- What is monophobia?
- Pros & Cons of being alone
- How to Cope With Loneliness
- Are You an Introvert or Extrovert?
- Feeling Lonely in Your Relationship
- Relevant and Related Searches
In our hyperconnected world of smartphones and social media, being alone has become increasingly difficult. It has also – perhaps as a consequence – acquired a certain stigma; solitude has come to be associated with boredom, isolation and – most of all – loneliness. Some people even suffer from an acute fear of being alone – a condition called monophobia.
In what follows, we’re going to run you through everything you need to know about being alone, covering all the bases, from the facts on monophobia and loneliness, to the lowdown on why solitude may actually be good for us.
Our guide covers:
- What is monophobia (fear of being alone)?
- What are the pros and cons of being alone?
- How to cope with loneliness
- Introverts and extroverts - which one are you?
- Feeling lonely in your relationship
What Is Monophobia (Fear of Being Alone)?
Monophobia – also known as autophobia, isolophobia or eremophobia – is the acute fear of being alone. People who become anxious, insecure and depressed when not around a particular person, group of people or simply anyone at all are are said to suffer from the condition. Although it’s unclear precisely how common monophobia is, research suggests that it’s on the rise.
People with the condition will generally find it very difficult to function when alone and need people to be around at all times, even, in some cases, to the extent of needing company when visiting the bathroom or sleeping. These, however, are severe cases, with many people experiencing only a mild form of the condition.
Physical symptoms of monophobia include possible shortness of breath, rapid breathing, sweating and nausea when alone or in anticipation of being alone, as well as well as an overwhelming feeling of fear or dread. If monophobia escalates, it even has the potential to cause panic attacks.
What Causes Monophobia?
Monophobia is a complex condition with no single cause, though it’s generally thought to result from a combination of psychological factors. These might be feelings of abandonment or insecurity – perhaps as a result of past experiences – or, alternatively, a person suffering from the condition may have simply never learned how to be without the company of others or how to act independently.
Treatment and Recovery
In most cases, recovering from monophobia is a gradual process of learning that will require a good deal of personal effort. The first step, however, is recognizing that there is a problem to overcome.
One of the key methods of overcoming the phobia is systematic desensitization. This may sound complicated, but it’s really a very simple method: Gradually, under controlled conditions, a person is exposed to their fear of being alone.
At first, this may involve nothing more than imagining being alone, before gradually trying it out for real. Through desensitization, an individual can learn that being alone, though perhaps initially unpleasant, poses no real risk.
Learning stress-management and relaxation techniques is also a good way to deal with the symptoms when they strike. These could include breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation and mental imagery techniques. In extreme cases, medication can be used to treat the immediate symptoms of monophobia, though they offer no long-term relief from the condition.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Being Alone?
Being alone doesn’t have to be a bad thing, in fact, a dose of solitude can be good for us, providing us with a chance to recharge, relax and indulge our own interests and thoughts.
Too much time alone, however, has the potential to negatively impact our mental health and wellbeing.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the pros and cons of being alone:
Time spent alone gives the brain a chance to relax, unwind and recharge without distraction. While socialising is healthy, always having to be “on” doesn’t allow the brain an opportunity to replenish and revitalize itself.
Even a slight interruption from a friend or coworker can lead you to lose concentration and significantly slow you down. In general, you’ll get things done with far more efficiently if you’re alone.
Generally speaking, we are able to think more freely when we are alone, unbound by the judgement or criticism of others. Spending time alone, then, can boost creativity and free-thinking.
Counterintuitively, spending time alone is said to actually help you build stronger relationships with others. There are a number of reasons for this, including the solitude giving you a chance to appreciate time spent with others, preventing you from taking others for granted and allowing us to think about ourselves and how we relate to others.
The neuroscientist John Cacioppo – an expert on loneliness – defines loneliness as “perceived social isolation”, in other words, as a feeling of being unloved or unwanted by others. Although being alone doesn’t make feelings like these inevitable, it does make them more likely.
Negativity and Self-Criticism
Being alone can free us up to think creatively, but it can also give us time to be self-critical and negative towards ourselves. Again, these feelings aren’t inevitable when we’re alone and are made more likely when we also feel lonely.
Linked to the previous two points, being alone also increases the likelihood of becoming clinically depressed. Feelings of isolation and of being a burden can also make it more difficult for people with depression to seek help.
How to Cope With Loneliness
What’s important to realise is that being alone and being lonely are not the same thing. Being alone is a purely physical state, whereas being lonely is an emotional state. When lonely, a person feels misunderstood or isolated – feelings that can arise when physically alone or in the company of others.
Loneliness is not in itself a mental health problem, however, it is closely linked to problems such as depression. It can be a frightening, agonizing experience, but it’s one that most people will go through at some point in their lives.
Everyone is different and will feel lonely for different reasons, there are, however, some general tips for dealing with loneliness.
Think About the Reasons Behind Your Loneliness
Why are you lonely? The answer may be simple: You don’t see or interact with people as much as you’d like to. In other cases, it may be a little more complicated. Perhaps you do see people, but don’t feel close to anyone, or don’t feel like you can really talk to anyone.
Looking into the reasons behind your loneliness is most often the first step in overcoming it.
Make New Connections
Meeting new people and socialising is the simplest way to ease feelings of loneliness. Joining a class or volunteering are perhaps the easiest ways of doing this. If these options feel too daunting, perhaps start by joining an online community of likeminded people and make new connections that way.
Even a small increase in social interaction can help lift feelings of loneliness.
Talk About Your Feelings
Even if you’re not physically alone, loneliness can still strike when you are reluctant or unwilling to open up and talk about your feelings or feel misunderstood by those around you.
If this is the case, it may be time to open up and talk to the people around you about what you’re going through. If you don’t feel you can, it may be a good idea to make new connections and talk to them about your feelings.
How to Enjoy Being Alone
It’s normal to feel a little apprehensive about spending time alone. Even if you don’t suffer from monophobia or rarely feel acutely lonely, being without company can still feel daunting.
If this is the case, take a look at our tips on how to enjoy being alone.
Focus on the Positives of Being Alone
Being alone gives you a chance to indulge yourself, reflect and think deeply, it can also boost creativity, productivity and make your relationships with others stronger. Focussing on these things, rather than any negatives, is the first step in enjoying time alone.
Do Activities (That You Would Normally Do With Others)
It might be the case that it isn’t other people that you are missing, but the activities you normally do with them. Fixing this is easy – simply do these activities alone. Go to the cinema, go to a cafe, go to a museum – being alone doesn’t have to mean locking yourself indoors.
Focus and Get Creative
Being alone (especially if you also turn your phone or laptop off) means that all the usual distractions are minimised. It gives you the chance to focus on something exclusively; to put all your creative energies into something. Use the solitude as an opportunity to start a new project or simply do some reading or writing. Whatever it is, this is your chance.
Get Things Done
Time alone is the perfect chance to get things done, even if they’re not always particularly glamorous. Do some chores or some DIY, for example – things that you probably wouldn’t get around to if you had company.
Are You an Introvert or Extrovert?
Most of us are aware of the idea of introverts and extroverts. Introverts, so conventional wisdom goes, are shy and retiring, preferring the company of themselves. Extroverts, on the other hand, are bold, outgoing and love to share the company of others. All of us, it is said, are either one or the other.
But is this all there is to the idea of introverts and extroverts? The reality of these two opposing personality types is, in fact, far more complex and nuanced than you might expect. Take a look at our lists of character traits below and try to figure out which one sounds like you.
Introverts are said to:
- Re-energize and recharge by being alone
- Prefer one-on-one interactions
- Have close relationships with a few people
- Be good listeners
- Dislike change
- Be able to focus for long periods
- Seem more reserved
- Dislike being the centre of attention
Extroverts are said to:
- Re-energize and recharge by socialising
- Prefer group interactions
- Have a lot of friends, but are less close to them
- Be good speakers
- Embrace change
- Be distracted easily
- Seem more outgoing
- Enjoy being the centre of attention
As you can see, there’s far more to each personality type than you might have expected.
Figuring out whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert is a good way to understand your attitude to being alone and may help you to embrace your personality for what it is.
Feeling Lonely in Your Relationship
As we’ve already mentioned, feelings of loneliness can occur when physically alone, as well as when in the company of others. Loneliness is an emotional state, not a physical one.
This means that loneliness can occur when you’re engaged in a romantic relationship, and, you may be surprised to learn, feelings such as these are pretty common. What’s certain is that feeling lonely in a relationship can be a struggle. It can lead to feelings of isolation and helplessness, and be difficult to express or talk about.
What Leads to Loneliness in a Relationship?
There are many reasons a person can feel lonely in a relationship:
- You are closed or withdrawn, perhaps because of a fear of opening up or being hurt
- Your partner is closed, withdrawn and uncommunicative – unwilling to talk about their feelings or your relationship
- You are both unwilling to talk about important issues or conflicts, something that creates walls in a relationship
- You don’t spend enough time with each other because of work or other commitments
Learning to Overcome Loneliness in a Relationship
Overcoming loneliness in a relationship can be hard, but it’s possible. It will usually involve:
- Learning to be vulnerable, authentic and able to open up and freely talk about your thoughts and feelings
- Being willing to understand why a partner may be closed or withdrawn and trying to talk to them in a non-conflictual manner
- Trying to be more kind and compassionate towards your partner
- Making time to be together, talk and share thoughts and feelings
Relevant and Related Searches
- quotes about being alone
- fear of being alone
- being alone quotes
- tired of being alone
- I’m so tired of being alone
SAGE Journals. “Loneliness and Social Isolation as Risk Factors for Mortality.” Accessed August 22, 2017. ↩
Bustle. “11 Tips For Spending Time Alone and Actually Enjoying It.” September 2, 2016. Accessed August 23, 2017. ↩
Huffpost. “The Difference Between Introverts and Extroverts, In One Simple Chart.” Accessed August 23, 2017. ↩