There are many stereotypes about them men and women who feel a predilection for loneliness. It is often said that they are misanthropic individuals, with social problems or even who are not able to solve the problems of daily life away from home.
However, stereotypes are just that, preconceptions usually based on myths that are never questioned. Is it true that the minds of these people are impoverished by isolation, or are they as healthy or healthier as the rest of the population?
Of course, to see what psychology research says about it, we first need to define what we mean by “loneliness” in the way these people experience it.
How is the desire to be alone?
It should be borne in mind that those who prefer solitude because their attempts to get out of it have been frustrated, either by harassment or by social difficulties, do not feel a real predilection for solitude; they remain isolated against their will and so it cannot be said that they prefer to be authentically alone. In any case, it is the consequence of avoiding damage.
When we talk about people who prefer solitude we refer to those who not only do not reject time on their own, but embrace it and make it part of their lives; they are not afraid to be with themselves and with others, and they like situations of solitude, live moments of calm.
On another side, these people have lost their fear of celibacy, If they already had it. It is not that they necessarily prefer to be without a partner in any context, but that they do not see it as an important and abstract vital goal that must be achieved at all costs.
Explore the minds of those who are not afraid of loneliness
A few years ago, a team of researchers decided to study the phenomenon of preference for loneliness (Not taxed from outside) using for these two groups of married persons residing in Germany; in one group, the average age of participants was 35 years and in the other, 42 years.
Another similar initiative had the same goal, but this time it was to study like those who are not afraid of celibacy. In this case, there was the collaboration of two groups of people, mostly single. In the first group, the average age was 29, and in the second, 19. To measure their personality, both in this research and in the previous one, the Big Five model was used, which measures these traits:
- Neuroticism: Degree of emotional stability.
- extroversion: Degree to which comfort is experienced in social contexts.
- responsibility: Degree to which there is a tendency to organize and engage.
- Openness to experience: Degree in which the new and the creative are positively valued.
- kindness: Ease of processing, tendency to cooperation.
In the case of research on people who enjoy loneliness, measurements were also made on their sociability, while in research on the fear of celibacy these additional personality traits were measured:
- Unwanted feeling of loneliness
- Sensitivity to rejection
- Need to belong to a group
- Depression (inability to encourage, even in the company of others)
- emotional fragility
- Dependence between self-esteem and whether or not a relationship exists
Neither misanthropic, nor unstable, nor antisocial
The results of these surveys they completely destroy the prevailing stereotypes on people able to enjoy solitude freely.
First, it has been found that this personality profile is significantly less prone to emotional instability i.e. AKL neuroticism. If, on several occasions, they prefer the absence of company, it is not because of the crisis, the nervousness or something like that.
On the other hand, this personality type is also distinguished by obtaining higher scores in terms of openness to the experience, while those who are not afraid of celibacy are too. nicer and more responsible than others. In the case of the research on the desire for loneliness, the profile prone to voluntary loneliness did not score above or below average.
But perhaps the most revolutionary result is that while people who generally enjoy loneliness are neither more extroverts nor more introverts than others, people who are not afraid of celibacy. they are no longer introvertsBut on the contrary: they like situations in which they have to participate in social situations. This confirms that they do not “choose” celibacy for the sake of convenience, but simply do not force themselves to have a partner, as they are not having a particularly difficult time in conversations with strangers, for example.
- Hagemeyer, B., Neyer, FJ, Neberich, W. and Asendorpf, JB (2013). The ABCs of social desires: affiliation, being alone and closeness to the couple. European Personality Journal, 27, 442-457.