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unlonelinessDoes loneliness have an antonym? A word that is the opposite in meaning? has a few suggestions: the obvious being “unlonely,” and debateably, “loved.”

The world has in common loneliness, but not all the people who are lonely are unloved. There are the lonely people whom have themselves stood still behind the world, fiercely protective and bonded to their solitude, but are yet quick to blame the world they deny for their isolation. They have never known anyone to trust, nor kindness, and they are unable to recognize trustworthiness and kindness when they receive it; it makes them greedy, hungry to be loved, but also suspicious of just that all at once.

Others crave aloneness, and in solitude they long for company. Psychotherapy would probably be designed to help said persons regain the capacity to form relationships again.

Then there are the peripheral people, existing on the edge of relationships and conversations, others kept safely at arm’s length, held out to examine from a distance. Friends today, strangers tomorrow. Maybe they were always that way, or sometimes they became that way with the passage of time. Trying to ease them into apparent functional relationships would probably not fare well. They mostly need help on how things can be made to work in aloneness so that it does not get in the way of life, so that nobody gets hurt.

Feeling lonely in a crowd also is unique to the human experience. You can be surrounded by an ocean of people and feel desperately lonely — even more so than before — because you can no longer pin it down to being physically alone. There you were, among other human beings, trying on different molds for size, only to find that they either suffocate you or slip right off your shoulders. If this is you, you don’t need help. You just have to keep walking, searching for a place in which you fit comfortably with room to move.

These are of course, the extremes. Most of us likely oscillate between feeling occasionally and sometimes “lonely” regardless of the people we may interact with day to day. Maybe we have forgotten how to be alone, and therefore fear spending time alone, coming to terms with our own thoughts. We have to keep running, keep moving, so we don’t lose our minds. We are our own worst, most vicious critics, and so easily we let ourselves down.

The norm has become to stuff down our void places with as much fluff, noise, and stimulation of any kind as possible, only to realize they don’t hold because we have to locate where these empty spaces are: alone. We have to find out where they are, and discover how to fill them by, and for, ourselves. And when you’re pretty much okay with the way you are, then you will be okay with the way others are too. Maybe we’ve all got it wrong, and aloneness is not a pitiful, tragic sad failure.

Here follows a few alternatives that may possibly be the opposite of loneliness, though it is and will always be elusive.

  • Not being lonely is not quite love. It is coming home to an empty house and not being immediately smacked with the deafening echo of silence like a brick in the head.
  • It is entering a room and not finding that it is already occupied because Despair is in it.
  • It is the same tolerance and acceptance of clutter that has been singlehandedly made as that created in collaboration.
  • It is the abundance of people, not quite community, nor friendship, but simply by virtue of encounter with diversity.
  • It is knowing you can always find company when you want it.
  • It is the smile on your face thinking nice things of others, untarnished by doubt.

It is the feeling you hope would never end, knowing it would, and believing things are going to be all right.



Maryann Wei

Maryann is currently pursuing her PhD at the University of Wollongong (New South Wales, Australia).

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APA Reference
Wei, M. (2018). Unloneliness. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 30, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 8 Sep 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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