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Hello dear people,

recently I am contemplating a lot about loneliness. First I want to tell you the definition of loneliness that I heard (because I found several, but this one was the most fitting in my mind).

Loneliness is a state in which you are, where you feel a discrepancy between your actual relationships and how you want your relationships to be. It does not necessarily have to do with being alone. It describes a feeling of being disconnected in a way, even if you have people around you.

So, I am an INFJ in my mid twenties and what I found out during my time researching and contemplating about this topic is, that many INFJs have felt loneliness. What they were describing is that feeling I stated above and then most of them had a kind of wakeup call. I had it as well after being emotionally abused. Many of my relationships have changed and transcended and some got lost.
What I always confused was that loneliness means I have to be alone. Yet I found out that I even want to be alone at times and that I feel more alive being alone because I can do what I want. I feel loneliness the most when I am with my friends. I need to say, that it doesn't count to all of my friends. I have one friend where I feel okay after meeting him and I have a friend where I feel super energized after meeting. These friendships grew after my wakeup call and I feel life is moving slowly in the right direction.

What gets me still is, that I feel so alone in feeling lonely. I know there are thousands of people feeling the same. I would love to hear about your experiences with this feeling. Have great week. 馃檹
 

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As a 14-year-old INFJ:
I find it strange that I feel lonely when I'm with other people. I like to just stay inside and not talk to anyone, especially since most of my friends enjoy small talk as to deep conversation. I noticed older people have much deeper conversations. Does this come in time? Or is it just the generation?

I'm going to tell you my least favorite phrases that I hear sooo often and make me feel lonely:

1. "Your the only one that thinks that way" (my closest friend says this to me all the time.) Me: actually, I'm not. If I was, then the rest of the world are idiots.
2. "I can't trust your judgement" (in books, movies, etc.) Me: Oh, so you don't share the same interests as me either? Or: What am I gonna do? Judge a movie based on it's CGI like you? Or literally "judge a book by its cover"?
3. "I don't get you" Me: Of course you don't. No one does. No one ever will..... JUST DON'T REMIND ME!!!!
 

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This definition sounds reasonable.
I can't remember when I felt "connected". I don't want to portray myself as a "one of a kind, very special unicorn," but it is what it is.

Luckily, it rarely concerns me as most of the time I am too busy with something to ponder such topics.
The more time passes, the less "humane" I appear to myself. (In the sense of personal needs, not in terms of ignorance about how humans function)
 

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Funny thing is, most of my friends in mid 20s feel the same way too. I've always thought that maybe mid 20s are the age where people in our life starts to drift away, due to each one of us having our own set of beliefs / moral values, or simply taking different paths in life. Maybe someone who's older could share their own thoughts and experiences on this? :)

Yet I found out that I even want to be alone at times and that I feel more alive being alone because I can do what I want.
And that's the scariest thing about loneliness, in my opinion. It doesn't hit you when you're occupied with something, or at least thinking about doing something. You thought it would be nice if you have all the time for yourself. And you think you will be fine all by yourself. But during the times where there is nothing to distract your mind.. That's when it strikes. It strikes really hard.

It describes a feeling of being disconnected in a way, even if you have people around you.
It took me a while to realise that having someone who has a deep connection with you is a gift. But somehow there are people who doesn't really need it to feel fulfilled. At times, I envy them a bit.
 

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You鈥檙e right. Being alone and feeling lonely are two different things. If you feel lonely when you鈥檙e with friends, they are not your friends... at least, not yet.

If you鈥檝e ever experienced a moment of connection with others, where you are completely at ease and have a sense of belonging/acceptance/freedom in one another鈥檚 company, that should be your compass and what you strive to cultivate if you don鈥檛 want to feel lonely with others. Don鈥檛 settle for calling anything less a 鈥渇riendship鈥.
 

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I can relate to this thread. The loneliest I ever feel is when I'm with a group of people and it breaks up into smaller groups and I don't fit in anywhere. This happens even with family.

I manage to entertain myself when I'm alone. I have an active imagination.

Sometimes I can find a group where I fit in and it feels OK. It bothers me, though, when people insist that I join in a group activity and I don't feel the fit. The saddest I feel is when I'm involved in a relationship or group and it comes to an end (for just about any reason). It makes me wonder why I bothered putting in any effort if it always ends in pain.

I'm 55 now. I wish I could say it's gotten better as I've gotten older, but the degree of loneliness in my life has stayed about the same since I was a teenager. I am trying to be more outgoing by practicing small talk and initiating conversations. I like other people and am interested in what they have to say. That's one of the reasons it hurts when relationships end--I'm genuinely interested in people. But casually conversing doesn't come naturally. And casual conversation is usually the first step in making those deeper connections.
 

