How to Be a Loner but Still Have Friends
I feel there is a deep societal chasm between what being a loner is popularly thought to be, and what being a loner actually entails. It took me many years to realize that my affinity for silence did not stem from resentment or misanthropy (as others would have it), but from just how companionable I found the lack of noise and superficial draining buzz of day-to-day pleasantries.
There is, as always, a catch. While you may have much to offer, and a desire to share you thoughts, joys and life with others, the way your body language speaks for you, coupled with inaccurate social stereotypes, can make the process of making friends troublesome and occasionally frustrating.
In this article I will attempt to concisely list steps that I believe can help you achieve both goals without requiring you to put on an act, sacrificing the foundations of your nature in the process.
You Will Be Judged
Many people tend to confuse loneliness with solitude. Being a loner does not inherently equate being any more lonely than an extrovert. Unfortunately, expect the two to be lumped together unceremoniously.
The good news is that being a loner has many advantages when it comes to meeting people that are often overlooked for precisely the aforementioned reason!
- When you talk people will tend to listen. You are not one to talk for the sake of hearing your own voice -- people will take note.
- Being aloof has positive social connotations too. There is an element of mystery, dignity and authority to being aloof because you will be difficult to read.
- Being alone does not mean feeling alone. Being able to energize, relax and concentrate on your own are already advantages, making you an independent thinker that people will value having around.
- You can be whatever you want to be. If you've hovered at the edge of the social radar for awhile, you have the great advantage of being able to sculpt your new social you, into whatever you wish, without having to work your way out of previous judgement.
Despite these reasons, I often feel that hardened introverts such as myself often shoot themselves in the foot by reinforcing social stereotypes instead of breaking them. A perfect example of this is the title of the article itself. Having friends and being a loner are not mutually exclusive, yet many think that they are.
However, if you do find yourself in a situation where making new friends is hard, consider applying some of these tips into your day-to-day routine.
Reaching Out Without Selling Out
Emulating positive traits (in others) that you admire can be beneficial and fun, especially if it helps you to gain confidence, but be wary of twisting yourself into something you are not in order to garner attention. Having said this, there are some surefire ways to attract friendships passively.
- Be positive - Positivity not only improves your own outlook on life, it also makes people comfortable around you. This isn't a fake it till you make it routine, there are very real psychological reasons to acting positively -- even if it is only smiling. There is nothing as magnetic and attractive as an open, friendly personality, if you are a loner to boot, people will be doubly intrigued!
- Don't make excuses - Behind the crude battlements of our collective egos, almost everyone knows how awkward and stressful social situations can be. There is no reason for you to apologize about your lack of loquaciousness or tendency to work as a one man army. You may be surprised to find that many will envy your ability to thrive alone.
- Find your voice - Interact honestly and freely whenever you feel the impulse to do so, without resentment or judgment. Being transparent is immensely relieving, and while you may stir a hornet's nest now and then you are likely to accrue respect in the process. Your ruminations will also give you a plethora of openings for potential new friendships due to your accessibility and straight talking.
- Correct body language - It is not your introversion that will confine you to solitude, it is how you are perceived by others (and these judgments rarely have any basis in reality, so don't take it personally!). Most of us are completely blind to what our own body language is telling the world about us. Long before we have had a chance to show people who we are, and what we stand for, we have already been labeled and categorized. Correcting negative body language is an amazing DIY tool that we can tap into and drastically improve social interaction and first impressions.
Be Willing To Fail
Ultimately, whether you are a loner or someone who thrives on social gatherings, we all share the same inherent fear -- rejection. As with most things, taking a hit and moving on takes practice, and the ability to not carry the world on our own shoulders. The easiest way to make new friends is by being active in finding them. Did you overhear somebody talk about something you are passionate about? Intervene! If you have something concrete and positive to say you will hardly ever be locked out of a discussion -- and the chance to meet new like-minded people.
By opening ourselves up to others we are exiting our own comfort zone, which can be traumatic. But if we can shake the fear of judgment, humiliation and rejection, then making new friends (of our choosing) suddenly becomes a hell of a lot of fun.