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Alone or Lonely: What’s the Difference?

Updated on April 21, 2015

I like my loneliness, and the thoughts it brings…

I’m sure you know the words, but do you know the subtle differences between them?

If you were to look up these two words in a dictionary, you would find that among other words and definitions, the two would probably be synonyms for each other.

However, if you were to look at some of the other entries above or below, you would find that they are different when used in sentences.

If you’re new here, or if you haven’t read my profile page, you might wonder why I’m seemingly giving this little English lesson. Well, loneliness is a common thing nowadays, and while I was pondering what to write about, while at home alone, I thought about this, and just went with it. On this site, I am dedicated to writing about many things; things that have to do with life in general. I call it life survival advice. I find that I like to talk or write about these things. A lot of them I’m confident I have some experience in.

At some time, we’ve all experienced loneliness. It’s true that they’re some people that cannot possibly be without others around them; they are naturally gregarious. They avoid being alone out of fear; out of fear of being singled out, betrayed by their friends behind their backs if they are not there; or because they have to constantly talk to people all the time. They depend on other people to make or break their mood; to make them happy.

There are the poor souls who seem to have nobody for some reason, whether they are avoided by people, or they think that they are better off that way, and they hate it; it drives them crazy, but they don’t know how to actually socialize to make things better and so the cycle goes. They are truly lonely.

There are others that are alone as well. They prefer being that way for whatever reason. They may have friends or acquaintances that they see every now and again, but the true term for these people rather than lonely is independent. Think of the phrases “lone wolf” or “loner”. They believe in the saying, “if someone else can’t get the job done right, then do it yourself”. They don’t particularly need others for much. They might adopt this attitude towards socializing, where they have many contacts at work, but few outside the workplace. Or they might have a few friends, but prefer to work alone, possibly as an entrepreneur, or at least with their own office instead of mingling (read cramped) with the others in their cubicles. Maybe some like to be alone while working and when resting.


When I was young in school, I had a few friends, and only saw some of them outside of the classroom. Other times there were friends that I only saw in school, and rarely outside of the classroom. I found that I could only tolerate being around others for so long before I found that I just needed some alone time.

I’ve had some good friends, but only a few out of many rotten eggs. I’ve also had many dealings with some kids at school that I didn’t like, and the feeling was mutual. As I got older and the innocence of childhood left us as we entered high school, and everyone went off in separate directions; different schools, different sports and hobbies, different groups. The margin between having many friends and having none at all got slimmer every year. There’s a thin line.

After I left high school at fifteen, I went off to a college and finished my studies there. It was a correspondence college, where I worked from home. There were personal reasons why I left school, and one of them was that I found that I preferred being alone; horror of horrors! I couldn’t take the classes, the cliques, and the abuse handed to me from other kids as well as the teachers. Don’t think just because they wear ties and shirts, or bras and skirts, that they are all nice.

I found that when I was alone while studying or working on a project, much like this site, I performed better; I worked for longer and concentrated harder. And if I wanted to socialize, all I had to do was phone a friend, or hang out with my brother. I’ve also had a close talking friendship with my mom as well. You can say whatever you want about that, but it’s important to have good family ties, because once your family is gone, you’ll have nobody - they are the closest beings you have on this planet in most cases; blood really is thicker than water.

I didn’t know why for a long time, but I actually realized on a sadder note that I became very cynical and disillusioned with people after many betrayals. It happens, and what’s more, you learn your lesson and you don’t open yourself up very easily.

When I am on my own, I experience so much more in terms of thought and knowledge. I am quite bookish at times, and enjoy formulating my opinions and theories, and I write them down. I just don’t want to keep them to myself anymore.

I find that when I am around certain people, and they are many of them, I just don’t feel that I can talk about some of these things to them. It’s like I have to temporarily shut off the tap that flows and lets all my ideas into my very contemplative mind. There are forums that are helpful here, because if a person is interested in a subject, all they have to do is join the topic and converse…well, type anyway.

I decided to go one step further and start my own blogs and so on, so that I could cover all the many things that I felt like doing. And besides, I like working on my own…

"I only feel alone around other people. Couldn't be truer."

— Robert "Mr. Freezy" Pronge (Chris Evans), The Iceman

Alone or Lonely? Both?

See results

© 2010 Anti-Valentine


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    • cre8ivOne profile image

      cre8ivOne 4 years ago from Midwest, USA

      I think it's important for all of us to be comfortable with ourselves. No one needs constant interaction. I have been married 27 years, have 3 kids and we all like our space at times and I think that's wonderful.

    • Anti-Valentine profile image

      Anti-Valentine 4 years ago from My lair

      Hi Faith, thanks so much for sharing. I'll give your hubs on loneliness a read some time too, perhaps.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

      Hi Anti, just came back to share on all hubs and link this one, as I said I would do.

      Thanks, Faith Reaper

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

      I do so love my alone time too. Thanks for sharing your perspectives and actual experiences here as to this subject. I would love to link this hub to at least one of my loneliness hubs, as I have written two. I prefer my first one, rather than my most recent hub. There is a huge difference in having our precious alone time, and social isolation, which is very harmful.

      Voted up +++ and sharing (will come back to share)

      Thanks for sharing, Faith Reaper

    • profile image

      johng101897 7 years ago

      I was recently told by my wife from whom I'm currently separated that I "crave loneliness". The fact that she couldn't be more wrong goes a long way toward explaining why we're separated, I suppose.

      I hate loneliness. I'm lonely right this minute while I'd much rather be home with my beautiful wife and crazy-beautiful kids, and I HATE this feeling. HATE it!

      What I do love is being alone. The only satisfaction I can draw from the stage of life I find myself in at the moment is that I get lots of alone time. Way more than I ever wanted in fact, but I'm trying to make the best of it.

      I've tried explaining the difference to her but she's not wired this way so she struggles with it and probably thinks I want to be alone--as in apart from--her.

      Maybe during all this alone time I can come up with a better way to explain it to her. If I can't, I may be alone for a long, long time, and then I would truly know what loneliness is.

    • love my yorkies profile image

      love my yorkies 7 years ago from way out west


    • Anti-Valentine profile image

      Anti-Valentine 7 years ago from My lair

      Yes, like my dad sometimes says: "It's not people, it's the rubbish that comes with them". Substitute rubbish for another word, though. :)

    • love my yorkies profile image

      love my yorkies 7 years ago from way out west

      I understand so completely. I prefer to spend my time alone but there are times that i'm lonely. Have been hurt too many times by classmates, co-workers and people I thought were friends. Don't care to deal with all the drama anymore. Consider only a very few people as close friends that I can trust and my Mom is one of them also. I like hb because i can express myself in my writing and only have to interact with others if i choose to.

    • Anti-Valentine profile image

      Anti-Valentine 7 years ago from My lair

      I guess so. I enjoy my own company too. I wouldn't say I hate myself.

      I suppose the best thing to do is to keep yourself occupied, like I do with my writing pursuits, and that way you don't think about it as much.

    • thor6 profile image

      thor6 7 years ago from

      Strange thing is that i have lived alone now for 10 years,and the thing is,that i never feel lonely.I have a best mate and that's me.So if you get on with yourself then theres no worries mate.