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I've recently had this epiphany about relationships & loneliness.

I'm an INFJ that struggled with loneliness and finding meaningful connection.
Another INFJ @IamAlexa made me re-think about my tightly constructed idea on relationships, and that perhaps it's not working.

The most commonly held construct/paradigm on relationships is:
1. We have a measure of closeness from Unknown, Enemies, Acquaintances, Friends, Close friends, Best Friends, Kindred Spirit, Soul mate etc.
2. Those that we "click with" or "get on with", or we enjoy their company gets to move closer to our inner circles.
3. We can't realistically maintain a certain number of relationships because of time, so we have to pick and choose.
4. INFJ or introverts tend to have few but deep relationships vs many relationships on a more shallow level, but they also probably have a few close friends.
5. It takes energy to socialize, particularly introverts, so it's better to conserve energy and sticking with only a few.

I've learned & realized that humans are social creatures. This commonly held paradigm on relationships above is an individualistic one because its aim is to serve the individual. (Not that it's a bad or evil thing). This paradigm is also very modern and relatively new.

A paradigm based on our evolutionary and biological reality that humans are social creatures goes like this:
1. Every individual (and type) adds different value to society. Humans are designed to vary in personality as a social species. Our role variance occurs neurologically (in the form of personality) instead of physically such as the ants that have different roles that manifest physically. - The reason why career advisors take personality into consideration.
2. Every individual (and type) adds different value to our lives. We are served by every other individual, even the ones we don't naturally like. If society was all one type, it would be a less efficient society otherwise.
3. The individuals that make us feel good (that we "click with" and make us feel good about ourselves) add a type of value to our lives by helping us to realize and affirm our individual gift and value to society.
4. Like minded types neurologically help each other get into the "flow" state by activating our favourite cognitive functions. This releases endorphins etc. That's why it's enjoyable to be around like minded people.
5. We are emotionally replenished by those like minded friends in order to continue serving society with our unique gifts. As opposed to hanging on to, or chasing those good feelings of being with friends.

Applying this in short, to cope with loneliness, the 3 main things cure loneliness:
1. A friend you click with, that understands and affirms you. (Which increases endorphins & oxytocin)
2. Helping others and society with your unique individuality. (Which actually also increases endorphins and oxytocin. You feel good when you do good to others, and they're highly thankful to you.)
3. Networking/Socializing:

2 Expanded/Explained:
The first one is obvious, but the 2nd point gets overlooked. If we do only no.1 - be with close friends, then our lives can feel good for while, but we can feel meaningless, leading to hedonism, and society doesn't quite function. If we do only no.2 - we can get burned out and still feel lonely, especially helping the world alone without return.

3 Expanded/Explained:
Networking has a different meaning too. In my line of work, I do good work for someone, and they refer me to others. And suddenly I have a large network of clients, some of whom are gold mines. In social spheres, I push myself to socialise to get to know more people so that I can find those "close friends" whom I can mutually benefit from being recharged. Exercise is hard, but after you exercise, you feel the positive benefits. Socialising is tough for introverts, but it shouldn't be overlooked. It may actually be the very gateway to finding like minded friends who can help you cure your loneliness. Socialising also helps me find people whom I can help or add value too, which also helps cure loneliness

PERSONAL STORY
What does value look like? Value can be quite a broad term. The Sensing, Thinking types help get society moving, things built, and implemented on a larger societal scale. For an individual, S types help N types get out of their heads a bit.

I've learned to appreciate all the connections I've had in my life, rather than resenting those that I don't click with or don't understand me. Or to not expecting or even wanting everyone to be my close friend. I have this close friend ESFP, who's a really nice guy who listened to me, and I ended up treating him like a counselor. I found out later that it drained him, and I wasn't adding positive value to his life. I was just selfishly taking from him. It was a one way relationship. I've learned to just get out of my head around him, have fun. And now he enjoys my company more, and I get to get out of my head. I feel good that I can help him be more happy rather than wishing he fulfil a different role.

There are people like INTJs ISTJs ESTJs etc that are more prickly to me, but they sharpen my understanding, and push me to do what I should be doing, reminding me that things need to get done, and not day dream all day. I add value to their life by doing what needs to be done. Helping them with my individuality whenever they need it.

