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A loner is a person who avoids or does not actively seek human interaction. There are many reasons for solitude, intentional or otherwise. Intentional reasons include spiritual, mystic and religious considerations[1][2] or personal philosophies. Unintentional reasons involve being introverted, highly sensitive, extremely shy, or having various mental disorders.

The modern term "loner" can be used with a negative connotation[3] in the belief that human beings are social creatures and those that do not participate are deviant.[4][5] Being a loner is sometimes depicted culturally as a positive personality trait, as indicative of being independent and responsible.[6]


There are different types of loner, including 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. Another type is an individual that is social, likes to be social, and has lots of social interactions but prefers solitude without feeling lonely. 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.[7] However, these are very broad generalizations and it is not uncommon for loners to experience both of these dimensions at some point.

Possible causes[edit]

People may isolate themselves out of self-hatred, misanthropy or self-consciousness. They feel social alienation even though their isolation is self-imposed.[8]

People will also tend to isolate themselves when they are unable to connect, either emotionally or intellectually, with those around them. Causes of isolation are many and various, but not all of them are caused by a mental disorder.

Possible characteristics[edit]

While expressing a desire to be alone, loners may not 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.[9]

Somebody who can be a loner would also fit the criteria for introversion. This may be due to both innate personality traits as well as life experiences.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Platt, Paul (2005-07-26). "Neighbours describe bomb suspect as devout loner". The Times. Retrieved 2010-05-11. 
  2. ^ http://www.forewordmagazine.net/reviews/viewreviews.aspx?reviewID=3975
  3. ^ http://spectator.org/archives/2009/05/14/a-defense-of-quiet-loners
  4. ^ http://baywood.metapress.com/index/JNQKAMHTF63FQ8PX. pdf
  5. ^ http://mothershandbook.net/2009/01/26/youre-not-alone-youre-just-a-loner/[dead link]
  6. ^ Enriching The Sociological Imagination, p 124 Rhonda F. Levine - 2004
  7. ^ http://www.nysun.com/new-york/loners-vs-loneliness/52703/
  8. ^ Pulkkinen, Lea (September 1990). "Adult life-styles and their precursors in the social behavior of children and adolescents". European Journal of Personality 4 (3): 237–251. doi:10.1002/per.2410040305. 
  9. ^ Hojat, Mohammadreza (May 1983). "Comparison of transitory and chronic loners on selected personality variables". British Journal of Psychology 74 (2): 199–203. doi:10.1111/j.2044-8295.1983.tb01855.x. 
  10. ^ Svoboda, Elizabeth (March–April 2007). "Field Guide to the Loner: The Real Insiders". Psychology Today Magazine. 

External links[edit]