People who feel alone in life even when surrounded by others usually display these 6 behaviors

Have you ever encountered that eerie feeling, where loneliness creeps up on you, settling into that familiar part in the center of your chest?

Maybe, you feel it more so in your shoulders. It’s like a weight pressing and sinking onto you.

Even stranger, is when this particular feeling arrives when you’re surrounded by people. Surely feeling lonely in the presence of others doesn’t make sense, right?

Well, feeling lonely, even while in the company of others, has been something that’s explored in poetry. For centuries, actually.

Take Claude McKay. He was a prominent Jamaican poet who went on to become central to the Harlem Renaissance, a major literary movement of the 1920s.

He wrote “On Broadway”, a poem that goes like this:

Above, a hundred shouting signs

Shed down their bright fantastic glow

Upon the merry crowd and lines

Of moving carriages below.

Oh wonderful is Broadway — only

My heart, my heart is lonely.

McKay paints an image of a glowing, vibrant setting, juxtaposed against his conflicting feelings of deep loneliness. He is surrounded by people, yet in his heart, he is utterly alone.

Did you know that there’s a link between poetry and loneliness? Recent research has found that poetry can play an important role in fighting loneliness. Isn’t that lovely?

One such study found that poetry offers people the chance to “reflect on their lives, enabling them to accept their situation with poise and peace.”

If these poetic words have brought out something inside you, and you’re wondering whether you might be someone who feels alone in life even while in a crowd of people, we’re going to take a look at some of the behavioral signs.

Let’s begin with a big one: difficulties navigating social situations.

1) Finding social situations tricky

Have you ever felt completely lost in a crowd, surrounded by people chatting away, yet it’s as if you’re in your own little bubble of loneliness?

It’s not that you’re bad at socializing—it’s more like you’re still trying to figure it all out.

It’s like in your mind you have a funny story to share, but you’re scared that it won’t land well, so you stay quiet and nod along to whatever else others are chatting about.

There’s a deep fear that what you say might not meet some undefined standard.

Social situations become tough when the fear of being judged and critiqued joins the conversation.

Holding back can lead to you not feeling welcome, and thus feeling isolated in the presence of others.

Understanding why this happens is the first step to breaking free from the loneliness.

Social norms might seem ultra challenging, but with a bit of practice, you’ll find your sweet spot—you’ve got this!

2) Preferring me-time

Ever find yourself choosing a quiet night over big group plans?

Maybe it’s more than just a preference—it could be a sign of hidden loneliness.

Imagine your own little cozy night in, not because you dislike socializing but because navigating social situations and conversations feels terrifying and alien to you.

So, if you catch yourself leaning towards “me-time” a bit too often, it might be your own silent plea for connection.

Consider this a gentle nudge to be open to more companionship. Small gestures, like accepting an invitation or reaching out, can be your ticket back to achieving that necessary sense of togetherness.

Understanding these signals is the very start to making your way into a community or friend group where you never feel like a lone wolf.

So, the next time you choose solitude, take a look at whether this is really what you need (we all need time alone!) or if it’s a protective measure.

3) Getting lost in smartphone world

In 2023, the US government declared loneliness as an “epidemic.” Yep, really.

A report, titled the Surgeon General’s Advisory on Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation, lays out the specific ways that people, workplaces, and community groups can increase the connection in their lives.

“Our epidemic of loneliness and isolation has been an underappreciated public health crisis that has harmed individual and societal health. Our relationships are a source of healing and well-being hiding in plain sight – one that can help us live healthier, more fulfilled, and more productive lives,” said U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy.

Because of this, it’s super important to pay attention to the signs of loneliness in our own lives. And not all of them are always clear.

Something that is intrinsically linked to loneliness in the modern world is excessive phone use.

Ever notice how we’re all plugged into our own little digital worlds, even when surrounded by real, human company?

Let’s go deeper into the case of smartphone-induced social avoidance and loneliness.

Ever noticed how you’re at a party, and everyone is having a blast. But wait a sec—what’s that in everyone’s hand? Smartphones.

The glowing screens that reflect what’s missing inside us.

Now, it’s not rocket science to figure out that our trusty gadgets have become akin security blankets, shielding us from the occasional awkwardness of human interaction.

So, the next time you spot someone lost in their phone at a party, you’ll know—it’s not just about staying connected—it’s a subtle signal of feeling disconnected.

4) Overdependence on online relationships

Over dependence on gadgets People who feel alone in life even when surrounded by others usually display these 6 behaviors

Excessive smartphone usage feeds in nicely to our next sign: an over dependence on digital relationships.

In the age of online connections, we’ve become so used to crafting digital relationships.

From late-night chats to sharing memes that speak volumes, it’s a whole new world out there.

But here’s the twist: relying too heavily on these digital interactions can very much feed into that persistent feeling of loneliness, even when surrounded by a virtual crowd.

How often have you found yourself engrossed in a Reddit thread or a chatroom, only to realize that hours have slipped away?

We’re not blaming the platforms… it’s more about how we navigate them.

So, why does hitching your emotional wagon to online relationships leave you feeling adrift in the real world? The missing ingredient is depth.

While digital interactions offer quick hits of connection, they often lack the richness and authenticity of face-to-face conversations.

I’m not suggesting you abandon your online haunts, they’re still havens of connection, it’s just that balance is key.

Don’t let the digital world be a substitute for authentic, real connections.

5) Worrying about rejection

So, you’re in a team meeting or a classroom, and the fear of rejection rears its ugly head.

It’s that unease about your ideas being dismissed or your contributions being met with indifference.

We’ve all been there—that awful, awful knot in your stomach when you’re afraid your suggestions might fall on deaf ears.

This fear of rejection isn’t just a relic from high school, it follows us into adulthood like a shadow.

It’s the voice in your head asking, “What if my colleagues don’t appreciate my input? What if I say something that makes me look foolish?”

You start seeing criticism where there might be none. A colleague checking their watch during your presentation? Clearly, they’re uninterested.

A group gathered in conversation without you? They must be discussing how out of place you are in the team.

In the context of professional settings, the fear of rejection can be a subtle but powerful force contributing to feelings of loneliness and isolation.

When we are preoccupied with worries about how we are perceived by colleagues or superiors, it creates a major psychological barrier that hinders genuine connection and growth.

6) Escaping through substance use

When loneliness becomes a persistent companion, substances can sometimes step in as a quick-fix—providing a temporary escape from the quiet isolation.

But why do people gravitate towards substances in such scenarios?

Is it the fear of not fitting in, the apprehension of being judged, or perhaps a desperate attempt to drown out all that loneliness?

The truth is, loneliness doesn’t always dissipate in a crowd.

Imagine yourself at a social event. On the surface, you might be quietly sipping a drink, yet beneath the surface, you could be navigating a personal quest for connection.

It’s not just about the substance—it’s about creating a numbing barrier against the invisible force of loneliness.

Final thoughts

To sum things up, we’ve uncovered aspects of social discomfort, reliance on technology, and the fear of rejection.

The use of smartphones as shields in social situations and the pitfalls of overdependence on online relationships illustrate the modern challenges we face.

Additionally, the fear of judgment persists from teen years to adulthood, impacting genuine connections, especially in professional settings.

Substance use can be a tempting coping mechanism, offering an escape from loneliness.

However, it’s super important to recognize that true connection cannot be replaced by substances.

Understanding these signs is a call to action, urging us to strike a balance between digital and real-world connections, confront the fear of judgment, and foster genuine relationships.

In doing so, we can build meaningful communities and combat the loneliness epidemic together.




Picture of Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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