Scientist

Being Alone

84 posts in this topic

I have just a general question; how do you deal with being alone? I don't mean for short periods of time, but long term loneliness and (at least the feeling of isolation.) Obviously I am asking in part because of my own situation :o but I am curious to see what people say. By being alone I don't necessarily mean physically being alone, but rather not having any close friends. In my case, I am on a university campus that is extremely liberal so it is hard to make a really close friend. I have people I talk to, and even hang out with sometimes, but it can be a little taxing at times (one of the people here just recently tried to convince me that capitalism can't work because the amount of value in the world is unchanging!) And I am single too, but that is another issue entirely :D Anyway, I am sure that most of the people here have felt alone at one time or another, so I just want to know what you did to help deal with it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have just a general question; how do you deal with being alone? I don't mean for short periods of time, but long term loneliness and (at least the feeling of isolation.) Obviously I am asking in part because of my own situation :o but I am curious to see what people say. By being alone I don't necessarily mean physically being alone, but rather not having any close friends. In my case, I am on a university campus that is extremely liberal so it is hard to make a really close friend. I have people I talk to, and even hang out with sometimes, but it can be a little taxing at times (one of the people here just recently tried to convince me that capitalism can't work because the amount of value in the world is unchanging!) And I am single too, but that is another issue entirely  :D Anyway, I am sure that most of the people here have felt alone at one time or another, so I just want to know what you did to help deal with it.

On one level your question certainly highlights an aspect of the value to be found in close friends and romantic relationships, and how one might feel about their loss. But, taking your words at face value I would suggest that you try to open yourself up in the meantime to what you may consider to be less than the ideal. I have several times told the story of the Hasidic Jew, Don, who I befriended when I was of school age, and we disagreed and argued about many fundamental philosophical issues, not just the obvious disagreement about religion. But I loved spending time arguing with Don because he was intelligent, had an active mind, and had great determination -- we often yelled and screamed at each other. Young people with different intellectual views than your own still possess the seeds of a friendship if they have the sort of character and mind that you value. Perhaps you just need to open yourself to such a possibility.

p.s. Don eventually shed his religious robes, read Atlas Shrugged, and went to work for IBM. I do not regret having had a friendship with this guy who disagreed with me about so much.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have had friends who disagreed, and I loved them, though it "only went so deep". I've had wonderful beautiful relationships with a myriad of types and what Stephen says can be very true.

Nonetheless, currently I am quite lonely.

How do I deal with it?

The internet baby :o

Pick your friends according to interest from across the globe. I've made some of my best friends here.

Also learn to befriend yourself. Sounds trite, but maybe that's the silver lining of lonliness.

Cheers to you :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have had friends who disagreed, and I loved them, though it "only went so deep". I've had wonderful beautiful relationships with a myriad of types and what Stephen says can be very true.

Nonetheless, currently I am quite lonely.

How do I deal with it?

The internet baby :)

[Amen!  :D,  Janet]

Pick your friends according to interest from across the globe. I've made some of my best friends here.

Also learn to befriend yourself. Sounds trite, but maybe that's the silver lining of lonliness.

Cheers to you :)

I've lived in relative isolation for years. I highlighted the above passage because, trite or no, it has been my saving.

But you are young and vital. You need not stay in your present situation. When I still had the energy to socialize, one of my best friends was a liberal lawyer and politician. He was (and still is) very intelligent and intellectual honest (for the most part). We had wonderful discussions and I learned a lot about Objectivism arguing with him because he was very skilled and adept at asking pertinent questions. Sometimes there were weeks between discussions, time I spent studying and thinking until I could answer him. It was good for me.

So, my advice is: don't pass up a relationship with an truly intelligent person just because they don't share your philosophy. As Stephen points out, they can be valuable relationships. You may still be lonely, but not so alone.

Life is what you make of it. (Again, trite, but true.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Anyway, I am sure that most of the people here have felt alone at one time or another, so I just want to know what you did to help deal with it.

I see you already have some very good input here and will add my opinion. :)

I understand where you are coming from because in a sense I have done the same thing. I have very high standards when it comes to meaningful longterm friendship, and am rather reserved when dealing with people who do not seem to be honest/genuine.

