The Introvert’s Love Affair with Solitude: Will It Always Be Taboo?

zen-of-solitude-power

I began a conscious love affair with solitude five years ago.  I’ve been apologizing for it ever since.

I wrote the notes for this post on the backside of a final letter from my ex-husband.  A letter I found in a bedside drawer as I searched for a blank piece of paper to capture my early morning thoughts.  One of the reasons my marriage ended was because there was a disconnect between our views on solitude.  He saw my need for alone time as rejection of him.  I saw it as expansion of me.

Self-Preservation Not Personal Rejection

Personal expansion isn’t narcissistic.  It’s growing into your best self.  It’s hydrating a dying bloom so that it may provide joy naturally. Granted, there is such a thing as too much self-absorption. Loved ones must be nurtured as well, but in my case, time alone gave me light and energy that I never would have had if solitude was completely denied. I tried to take my solitude breaks when everyone was away at work or school. I always felt bad about needing personal space in the marriage.  The guilt caused me to second-guess my parenting style. My kids were taught that the best kind of parent was one who was ON 24/7. I fell short. If only my children understood that solitude helps mom love more deeply and more freely…

I had told people of my intention to be alone for a time. At once I realized they looked upon this declaration as a rejection of them and their company. I felt apologetic, even ashamed, that I would have wanted such a curious thing as solitude, and then sorry that I had made a point of announcing my desire for it.                        

~Doris Grumbach, ‘Fifty Days of Solitude’

My daughter’s eyes widened with hurt and confusion.  I had just told her that I would NOT be helping with her third grade Valentine’s Party.  I had stayed home with her four out of five days last week when she was ill. There had been lots of bonding and mutual enjoyment. I had been home for two days this week with her brother and his turn with the flu. I was taking them to History Day at the middle mchool tomorrow. Evenings are almost exclusively devoted to their homework and needs.  I wanted the afternoon to myself. What I was failing to relay was the fact that my need for time alone was not a rejection of her company but a desperate need to explore my own essence.

I also know that if I do not take time for myself my presence becomes muddled. My thoughts are gridlocked and my demeanor is zombie-like.  I come across as there but not there. That in my opinion, is not good enough.

Most people come alive in relationships.  The more the better.  I am fed by relationships but inspired and transcendent in solitude. I need both.

In her book, Introvert Power, Dr. Laurie Helgoe shares her husband’s experience of dealing with her introversion and need for space. He likens it to a light being removed or a projector stopping during a feature film. I try to keep that in mind when requesting time to myself.  It helps me understand my loved ones’ reactions and feelings.

One of the primary missions of space2live is to explain and create understanding between introverts and extroverts when it comes to recharging and solitude requirements.

Introverts need space to live as their true selves.

We unfold like old road maps — creases released and possibilities endless —when immersed in open-ended time.  Extroverts need hits of attention and interaction to stay energized.  Different methods, neither better nor worse.

Effects of Solitude on the Introvert

I spent the morning reading quotes on love and solitude that resonated so deeply I felt at home and peaceful for the first time in months. I entered a state of flow that was so delicious and nourishing I didn’t want to leave.  I found a place to rest in the words of famous loners like Henry David Thoreau and Charles Bukowski.  It had been so long since I felt this belonging.  Like a parent’s lap or a lover’s embrace, the acknowledgment that solitude cravings are not selfish or bad, enveloped me in warm acceptance. It was like still_water_lake_tahoesitting late at night at the kitchen table with my dearest friends.  There was a feeling of freedom and shimmer.  I felt my inner creativity begin to stir.  She had been dormant for many busy and over-populated months.

Clarity arises in unstirred pools.

Now, more than ever, we need our solitude. Being alone gives us the power to regulate and adjust our lives. It can teach us fortitude and the ability to satisfy our own needs. A restorer of energy, the stillness of alone experiences provides us with much-needed rest. It brings forth our longing to explore, our curiosity about the unknown, our will to be an individual, our hopes for freedom. Alone time is fuel for life.

                           ~ Dr. Ester Buchholz

I am most alive and myself when I am alone.  That sounds strange and un-American but I feel all of my loose ends grow together when I reside in a healthy space of reflection.  Ideas spark and surface when there is room between thoughts.  My whole demeanor shifts from raised shoulder blades, frantic answer searches and obligatory action to easy breathing, expansive thinking and thoughtful action. I become me, in the truest sense.

We Network, Therefore We Are?

