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Difference Between Being Alone and Being Lonely

Payal Kanjwani Mar 22, 2020
Being alone is when you're content with your own self, not caring about your phone. Loneliness seeps in the time between the replies when you wait staring at your phone. Still confused between the two? Read more to know the difference between these two states of a mind.
People think being alone makes you lonely, but I don't think that's true. Being surrounded by the wrong people is the loneliest thing in the world.
― Kim Culbertson
Ever been in one of those "eurgghh-I-don't-want-to-go-to-work-today" moods, and decided to stay home and spend a fair amount of time by yourself, ignoring your phone, only to realize a while later that there wasn't a single call or text?  No junk messages on any WhatsApp group. Not even those email subscription notifications.
All this while, there wasn't a single person thinking of you? It gets you thinking about a lot of stuff ... negative stuff. From being productive and content by spending time alone to getting into a loop of questions with the feeling of loneliness tearing your heart, you experience a transition of feelings―being alone turning to being lonely.
To the casual eye, 'alone' and 'lonely' do appear to mean the same and hence they are used interchangeably. To be honest, a person can be alone and not feel lonely. In contrast, a person may feel lonely in a crowd.

Being Alone ...

'Alone' can be used as an adverb or adjective and is defined as "without anyone or anything else; not involving or including anyone or anything else; separate from other people or things" by The Merriam Webster dictionary. Aloneness is the feeling of being. It is feeling complete without anyone else being around. It is the feeling of being independent.
Being alone usually has a positive connotation. It is the state of mind when you feel content in your own company. It is finding freedom and happiness in isolation. Dispelling the notion of "being alone" being associated with sadness, a person may choose to be alone, spend time by himself for rejuvenation purposes.
Being alone is taking time out from your busy schedule, sitting under a tree thinking about what you're gonna do next. It is reading a book and cherishing every moment of it. It is buying a single ticket for a movie you have no idea about, still enjoying every bit of it with popcorn crunch.

Being Lonely ...

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines lonely as "causing sad feelings that come from being apart from other people" and is used as an adjective.

Loneliness is a state of mind. It has negative connotations. It is often associated with a feeling of dissatisfaction with yourself or your relationships.
A feeling of void, a sense of incompleteness you experience, a perpetual state of seeking something that you crave desperately. It isn't measured by number of people you are surrounded with. You can feel lonely being alone, and you can feel immensely lonesome being among your friends.
This state more often arises when you're upset about being left alone, or when you're heartbroken, when you're memorizing someone else and missing their presence with you.
Loneliness hits you in the most unexpected ways. It is a thing that haunts you at 3 a.m. and leaves you sleepless for the rest of the night. It is sensing your lover's touch that faltered on your skin, the intimacy that you now need.

Loneliness Vs. Aloneness

Alone and lonely are two different emotions. Well, being alone is associated to wellness, bliss, joy of being; being lonely is related to discontent, a lack feeling. Loneliness can be the outcome of being alone, but it need not be the case always.
There are people who feel comfortable in their own presence. They like being alone. That doesn't lead them to being lonely. In contrast, for instance, you many not share a great rapport with your spouse; y'all hardly talk in each other's presence. This implies that being lonely has very little to do with being alone.
Sunday afternoon, going to a wine shop, alone not because you don't have friends but because you decide to stay with yourself  is what qualifies under 'being alone'.
Going to an evening party with friends, gulping down beer, and you're hit with this sudden urge.
An urge as if you don't belong there, as if you need someone, ...something. You don't know what, or deep down, may be you know it! This is loneliness! As an individual, you need to understand that 'alone' and 'lonely' are pillars of a pendulum. We're in constant flux of finding what it is, switching from one place to another, from one situation to another.