Women who are independent on the surface but lonely underneath usually display these 7 behaviors

There’s a stark contrast between being independent and feeling lonely.

You see, independence is worn like a badge of honor; a testament to strength, resilience, and self-sufficiency. But what about that underlying loneliness? Can you spot it?

Being an expert in relationships, I’ve noticed that women who appear independent but feel lonely often show certain behaviors. And recognizing the distinction can make a world of difference.

In this article, we’ll delve into these 7 subtle signs. Not to label or judge, but to understand and empathize. Because sometimes, even the strongest among us need a little love and connection.

1) They overcompensate with self-sufficiency

There’s a fine line between being independent and isolating oneself.

Women who are outwardly independent but inwardly lonely often counterbalance their emotional needs with an exaggerated display of self-reliance. It’s their defense mechanism, their coping strategy.

They take pride in doing everything themselves, from fixing a leaky faucet to handling their finances, and rarely ask for help. This level of self-sufficiency is admirable, but it can also be a smokescreen for the loneliness they experience beneath the surface.

They don’t want to set themselves up for rejection, which will hurt all the more – or for people to make promises that they won’t follow up on, reminding them of their belief that nobody is there for them.

So they don’t even allow a chance of this happening by insisting that they need nothing from nobody. It’s feels much better than facing the truth – that they really wish they could have someone to support them.

2) They’re excessively social

You’d think that those who are lonely would be, well, alone most of the time right? Well, not necessarily.

In fact, some independent women who feel lonely inside might actually look like the life of the party. They fill their schedules with social engagements, meetups, hobbies, and never seem to have a moment to themselves.

This constant whirlwind of activities and socializing acts as a distraction from their inner loneliness. It provides them a sense of belonging, even if it’s temporary.

However, despite being surrounded by people and participating in numerous activities, they still feel a deep sense of loneliness. That’s because genuine connections and meaningful relationships are not about quantity; they’re about quality.

And after these events, they still go back to their normal life, as if nothing had changed. What these individuals may need instead is to have someone to experience life with – not just during the Instagram worthy moments, but through all the ups and downs.

3) They’re reluctant to express vulnerability

This is a tough one, and it’s something I’ve delved into in my book, Breaking The Attachment: How To Overcome Codependency in Your Relationship.

Independent women who feel lonely often have a hard time showing vulnerability. They equate it with weakness, something they cannot afford to show in their pursuit of independence.

But here’s the thing I’ve learned in my years of studying and writing about relationships: Vulnerability is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength. It’s about allowing yourself to be seen, truly seen, by others.

These women often guard their emotions with a fortress-like intensity. They don’t want to reveal that they’re lonely because they think it’ll make them appear less self-sufficient.

It’s a tough cycle to break, but acknowledging this behavior is the first step towards understanding and empathy. That’s what we aim for, right? Genuine connections built on understanding and acceptance.

4) They’re overly self-critical

Personally, this trait hits very close to home. I’ve seen it in many women I’ve known and worked with, and I’ve even struggled with it myself.

Women who appear independent but feel lonely underneath often have a harsh inner critic. They set incredibly high standards for themselves and are seldom satisfied with their achievements. Any mistake or failure is seen as a personal flaw, not a learning opportunity.

They’re often heard saying things like “I should have done better” or “Why can’t I get this right?” This internal dialogue can be incredibly damaging and can contribute to feelings of loneliness.

The great Maya Angelou once said, “You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody”. It’s a quote I often share with women battling with self-criticism. It’s vital to remember that it’s okay to be human, to make mistakes, and to learn from them. Self-compassion is as important as independence, if not more so.

5) They struggle to ask for help

lonely in life but never open up about it Women who are independent on the surface but lonely underneath usually display these 7 behaviors

Have you ever found out that an independent woman you know was in big trouble, yet she didn’t ask for help – even if she knew you could have lent a hand? It can be a frustrating experience for the kind hearts around who then feel bad that they could not help prevent a disaster. 

But we must also understand where these independent women are coming from. It’s not that they don’t believe others can be helpful, or that they don’t trust anyone. The problem is deeper in their belief system.

Women like these often believe asking for help can be seen as a sign of weakness, a dent in the armor of independence. So, they’d rather struggle silently than reach out for assistance. They take on too much, juggle too many balls at once, all to avoid asking for help.

I must confess, I used to be one of them too. But here’s what I’ve learned: asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength. It shows that you value your time and energy and understand the importance of collaboration.

The way out of this destructive cycle is to ingrain the belief that it’s okay to lean on others. It doesn’t make you any less independent. In fact, it can help lighten your load, and who knows, it might even alleviate some of that hidden loneliness.

6) They fear intimacy

Here’s something that might sound contradictory, but it’s true. I’ve seen this pattern in many women who display a strong, independent exterior but harbor loneliness beneath the surface.

These women often keep others at arm’s length, fearing that closeness will make them vulnerable or threaten their independence. They may have relationships, but they avoid deep emotional intimacy. They fear that letting someone in might disrupt their self-reliance.

Of course, this may not be realistically true. But as the wise Anais Nin once said, “We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are”. Fear of intimacy often stems from past experiences, not the reality of the present moment.

Recognizing this fear and addressing its roots can be a significant step towards healing and forming more profound connections. It’s a journey, and I’m here to help guide you through it.

7) They crave connection, but fear rejection

Some people may think that independent women just don’t enjoy connecting with others. But I’ve seen many cases where that couldn’t be further from the truth. 

These women often long for genuine connections, deep conversations, and meaningful relationships. They desire companionship and closeness, just like everyone else. The only catch – they’re terrified of rejection.

The fear of being rejected or abandoned can be so intense that they’d rather stay alone than risk experiencing it. “What if they don’t like me? What if I invite them to hang out and they say no? What if I open up and they brush me off?”

So they put up walls and retreat into their shell, convincing themselves that they’re better off alone.

But here’s the thing: We all fear rejection. It’s a human instinct. What matters is how we handle this fear. It’s okay to take risks in relationships. Yes, rejection hurts, but it’s also a part of life and growth.

Remember, it’s possible – and okay – to crave connection and fear rejection simultaneously. Acknowledge these feelings, and don’t let them dictate your actions or your life.

Final thoughts

Diving into the intricacies of human behavior brings about an understanding that is both profound and deeply personal. The behaviors we’ve discussed – of independent women who are lonely beneath their strong exterior – are not to be judged or stigmatized, but rather acknowledged and understood.

The truth is, we all have our battles, hidden beneath the surface. We all have our moments of loneliness, whether we’re fiercely independent or not. And that’s okay because it’s part of being human.

In fact, this YouTube video by Justin Brown beautifully captures the essence of this discussion. It’s titled “Being single and lonely in a big city.” Although it’s centered on his experience in Singapore, the themes he discusses resonate universally.

YouTube video

Being aware of these behaviors in ourselves or in others around us is the first step towards compassion, empathy, and connection. Because at the end of the day, what we crave most is genuine human connection – to be seen, heard, understood, and loved just as we are.

So, let’s keep the conversation going, continue exploring and understanding each other’s experiences. Because as different as we may seem on the surface, underneath it all, we’re just human beings trying to navigate this beautiful mess called life.

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Picture of Tina Fey

Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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