Dealing With The Fear Of Being Alone Forever

Old Fort MallorcaWhen I went to Switzerland this summer I had plenty of time to contemplate living life alone. There was nobody to call in Zurich to hang out with until the wee hours of the morning. I couldn’t share a walk along the romantic Chapel Bridge at sunset in Lucerne. Nor could I experience with someone the amazingly steep Mt. Pilatus Railway that arrives at the top of Obwalden. Every experience is locked up in my memory. What a shame words nor pictures can do them justice.

Although a week of traveling alone isn’t a long time period at all, I’ve realized I fear being alone as much as I fear being broke. I did everything I could after high school to make sure I wouldn’t have to depend on anybody to survive. I’m not sure I can say the same for finding companionship since my family has always been there. It’s like I’ve taken them for granted. I’ve also never not been in a relationship since college as luck would have it.

If I didn’t take companionship for granted, I’d probably be a nicer, more patient person. I’d probably exercise more and eat less lemon meringue pie. I might even try and learn some jokes. Alas, I’ve got a ways to go.

Popping over to Mallorca after Switzerland with nine other people in a villa only buttressed such fears of loneliness. We literally went out every single night to unspoken amounts of fun. We’d sleep in the next morning, make us some jamon with slices of honeydew by the pool for brunch, hit the clay courts after and then relax on a nearby beach before going out all night again. It was one extreme to another, neither of which I could handle for an extended duration of time. But if I were to choose, I would select being surrounded by interesting people any day.

RELATIONSHIPS ARE REALLY STRAIGHT FORWARD

We want to spend as much time with someone who likes us as much as we like them. Unfortunately, the pain is unbearable when you discover the other side doesn’t feel the same.

This simple concept is scalable to practically everything that involves another person. As a landlord, I get a huge urge to want to select a prospective tenant who just crows on about how much she loves the place. At work, all I want to do is sing someone’s praises if they sing back. You can see the harmony demonstrated every time a maitre d greets her regulars. There’s something about reciprocity that generates so much positive energy.

It’s not fair to say that there’s someone out there for everyone if you are already with someone. Yes there are billions of people on Earth, but that just makes folks feel worse when they’ve got nobody.

OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE

Traveling has allowed me to re-kindle old relationships and discover new relationships I never thought possible. Traveling takes us out of our comfort zone and forces us to speak to other people much in the same way as a new kid does at school.

For those of you who are able to travel for extended periods of time alone, I’d love to know how you do it. One suggestion given to me by a nomadic traveler was to stick to hostels. Hotels simply close you off to the world, while hostels open you up to endless possibilities. What else?

What about those of you who are more introverted by nature. What are some of things that allow you to enjoy the silence? I understand being an introvert doesn’t mean you don’t want to be with someone. I’m just trying to get some perspective to tame my restless soul.

Perhaps the problem is that I never got to be a crazy 20-something year old after college because I was so busy working so I didn’t have to work forever. It’s as if I grew up too fast and am trying to make up for things now. Does anybody feel the same way?

Thanks,

Sam

 

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. Matt says

    I would add staying at a B&B / Pension as an alternative to Hostels. There, you can still get to know people quite well–you’re in their house! But it is an option if you are seeking some quiet, rather than a lot of noise. Even some smaller hotels can be nice. My wife and I really got to know the night desk clerk at our hotel in Paris on our last trip as we stumbled in late each night. The more stars a hotel has, the more likely it will isolate you.

    Also interesting in Europe is the seating arrangements for meals. Rick Steves comments that lone diners sit “in a puddle of silence.” But if you find a place with large tables, they will seat multiple groups at the same table–instant conversation! Again, traveling with my wife, we often see American couples searching in vain for a seat, when there are plenty of open chairs. Their cultural norm tells them, though, that any full chair means a full table. We make a point to wave people to our table, and once seated they see that the waitstaff is cool with it, and settle right in. Bars and pubs are good for this too; not only local comfort food, but very often this cozy, group seating arrangement.

    It also helps to know enough of a local language to at least be polite. (hello, please and thank you) When locals see you trying to fit in, they are really very helpful. And even if their English isn’t perfect, they will meet you halfway to communicate.

      • Matt says

        Yes, a travel partner is a big help! I also travel internationally for work, much more often by myself than with others, so I regularly get reminded of that. I try to also remember that fact when I am hosting colleagues. (I am located at the company headquarters, so that is a frequent occurrence) I try to offer meeting outside of working hours (breakfast, dinner) to give flexibility and combat loneliness. We do also try to give visitors information on local events if they are staying the weekend, but business travelers usually want to get home ASAP.

  2. phil says

    Your on vacation in a foreign country, known for having some of the most beautiful women in the world, with plenty of money to spend and your alone? Dude, most married men would have traded places with you, in a minute to have that problem. Heck Im single and I would love to be alone on vacation there. Last time I checked, the boxes you get buried in, only have accommodation for one, so your going to die alone no matter what happens. Be thankful for what you have and enjoy it.

  3. eemusings says

    Hostels, couchsurfing, AirBnB… Aside from crashing on couches, CS is also about meetups and events of all sorts in cities around the world.

    I’m an introvert but I simply can’t think of any advice to give you. I adore alone time and I’m not sure how to help you better enjoy the ‘silence’ as you put it. Perhaps as a writer you can tap into it and observe the world going by for inspiration? I dunno, I’m not sure this is one of those things you can fundamentally change.

    T has definitely struggled with being away from friends and family (people we’ve met on the road have helped but it’s just different – very glad for the ones we have met through hostels, CS, hospitality exchanges). I guess I’m weird in that I haven’t felt this at all – maybe because I know there’s an end date when we return home to see them, and I can go verrrrry long periods of time in solitude.

    • Financial Samurai says

      You guys have been away for a couple months now yeah? Not missing home yet?

      Maybe it’s easier to deal with being alone if you know you can hang out with your traveling buddy, fiancé in this case at any time?

  4. nbsdmp says

    Sam, I’m sort of like you…I spent about 100 hours a week building a business and focused on my future in my mid-twenties to early 30′s. Now I’m over the hump professionally, FI, & have a very comfortable lifestyle. I was fortunate to have a great group of friends and some nice girlfriends along the way, but not the one that has stuck. I think the best thing in the world is being comfortable being by yourself and being able to be happy. Women are attracted to confidence & personality (not necessarily cockiness) as much or more so than they are success/money/looks. I’m in my early 40′s now and I’m shocked at the # of available attractive nice women out there…honestly I think the decent guys are the ones in short demand, working to our advantage is there are a ton of losers out there & women over the age of 25 have learned to sniff them out quicker than when they were younger. Long story short, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, go out with 5 girls at a time until you find one that it clicks with…always be a gentlemen and they’ll be all over you like flies on you know what, trust me…this has been the best summer of my life!

    • whoanelly says

      Very true, couldn’t have said it better. I was in the same boat when I was single. I was working my tail off in my 20′s and wasn’t having much fun. And then on one random day I met my husband at a party when I was 30. Keep the faith Sam, it will guide you.

    • Financial Samurai says

      This has been one of the most adventurous summers of my life too. Learned so much about others and myself. Still in NYC for the week right now.

      It’s interesting how the feedback of the post is about trying to help me find someone when I’ve stated in the post I’ve been fortunate enough to always be with someone since college.

      I’m trying to prepare for that day that I might be alone, and also try and learn about how people enjoy alone time.

      • whoanelly says

        The title of your post is very telling which possibly explains the feedback from your audience. When I was single, I did alot of what you are already doing which was fantastic and I sometimes miss now that I have kiddos.

  5. Live Simply says

    I just got back from 3 weeks in Thailand, alone. To be honest, I never felt lonely at all, but, rather, that I was on some great adventure. The advice for hostels is a good one, and if you can deal with significantly reduced living accommodations (it’s a luxury I can do without), you are guaranteed to make new interesting friends. During the entire trip, I never spent a day traveling alone, unless I consciously chose to do so (such as island hopping in south Thailand). You’ll find that hostel culture is very friendly and encourages you to travel with new companions and to get out of your comfort zone. Don’t worry about not being a twenty-something; I traveled with all ages (18-45) while I was abroad.

    I understand the loneliness aspect, but think of that time as reflection and preparation for your next outing with friends/family/significant others. Finally, perhaps one of your biggest mistakes has been that you’ve never been single for an extended period of time. When I was younger, one of my great mentors (disclosure: he’s my pastor) once explained to me that until you take significant time off for yourself and your own development, it is difficult to become “the person who you want to be with wants to be with.” Without that alone time, you are unable to develop your character and who you want to be. You are unable to truly evaluate your core values and what is important to you. He recommended that I take at least a year to be single, which sounded like an unbelievably long time. However, I took his advice, and after a year, I felt more prepared to find the person I belonged with. I’m now a year and a half in with my current significant other and it is definitely trending towards the big question.

    Best of luck, and I know you have a good head and heart. Don’t stress it too much, but enjoy the ride. As always, love the writing, Sam.

    • Financial Samurai says

      One year of being single…. hmmmm, nope never been. I should hope that through introspective writing and spending plenty of time this year in solitude has allowed me to build some new character. Good luck in your relationship!

  6. Dz says

    With relationship its really easy – from financial world analogy its like with real estate – the more U try and smarter U test, the better (more suitable) U get in the end.

    In the very end people are not too different both men and women. And success of relationship in 70% lies in you personally – who U are inside, how the other side see U attractive, and how much she WANTS to build and maintain relationship with U.

    For men it even easier because they should approach women. And if men is really worth smth in women eyes – she will die not to loose U. That’s like in many things journey starts from yourself – be a good choice yourself and then just organize some statistics to make it match.

    I guarantee that in every 10 women U see there will be at least 1 which is nice looking to U, and of those 10 there will be at least 1 which you can make relation, and of those 10 there will be the that one U could live until end of your days.

    People are really simple and its more to numbers.

    And don’t know how old are U but don’t limit yourself by age – best women to start long relationship are in 20-25 range (sorry, sorry girls – all U know inside its true) – not to young (childish), not too old (over-complicated w previous bad experiences).

    There is also simple test many tried: Go get acquainted with first new best to your choice lady (or man for ladies) kinda simply from first sight on the street and try it until U make a small relationship with someone. Not to have sex, it is not even necessary, but just to have smth common romantic with that person. Than stop and try next one and do it 20 times.

    The result: you are practically guaranteed that U will not want to stop and try next with someone in the middle of these 20. Worst case – you get 20 new friends.

    It looks so stupid simple, but many people just find all possible excuses and never do this way. Leave all excuses and just do – U will be amazed with results I guarantee.

      • Dz says

        Happily married 2nd time, now with kids (in time of marriage I was 34 and she 23). First marriage was not good choice because I was too young to be more selective and less understand who I select, but first (less selective) was the biggest mistake.

        The period in between changed a lot because first it seems like a disaster: I was not a student anymore when everything is easy, due to job living not in home city where many old friends, and had a CEO style job wich don’t allow for much work-style relationship and free time either. So it was rather lonely.

        After many thoughts I just ended up walking through city talking to girls which seems nice to my eye. Some was ok, some not, some free, some easy, some married… sometimes it was 5 min, sometimes a lunch, sometimes a night. But the selecttion was broad very broad – you will never have such if U choose some place like bar or night club – which are really bad choices, because many girls just don’t go there, and those who do frequently – those U don’t need.

        So yes in the end its a numbers game, SURE, BUT you always need to start from yourself – be a better man (not a james bond, or macho, or romantic, just real man with strong values). Better women want better man. And those really good have their statistics either, because lots of man apply to them since their 16 all the time and they want to be selective. And here comes U.

  7. Dz says

    Look also ‘Yes Man’ with Jim Carrey – it’s a comedy of course, but principle is rather similar – U’ll get the point.

  8. B says

    I love traveling alone (it is my preference). My favorite trip was backpacking through southeast asia. As an introvert, it forces me to be outgoing to make friends, and the international friends I’ve met traveling are will always be close to my heart. There’s something magical about being out exploring with no responsibilities and no one to please but yourself. To me it is the ultimate and best way to vacation.

    Regarding fear of being alone – I’ve come a full 180 on that. There is a lot of value in freedom. The grass is always greener somewhere else.

      • B says

        Been in situations like that. I need somewhere to unwind – as long as I have my own room and my own source of transportation, it can be great fun.

  9. krantcents says

    Although I do not like to travel alone, it forces you to meet new people. I remember traveling (alone) on business and I started to talking to the women behind in the registration line at the hotel. They ended up inviting me to dinner and we all had a good (platonic) time. I won’t say it is common, but I made a choice to talk to them. I think it is the key to traveling alone, you have to reach out. I think this is true for finding personal relationships too.

  10. FI Pilgrim says

    I feel you on growing up too fast. I skipped college altogether and started working full time at 16, which was a great career move but a fast track to monotony, too. I DON’T want to make the same mistake now that I have a wife and kids by missing out on being a real, in-touch dad in favor of growing a career or pursuing financial goals too much.

    And as an introvert, I need quiet time to rejuvenate and organize my thoughts. Too much time around other people and I feel stressed for no apparent reason. I work with a bunch of very outgoing sales people, and while they are awesome and I enjoy hanging out with them at work, spending time with them in a personal setting is not attractive to me at all.

  11. Eric says

    I’ve done overseas trips solo, with a friend, and with a girlfriend. Each travel experience was so different. I actually really love solo travel, but also love the companionship of sharing that with someone you love.

    I graduated college with a long time girlfriend, and never got the early 20s party thing out of my system so that didn’t happen until later in my 20s. It is important to experience everything life has to offer, even if it is on a non-traditional schedule.

  12. Tony@WeOnlyDoThisOnce says

    Sam, a very thoughtful post here. Not to get TOO deep, but I feel alone in the big scheme of things even with a wife and 2 kids. Not that they are not everything to me, it is just that to have a great relationship we need to be comfortable as independent entities. You are asking yourself great questions!

  13. retirebyforty says

    I really like hostels. I always meet a bunch of interesting people there. When I stay at hotels, it’s just too easy to hide out in your room. I’m already an introvert so I usually just take the easy way out.

  14. Kim@Eyesonthedollar says

    I love my immediate family and will hang out with them anytime, but if I didn’t have them, I think I’d be fine alone. Maybe it’s from working with the public for so long or having an overbearing mother, but just not having to put on a show to meet someone new is a huge relief. I do not have the charisma to jump right in a be the life of the party. I do like meeting interesting people, but I’m just as happy to do things alone.

  15. Martin says

    I have the opposite problem from when I was in high school. I always wanted to be around people. Now there’s always someone around. I wish I could just turn off my cell phone and not have someone stop by.

    I’m also excited about being single. It feels like I’ve always had a gf. This is my first year not committed and I love it.

    As for traveling, I always go in a group because it’s more fun. But two years ago I went to Europe (Poland and Hungary) alone. I thought I would be bored, but I never had a dull moment. Hostels are a blast. You can’t be lonely for a second.

  16. Paul S. says

    When I was single, I loved staying in hostels. Sometimes you can get your own room but still take advantage of the social opportunities a hostel provides. A great book about traveling this way is Vagabonding by Rolf Potts.

    I start to get lonely after two weeks of travelling alone and want to be with my friends who know me and love me. So, when I was 33, I took a six months leave of absence, sold my house, and went to northern Peru to volunteer at a church, helping build homes and teach English. This volunteer stint allowed me to build relationships that sustained me during that time while learning about another culture in depth feeling like I’m doing something useful.

    A few months before I met my wife, when I was 36, I got some great advice: Love is a verb, not a noun. It’s an action, not a feeling. You choose to love someone, you feel infatuation with someone. Infatuation comes and goes but loving someone is forever as long as your committed to doing it. I wasn’t as infatuated with my wife as I had been by other women who hadn’t reciprocated the feelings, but she was a wonderful person. She wasn’t “my type” but she is attractive. And she wanted to travel. I decided that she deserved the love that I had to give. We just celebrated our five year anniversary with our two children and I couldn’t be happier that I made that choice. And I even find that I am more infatuated with her than I was five years ago.

    I do miss staying in hostels and meeting interesting travelers who stay in them. But at least I’m still traveling. My 3 year old daughter has been to four other countries and my 10-month old son has been to two.

    • mysticaltyger says

      That “love is a verb” comment is right on. We all need to be reminded of that because we get the opposite message from movies & TV (that love is a feeling).

    • Financial Samurai says

      I begin to get homesick after two weeks as well. But this summer I pushed my boundaries to four weeks one trip, and I found I could handle it as well. Now two weeks seems much more manageable, but it’s still not entirely possible to not long for home.

      Thanks for sharing the action of love and feeling of infatuation. Infatuation really does come and go. I would just like infatuation to go much more quickly so the mind doesn’t linger.

  17. Insourcelife says

    Hostels and camping is the best way to meet people when travelling. Staying in someone’s house (airbnb and such) can also feel a bit less lonely than a hotel. This all works much better when you are young, of course.

  18. Charles says

    Sam,
    When I was college or when most of my friends were single I had a real active social life. As people get married or move away I often don’t see the people I care about as much. Traveling to see them does bring back old times, but that is only for a few days. Great to catch up, but everyone moves forward with their lives.

  19. Kevin says

    Hey Sam,

    First time poster, long time reader. Your article about travel struck a chord with me. I have traveled quite a bit since college. I’m 31 and have traveled to six continents and about 30 countries over the last 10 or so years. I find that even though I’m recently married with a good job, I still prefer to stay in hostels when I travel. In my younger days, I stayed at the party hostels, now, I tend to stay at the quieter ones or potentially the bed and breakfasts where I can meet the local owners. I may share a room, but it’s almost always with an interesting individual. Backpackers have a special bond. We’re all in a foreign taking in new experiences with people we don’t know. During my travels, I’ve met people that I later stayed with when visiting their countries. I’ve had people do the same with me.

    Many of my trips were alone including 4 months in Australia/New Zealand, 3 months in Europe, and 2 months in Africa. Truth be told, I think traveling alone is the best way to go if you want to make it the trip of a lifetime (just don’t tell my wife that!). I am a bit introverted myself but I found that staying in hostels forced me to come out of my shell due to the nature of sharing a room with strangers in a foreign land. I did find that any time that I wanted to go at it alone, I would grab a daypack and just spend the day roaming the streets or museums of whatever city I was in. I might sit at a cafe or in a park with a book for hours reading and people watching.

    I promise this is not a shameless plug but after my recent trip, between jobs, I wrote a book called “Where To Next?” all about backpacking. It’s on iTunes and I only sell about one a month but I do get the occasional thank you e-mail from readers. The very first chapter talks about why we travel. For many people, they’re in search of something or trying to get away from something. I’ve always felt like going out into the world alone can be the best way to find whatever it is you’re looking for.

  20. mobilechad says

    About 4 months ago I bought your book to help engineer my own layoff. I was successful, and for the last 6 weeks I’ve been traveling solo in Ireland and England, with 4 more countries planned this year and 10 countries next year.

    As I type this, I’m sitting in a hostel in London (the Safestay @ Elephant & Castle – it’s the best I’ve stayed in so far so they deserve a plug). I’m surrounded by people hanging out in the bar, but I’m choosing to be antisocial to answer your question. I’ll grab a beer with the cute girl I met from Germany that just walked in when I’m done :)

    Why is solo traveling amazing? It’s simple – complete freedom and zero compromises. Don’t feel like sightseeing today? Then don’t – hang out in the hostel and meet people. Want to stay out all night and grind at the poker room? Great – do that. In the mood for Thai food? Use Yelp or TripAdvisor to find the best place in London and spend 30 minutes traveling to get there.

    I can go on and on about all the things I’m loving about my trip so far, but you get the point. Do I ever get lonely? Sure, everyone eventually wants to have some human contact. That’s why I had lunch with a Romanian named Claudio I met in Dublin while he was searching for work. And had dinner with Janet, a woman I met playing at Full Tilt Poker’s Galway festival. And then had dinner with her again when I was in Coventry, England to play poker (it’s her home town). And spent a day sightseeing with John and his wife (whose name I can’t remember), when I was in Cork and heading to Blarney Castle. And am meeting up with a fellow poker player named Adrian sometime in September when he’s on a break from school.

    People are on the road to have experiences, and part of the experience is meeting people from other places, sharing meals, and being shown around. I’m also lucky that I have people I know (friends, former co-workers) in Dublin, London, and several other countries in Europe. Next week I’ve got lunches booked from Monday through Thursday to catch up with some friends I haven’t seen in 10 years. It’s a small world out there.

    I’m blogging as I travel around at http://www.mobilechad.com if people are interested. I’m also not picking anywhere I’m going since all of Europe is new to me. I’m putting up a new poll for people to vote on next week (Amsterdam is the clear winner of the poll that’s up now), so follow me on Twitter if you want to know when it’s up (@mobilechad).

    • Financial Samurai says

      Congrats on engineering your layoff Chad! And thanks for buying my book. Perhaps you’d like to share your reasons why in a post here sometime in the future? I love reading case studies about why people leave their jobs.

      Will check out your site now. Amsterdam is in the top 5 for favorite cities in the world.

  21. Matt says

    @nbsdmp
    May I ask you are meeting all these quality women? Maybe it is my location, but I just don’t always see it, and as you get older and stuck in an office most of the day, they may be out there but often tough to find time to meet them.

    • nbsdmp says

      Matt, you just have to put yourself out there…and I mean don’t get all high and mighty and say, I am not doing online dating, or allowing friends to set me up. It helps that I live on a big lake and in the summer there are tons of people out that I meet and make friends with. I have gone out on some terrible dates, and I’ll say wtf am I doing…then 3 days later, bam I’m having drinks with a swimsuit model & saying wow life is good. My advice is do what you enjoy doing & you’ll run into women with the same interests. For me that is boating and exercise type activities. My results have been a little skewed this year to the positive & it is almost to the point where being single is so much fun I wonder if I really want to be tied down. I know in my heart though that I want that special person to share life with, but until she comes along I’m not beating myself up over it…when you least suspect it and are not really looking that is when it happens.

  22. Renee says

    Retiring early is one component of the “American Dream” that very few people actually achieve, so there is very little information out there about the reality of it. Early retirement has been sold to the masses via financial magazines/blogs as being glamorous, exciting, and a lifestyle of the privileged, but I’ve found retirement to be, on most days, exactly the opposite. Now don’t get me wrong, I love not having to work, but having the freedom to do what I want when I want 24 hours a day, 5-7 days a week (my husband does have input on the weekends) can become a bit mundane, and, yes, even lonely. The majority of my friends and family work, and they are also still raising families, so weekday companionship is hard to come by. I’ve taken up tennis, but sometimes the only partner available is a backboard. And golf–same thing. But there’s always the driving range. You get the point. Maybe we need a club in the Bay Area for people who can come together and whine about how tough it is being retired at a young age…..that’s just me poking fun at myself. We are lucky even if we’re lonely. Good luck.

    • Financial Samurai says

      Finding companionship during the weekdays definitely is tough. I hang out with a couple semi unemployed folks who play tennis in the afternoon. The diversity of folks to choose from is much lower.

      Maybe I start a support group on Craigslist when I return from NYC. There has to many more of us out there. What is your story again for how you retired early? Guest post perhaps?

  23. Untemplater says

    Relationships are complicated. PEOPLE are complicated! I’ve been a loner for a large part of my life, and I think my quiet and reserved parents had a big influence on that. So being alone feels somewhat normal to me. It’s not that I love it, it’s just part of how I grew up so it’s part of who I am. Well, that and I’m also an introvert so perhaps that’s also why I don’t feel completely out of sorts if I’m just by myself.

    I can also spend time alone easier vs trying to force conversations with people I don’t have a connection with. I’ve really never been the type to hang out with large groups of friends. Maybe it’s because most of the kids I grew up with were shallow and insensitive, I dunno. But I’ve had a few really incredible friends. I’d much rather spend more time alone and some time with a few super close friends, than never being alone and always being with people I wasn’t really that close with.

    I guess I’m also easily entertained which is why I can spend long periods of time alone without getting too bored. I love to organize things around the house, surf the web, work on my photo libraries, watch TV, go for bike rides or shop around. I’m probably too good at wasting a lot of time just relaxing. But still I can only take but a certain number of days of that in a row before I start to go crazy and need to break out of that and hang out with someone. I used to live with cats too, which helped me feel like someone was there even if I was the only human in the house. They’d always come interact with me every hour or so which was nice. I sure miss them, they were the best cats ever. Perhaps having a pet might help a little?

    • Financial Samurai says

      I think you are fortunate to grow up used to being alone, because then you can don’t really need to act to change the situation.

      Maybe a Siberian kitty might due the trick as I’ve got allergies. :)

  24. JayCeezy says

    “Hell is other people.” – Jean-Paul Sartre

    There is one thing much worse than being alone, and that is being with the wrong person. It leads to frustration, then resentment, then to cruelty. It is possible that experiencing ‘loneliness’ is also ‘loss’. Loss of time, possibilities, approval and validation. Tony made a great point above, that it is possible to be lonely when surrounded by people you love and love you in return. Lastly, one point about ‘hearing the truth’…sometimes it is not the truth, but simply someone else’s agenda. If that truth comes from someone who will always love you, and always be on your side (like your Dad), then the message can be trusted. From someone about to exit your life, not so much. Keeping good thoughts for everyone, and anyone, who feels alone. It is ok to be alone.

    • Financial Samurai says

      Wise words. I think is rather be alone than be in a toxic relationship as well.

      Loneliness does feel like loss of opportunity to me bc I know there are great relationships to be had. To feel alone is to also feel rejected because nobody seems to want to spend time with you. That can be hard to deal with. I hope those who feel alone can reach out to loved ones and find support as I reach out and find support in writing.

  25. Buck Inspire says

    Deep post Sam. Forgive me for being too personal, but I was under the impression that you were in a relationship. Also since you love traveling so much, doesn’t that work against you finding someone? You seem to thrive with your freedom and a significant other may divert you from your passions. Just curious and safe travels!

    • Financial Samurai says

      Buck, I haven’t been without someone since the beginning of college and fear I am taking companionship for granted (first section of the post). I’m preparing for the day where I might very well really be a lone and not just temporarily feel a lone while I was traveling in Switzerland for a week.

      I’ve used this summer as “alone training” to get a better understanding of how alone feels like and what I need to so if and when that day comes. I want to learn from introverts who cherish a lone time. Any tips?

      • mobilechad says

        I’m not an introvert, but I do spend a decent amount of time alone (even before I started solo traveling). The main thing I’ve tried to do is never let it stop me from doing things that people normally consider “+1″ activities. I read a lot, and I’ve gotten into the habit of just having a book in the car (now my backpack) so that whenever I feel like eating out, I’ve got something to do while I’m there.

        I go to movies a lot (normally a solo activity for me anyways, as my friends have disowned me after I made them see Freddy Got Fingered and Hollow Man in the theaters). The worse a movie is, the more I’m apt to like it :). I do usually skip Friday/Sat nights and opening weekends for movies, but that’s more because of the crowds than a solo vs. +1 thing.

        I will admit that places like bars/clubs aren’t much fun when you’re solo, so I do tend to skip those unless I’m with friends.

        I also did a decent number of road trips when I was living in CA. There are a lot of places you can drive to and back in day, and I never had trouble finding someone to talk with wherever I stopped. People are naturally curious, and you’d be surprised how many of them are envious of the fact that you’re doing whatever you feel like, whenever you feel like it.

        It’s funny, because when I think about relationships I tend to be more anxious about having to give up the solo stuff and the freedom, but that pretty much just means I haven’t met someone worth giving those up for yet. Still working on that…

        I guess my tip is to just do what you feel like doing – don’t let the fact that you’re running solo dictate the choices you make. Embrace it, and you’ll find that the feeling of self-sufficiency that comes with it is rewarding.

      • Buck Inspire says

        Not sure if this would apply to you Sam, but when I was in between relationships, I used the alone time to find myself. I spent all my life pleasing others so it was a critical time to find out who I was and what my passions are. You don’t seem to have that problem. Is it possible because you are so free and have many passions, your bar is set so high that it is difficult to find a partner that can rival your passions and freedom?

  26. GamingYourFinances says

    Traveling alone can be tough but it also opens up a ton of possibilities. Traveling is about getting outside of your comfort zone and experiencing new things, what better way to do that then by traveling alone! Hostels are a great way to meet new people. Or just go to a local bar and start chatting up the locals. Always someone interesting to hang out with!

  27. average guy says

    Sam,

    I sure hope you find a girl friend.
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    Here’s a story I read many years ago. (Trust me, it’s about looking for a relationship…)

    “Once upon a time…” a king is riding through the forest with his archers, and they run across a section of the forest where every tree had a bull’s eye painted on it and in the exact center of the bull’s eye was an arrow.

    The king, and his archers, were all amazed. Who could be so accurate to hit a bull’s eye on every tree? They decided they must find this mysterious archer and have him join the best archers of the king.

    So the king’s men search in every village for many days. Finally they announce they have found the mysterious archer and will bring him to the palace.

    They bring the archer to the palace for an audience with the king, and it turns out the archer is a 15-year old boy.

    Amazed again, the king said, “Did you shoot all those arrows that I saw in the bulls’ eyes on those trees?”

    “Yes,” said the boy.

    “How did you learn to shoot so well?” asked the king.

    “It’s simple,” said the boy. “First I shot the arrow, then I painted the bull’s eye.”

  28. BSS says

    Believe me Sam, alone is so much better than having someone depend (kid) on you but you have no one to reach out…….. single parent here…..

  29. Craig says

    I just got back from traveling alone. I joined a program for an outdoor adventure trip in Iceland and went by myself. I joined the program since I knew I would meet other people and in fact there were 4 other people in my age range so we hung out the whole time. I agree that traveling a lone can get lonely, I have back packed before, but staying hostels or doing programs where you will meet people helps a lot.

    On a side note, the one real positive about traveling alone is you learn a lot about yourself. It will takes a lot of chahones to travel by yourself and you spend a lot of time thinking (may be good or bad).

  30. Jack says

    Being alone is a critical part of growing up. Pity the person who has never learned how to survive on their own.

    Only once you know who *you* are, are you ready to share that *you* with someone worth sharing it with. Use places, people, things, whatever it takes, to discover that *you* because until you do, you’re going to be useless to the person you want to be with.

    The only thing worse than not knowing that *you* is to find the person you want to be with, but not having discovered yourself enough to realize it when it happens.

    Keep searching, but search within yourself first.

  31. Tara @ Streets Ahead Living says

    I’m terrible at traveling alone but I remember a trip to Paris I took with my brother once and how when we stayed at the hostel in the Montmartre section and how practically everyone in the hostel was there to meet friends and would hang out in the living room and cook group meals together. My brother and I got invited to hang but we had so much sightseeing to do we didn’t get a chance. Perhaps taking a slow vacation where there isn’t a lot of ground to cover gives you the better opportunity to mingle with the locals? When you have to see so much in a short amount of time, it doesn’t give you the chance to slow down and enjoy the small things.

  32. Barbara Friedberg says

    Sam, I really applaud you leaving yourself open with this one. I had to respond. Anxiety seems to increase when we’re alone (even if we have a partner) and everyone has their own brand of fears and anxieties. I traveled alone for a long time in my twenties, before I got married. Since then my spouse and I have traveled a lot.

    There’s not easy answer to all of our fears, being alone, running out of money, getting hit by a car, losing our money etc.

    When I was in my mid 20′s I put a lot of effort into finding a partner. I was sick of dating and although I wasn’t thinking “marriage” I wanted a decent boyfriend. By joining community organizations, going to singles activities, and creating a plan to meet as many men as I could, I came across my husband. I feel extremely lucky that my efforts led me to my perfect soulmate. Decades of marriage with plenty of arguing, disagreeing, compromising, joking, playing, working, and having fun have given me a wonderful gift.

    I know you are creating an awesome life for yourself and handle with aplomb whatever comes your way! Just let the fears go when they creep in! And never believe anything your mind tells you late at night when you are tired:). Your pal, Barbara ps thanks for sharing!

    • Financial Samurai says

      Thanks for your thoughts Barb. I do want to tackle my fears head on. Much of this blog is about introspection so I and perhaps my readers can be better people.

      There’s often a hidden meaning in my posts that tries to highlight the inconsistency of things. Hope all is well!

  33. Robyn says

    This post really resonated with me because I love traveling and generally travel alone, enjoying my alone time. Occasionally I use the time for self-reflection, like when I was traveling around the country by myself for about 6 months. Okay, I wasn’t solely by myself. A friend met up with me for about 6 weeks, and other people I met adopted me so I’d spend a few days with them here and there. For some reason everyone wanted to feed me. :)

    When I felt like company, I found it easily enough because most people are friendly if you just start to talk with them. Otherwise, I’d do whatever it was I felt like doing that day. If I wanted to stay in my campsite reading, I did. If I felt like hiking or visiting tourist spots, I’d do that instead. I love to travel alone because there are no set expectations on your time or activities and you can go and see what you’re really interested in seeing without compromising.

    I sometimes travel with friends as well. I try to carefully choose other people who will like to see what I’m interested in who are similarly easy-going so there aren’t many conflicts or disappointments in what we see and do. We usually also try to make sure we have some breaks from each other so we don’t get on each other’s nerves and can go to see/do things that the others aren’t interested in at all.

    I agree that staying in hostels is a great way to meet people if you’re traveling alone. It’s harder to meet people at a hostel if you’re traveling in a group because then it’s more intimidating for the other people staying there to talk to you, and they may not want to interrupt. I’ve met some amazing people in hostels, especially throughout Europe, and have even kept in touch with some of them.

    I’ve also found that signing up for activities, like white water rafting and zip-lining, ends up throwing you in with a bunch of people. That also gives you a chance to talk to some locals and pick their brains about what’s good to see and do in the area. I even went out with one of my guides and spent a day on the beach with him afterward. Chatting with staff where you’re staying is also handy. If you hit it off with them, sometimes you end up with a good friend afterward as well.

    Overall, if you are willing to talk to people and be friendly and personable, there’s never any reason to feel lonely even if you’re alone. You never know who you will meet and most people have some amazing stories to share, if you’re interested and willing to listen.

  34. K says

    Sam, I’m kind of feel bad because me thinks you had a bad time in Switzerland!!! I’m sorry to hear you were lonely out there. Having good company can really really make or break a trip. Robyn’s advice above is good for meeting people when going on trips alone. I wish you had gone to some of the festivals, I’m sure you would have met some awesome people from around the world.

    • Financial Samurai says

      Hi K, don’t worry about me. I enjoyed my time in Switzerland and the silence that went a long with it. It allowed me to think about things more deeply and appreciate more of everything around me.

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