Podcast 110: A Very Special Episode on a Major Happiness Stumbling Block–Are You Lonely?

It’s time for the next installment of Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

Update: This is the month of #trypod, when we’re all trying to help people discover new great podcasts. And our current producer Kristen Meinzer and our former producer Henry Molofsky are both involved in terrific podcasts.

In the new podcast By the BookKristen and her co-host comedian Jolenta Greenberg zealously follow the precepts of a particular self-help book, to see if the advice actually works. First up: The Secret. It’s funny, thought-provoking…just terrificBy the Book is part of a pilot project run by Panoply, so you can vote for the podcast to get greenlit here.

Henry is the producer over at the blockbuster mega-hit Missing Richard Simmons. In 2014, the exercise guru and very public figure Richard Simmons vanished from view. In the six-part series, Dan Taberski tries to figure out what happened. Very suspenseful, and really makes you think about many different issues — the podcast has generated a lot of analysis and discussion. My own view of what happened? Obliger-Rebellion! But listen for yourself.

Very Special Episode: Loneliness.

Loneliness is one of the biggest, most serious happiness stumbling blocks out there. One of the keys — maybe the key — to happiness is strong connections to other people. The lack of these bonds, even temporarily, is a major happiness stumbling block.

When we know what kind of loneliness we’re feeling, it’s easier to see possible ways to tackle it. For instance, have you experienced…

For instance, have you experienced…

  • New-situation loneliness
  • I’m-different loneliness
  • No-sweetheart loneliness
  • No-time-for-me loneliness
  • Untrustworthy-friends loneliness
  • Quiet-presence loneliness
  • No-animal loneliness
  • No-friend-group loneliness
  • I’m-alone-in-this-experience loneliness
  • Parent-of-young-children loneliness/Empty-nest loneliness
  • Everyone-else-is-having-fun loneliness


So what to do about loneliness?

  • Take steps to connect with others (obvious, but important)
  • Show up
  • Revive a dormant friendship. We talked about this in episode 79.
  • Nurture others.


I mention two books that I highly recommend: John Cacioppo and William Patrick, Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, and Emily WhiteLonely, a memoir about the author’s own experiences and research into loneliness. Also, in my books The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, I write a lot about how to build and strengthen relationships.

I also mention the immortal line from Russell Hoban’s brilliant picture book A Bargain for Frances: “Do you want to be careful, or do you want to be friends?” (If you’d like to read a New York Times piece I wrote about my love for Frances, it’s here.)

Demerit: Elizabeth skipped a Moms’ Night Out.

Gold Star: I give a gold star to Eliza and Eleanor for encouraging (nagging?) us as a family to get a dog. Our dog Barnaby makes us very happy.

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Happier with Gretchen Rubin - Podcast #110

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Want to know what to expect from other episodes of the podcast, when you listen to the award-winning Happier with Gretchen Rubin?” We talk about how to build happier habits into everyday life, as we draw from cutting-edge science, ancient wisdom, lessons from pop culture—and our own experiences (and mistakes).  We’re sisters, so we don’t let each other get away with much!

Want a new podcast to listen to, with the same vibe as Happier? The Onward Project is the family of podcasts that I’ve launched, for podcasts that are about “your life–made better.” The first shows are Side Hustle School and Radical Candor. Elizabeth’s show with her writing partner, Sarah Fain, will be Happier in Hollywood, so stay tuned for that.

HAPPIER listening!

  • Amanda

    Boy oh boy did this episode hit home! I’m a first time mom, of a 6 month old baby girl. And while I have a “mom group” of moms I met in prenatal class – which in theory is nice, since we’re all going through this at the same time – I am what one would call a full-on crunchy mama, so while technically we’re all going through this new experience together, I feel like we’re experiencing completely different things. So unfortunately my “mom squad’ is not exactly a squad, more like “we all have babies so we should hang out…”

    I have actually found social media to be incredibly helpful (as long as I remember that technology is a great servant, bad master). I am in a few Facebook groups of moms both around the world, and locally, which make me feel less alone in the decisions I make as a parent. I’ve even been able to move an Instagram friendship to a real-deal friendship because we realized how similar we were. I knew that feeling like an outsider would likely be hard for me, so I joined these groups and started seeking out like-minded mamas when I was in my early stages of my pregnancy, to mitigate the loneliness that comes with feeling different!