Every single person no matter how insignificant and fleeting the interaction was, has added value to my life. Minuscule though it may be. But on a larger scale, they serve to help the society that I benefit from. Their taxes to the government which helps me benefit from government aide. Their role in society. So I'm more thankful for every person that I've come across. I think most people (not just INFJs) can sense this thankfulness even if they can't explain or articulate it. Some call it charisma, in the form of genuine focused interest and curiosity in others.

There are many roles that others play in our individual life
  • Confidant
  • Should to cry on
  • Counsellor
  • Talk Buddy
  • The encourager
  • Real life grounder / The practical one
  • Growth partner
  • The entertainer
  • Fun/Play partner
  • Rebuker, corrector, sharpener
(Actually, the MBTi caricatures says it all)

Even my enemies help me to appreciate the good relationships I have and not take good relationship for granted.

CONCLUSION TL;DR
I feel more whole now, and less depressed or lonely and more healthy as an INFJ, by not expecting or even chasing close deep relationships as the end goal, but rather to seek close deep relationship (through networking & socialising) as a means to give my unique value back to society.
 

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There's alone and there's loneliness. You can be alone and feel lonely, be alone and not feel lonely, be with people and feel lonely, be with people and not feel (that) lonely. Most of the time it doesn't bother me, I'm alone but I don't feel lonely, it feels liberating and I don't mind it, it's not anything negative.
 

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I've learned to appreciate all the connections I've had in my life, rather than resenting those that I don't click with or don't understand me. Or to not expecting or even wanting everyone to be my close friend.
This. It is not that everyone you have a relationship must be a close friend or gtfo. There are lots of reasons to interact with people that isn't about cultivating a close relationship. I think expectations are a big component. I can be confronted with the fact that someone doesn't understand me, or won't be there for me, or doesn't like me, or doesn't click with me, and not feel lonely every time... so that relational experience in itself doesn't cause loneliness.

The times I remember feeling lonely were usually when I was rejected by/lost someone I really cared about and wanted a close relationship with - where their absence and the dashed expectations caused a generalized, lonely feeling. Not having a significant relationship in my life at all can cause loneliness, or being in a moment where I really want closeness and don't receive it, where any rejection makes the loneliness even more pronounced.

To illustrate all this... when I was in high school, my teacher greeted me with "How are you?" and I replied, "Terrible" and she barely looked at me and rushed a "that's nice" response and walked away to do whatever was on her mind. The disconnection made enough of an impact that it caused a feeling of loneliness and frustration (Why did she even ask?! I thought). Now days, I'd laugh at the disconnect and see it as a reminder of the absurdity of people with all their flaws and foibles. Perspective matters.

Then there is existential loneliness. That is a whole different animal.
 

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The times I remember feeling lonely were usually when I was rejected by someone I really cared about and wanted a close relationship with - where their absence and the dashed expectations caused a generalized, lonely feeling. Not having a significant relationship in my life at all can cause loneliness, mostly because I'll be reaching out for one, where any rejection makes the loneliness even more pronounced.
Yeah, I also find that feel lonely whenever I'm chasing something and not get it... "That deep and meaningful connection", "lifelong partner" (actually married now). But even though I'm married, I can still feel lonely if I'm wanting partner to be a certain way, or wanting more, or if I'm wanting something very specific and not get it. Actually, I find having kids and a crazy busy (freelance solo) job makes me more prone to loneliness. Things that take time away from spending with spouse or friends. I'm chatting with the staff at the cafe like I'm some extrovert! 馃槀
 

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The deep meaningful connection we seek for, it can be difficult to find. I think that lately I have been accepting loneliness and just let things be. Maybe I don't need people, even thoughh I want them around, but I have also experienced the pain of losing them. I have no real life friends. But I don't know, someone said that it is the craving that makes you suffer and I guess that makes sense - when I let go of my desires for those connections and people, I feel lighter. I don't feel like I am suffering. If people want to stay in your life, they will, if they don't want to, they don't, you can not really do anything about that. Maybe you will find the right people someday if you keep interacting with enough people, or maybe not. I think it is different for everyone and what they define as loneliness.
 

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As a 14-year-old INFJ:
I find it strange that I feel lonely when I'm with other people. I like to just stay inside and not talk to anyone, especially since most of my friends enjoy small talk as to deep conversation. I noticed older people have much deeper conversations. Does this come in time? Or is it just the generation?

