If someone displays these 9 subtle behaviors, deep down they’re quite lonely

It’s been said that we’re living in a loneliness epidemic, and there’s a lot of truth to that.

One of the great ironies of our time is that despite being more connected than ever before thanks to the internet and social media, we’ve also never been lonelier.

Often, that’s because instead of going out and meeting people in person, we end up hiding behind our computer screens instead.

But we’re not here to talk about the causes today; instead, we want to take a look at the warning signs.

And so with that in mind, let’s take a look at a few of the red flags that could suggest that someone’s lonely.

1) They keep checking their phone

The first thing to acknowledge here is that most of us keep checking our phones. But then, most of us are lonely due to that loneliness epidemic we mentioned.

Still, people who check their phone more than most usually do so because they’re lonely and they’re hoping that someone has reached out to them.

And because they’re lonely, usually, nobody has.

This means that if you spot someone obsessively checking their phone, it can be worth asking them if they’re okay. It may be that they’ve been waiting for someone to ask them that exact question.

2) They’re not good at eye contact

Eye contact doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and people who are lonely often find it particularly difficult.

I’ve found that the best way to get good at eye contact is to practice it, and practicing eye contact requires us to spend time with other people.

And so it stands to reason that people who are lonely are going to struggle to make eye contact, purely because they spend so much time alone.

In my experience, lonely people also tend to overthink things. They might be afraid to try making eye contact, in case they get it wrong and scare someone away.

3) They’re uncomfortable in groups

Lonely people often struggle in groups because they’re simply not used to being around people.

It’s usually quite easy to tell if this is the case because they’ll be quiet and will generally only speak when spoken to. They might also make excuses and leave social events early.

Unfortunately for the people in question, this can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If they avoid group situations, they miss out on opportunities to make new friends.

And so my advice here is that if you notice that someone’s uncomfortable in a group setting, you should go out of your way to make them feel wanted and involved.

4) They poke fun at themselves

When people are lonely and they feel as though nobody likes them, they’ll often poke fun at themselves as a way of getting people’s attention.

I remember this being particularly common in high school, when the kids who were bullied often started bullying themselves.

This is obviously a sad state of affairs and one that needs remedying, and so when I see someone poking fun at themselves, I always sit up and pay attention.

The key is to figure out why they’re doing it and whether they truly believe what they’re saying. Sometimes, we can just let it go. At other times, we may need to step in and call people out.

5) Most of their socializing is done online

Okay, so I’m guilty of this one myself, but hear me out.

People who are lonely are more likely than most to turn to the internet so that they can socialize because it takes away a lot of the obstacles that come from meeting people in real life.

For example, we’ve already covered how lonely people often struggle to make eye contact.

That’s not a problem when you’re talking to people online.

The problem with socializing mostly or exclusively online is that you miss out on the benefits of real world physical contact and can often end up feeling lonelier than you might have otherwise felt.

6) They seem over-eager to socialize

Another common side effect of people feeling lonely is that when they’re given a chance to socialize, they’ll often jump at it.

I was actually thinking about this the other day, because I was guilty of this as a teenager. The problem was that whenever I had an “in” with a friend group, I’d show up to everything I possibly could. They’d notice, and they’d start to get sick of me.

The problem is that people who are quite lonely often struggle with social skills. They can find it difficult to tell how much enthusiasm is just right.

And unfortunately, if they’re not careful then they can end up with a reputation for being too much of a headache to invite to anything. When that happens, they’ll end up lonelier than ever.

7) They avoid physical touch

We’ve mentioned a few times now that people who are quite lonely can often struggle with their social skills.

As a result of that, they’ll often feel uncomfortable with physical touch and will shy away from it.

They’ll also be super protective of their personal space.

This can leave them being pretty weird if people try to hug them or shake their hand, and they’ll often struggle at events like concerts where people are crammed together in close physical proximity.

All of this combines to make them difficult to be around for “normal people”, whatever they are.

8) They don’t have deep conversations

Lonely people rarely have deep conversations because they don’t feel capable of going into any depth.

As humans, we generally revert to small talk when we’re speaking to someone that we don’t know too well.

I’m British, and our national hobby is talking to strangers about the weather, which is a great example of this.

Small talk and superficial conversations are all well and good for killing time and for breaking the ice, but it isn’t a great way to build permanent, long-term relationships.

And so like many of the other points we’ve made today, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Lonely people don’t have deep conversations, so they don’t make friends, so they stay lonely.

9) They say so

This final point is stretching the definition of “subtle” above and beyond its breaking point, but it’s important to mention it.

Often, when people feel lonely, they’ll tell you, especially if they think you’re one of the people they’re closest to.

Now, if someone does tell you that they feel lonely, the thing to bear in mind is that it’s essentially a cry for help.

A lot of people find it embarrassing to admit their loneliness because they think it makes them seem like a failure.

And so if someone opens up to you and tells you that they’re lonely, take it seriously. And do what you can to help them.


Now that you know the most common behaviors that show that someone’s quite lonely, you can step in to let them know that they’re not alone.

You can befriend them and help them out through this difficult journey we call life.

Alternatively, perhaps you’ve spotted that some of these behaviors apply to you.

In that case, you might want to ask yourself whether you’re lonelier than you thought you were.

As with everything in life, knowledge is power.

We’ve given you the knowledge you need to spot loneliness, and it’s up to you how you use that knowledge. Good luck.

Dane Cobain

Dane Cobain is a published author, freelance writer and (occasional) poet and musician with a passion for language and learning. When he’s not working on his next release, he can be found reading and reviewing books while trying not to be distracted by Wikipedia.

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