Do we all fear being alone? As social creatures, it makes sense if we do.
Loneliness is a painful emotion. It can make people do and say things they’d never do if they weren’t feeling so alone – in good and bad ways.
But even though there’s good in feeling lonely sometimes, most people focus on the bad. Which is why some people won’t ever admit to being lonely.
Even when the signs are glaringly obvious…
If someone is lonely but isn’t admitting it, psychology tells us there are certain things they’ll do.
Let’s get into what they are…
1) They’re overly chatty, especially with strangers
First up, lonely people crave connection. After all, that’s what feeling lonely means! It means you miss people and you miss the connection you feel with them.
So it makes sense that you’ll make more of an effort to talk to people, even strangers if you’re feeling lonely than if you aren’t.
Like if you remember the 2020 pandemic. I spent the first six months of that time alone, with no one to see or talk to. It made me want to strike up conversations with strangers on the street, just so I could experience some kind of social interaction!
Similarly, when I went through a bad breakup and was on my own for the first time in adulthood, I missed talking to people all the time.
I texted friends more than usual. I’d stay on the phone with coworkers for a little longer than I should. I even lingered after my hairdresser’s appointment to chat with the person behind the till!
This isn’t always a sign of loneliness. It can just signal that someone is sociable or chatty. But in my case, it certainly was. And I know it is for many others, too…
2) They make up false weekend plans
The above sign of loneliness isn’t that bad. But this one kind of is. Actually, it’s a little sad. But I think we can all see why some people do it.
Like I said earlier, there’s a stigma around being lonely. It’s viewed as a bad thing. Some people even think it’s embarrassing (even though it isn’t).
Which is why someone who feels lonely might be inclined to lie about their weekend plans. Instead of telling you every single week that they “did nothing, like usual”, they might pretend they did something else.
They might always have an elaborate story about things they’ve been up to. They might always have these exotic plans coming up.
But something doesn’t add up about the things they say, and you know they’re lying. You didn’t know why, at first. But now you do: it’s because they’re lonely, and they don’t want to admit it for fear of how it makes them look.
3) They say they’re “not bothered” a little too often
Say you’re talking about the party you went to at the weekend. They weren’t invited, even though they knew this person, too. Instead of saying how upset they are about it, they tell you they “aren’t bothered at all” about not being invited.
They bring it up once. Then they bring it up again. And again and again and again.
When you ask them what they did at the weekend and they say nothing, they jump in again with “I’m not bothered, I like being on my own”.
Which, yeah, it may be true. But it might also be a cover-up. They might, in fact, be very bothered about their lack of social plans or invitations to parties. They just don’t want to admit it.
4) They’re always trying to make social plans
Another sign of loneliness in a person is someone who’s always trying to make social plans. I’ll confess, I’ve even been guilty of this myself!
When I’ve felt lonely in my life, I don’t like it. And I know that I need social interaction. So, what do I do? I try to make as many plans as possible.
Usually, I’ll text different friends to see if they’re free. But if I didn’t have a lot of friends, I might text the same people over and over.
Which is how I suppose I’ve ended up in some group chats with people who are always asking, “Who’s about for a drink?” or “Who’s up for the club this Saturday?”. And it’s the same person asking every single weekend.
They may just be extroverts, I know. And that’s why they want to socialize all the time. But they may also be lonely, and they’re trying not to be by making as many social plans as possible.
5) They keep themselves overly busy
It might not seem like it makes sense, but when someone feels lonely, they might keep themselves busy all the time.
You wouldn’t think this means that someone is lonely or sad (sometimes both). But psychology tells us otherwise – and I can testify to it!
If you read any advice column about what to do after a break up, it’ll probably tell you to keep yourself busy. I know because that’s exactly what I did, too.
I went to the gym whenever I was free. I created errands for myself to run. I booked plans in for weeks in advance. When people asked me what I was up to this week, I always had a long, long list.
But the thing is, I was making these plans because I knew I’d feel lonely without them. I knew if I didn’t book plans for myself on a Saturday night, the loneliness would creep up on me.
That being said, staying busy just because you feel lonely isn’t always a bad thing. It can help you create new memories, meet new people, and just feel happier in yourself, really!
6) They get upset when plans change at the last minute
You know when I said loneliness can make you do good and bad things? Well, this is an example of a bad thing you might do when you feel lonely.
Loneliness is a painful emotion as well as a powerful one. Which is why it can make you feel overly sensitive about certain things.
Namely, when plans change at the last minute. If you’re anything like me (and how the experts say we are) and want to book plans when you’re feeling lonely, you’ll probably feel very upset when those plans get canceled.
If they were canceled and it meant you got to stay home with your family, hang out with your partner, walk your dog, or do anything else you saw as fun, you probably wouldn’t be bothered about it.
But if you’re lonely, and those plans getting canceled last minute means you’ll have to sit indoors alone all weekend, with no one at all to see or talk to, you’ll probably have a very different reaction.
I know I have before…
7) They post a lot on social media
People post on social media for many different reasons. Some people do it to show off their lifestyle. Others do it to make casual conversation with their friends.
And a small few people do it because they’re feeling lonely.
My friend was notorious for doing this. Whenever she went through a breakup, she’d start posting online way more than normal.
Everywhere she went was accompanied by a story. And when she wasn’t doing anything, she’d post a quote of some sort. Which usually meant she wanted a friend to reach out and ask her if she was OK.
Like I said, not everyone who posts constantly is lonely in life! But if they’re always craving a reaction from people online, they might be…
8) They pretend to like things everyone else likes
My partner gave a good example of this. His friend has never liked golf. He’s pretty sure that he still doesn’t like golf.
But he tags along whenever everyone else is going. Why? Because it’s sociable. It’s the only thing my partner and his friends do together nowadays. So if this guy didn’t go golf, he probably wouldn’t get to see his friends as much.
I’m not saying this guy is lonely, but this behavior is something a lonely person would do.
They might start vaping because they get to hang outside with everyone. Or they might pretend to like something other people like so they feel like they “fit in”.
Sometimes they might try too hard to fit in, going along with anything someone says. Other times, it just seems like their interests change all the time, or like something isn’t quite right about what they say they enjoy doing…
The thing to remember about loneliness is that it isn’t always a bad thing.
When I experienced my first ever adult break up, I had to live alone, with no single friends around me who knew what it was like to have your life change in an instant.
And I was lonely, I’ll admit that.
But feeling that loneliness was powerful. It taught me a lot about who I am and what I want in life. I made plans for the future. I started new hobbies. I reached out to old friends and made new friends in the process.
If I hadn’t felt that loneliness, I never would have reached the point I’ve reached in life today. And I probably wouldn’t appreciate my friends, my family, and being in a relationship anywhere near as much as I do today!
But I think loneliness is only a good thing if you realize you’re lonely and if you try to do something about it. Like keeping yourself busy, trying new things, and making more of an effort with people than you usually would.
So if you’re feeling lonely, and you’re just realizing it from this list, don’t get lost in it!
Loneliness can shape you and help you rebuild your entire life. You just have to make sure it doesn’t take over…
Lost Your Sense of Purpose?
In this age of information overload and pressure to meet others’ expectations, many struggle to connect with their core purpose and values. It’s easy to lose your inner compass.
Jeanette Brown created this free values discovery PDF to help clarify your deepest motivations and beliefs. As an experienced life coach and self-improvement teacher, Jeanette guides people through major transitions by realigning them with their principles.
Her uniquely insightful values exercises will illuminate what inspires you, what you stand for, and how you aim to operate. This serves as a refreshing filter to tune out societal noise so you can make choices rooted in what matters most to you.
With your values clearly anchored, you’ll gain direction, motivation and the compass to navigate decisions from your best self – rather than fleeting emotion or outside influences.
Stop drifting without purpose. Rediscover what makes you come alive with Jeanette Brown’s values clarity guide.