the venue. “Pat are you on your own?” they asked. “No I’ll be sitting with all these other folk who are going to see the same film”. Harsh? or just stating a fact?

    • Sally Canning on August 30, 2012 at 3:26 pm

      Oh Pat, I am giggling my socks off – Wonderful! Depends on your perspective whether that’s harsh or not – Hope they laughed and appreciated your sense of humour :0) Once again it’s comes down to perception.

  3. miranda on August 31, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    interesting, i have been thinking about this aloneness/loneliness thing for quite a while. i am five years separated, two years divorced, and am constantly being asked whether i am lonely. i am so completely Not, and can’t really put my finger on why. it so annoys me that people seem to think one can only be whole as part of a couple, as if your self must be validated through another. i have lots of friends and family around me, and never feel lonely, except when my mind goes off into one of its unhealthy obessive thinking modes and starts comparing. Compare and despair! i do know quite a lot of women my age who certainly do feel incomplete on their own and society, for its own reasons, tends to reinforce those feelings at every turn. the ability to feel ok in one’s own company and not to need someone else for happiness is a gift, and one for which i am grateful for. having felt lonely in a marriage for 30 years, it is wonderful to feel happy in my single-, and whole, -ness.

    • Sally Canning on August 31, 2012 at 8:15 pm

      Oh, and what a gift Miranda – to be happy and contented with who you are. I have so many conversations with women who are seeking external validation when the answers truly are all inside. It’s a hard pill to swallow and can leave us feeling insecure and confused, we hide our light, we forget how to shine, because the writings on the walls of so many women is that we are not enough, we must conform, it’s not okay to embrace who we really are and step into the wholeness of our beauty.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.