But there are various levels of friendship/acquaintanceship you can have with people. Janet explained her exchange with a friend who is almost opposite her philosophically. I've done the same thing. It can be challenging and it is possible to grow from such interactions. Don't isolate yourself! If there are other activities you enjoy, like hiking, skiing, tennis - going to see movies, or getting a good cup of coffee at your favorite local cafe and playing board games- it's possible to be around others who enjoy the same activities and you can keep the philosophical discussion to a minimum if it does not benefit you to share on that level.

I use to have some of the best conversation with a journalism professor who taught at our local university (he was a neighbor). We could go rounds for hours and bore everyone else in the room rigid. By having such conversations I learned more, not only about what I believe but how someone with opposing views arrives at their conclusions. He learned a bit more about Objectivism and Ayn Rand and I re-affirmed why I do not like Noam Chomsky. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If there are other activities you enjoy, like hiking, skiing, tennis - going to see movies, or getting a good cup of coffee at your favorite local cafe and playing board games- it's possible to be around others who enjoy the same activities and you can keep the philosophical discussion to a minimum if it does not benefit you to share on that level. 

Excellent advice!

Rewarding relationships are built on common values. Sharing a value -- any value on any level -- is a rational and moral bond between people.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have just a general question; how do you deal with being alone?

For me, "being alone" has always meant, "not being disturbed by all kinds of stupid people," so I have always loved it. There was a brief period when I was tending to feel lonely : although I met people day by day, I wasn't meeting anyone I thought was worth meeting. So you can be alone without being lonely, and lonely without being alone...

And I am single too, but that is another issue entirely  :)

Why do you think so? If you find a person whom you really admire and whose company you really enjoy, you certainly won't ever feel lonely anymore!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sharing a value -- any value on any level -- is a rational and moral bond between people.

I agree--although I think it's important to keep in mind that the greater the shared value, the stronger the bond. I might enjoy skiing together with a person, but if that is ALL we have as a shared value, I won't be satisfied until I find a truer friend.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[Y]ou can be alone without being lonely, and lonely without being alone...

Absolutely. I have never had a problem with being alone. I can always find something to do or to occupy my mind.

Loneliness is a different matter. Here's the entry for "loneliness" in The Ayn Rand Lexicon [p. 266, emphasis mine]:

The thinking child is not antisocial (he is, in fact, the only type of child fit for social relationships). When he develops his first values and conscious convictions, particularly as he approaches adolesence, he feels an intense desire to share them with a friend who would understand him; if frustrated, he feels an acute sense of loneliness. (Loneliness is specifically the experience of this type of child - or adult; it is the experience of those who have something to offer. The emotion that drives conformists to "belong," is not loneliness, but fear - the fear of intellecutal independence and responsibility. The thinking child seeks equals; the conformist seeks protectors.) ["The Comprachicos," NL, 213]

I haven't had a close friend for over 20 years. (I was married for most of that time - the statement still holds. :)) My kids lived with me after the divorce (one has since moved out on his own), and I get along wonderfully with them, but that's not quite the same. It's nice to think that I might have something to offer, but that doesn't help solve the problem.

It's a matter of personality - I'm terrible in social situations. If I have some common ground with another person then it's not too hard to talk, but without that it's not going to happen. Even with that it's difficult - it took me about three years to work up the courage to attend a meeting of the local Objectivist club, and I have lots in common with them! (It's still a wonder to me that they've received me so warmly.)

And dating? Pffft. I have no idea what I'm doing. :) Mostly I wonder, "What's the use?"

Actually, I'm kind of shocked that I'm actually going to post this. But somehow it's easier in this kind of setting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I was married for most of that time - the statement still holds. :)

When you marry somebody you won't eventually have to divorce, you'll think differently about that. Courage! :)

It's a matter of personality - I'm terrible in social situations. If I have some common ground with another person then it's not too hard to talk, but without that it's not going to happen.

And I say good for you! If you have nothing to talk about, it would be useless to talk. You shouldn't feel bad about not finding it easy to do something useless; a tendency to avoid useless things is a virtue !

Even with that it's difficult

So which is it, "not too hard," or "difficult" ? :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
When you marry somebody you won't eventually have to divorce, you'll think differently about that. Courage! :)

Ah, the "marry again" question. :) Another thread entirely...

And I say good for you! If you have nothing to talk about, it would be useless to talk. You shouldn't feel bad about not finding it easy to do something useless; a tendency to avoid useless things is a virtue !

That's true unless the purpose is to meet people, but that's never enough common ground for me. Drop me in a singles mixer and I'll just sit there and watch.

