If someone uses these phrases often, they might be feeling lonelier than they let on

It’s been said that we’re living in a loneliness epidemic, and there’s a lot of truth to that.

Paradoxically, communication technologies like social media and the internet have pulled people apart instead of bringing them together, with the result that more and more of our communication is taking place through a computer screen than ever before.

And there are other factors at play too, from the enforced isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic to the fact that fake news and disinformation have divided our society.

But how can we tell whether someone’s feeling lonely, especially when they’re pretending otherwise? Let’s take a look.

1) “I’m fine by myself.”

When someone says that they’re fine by themselves, they almost invariably aren’t.

That’s because the very fact that they’re saying this shows that their ability to cope has been called into question. If they really were doing fine by themselves, it would be self-evident.

For this phrase to come up often, it means that the person in question is often being challenged about whether they’re okay. And if they keep being challenged, there’s probably a reason for it.

Some of the other phrases on this list can be up for debate, but this one is a huge red flag.

2) “I’m used to being alone.”

This phrase is often used by lonely people who are trying to deflect attention. The problem is that it isn’t always true.

Even when it is, there’s a lot of subtext to unpack here. Just because someone’s used to something, it doesn’t mean they’re happy with it. People get used to living with chronic health conditions, but they’d rather not have to deal with them in the first place.

And so when someone says that they’re used to being alone, it can be a good idea to follow up with that and to ask a few questions. Make it clear that you’re only asking because you care and see if they’ll open up.

Before you know it, they might admit just how lonely they’ve been feeling.

3) “I don’t have anyone to talk to.”

In contrast to that last phrase, if you hear this one then it’s pretty obvious that the person in question is lonely.

In fact, there’s a good chance that they’ve been trying to tell people that they’re lonely for a while now but they haven’t been able to because, well, they don’t have anyone to talk to.

Now, if someone keeps on using this phrase again and again, it’s almost certainly because this lack of someone to talk to has been weighing heavily on their mind. They’ve probably been trying and failing to make new friends.

And so wherever possible, if someone tells you that they don’t have anyone to talk to, you should offer to be the person they’re missing.

4) “I prefer solitude.”

A lot of people prefer solitude, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not lonely.

People who prefer solitude tend to cope pretty well on their own, but there’s a big difference between coping and thriving. On top of that, we’re human beings, and human beings are social animals.

Because of this, as much as we might occasionally like a moment of solitude, we’re just not built for it in the long-term. There’s a reason why it’s a “need” on The Sims.

Few people genuinely prefer solitude, and those who do are usually already living alone as hermits.

5) “I’m a lone wolf.”

This phrase is interesting because the idea itself doesn’t work.

Remember, wolves live in packs, and there’s really no such thing as a lone wolf. For a wolf to be a lone wolf, its mate would have to die and its pack would have to abandon it. And as you can imagine, then it would be feeling pretty lonely.

When people say that they’re a lone wolf, they usually mean one of two things. They’re either saying that they think of themselves as independent and not needing to rely on other people, or they mean that they prefer to be alone.

That first meaning is a beige flag; the latter is a red one.

6) “I don’t like big gatherings.”

if someone displays these behaviors they secretly wish they had a different life If someone uses these phrases often, they might be feeling lonelier than they let on

A lot of people don’t like big gatherings, and so this one isn’t a for-sure warning sign like some of the others, but it’s still worth mentioning.

Some of the people who don’t like big gatherings just prefer to be a part of smaller groups. The problem is that others don’t like those gatherings because it forces them to see people socializing and being happy.

For lonely people, there’s nothing worse than seeing other people who aren’t lonely. It’s like how cruel it would be to make someone who’s starving to death watch someone else eating.

And so if someone tells you that they don’t like big gatherings, the best bet is usually to ask, “Why not?”

7) “I keep to myself most of the time.”

The clue to this one is in the language that’s used.

The idea of keeping to yourself suggests that there’s something you could share if there was someone for you to share it with. But because you don’t have anyone that you’re close to, you’re left internalizing things.

As you can probably imagine, people who keep to themselves most of the time usually do so because they have to, and so it’s no wonder that they feel lonely.

All of this means that it’s another opportunity for you to ask someone why that’s the case.

8) “I’d rather stay at home than go out.”

Again, the thing to ask here is why people would rather stay at home than go out.

It may be that they have a good reason for it. Perhaps they don’t have much disposable income or they’ve not been feeling very well, in which case this phrase might not mean that they’re lonely.

For the most part, though, it’s used because the person in question is so used to being alone that they no longer feel comfortable being a part of a group. And as we’ve already discussed, being used to something doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re happy with the situation.

Sometimes, people need to be encouraged to step outside their comfort zone. This is one of those times.

9) “I’m an introvert.”

Last but by no means least, let’s take a look at people who describe themselves as introverts.

There’s nothing inherently lonely about being an introvert, but a lot of lonely people use being an introvert as an excuse to avoid socializing.

Extroverts feel energized by being around other people, while introverts expend energy when socializing. That means that introverts tend to spend less time socializing than extroverts do.

Most introverts still have friends and family members that they’re close to and who don’t leave them feeling drained. But some don’t, and they’re the lonely ones.


Now that you know the phrases you’re likely to hear from people who are feeling lonelier than they let on, you’re better placed to spot it when it happens.

That then leaves you with something else to consider, which is how you plan to react when you spot someone feeling lonely.

I’m a big fan of letting them know that you’re there if they want to talk but leaving the ball in their court so they don’t feel as though you’re putting them under any pressure. But ultimately, how you react is up to you.

Oh, and if you’re the one who’s feeling lonely then don’t be afraid to reach out to people for help. It might not be easy at the time, but you’ll thank yourself in the long run.

Picture of Dane Cobain

Dane Cobain

Dane Cobain is a published author, freelance writer and (occasional) poet and musician with a passion for language and learning. When he’s not working on his next release, he can be found reading and reviewing books while trying not to be distracted by Wikipedia.

Enhance your experience of Ideapod and join Tribe, our community of free thinkers and seekers.

Related articles

Most read articles

Get our articles

Ideapod news, articles, and resources, sent straight to your inbox every month.