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A loner is a person who avoids or does not actively seek human interaction or prefers to be alone. There are many reasons for solitude, intentional or otherwise, and "loner" does not imply a specific cause. Intentional reasons include spiritual and religious considerations or personal philosophies. Unintentional reasons involve temperament, being highly sensitive, having more extreme forms of shyness, or various mental disorders, such as depression and autism, being introverted or prefer quiet over commotion. The modern term "loner" can be used with a negative connotation in the belief that human beings are social creatures and those that do not participate are deviant. Being a loner is sometimes depicted culturally as a positive personality trait, as indicative of being independent and responsible.
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There is no distinct type of individual personality deserving of the name of loner. Anyone who spends most or all of their time alone for any reason, belongs to the category. There are two well known types: The first type includes individuals that prefer solitude and are content to have very limited social interaction. The second type includes individuals that are forced to be isolated because they are rejected by society. This individual typically experiences loneliness. The first type often does not feel lonely even when they are alone, at least, not in the same way as would a social person who found themselves isolated. However, these are very broad generalizations and it is not uncommon for loners to experience both of these dimensions at some point. Furthermore, people sometimes force themselves into a life of solitude as a direct result of impulsive, often anti-social, behavior on their part. Neighbors or peers (if any) of loners may think them weird, and even intimidating.
Some people simply prefer isolation. They may feel they can reflect freely, mature faster, seek knowledge, reach goals more easily, and focus more on tasks. Disconnected from the people around them, they are more likely to make their own decisions and avoid peer pressure. Some such loners may refuse to interact with others because of perceived or actual superiority in terms of ethics or intellect, and so relate only to individuals they consider worthy of their time and attention. Therefore, this type of loner may have very few intimate relationships, within which they may socialize greatly. Such bonds may form slowly, and if a stranger enters the social group, the loner may automatically shell up.
Others may isolate themselves out of self-hatred, misanthropy or self-consciousness. Social anxiety is common in their interactions: They believe people are constantly sizing up their attributes, and worry they will be judged negatively. Many can socialize only with people they see constantly. They feel social alienation even though their isolation is self-imposed.
While expressing a desire to be alone, loners do not necessarily reject human contact entirely. An example would be the person who shuns any social interaction with work colleagues beyond what is necessary for fulfilling his or her job description (mainly for practical reasons and to avoid further complicating one's professional relationships) but who is highly charismatic during parties or social gatherings with people outside work or school, or vice-versa.
Most loners are able to act "normally" in a social setting. However, the strain of being in a situation which is uncomfortable may leave some mentally and emotionally exhausted. They may have to retreat for a significant amount of time before being able to do so again. This is a characteristic of introversion, however, the two are not related. Introversion merely describes the need to socially "recharge in isolation" rather than "recharge with company", which describes extroversion. Both introverts, and extroverts can experience loneliness to the same degree and hold the label of loners. Introverts may have a higher chance of getting lonely in crowds or gatherings, but feel normal in isolation or perhaps with a few close individuals. Extroverts may feel more lonely in isolation or with few individuals around. However, this is largely dependent on the person and the complex psycho-social dynamics of his or her environment.
The typical loner exhibits the personality trait known as introversion more than the average person. They are drawn to solitary activities instead of social ones. This may be due to both innate personality traits as well as life experiences.
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