12 things you don’t realize you’re doing because you’re lonely

by Isabel Cabrera | April 25, 2024, 7:25 pm

Admitting that you’re lonely can be difficult.

To other people certainly, but owning up to yourself and acknowledging how lonely you’re really feeling is something that many people avoid.

What’s easier is to pretend that you absolutely love your own company.

Living in isolation in a cabin in the woods?

Yes please!

The modern tendency to forgo in-person interactions and replace these with a text, a Facetime, or a double-click on someone’s newest upload (just to show you care) can leave people craving real, tangible human connection.

But you can’t admit you’re lonely. 

That would be going against a society who periodically yells “you don’t need a partner to define your self worth!” and “start loving your alone time, that’s where the magic happens!”

Independence and autonomy are so strongly heralded, it’s seen as almost weak and complacent to admit that you are in fact lonely.

But fear not, a lot of us feel lonely deep down – even if we don’t admit it.

And this loneliness typically manifests in these 12 ways:

1) Living online

When the real world doesn’t feel quite so welcoming, it’s easy to jump online.

You can game with people from all over the world, message a friend and feel some warmth in your dark soul at having an ounce of human contact, or scroll mindlessly through your feed to distract yourself from impending thoughts of dying alone.

What does your screen time look like?

If you’re the type to reach for your phone the minute you wake up, jump at any notification, and end your nights with a quick scroll…

Chances are you’re pretty lonely.

You’re just working overtime to distract yourself from those feelings. 

2) Using food to quell your feelings

It’s hard to feel sad and alone when you’ve got your nose deep in a tub of Ben & Jerrys. 

Many people turn to comfort eating for a quick dopamine fix. 

They might come home to an empty house and ‘eat their feelings’.

Or even a full house. You can feel equally as lonely in a family or in a relationship.

You might also be the type to feel so listless and alone that you avoid mealtimes altogether. 

Undereating can be as much a sign of loneliness and poor mood as overindulgence.

These can both have serious impacts on your health. 

Undereating can lead to lower energy levels and spiral into disordered eating, whilst overeating can lead to you feeling uncomfortable about your body and cause consequential health issues. 

And the unfortunate fact is that both of these can even contribute to you feeling more lonely than before.

3) Shopping sprees

Online ones, at that!

What better way to fill your listless soul than with bountiful packages dropped off by the postman everyday.

You come home from work and get such a high from being able to dive into piles of next-day-delivery clothing items and fun-looking items your targeted ads thrust in your face.

The truth is that you actually have nowhere to wear all of these clothes you’ve spent the majority of your paycheck on.

Whilst you get a fleeting sense of gratification from tearing into a fresh plastic bag, that elation from having bought a new and shiny item wears off mere moments later and you feel back to being bored and alone.

4) You’re a tv-aholic

What did you get up to this weekend?

Oh, you watched 14 hours of The Office?

Well that sounds…fun.

Binge-watching tv shows has been scientifically linked to feelings of loneliness and depression. 

So if you find yourself nestling down and getting square eyes from staring into your television and watching hours upon hours of tv shows, it’s likely a sign that your mind is trying to conceal some of your more lonely thoughts.

5) Feeling bored and listless

Now, you might well quench those feelings of boredom by binge-watching your favorite show.

But maybe recently, you don’t find your favorite shows all too enticing anymore. 

You find yourself mindlessly skimming channels and no longer find solace in watching Pride & Prejudice reruns that previously brought you immense joy.

A classic sign of loneliness teeters on depression, wherein many of your original favorite books, shows, and podcasts lose their usual interest and life starts seeming a little grey and listless.

6) You spend an eternity in the shower 

Sweet, sweet shower time!

Time to drown out your sorrows and loneliness in fruity bubble bath and warm suds.

Spending extra time indulging in extra hot showers and baths has been correlated to loneliness. 

The theory is that the physical warmth you get from hot water somewhat substitutes the social warmth you’re lacking.

So I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re a big fan of staying in the shower or bath so long until your fingers turn into wrinkly prunes.

7) You start garbling on at any opportunity to talk

Say the supermarket cashier offers you a tiny snippet of small talk when you’re paying for your weekly groceries.

