Six Secret Habits of Popular Loners


Tucked away in the midst of the crowds.
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

I walk around the party, my face plastered with a drunken smile that is faker than a childhood fairytale. 

I manoeuvre myself in between the different cliques hugging long-time friends, making awkward eye contact with exes, and patting some mates on the shoulders.

The illusion: Popularity is my middle name, I seem to know everyone and they seem to know me.

The reality: I feel alone at all times, even when surrounded by people I’ve known for years. No one really knows me, but I let them think they do to hide the suffering solitude of my soul.

Everyone experiences loneliness. It’s been on the rise amongst the younger generations, where in an ever-connected world, people feel more isolated than ever.

As you get older, you can't help but notice the fakeness of social environments and how everyone seems to pretend to be someone they are not. Well, the popular loners are no exception, I empathize with you because I am one.

I. You Keep Telling Yourself You’re ‘Different’

Loneliness plays funny tricks on our fragile minds. We often make excuses to avoid social situations and subsequently become more lonely, well here’s another one of those excuses.

Using the “I’m different from other people” excuse is probably one of the main driving forces of your loneliness

As Thought Catalog says: “The less connected to others we feel, the more we feel the need to justify our disconnection. And the more alone we are, the more we feel the need to categorize, define and explain away our loneliness.”

When I was lonely, I kept telling myself I was different from others my age, that no one could understand me and if I tried, I’d stick out like a sore thumb.

This is known as the ‘spotlight effect’, where you feel like everyone is noticing all the little things you do way more than they actually are. Here’s a little insight: People don’t care that much.

Using the “I’m different from other people” excuse is probably one of the main driving forces of your loneliness. I know I pushed away a whole group of friends who felt like a brotherhood, just because I thought we were ‘different’.

At the end of the day, other people’s personalities aren’t responsible for your loneliness. It’s all on you.

Once you accept the responsibility for why your social life is the way it is, you can learn to suck it up and start making more of an effort with people.

It’s harsh but it’s the advice I needed a few months ago.

II. Always Telling People You Are Busy

Loneliness is like a never-ending spiral staircase. You start at the top, then you descend further and further into loneliness the more you keep it to yourself, and the further down the staircase you get, the darker it is.

It is a compounding problem. 

Even though the popular loner may have many friends who care about them, this out-of-place feeling of being ‘alone’ will leave you with less energy than normal. It’s known as emotional exhaustion.

With this hit to your energy levels, it becomes increasingly fatiguing to keep in touch with people and maintain meaningful connections, which of course pushes you down the depths of the spiral staircase.

Your friends want to meet up with you and have some fun, but your default excuse is to say “I’m busy.”, to compensate for your mental fatigue.

If you are lonely right now, something that helped me was just reaching out to people to go out anywhere, even for an hour. People underestimate the importance that social contact has on your brain.

Psychologist Susan Pinker says “dopamine is [also] generated, which gives us a little high and it kills pain, it’s like a naturally produced morphine.” 

Sure, we should never resort to drugs to soothe our emotional issues, but interacting socially is everything you need.

III. You Focus on Other Peoples Social Lives More Than Your Own

This is something all of us do, because who doesn't partake in a bit of social media stalking?

Well, the popular loner does this to escape their own bleak reality. It’s almost like you are trying to live a fun and exhilarating social life by keeping up with what everyone else around you is doing.

Whenever I’m down in the pits of loneliness, I’ll often catch myself mindlessly scrolling through Instagram, Snapchat, and more. I do this so I can feel like I’m connected to the lives of people who have fun. 

Well, social media does more harm than good, often making you feel more lonely the more time you spend on it.

I know this sounds quite reductionist and condescending. But wouldn't it be nicer to have your own memories to look back on in the form of videos or pictures, rather than starting at other peoples in the midst of low emotions?

Remember, the popular loner has friends, even if they may feel like they don’t. Make the creation of your own memories a motivating factor.

IV. Pretending Like You Are Meeting People

The popular loner is a professional at putting up a front to protect their fragile vulnerability. We are masters of the facade.

Have you ever been in a social environment, let’s just say a party or in a large group of people, and to avoid lingering with people you aren’t fully comfortable with, you shift around the location pretending like you are waiting for a friend to come to meet you?

The reality of loneliness is that that friend won’t come to meet you and be your social savior.

When you are going through lonely rough patches in life, you will often try your hardest to fool those around you to think you are doing completely fine.

Because who wants to admit to people they are lonely? It seems desperate and clingy to the person you are telling it to. I for sure was ashamed as hell in admitting I was lonely. I still am.

This of course was the wrong thing to do, because it pushed me down a cascading avalanche of depression and loneliness that seemed to never end.

Acting like or telling people you are waiting for someone to get out of a conversation, even though the person is vested in your life, is a tell-tale sign that you may be the popular loner.

V. People Think of You As Mysterious

In my experience, being labeled as ‘mysterious’ comes from two different things.

  • You are a naturally guarded person, so subsequently people don’t learn much about you because you keep it to yourself. 
  • Or, you seem to do your own thing, without a care in the world for fitting conventional norms. Therefore, people who are ‘normal’ won’t understand you.

Being mysterious is the pinnacle of what it means to be a popular loner. It’s the typical perception that you are pretty well known by people, but no one knows the real you. 

This isn't a bad thing perse. For me, as an introvert, my personality traits are naturally considered mysterious by the extroverted ideal society. Here’s a thought I had recently after being labeled mysterious all my life:

Opening up and letting people know the real you is actually a nice feeling. The more people you feel understood by, the less lonely you will feel. 

VI. Your Lack of Effort In The Social World Is Redirected To Your Passions

Now here is the positive part about being a popular loner. You can still choose to go out and have fun, but a lot of the time you don’t because of the effort it requires to be in social environments.

Well, what does such a person do when they have all this reserved ‘effort’?

They shift it to doing what they love. I’m not scared to admit I’m a loner sometimes. Because I know being alone gives me the time to do the things that give me the most contentment: writing and reading. 

I can go out to the pub tonight, get pretty smashed, but then what will I do tomorrow? I’ll be hungover spending my day eating food and watching Netflix. 

Or I can read a book tonight, then crank out an article tomorrow during the day. It’s all about perspective and using your loneliness to serve you.

But there is a fine line with loneliness. It’s between you feeling completely isolated and stuck in the dark, and where you teeter on the edge of choosing to go out with friends but still use your remaining alone-time wisely. 

Remember to indulge in the pleasures life has to offer, but also use what would be a weakness to some as a motivating factor to do what you love. 

Balance is the remedy for a satisfied soul.

Final Thoughts

Loneliness is a universal feeling we shouldn't be ashamed of. It can easily feel like a never-ending spiral, because how do you admit to someone that you feel alone? 

Opening up about loneliness is a fear for many.

I remember telling my first girlfriend how lonely I was and how much I needed her, and then she dumped me a few days later. It can be scary to admit this.

Being a popular loner is a two-sided coin. Some people thrive on it, like me. I felt like being known by everyone but at the same time spending time by myself to do what I wanted, was a superpower.

The other side of the coin is this dull ache that longs to feel understood by people for once. Because no matter how we put it, too much time alone will get us down.

Opening up and letting people know the real you is actually a nice feeling. The more people you feel understood by, the less lonely you will feel.

But remember, loneliness is never permanent. You can always get out the moment you start investing your time and efforts into building connections and maintaining relationships.

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I am an entrepreneur from London with a passion for reading and writing about self-improvement, productivity, fitness, history, philosophy, and happiness.


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