Why are we ashamed of loneliness?

Why are we afraid to say that we’re lonely?


The world is lonely yet rarely someone will admit it or speak openly about it. We are aware that loneliness can cause depression, stress and many other health issues but it still kind of feel embarrassing to talk about it even it is a worldwide issue. Maybe you’re familiar with the horrifying question – „what have you been up to this weekend?”

You may tell a story about your weekend, how it was great and you met with some old friend that no one knows about. Actually you didn’t even leave you apartment or just went out to the movies, alone. Whichever, there is something very embarrassing about telling that you have been alone, even then when you really enjoyed the time spent in solitude.   

But why are we so ashamed of being by ourselves, or why are we ashamed to admit that we have no friends, that we never were in a relationship or that we simply feel lonely?

The truth is that most of the shaming comes from your perception. Here is an example. Seeing a group of people watching a movie in the theater versus seeing a single person sitting won’t trigger an emotional response in you. Think about it. 

But when you sit in a coffee shop alone you might feel like everybody is staring at you, talking about you, think that you are a loner. Truth is, that people might look for different reasons. It’s not like people are turning around just to see you sitting by yourself (if someone is really staring at you, who is the creep there).  

But if most of the people don’t shame loneliness or being by ourselves as much as you fear, why do you still feels shame about it and why is your perception distorted? It comes down to lack of self-esteem. It’s basically the core problem which can lead to further negative events. You might experience negative self talk or thoughts. Here are a few examples.

  • Saying to others that I spent my weekend alone will make me look pathetic.

  • My loneliness looks unattractive. People will think that I’m a weirdo.

  • No one will want to hang out with me if they know that I have no friends.

So, most of the time the fear comes from the reaction we expect of others. Admitting that we’re lonely can make us vulnerable, and rarely someone will do it. 

But doing so can prevent withdrawal and greater isolation. Just remember that other people won’t see shame in you being lonely as much as you think. 

From your perspective it may look that way and we tend to blow things out of proportion. Besides, it’s not important how others will see us. In fact it is a universal problem and something that many of us will experience at some point. If you open this topic, many people can relate if even in silence and there is a possibility that someone will join your honest conversation.

Also remember not to compare yourself with others.
You may feel like other people are having their time of their life and that you’re the only person experiencing loneliness. 

If you’re feeling lonely, have in mind that being honest with ourselves and others is crucial for forming authentic connection and sustainable relationships. 

Instead of making a story up how we had a great time the last weekend with „an old friend“, maybe we could have spent it with a colleague who is also secretly lonely.  Keep in mind that there is no shame in being alone and we shouldn’t let this topic stay a taboo.

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