Suddenly, you’re knee deep into trying to tell them about your week. 

Your life. 

What your cat has been up to.

You’re trawling through your childhood trauma whilst they stare blankly into your soul and try to subtly encourage you to pay for your shopping and vamoose.

Another sign of buried loneliness is a frenetic desire to overshare with absolutely anyone who will give you the time of day.

8) Little things send you over the edge

Stubbing your toe.

Not getting home in time for your Sephora parcel.

A light drizzle on your walk to work.

Normal inconveniences that would cause most people to shrug it off and move on with their day.

But to the extra lonely out there, even the smallest of inconveniences can seem like absolute life-crushing situations.

The danger of loneliness is that you start to feel more stressed than normal (as us humans are quite sociable little creatures). 

And in this stress, small things can easily get blown out of proportion; leading not only to breakdowns but also physical issues such as high blood pressure and agitation.

9) Idolizing past relationships or fictional characters

Have you met my girlfriend?

She’s just the hottest girl, ever.

(Yes, they’re talking about Princess Leia).

A sign of excessive loneliness is immersing yourself into fictional relationships and daydreaming fantastical futures involving your on-page/on-screen crushes.

Li Shang from Mulan?

Samwise Gamgee from LOTR?

Wonder Woman?

Sign me up!

To be honest, they don’t even have to be fictional.

You might be sitting there all dreamy-eyed, romanticizing your future with the guy who sits three desks down.

Concocting up these elaborate fairytale dreams about your life and fictitious relationships isn’t all too uncommon a symptom for finding your reality a tad too lonely.

You might also spend your nights dreaming about past flings and exes, all wrapped up in a vision of the past where you don’t feel quite as alone as you do now. 

10) Lingering in bed

You have no other reason to get up.

You have no one to hang out with.

So why not spend the whole of Sunday curled up in a ball snoozing, playing games on your phone, ordering take out or trawling social media?

Loneliness can lead you to lounge around on bed in time you might otherwise (ideally) spend out and about, brunching with friends or exploring farmers markets.

Conversely, loneliness has also been linked to a decrease in sleep quality.

So although you’re probably lounging about in your pajamas, you’re actually not benefitting from any more quality REM sleep than the average person.    

11) Working yourself to the bone

Another sign of buried loneliness is not binge-watching tv shows nor lounging around in bed, but instead throwing yourself headfirst into a workaholic mode.

It’s difficult to feel the loneliness biting at your heels when your calendar is so busy, you barely have time to breathe.

Leaving the office at 11pm and getting there for 6am suddenly sounds dreamy.

What better than an action-packed week full of meetings and deadlines to keep your mind off the fact that life is feeling rather lonely

12) Metamorphosing into a keyboard warrior

Discord forums.

Reddit threads.

Tiktok comments.

You can be found lurking in any of them, ready to jump at any opportunity to post and throw your two-cents into any conversation.

An extension of your online life but a step further, your loneliness might well manifest into you becoming a regular on weird niche forums on the internet.

You might feel lacking in real-life friends, but at least you’re on the list for being considered for a mod position!

Okay, maybe I am lonelier than I thought…

If you’ve gotten to the end of this list and now are sheepishly considering how honest you were with how you consider the current state of your relationships, that’s okay.

Sometimes a bit of tough love is what we need to send us in the right direction.

You’re also more than able to participate in a little of the above behaviors. 

It’s only when they start consuming your life and you make them your focus that you really start to run into issues.

Accepting that you’re lonely can be difficult. 

It can leave us feeling ashamed and guilty, when in fact, preferring to be alone can be an indicator of high intelligence.

But it’s also an isolating feeling that many experience, and hiding online or masking it with other quirky hobbies won’t help you in the long run.

So consider what other methods you can implement to help kickstart your social life and start thriving.

What hobbies have you not yet tried?

Are there any cool events in your local area you could consider sampling? 

How about joining a running club? 

Or a book club? 

Or volunteering at your local animal shelter?

Making friends takes time – particularly if you want to find and sustain healthy and long-lasting relationships.

The key is in putting your foot down and saying enough is enough when it comes to realizing how lonely you actually are – not ignoring those feelings – and being willing to try new experiences to meet new people.

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