So which is it, "not too hard," or "difficult" ? :D

Difficult to put myself in social situations in the first place. Not too hard to talk to someone once I've found common ground. (The latter is a sort of catch-22 - won't talk until there's common ground, can't establish common ground without talking. :D Sometimes, though, the common ground is pre-established, like when I'm taking a class or something.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It's a matter of personality - I'm terrible in social situations....

And yet, had you not written this post, I never would have known. On THE FORUM you come across as someone who is open, direct, and amiable, without a hint of any concern or discomfort. Interesting how in-person contact is somehow processed differently.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you know what it is that you value in yourself you will be able to see those same values in other people. I never search for friendships directly, I am who I am, and friendship comes as a secondary. I do not hide who I am nor do I preach to others without conern on their part. But, if there is no one in my general view worthy of my time, I will hold out rather than comprimise just to be with someone. When I do find someone worthy of my time and friendship, I do not hesitate to let them know it. I react like a child in a candy store who has just found the chocolate's.

I also do not see being alone as a negative. When I first started my company I spent hours everyday alone in my office waiting for the rational person to come, and he did come. But it did allow me the time to further my understanding in a lot of different subjects. Maybe you could look at it in a different way. That it gives you time to enjoy other aspects of your life while still achieving happiness, although you might be alone.

Ray K

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had a problem with finding good friends through most of middle school and freshman year. However, I started at a new school this year, and my roommate and I clicked right away. My advice for finding good friends or at least people with common values, is a technique I have heard referred to as "flying the flag." This works very well, paticularly if you want to get around the "Catch-22" Piz described. This is what I mean:

When I went to placment testing for my new school, one of the things I brought with me was a copy of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. This was because the date was June fourth, the day of the release of the movie of the same name. I figured that there would be other good Harry Potter fans who would bring the book with them so they could refresh their memories before running off to see the movie after the test. I met an incredible number of Harry Potter fans that day, including my roommate, who I decided to room with the same day. Voila, common ground without a word said. :)

The point is, there are ways to learn things about the people in a room without opening your mouth. If your looking for someone who shares your philosophy, take a copy of WTL or AS to the next social function and see what happens. :)

Just my 2 cents. :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
And yet, had you not written this post, I never would have known. On THE FORUM you come across as someone who is open, direct, and amiable, without a hint of any concern or discomfort. Interesting how in-person contact is somehow processed differently.

Thank you very much!

There is a difference, though I couldn't say what it is. Online is easier than in person.

However if you and I were to meet I'd have less trouble, since we've gotten to know each other a little via various online forums. That's enough "common ground" for me. Meeting someone "cold" is the big difficulty for me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi everyone! Thanks for all the great replies! I think I just really need to concentrate on the resources I have (internet, people around here) and just try to work harder at making friends. I also realize the advantage of having free time to myself and I spend it on hobbies (for example, posting on message boards :) .) I have been trying to learn how to draw and paint... I am even taking a class on Chinese brush painting and calligraphy (though I really want to be able to paint in the Western realistic manner.) I did want to comment on this statement by Capitalism Forever (which, by the way, is a great name!)

And I am single too, but that is another issue entirely  :)
Why do you think so? If you find a person whom you really admire and whose company you really enjoy, you certainly won't ever feel lonely anymore!

Well, I certainly hope so! I meant that finding a partner is a different matter than just making friends. I almost made a topic about "How can I meet a girl" but I decided that I should be a little subtler about it :D. Having been single almost three years now, I really starting to miss all the little things that you get... for example, it has been a long time since I have even held someone's hand. I need to get to the point where it doesn’t matter to me if I am single or not (because, after all, I should be able to be perfectly happy just with myself,) but it is very hard for me. The hardest thing about it is that right now I really don't have much hope of meeting anyone (not romantically, at least.) As I put it to one person, it is not so much that when I go to sleep tonight I am single, it is the fact that when I go to sleep tonight it is with the certainty that when I go to sleep tomorrow I still won't have met anyone. Anyway, sorry for getting off the topic :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
With the spirit you have shown you should have no difficulty making new friends in person. Come to this summer's Objectivist Conference. Both you and Scientist will find many people of like values.

That would be awesome if I could get the funds together to fly out there. I only briefly read, do they offer lodging or all that is separate and then you come to the workshops in the day? I guess I'll look at it again later. Perhaps I can save up enough for next year! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I meant that finding a partner is a different matter than just making friends. I almost made a topic about "How can I meet a girl" but I decided that I should be a little subtler about it :).