    • I had this same problem when I started having kids. None of my friends had babies, and I was crunchy too. I ended up going to La Leche League meetings in 3 different towns just to meet other naturally-minded moms. 🙂

      • Amanda

        Yes! I totally visited our local LLL chapter. Definitely nice knowing there are others like you out there! 🙂

  • Jeann

    Wow, what a great topic to tackle. I have a situation that is sort of related to loneliness. My husband and I decided not to have children. We both came from very unhappy families, and decided not to go that route. I’m still so glad, and think it was the best decision we ever made besides marrying each other. But of course, every decision comes with consequences, and ours are no children or grandchildren in our golden years. Well, the golden years are here. All of our parents (and a few siblings) are gone. My BFF lives far away. We talk on the phone, but only see each other once or twice a year. I had a wonderful playmate who lived right across the street, but she could not refinance her house and moved to Oregon. Big loss. Succeeding in nurturing new friendships at my local art association, but people are just not interchangeable. Holidays are tough. For Thanksgiving, we take a trip. Sometimes I think that it’s not so much that I really want a large squad or busy holidays, or that I’m not enjoying my quiet holidays, but I have these ideas in my head about how holidays are “supposed” to be. Big family gathering by twinkle lights around the table and little girls with bows in their hair and velvet dresses. My brother didn’t have any kids either. No one wanted to re-create that nightmare. What works best for me is concentrating on gratitude for what I do have. I invite friends to help me decorate my tree, and look for fun activities where I can find them. My biggest fear is not enough back-up. Having no one to take me to the doctor or hospital if my husband is no longer around. Do you think that loneliness is associated with shame? Maybe people don’t admit to loneliness or lack of close connections because it ties into a deep feeling of fear of people knowing that you are undeserving of love. Exposure as you mentioned. Just read a few books on shame, and the two do seem related.

    • anony

      Jeann, my husband and I are thinking about not having children. In a sense you gave me hope . Thanks for sharing.

      • Anne

        My husband and I do not have kids either, but it was not our choice. Dealing with miscarriage and infertility while all our friends started families was and still is a very lonely experience.
        Maybe it is because of this experience, but I know a lot of people who face loneliness – for example several of my friends in their early forties have had to deal with the no sweetheart loneliness for years. And what about ill or disabled people? I think some of the examples you have chosen to illustrate your points are pretty “light” compared to the loneliness many people experience.

    • gretchenrubin

      Such an interesting point about the way things are “supposed” to be – it’s difficult, sometimes, to stay focused on our own values and interests and not be influenced by how things are “supposed” to go.

    • Gillian

      My husband and I also have no children and are well into our golden years. We are happy with the decision but I also worry about the lack of backup. My husband is 9 years older than I and not in great health. I am still healthy so can provide the help he needs but I worry about the future when I will likely be alone and will have no off-spring to help me through my final years. This worry only really arose about 5 years ago during my mother’s final months. It occurred to me then that she had 3 of us taking care of her needs; I will have no-one. As you say, all decisions come with both positive and negative consequences.

      • Sarah Rody

        Hi, I’m divorced/single with one son who’s 13. No family in the area other than my son. Last year when I had a procedure done that required a drive home, I ended up hiring someone from a senior-care group to drive me. It was kind of embarrassing because I’m not (yet) a senior, but it worked out all right. It was also a little uncomfortable with a stranger there driving me. I do have girlfriends in the area, but they were all busy with work or out of town that day. Anyway, it all worked out, so just wanted to provide some hope for those of us who are alone and need a medical procedure done.

  • Stella Jervis

    Aw, I got the warm fuzzies when you mentioned a quote from a Frances book… that was always my favorite series growing up. The two hardest loneliness experiences for me are I’m different loneliness and everyone-else-is-having-fun-loneliness. I long to hang out with people, but I hate going to bars. I’m just not a drinker; I’ve never liked to drink and I never will. But there have been some periods in my life where it felt like if I didn’t want to go to the bar, I didn’t have anybody to hang out with. It was so frustrating, because it felt like a lose-lose situation: if I went to the bar, I’d feel crummy, but if I went home I felt crummy as well. Thinking about it though, it makes me really happy where I am in life, where I am literally because I live in a gorgeous city full of fun things to do, to see, and people to hang out with. The “everyone-else-is-having-fun-but-me” I’ll always struggle with, because I am a writer. I’ve found that when I have a story idea, it’s best not to talk about it at all, so that if I don’t want to let the idea go, I have to write it down. But that’s hard, because it makes me feel a bit isolated. It’s also hard too, especially on Saturday. I reserve Saturdays for writing days, but sometimes that’s the day everybody invites me to all these cool things. I have a major fear that if I decline the invitation, I’ll lose all my friends and nobody will invite me to things ever again… but I just have to remind myself that I’m much better company when I get my writing done. Also, for the past year I’ve been in a really solid writing group and that has been so wonderful. I love my writing group so much. I found them via Meetups.com, and now these strangers are al invited to my wedding! They really help with the loneliness factor, because not only is it a joy to hang out with, it’s also nice to think about them writing alone when I’m writing alone, too.

  • Sandy

    I have experienced many of these types of loneliness. For many years I feared the empty nest stage. After many years in that stage my husband and I often tell people that the empty nest is underrated. We love this stage and cherish our time with our adult children and grandkids but look forward to having our normal lives back when we are with them. I do experience holiday loneliness, most often Easter and 4th of July. I have learned to make a plan. If the kids aren’t coming then we invite a big group of friends for a 4th of July pool party so we are surrounded by people, even families. This year I told my daughter that we were coming to her house for Easter. My fear now is the widow loneliness. I have this fear that I will be the one left alone and I don’t want that to happen.

  • Carlotta Bosso

    I am experiencing another type of loneliness. At work loneliness. I’m new, I’m a foreigner, and I’m doing a job that involves tasks that can eventually disturb others.
    They don’t like me a priori? or it just takes longer to warm up?
    Not sure yet, but spending 11 hours talking to myself it’s being a challenge.

    • gretchenrubin

      That sounds like a tough situation. Hang in there.

      Gretchen Rubin

      Visit my blog

      My podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin
      My books:Better Than Before —New York Times bestseller
      The Happiness Project —#1 New York Times bestseller
      Join the discussion on Facebook @gretchenrubin

    • Em Bees

      May I offer two suggestions from my own recent experience? I started a new job 4 months ago, after being at my previous one almost 10 years. I’m not a tremendously outgoing/social person, so isolation/loneliness is/was a definite danger.
      Two things that seem to have helped:
      1 – a deliberate effort at (reasonable, well-timed) small talk on a daily basis. These felt awkward and weird at first, but are morphing from generic to specific (e.g. early questions about “Weekend plans?” reveal hobbies, so the question then can be “Did you get to go hiking yesterday? The weather was great for it!” Be prepared to volunteer information about yourself to get the ball rolling.
      2 – working with people on a shared goal/project/task. This helps both establish your credibility/skills as well as build those social connections because conversations tend to flow during lulls.

      • Carlotta Bosso

        Em Bees thanks a lot!! thanks a lot for these! I read them yesterday and today I saw a colleague going to the kitchen for a break…I followed him and just started talking there. it’s friday so the “weekend plans” question just came naturally.Thank you thank you!!

      • gretchenrubin

        Great, practical suggestions.

        Gretchen Rubin

        Visit my blog

        My podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin
        My books:Better Than Before —New York Times bestseller
        The Happiness Project —#1 New York Times bestseller
        Join the discussion on Facebook @gretchenrubin

  • Sharon Bochnovich

    This podcast brought on an “aha” moment for me that was almost 20 years in the making. In my late 20s (I am now 46) my husband and I with our 2 year old daughter moved from frigid Pennsylvania to warm, sunny Florida, one of my lifelong dreams at the time. Although we had lucrative jobs and beautiful new homes to live in, I was terribly unhappy there. It seems obvious now, but at the time I was experiencing extreme loneliness and wasn’t sure what was wrong. In fact, since your podcast I see that I was experiencing many types: New situation, I’m different, no friend group, parent of young child, no time for me, etc. We ended up moving back home after 3 years. I wonder if I had the self awareness that your books and podcasts foster, would I have been able to make a go of it? Thank you for all that you do!

  • Jenny

    I enjoyed the discussion. A couple of thoughts:

    You characterized the “no sweetheart” kind of loneliness as a “late twenties” loneliness, but I’d disagree. Maybe it’s more acute during those phases when the people around you are coupling up or marrying (which might be early twenties in some locations or mid-thirties in others), but it can persist during all phases of life, especially as there are more and more people who never get married or who don’t end up remarrying after losing or divorcing a spouse. And, as you mentioned, even coupled people can experience this kind of loneliness over the course of their lives if they don’t feel bonded to their partners.

    You also mention that you miss having a core squad of friends to share activities with. I feel that having a large (more than 4-5) squad can come with its own problems and drama, and even be a source of unhappiness, because it can sometimes foster infighting when there is a larger group of friends, and it’s simply harder to manage all the individual relationship dynamics between group members (in addition to logistical and scheduling issues) as the group gets larger. For example, two members might have issues with one another despite getting along with the rest of the group, which can become complicated when the entire group gets together. And it can be painful when one person who is on the periphery of the group ends up feeling excluded, or the issues between two group members eventually end up tearing the group apart, or cause the less well-liked group member to be effectively cast out. Sometimes having a few smaller groups of people who you see separately can be more fulfilling than a larger clique who does practically everything together, and it also means that there is less emotional fallout if a particular group falls apart or you start feeling excluded or unwelcome by a group.

  • Le Genou de Claire

    I know loneliness is something I’ve been struggling with, and I experience all the types of loneliness listed on the podcast, despite me actively putting myself out there to make friends. What makes me sad the most is not having a friend/emergency person who can pick up my son from school in case me/my spose can’t.

    Question for you/listeners: I have had a few potential “friends” whom I was meeting with in regular basis when my son was younger (we all met when our children were at the same preschool, which is only a block away from my home, so I see them/run into them A LOT), but now that our children in Kindergarten, every time I try to make an effort to meet with them, they always either 1. decline/try to reschedule or 2. flat out not answering text, but when we happen to meet in person (e.g. at school), they were SOO overwhelmingly warm, enthusiastic, and our conversations always ends with, “This is ridiculous! We should meet soon!! Text me!” yet… I’ve been texting them and they never replied. What should I make of this? I mean, I’m the one who’s lonely, so I cannot be choosy, and these people are good people… maybe I’ve misread their friendliness for wanting to be true friends?

    • Mimi Gregor

      I’ve been in situations where I’ve behaved exactly like your potential friends. I don’t think that they are being insincere when they talk about getting together. I think that they may be caught up in the moment and enjoying themselves, and they probably really do want to get together at that moment. But later, reality hits. Perhaps they have limited time for friends. From what I’ve heard, children take up a good deal of time. And what time they DO have when they aren’t doing child care or husband care, or cooking, or cleaning, perhaps they need for themselves. Maybe they have limited time for friends, and only see their long-standing friends… they aren’t taking on anyone else unless somebody dies or moves across the continent. Chances are, it is nothing personal.

      • Le Genou de Claire

        Your theory of “excited in the moment” makes sense to me. The theory about “childcare,” not so much (as we are all stay-at-home moms, and we all are planing to meet only when our children are at school or shortly before pick up time.. but yes, who knows).

        And yes, another thing I learned (being someone whose family is entirely residing abroad) is if a potential friend have family in town/close by, they are almost always not available on making new friends. Thanks for your insight.

        • Gretchen

          I certainly agree with the comment that those with family nearby are not looking for new friends. Socially their calendars are filled; when it comes to favors they call upon their family so have no need for outside help. I am in a place where we, unlike most people around us, have no family nearby and it is so lonely – not just on holidays but on a daily basis.

          • Le Genou de Claire

            That sounds like a tough situation that I understand acutely. I’m with you on this and sadly more and more families live apart (esp in the U.S. where I live now).

    • Anthony Wilson

      It’s like when you see old friends and you promise to keep in touch and you don’t. In this case you’re not even really friends yet so it bumps you down even further on their list.
      That stinks. Try not to take it personally. We all get wrapped up in our lives and when you throw young children into the mix all bets are off.

      • Le Genou de Claire

        Lesson learned. Friendliness =/ desire to be friends. I’m moving on to the next person down “the list” 🙂

  • Em Bees

    I’ve found that my loneliness is sometimes affected by the “mode” of interactions I’m having with people. I’m happiest when it’s a mix of social media/email/text & in-person. (No phone calls, ever, LOL!) Too much asynchronous/screen-based and I’m lonely, too much in-person and I’m exhausted (why, yes, I’m an introvert – how could you tell?).

  • Victoria

    Definitely the “I’m all alone in this experience” loneliness for me. I am a counsellor/psychotherapist and I work with people who’ve been through a lot of childhood trauma and abuse. I love my work and find it very rewarding, but it is lonely, even though I work in a great organisation and have colleagues and a good supervisor. But I think it’s just the sense of not being able to/not really wanting to talk about my day when I get home to my husband. I am, of course, bound by confidentiality, first and foremost. And also, even if I talk generally and protect people’s identities, I don’t want to bring all that sad, bad stuff into my home and my marriage, and into his head. He didn’t choose this career like I did, and hasn’t had the training and experience I’ve had. And I want to keep my home life and marriage separate from my work, as much as possible. So I feel like I carry a lot for other people, and don’t have enough space to share that with others. In fact, just writing this makes me realise I need to make a more conscious effort to get more supervision and peer support in place, to try and alleviate some of this loneliness before I start to risk burnout. A very thought-provoking episode, thank you.

  • Anthony Wilson

    I finished my college education a little later in life. When I was younger, I had the typical college social experiences, but returning to school as a father with a full-time job, I missed that so much. I got over it an plugged away for myself and my family knowing that it would be worth it.

    When I finally graduated I was standing around on the football field with the other students waiting for the procession. My family was in the stands and I was grateful that my father was able to see me graduate. But as I watched all of these friends celebrating with each other, I found myself wanting to share in that joy with them but I couldn’t. I didn’t know a soul there. What should have been a very wonderful moment for me suddenly became very lonely. I felt kind of pathetic that I should be overcome with melancholy on such a happy day surrounded by happy people. I put my hands in my pockets and I felt my grandfather’s WWII dog tag on my keychain and – I know it’s corny – I felt him there with me and I felt better.

    What also made me feel better was a song that popped into my head. I finally realized what that song is about. One of my favorite singer/songwriters, Richard Hawley, I think crystallized this feeling with his song, “Cry a Tear for the Man on the Moon.” When you can’t share your joy with others, that can be frustrating and lonely.

    And I’m here the first standing here on the moon
    It took us years of work
    But we got through
    And yet now, I’m here just on my own
    So cry a tear for the man on the moon

  • There is this novel called “The Solitude of Prime Numbers” by Paolo Giordano that describes the “feeling different than others” type of loneliness, it’s quite unusual and well written book.

  • Karin Weigley

    This podcast episode was very timely for me. Last summer all in the same month, my neighbor/best friend/running partner moved away, my pilates class walking distance from my house got cancelled, and my dog of 12 years passed away (she was my first baby). It’s been a long winter here and it’s just all come to a head this week, realizing how incredibly lonely I am right now. I have three kids, two at home during the day, I homeschool the middle one and I watch two extra kids twice a week. My life is busy but what’s missing is some adult female interactions, an exercise partner of some kind or accountability and another dog would be amazing. After a lot of soul searching and searching online, I think I have a plan. We were planning on getting a dog this summer after some travel, so in August I should have a puppy. She would be a great exercise partner because dogs need to be walked/exercised and she will certainly hold me accountable. There is a pilates studio 25 min from my house and they have a Tuesday late afternoon class, so the plan is my husband will come home a little early (his job has some flexibility) and I’ll go to that class and then stay in town and shop or just sit in a coffee shop sipping tea. I think that will go a long, long ways to recharging me. It’s also finally feeling like spring here so more sunshine which is also good. So, things are looking up and I do appreciate your podcast because it helped clarify for me what I’m missing. Now, about a new friend here…that’s proving harder.

  • Claire

    I was so painfully lonely when on maternity leave with my child. I’m in Canada, so I had a year at home with my son, but (as every mom knows) although I was never actually ALONE, I was so so so lonely. And the longer it went on, the worse it got, and the less I wanted to do anything about it. That part of the podcast really resonated for me — that when you are lonely you are judgmental and etc.

    I forced myself to go to a local moms’ group, even though in my head I *knew* I was going to hate it, the small talk, the passive competitiveness, the silly games and songs. And even though it wasn’t the most fun thing I’ve ever done, it completely changed my life. The small talk brought me back to life, the silly songs reconnected me with the joy I felt at being able to have a child, and the other moms were as far from competitive and judgmental as possible. I made several friends and even one really good close, long-lasting friend — such a gift.

    Thank you Gretchen and Liz ~ xox

  • K

    Hey Gretchen,
    A friend of mine told me about your book, “The Happiness Project,” which I immediately binge-listened to on Audible. I just started listening to your podcast and wanted to tell you about my loneliness. I’m pretty sure throughout my life I’ve experienced all of the types of loneliness you and your sister talk about. But the most recent new form of loneliness is one I never thought I would face. 19 months ago, I had one of the first real headaches of my life. And it didn’t go away. It has put me through the ringer in regards to doctors, hospitals, pain, and has completely changed who I was. Neurologically my brain did something and doesn’t work anywhere near like what it used to do. During all this, I had the support of, and got to marry, the love of my life. I have a wonderful home, an amazing dog, a somewhat friendly cat, and a life that I am so ever grateful for. But still I have a perpetual loneliness in dealing with a chronic pain condition. At some point everyone tries to identify, they try to recommend treatments, and they just don’t understand or realize that I’ve been through it all. The worst part is that they can’t see the pain, the side effects, my struggle to function. My husband and his family are a blessing and extremely supportive, but his work requires a pretty demanding amount of travel. There’s a whole different level of loneliness that I have been introduced to over the past year and a half. I can’t drive, be around bright lights or noises, have to rely on others to run simple errands. I just turned 30 and never thought something like this would happen to me. I have always lived life to the fullest. The only way I feel I can describe this lonely in a few words is: I used to travel, take risks, and even went bungee jumping and whitewater rafting on the Nile. Now
    I can’t even get myself to the grocery store on my own. My loneliness is that I’m surrounded by love and positivity, but I’ve completely lost the ability to be a huge part of what made me, me,
    and so early in my life.

    I appreciate your work beyond any words I can share.

    Please keep being awesome.

    • K

      I should say, too, that in trying to combat my unexpected disability, I do everything I can to find joy in what I can do at home, and try to continue to build friendships with people while my partner is home and away. I have found that the process of crafting and creating, and sharing this passion with people I know, helps me feel much more connected.

      • Jackie

        K, my friend is 29 and going through a very similar journey with terrible debilitating headaches. I’d be happy to connect you two if you’d like. I was temporarily disabled after a car accident and know it is extremely lonely to be at home when others are working, and their time flies by. I really hope you find solutions with your medical team.

    • gretchenrubin

      I’m so very sorry to hear about this health challenge. Chronic pain is so, so rough. Hang in there. We’ll be thinking of you.

  • Alisha

    Here’s one kind of loneliness you didn’t mention: Creative loneliness. I’m a theater director, and my work is very intensely collaborative. Most of the time, I work with university theaters, but roughly once per year, I travel 700 miles away to work at Pigeon Creek Shakespeare, in Grand Rapids, MI. They are great people–professional working artists–and I do my best work there. We have long working relationships; I met some of the actors when we were in grad school. When I come home, I always feel a deep letdown; although I have a great husband, kids, squad, cat, and church community, something is missing when I have to be away from my creative partners.

    Last year, before I left, I asked one of the actors there to help me pick my next project. I wanted to work on something where I could build a play around her. She told me that Beatrice, in Much Ado About Nothing, was a dream role for her. So I proposed that and the theater picked it up right away. For the rest of the year, I would sometimes call her and we’d talk about our plans, or she’d text me when she thought of something. This let us continue to work together through the whole time when we were away. I had a similar situation set up with the music director for the show.

    This allowed us to come into rehearsal already ramped up, as well as alleviating some of my creative loneliness. The show is currently running (through the end of April), and I’m pretty proud of it. I’ve asked the actors and other people who might see the show to text me with fun moments, so I can feel like I’m still part of it. Right before I left, I pulled aside another actor and asked him to help me pick my next project. We’ve been exchanging long emails about our ideas, and every time I see his name in my inbox, I feel less alone.

  • Gretchen

    This episode brought me to tears (while listening on my morning run!) because it resonated so strongly. Two thoughts:
    1) Admitting I am lonely has been difficult also because in the times that I have said such a thing to a colleague they only looked at me somewhat pityingly…and then did nothing. No invitations to socialize, no acknowledgment of my feelings, no further conversation. This really deepened my pain.
    2) Hand in hand with loneliness is what a writer once called Known Sickness. Her description is here in an old blog post: http://kleinbeck.blogspot.com/2010/11/known-sickness.html?m=0

    • gretchenrubin

      It’s a very hard subject to raise.

      Gretchen Rubin

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  • Amy

    I am newly sober, but don’t feel that AA is for me–any references to “higher power” are off putting and alienating to me. That said, I realized that much of the difficulty I’m experiencing in my sobriety comes from loneliness. I don’t have a single friend who has gone through the same experience–all of my friends and my spouse drink, so I am growing more and more antisocial because I don’t want to be around alcohol. I had not yet thought to frame this discomfort as loneliness, but I think that’s what it is. I appreciate this topic…makes me feel less isolated.