I'm going to tell you my least favorite phrases that I hear sooo often and make me feel lonely:

1. "Your the only one that thinks that way" (my closest friend says this to me all the time.) Me: actually, I'm not. If I was, then the rest of the world are idiots.
2. "I can't trust your judgement" (in books, movies, etc.) Me: Oh, so you don't share the same interests as me either? Or: What am I gonna do? Judge a movie based on it's CGI like you? Or literally "judge a book by its cover"?
3. "I don't get you" Me: Of course you don't. No one does. No one ever will..... JUST DON'T REMIND ME!!!!
Annie,

You'll have to forgive me if I jack up the formatting on this, as this is my first attempt at posting on a forum of this type.

I think there's a propensity in the teens to work through "who am I" with "who are we". And in-crowd/out-crowd behavior is more pronounced in that setting. Not that it isn't in the workplace, because it still can. But, it can be hyper-focused in a school setting. Any deviant or abnormal behavior is identified, scrutinized, and pressure applied to squeeze everyone into normal. I may be off base on that, or that's my INFJ predisposition to think of exceptions to what I just said.

I'd like to confirm that you have a gift, a way of seeing things that is needed in the world. Right now it's hard to see how your friends (who sound like sensors) bring value to the world by the way they think. But, at 35, I can appreciate that the tension between institution and innovation will always be there. We need that 75% of the population to err toward tried and true. And we need that 25% to be able to detach from norms and innovate.

Personality Hacker Influencers (I think they go by that title) Joel and Antonia refer to typology as social technology, and I think its a needful metaphor for something that can be very self-serving. If you haven't already, they have some good content, both channeled through youtube and podcasts.

As to adults having deeper conversations, that's true to an extent. I think you'll find, depending on how you develop your acumen, that a lot of the deep discussion that happens among adults can follow along boorish lines. It'll be exciting for a while, but I think you'll master the pattern quicker than your peers.

I have a friend that calls me a chameleon, because I come off as very mundane, read my room and then pick my targets. I don't need consensus, or even most people to like me. I'm largely indifferent. But, I enjoy navigating a room, picking up some ques and deep diving with a few people. If I read the room and find nothing to work with, sometimes I'll hijack sensors' conversations for the fun of seeing how well I can walk them right up to the threshold of weirdness, and then transition away. I see my time with sensors as a time to refine my skills and my time with intuitives to educate, teach, train, and mentor. I swim in intuition like a water for fish, but it doesn't mean my interactions with sensors can't be meaningful.

I've had success with using intellectual framing to make my intuitive points. I have been blessed to have sensors as parents, one who uses a highly analytical way of thinking. After I left home, I went through some analysis training with the military, and so it's rare for people to realize how weird I am, because I use logical framing to engage with what I want to talk about, even though I'm strong in my F function.

One thing I will say as encouragement is that as you build a life where you don't have to fight for the right to exist as you are, you will be better able to hold space for people who are more "mundane" for lack of a better word.

I hope this helps.

All the best,

Matt
 

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I used to have social anxiety. I unconsciously built an invisible wall that isolated me from people. I would shell in at the presence of people, and no connection would occur... because of me. I would feel less lonely alone because I at least allowed myself to be fully myself. I thought I was an introvert, but I was just anxious and depressed.

I worked on that habit, and I met wonderful people who encouraged me to open up. Because I open up, reach people's hands, and take people's hand, I think I don't have this feeling of loneliness anymore, except when I'm physically alone for a long period of time.
 

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As a 14-year-old INFJ:
I find it strange that I feel lonely when I'm with other people. I like to just stay inside and not talk to anyone, especially since most of my friends enjoy small talk as to deep conversation. I noticed older people have much deeper conversations. Does this come in time? Or is it just the generation?

I'm going to tell you my least favorite phrases that I hear sooo often and make me feel lonely:

1. "Your the only one that thinks that way" (my closest friend says this to me all the time.) Me: actually, I'm not. If I was, then the rest of the world are idiots.
2. "I can't trust your judgement" (in books, movies, etc.) Me: Oh, so you don't share the same interests as me either? Or: What am I gonna do? Judge a movie based on it's CGI like you? Or literally "judge a book by its cover"?
3. "I don't get you" Me: Of course you don't. No one does. No one ever will..... JUST DON'T REMIND ME!!!!
I feel lonely all the time. Mostly when I am not having a conversation with someone. It is always difficult for me to not feel lonely, when I am alone. Which is probably why I, have so many social problems, because if I talk to someone eccentric, I can feel worn out, But I can't just talk to no one. Which is why Most people, I am friends with are introverted.
 
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I hate it when people say something that amounts to... 鈥淭V/Movies portray unrealistic intimate relationships, not to be expected in real life so harden the F*** up."
 
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