At some of the Objectivist conferences Betsy has given an informal class to the single men on exactly the subject of how to meet a girl. It was followed the next day by a similar one for the girls! Something must be working right, because there have been a nice spurt of conference-related marriages.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
That would be awesome if I could get the funds together to fly out there. I only briefly read, do they offer lodging or all that is separate and then you come to the workshops in the day? I guess I'll look at it again later. Perhaps I can save up enough for next year! :)

Usually there is a package that includes lodging at the conference hotel, or a separate package just for the lectures and events alone. This year it seems as if we have to make arrangements at the conference hotel ourselves. Usually the west coast conference is followed the next summer by an east coast one. Whether east or west, I hope you will be able to attend. I suspect, like most everyone there, you will have a wonderful and exciting time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
At some of the Objectivist conferences Betsy has given an informal class to the single men on exactly the subject of how to meet a girl. It was followed the next day by a similar one for the girls! Something must be working right, because there have been a nice spurt of conference-related marriages.

I don't suppose a recording or transcript of that class is available, is it? :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have just a general question; how do you deal with being alone? I don't mean for short periods of time, but long term loneliness and (at least the feeling of isolation.) Obviously I am asking in part because of my own situation :) but I am curious to see what people say. By being alone I don't necessarily mean physically being alone, but rather not having any close friends. In my case, I am on a university campus that is extremely liberal so it is hard to make a really close friend. I have people I talk to, and even hang out with sometimes, but it can be a little taxing at times (one of the people here just recently tried to convince me that capitalism can't work because the amount of value in the world is unchanging!) And I am single too, but that is another issue entirely  :) Anyway, I am sure that most of the people here have felt alone at one time or another, so I just want to know what you did to help deal with it.

Hi,

I deal with "being alone" by... 1) reminding myself how nice it is to be alone rather than with people who make you feel lonely 2) never missing out on anything I want to do because I am alone, even if it means dealing with short company and 3

) occupying my spare time in doing what I love to do.

I deal with "loneliness" on the rare occasions that it happens by...pampering myself, if nothing else buying few new clothes even if I did not need any.

"Working harder at having friends" didn't work for me. Whenever I do keep company, I do it with full awareness that it is only for that specific context and in that specific context.

-Pooja

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I am on a university campus that is extremely liberal so it is hard to make a really close friend....And I am single too, but that is another issue entirely

Pay attention to your perception of other people's sense-of-life. Rand often noted that Americans, while not explicitly rational, typically have a rational sense-of-life. You may find people with a rational enthusiam for life and with explicit, tho non-philosophical, rational values. Eg, you might meet someone who likes profoundly romantic movies and can talk about them rationally, tho, again, on a non-philosophical level. And the same for romantic novels, music, sports, etc, etc. This is especially true for romance, since one falls in love with a sense-of-life, not an idea. When I was a philosophy student I met a woman who had a confidently happy sense-of-life and was intellectually independent even tho she liked Existentialism and phenomenology. :) We met, no word of a lie, in an Aristotle seminar! I was also friends with many other philosophy students because they had an honest respect for ideas and could talk intelligently about life. I was very outspoken about my respect for Objectivism but this just seemed to fuel their interest in talking to me. I organized a philosophy club in my home to which even perfessors came. I wrote a philosophy column for the campus newspaper. I spent much time discussing philosophy with many humanities professors and made friends that way. Let people know, in a friendly and respectful way, that a philosophical revolution is aheadin' their way and you may find that many will talk to you seriously and without the stomach-turning cyncism and aggressive stupidity that is culturally influential.

I'm not saying that our culture is a rose garden but it's not yet a crown of thorns either.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
At some of the Objectivist conferences Betsy has given an informal class to the single men on exactly the subject of how to meet a girl. It was followed the next day by a similar one for the girls! Something must be working right, because there have been a nice spurt of conference-related marriages.

I don't suppose a recording or transcript of that class is available, is it? :)

No, but I'm right here and I can share some of the info I dished out there.

Rule#1 (for men and women) - Go to where the Objectivist singles are.

Everybody at the conference was off to a good start because they came to a great place to find Objectivist singles: the conference. Another good place -- for the same reason -- is THE FORUM for Ayn Rand Fans. :)

Congratulations! So far, you're on the right track.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites