Why do we feel so lonely?
And because so many of us are extraverts this is a serious problem. But for introverts the exact opposite is the problem. For introverts the problem is seldom loneliness, but too much community, too many people, all wanting our time, and attention.
Coyote blog just wrote on the subject:
It Turns Out We Introverts Are Racist | Coyote Blog
"I am, depending on the day, a moderate to strong introvert. Nowadays, basically no one understands what this means, because they use it as a synonym of social awkwardness or occasional social discomfort, and everyone will answer "I am introverted too" even when it clearly is not the case. I can interact socially but only with a great expenditure of energy -- the few people I call my friends are the ones whom I can hang out with without it costing me energy. I cross streets to avoid interacting with neighbors, and frequently avoid eye contact with most everyone because every instance of eye contact could potentially lead to a social interaction I am trying to avoid. Like a manic depressive, I go through times that are better and worse -- in times of extreme introversion I will hide in the bathroom for hours rather than even attempt to make conversation with people at some function. If I am not in the bathroom, I sometimes go on talking jags, which is another way not to interact if you think about it. Also like many introverts, I love public speaking, the larger venue the better. Despite it being the #1 reported fear in the general population, I have never feared public speaking -- in fact, I often seek it out.
I don't avoid social contact because I hate people. I like people, and I am not a misanthrope (except maybe when I watch MSNBC too long). I don't avoid social contact because I dislike myself or lack confidence -- folks around me can tell you I have an over-abundance of self-confidence. If this does not make much sense, neither do a lot of phobias to folks who do not have them. The closest I can equate it is that I can get a feeling similar to claustrophobia when interacting with people.
I don't really discuss this much in the blog because a) it is largely irrelevant to blogging and I am unlikely every to meet 99.9% of you face to face; b) I have learned to function pretty well in most situations; and c) I have no particular desire to be a victim. In fact, to the latter, it is impossible to escape feelings of guilt about it, particularly for my wife who has to put up with embarrassing things like seeing me stand alone in a corner at some function.
I bring this all up only to warn you that apparently, this all means that I am a racist:
Students who avoid making eye contact with their peers could be guilty of racism, according to Oxford University’s latest guidance.
The university’s Equality and Diversity Unit has advised students that “not speaking directly to people” could be deemed a “racial microaggression” which can lead to “mental ill-health”."
Me too. My direct response to the university's Equality and Diversity Unit: Pack it where the sun don't shine, you self absorbed prats.
The difference between an introvert and an extravert is introverts expend emotional energy during social interactions with more than one or two individuals, while extraverts gain emotional energy during such social interactions. Another tell is that introverts always want to discuss topics deeply, and analytically, while extraverts are more likely to want to discuss topics superficially, so they can focus on the important stuff, the social, and relationship issues.
When I return from 30 days of solo wilderness kayaking, people always ask if I was lonely, when I say no, they don't believe me. They would have been lonely by midday of the first day, so I must have been lonely. But, no. I do sometimes feel guilty that I do not feel lonely, but this is learned behavior.
I do have some empathy for the lonely extravert, but it is fairly limited. There is no reciprocity. While introverts nearly always understand the emotional state of the extravert, the reverse is never true, as my children have found out to their annoyance. Both children are introverts, while wife is an extravert. Both children are happy as hogs in manure to be occupied by something whether it be homework, Internet, or something else, alone in their room for hours. Wife thinks there is something wrong with them since they can sit still, and do not need to get up, and go for a run, or go meet with someone every 30 minutes. Hooo boy can she be exhausting!
The kids, I, and every introvert I've met understands these things about extraverts, but it is only the rare extravert who understands the needs of the introvert. I chalk this up to the fact that introverts are not only comfortable in their heads, they want to understand what is going on not only in their head, but others as well. Introverts are highly introspective. Introverts use any spare time trying to figure out their own internal idiosyncrasies, and no amount of time is sufficient for this task. If they bore of this, they move on to others.
While extraverts are completely uncomfortable in their heads, they are extrospective, they live, and exist outside of their heads. This means they need others to fill all that empty space, and only other people will do. Thus, they suffer from loneliness if left alone for very long (read minutes).
Years ago, I noticed all of this, long before I ever took a psych course. Brer2 is a uberExtravert, I am like Coyote a moderate to strong introvert. But I noticed something, being an extravert had benefits, and being an introvert had benefits, and I wanted both, I'm greedy like that. So, I watched Brer2 until I figured out what he did, then I carefully mimicked it. It actually took quite a bit of time, but I am quite good at it now.
The problem, as Coyote alluded, is it take huge amounts of emotional energy to sustain my extravert module. By my calculation, I have a solid 4-6 hours most of the time, after that, unless I am willing to go all in, I become something of an irascible bear. So, I make sure that no matter the event I am only on for about 4 hours.