The general belief in this culture is that if you are not interacting in a relationship you hardly exist.  We rely on others to shape and prove our existence.  They talk to us and touch us, therefore we are.

Introverts dig deep into their inner worlds to find existential confirmation. Too much external stimulation and interaction and our inner voice is muffled. We are lost.

Most of the time I feel more connected to others when I am alone.  I am able to ponder the universal through the lens of my own specifics. I have time to miss others or wonder about their feelings. A desire grows to love and engage with them.

The Acceptance and Benefits of Solitude

My wish is for solitude to be an encouraged and accepted state.  Those who crave it should not be ashamed or misjudged as selfish.  Many of our greatest inventions and works of art were born out of solitude. The benefits of making space for reflection are endless but below are a few of the key ones:

  • Less anxiety
  • More interpersonal understanding
  • More intuitive decision-making
  • Appreciation of beauty
  • Creation of art
  • Universal awareness
  • Thoughtful actions and reactions

Alone time should not be looked down upon.  It should be respected and understood.  Maybe someday we’ll talk of solitude breaks openly and encouragingly rather than with hisses and shakes of the head. In the long run humanity will benefit.

How do you feel when you immerse yourself in solitude? What are the results? Do you have a hard time asking for alone time? Does your inner circle celebrate solitude or group activities?

Further reading on solitude:

My Introverted Love Creed: If We Can’t Be Magnificent and Independent Together I’m OK Alone (space2live)

Famous Solitude Quotes (Lonerwolf)

Melancholic Quotes on Love (Lonerwolf)

Party of One: The Loners’ Manifesto (Anneli Rufus)

There’s Nothing Wrong With You.  You’re an Introvert. (space2live)

Introvert Relationships: Love Me or Leave Me but Please Don’t Need Me (Too Much) (space2live)

In Defense of Introverted Parents  (space2live)

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80 Comments

  1. Rowena
    May 27, 2016

    I wonder if you’ve come across this poem?

    “Best Society” by Philip Larkin

    When I was a child, I thought,
    Casually, that solitude
    Never needed to be sought.
    Something everybody had,
    Like nakedness, it lay at hand,
    Not specially right or specially wrong,
    A plentiful and obvious thing
    Not at all hard to understand.

    Then, after twenty, it became
    At once more difficult to get
    And more desired — though all the same
    More undesirable; for what
    You are alone has, to achieve
    The rank of fact, to be expressed
    In terms of others, or it’s just
    A compensating make-believe.

    Much better stay in company!
    To love you must have someone else,
    Giving requires a legatee,
    Good neighbours need whole parishfuls
    Of folk to do it on — in short,
    Our virtues are all social; if,
    Deprived of solitude, you chafe,
    It’s clear you’re not the virtuous sort.

    Viciously, then, I lock my door.
    The gas-fire breathes. The wind outside
    Ushers in evening rain. Once more
    Uncontradicting solitude
    Supports me on its giant palm;
    And like a sea-anemone
    Or simple snail, there cautiously
    Unfolds, emerges, what I am.

    (1951)

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      May 28, 2016

      I have never seen that poem but I like it a lot. As we get older and as society gets more ‘connected’ through technology and quick hits of stimulation, I wonder if we will move toward a greater percentage of us desiring solitude. My only hope is that is gets more and more acceptable to unfold in that quiet space. Thanks for bringing ‘Best Society’ to my attention.

      Reply
  2. Michael Buley
    April 11, 2016

    While it’s been three years since you wrote this, I came across it today. Thank you for what you wrote. I’m 60 years old, and only in the last couple years, and really in the past year even more so, have I come to realize how very introverted I am, and how I crave solitude above all. Above any relationship. I crave it for the creative energies that I am and that I thrive on. People in my space, even a single person, cramps me. I can only handle interactions, face to face, for brief periods of time. Phone is okay; email is preferred. I appreciate your words.

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      April 13, 2016

      Thank you Michael. May your new awareness of introversion give you creative freedom. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Carla
    March 16, 2016

    Hello Miss Knowles,

    I am more than thankful for coming across your blog/site! I found it by googling such key phrases as “can an introvert/extrovert relationship work?” “How long does an introvert need space?”, etc at early hours in the morning as I lose sleep worrying about whether I will ever see my new “beau” again. Obviously, I am an extrovert and in the very early stages of dating an introvert.

    We started seeing each other at the end of last year and it has been a very confusing time for me, to say the least. He mentioned to me very early on that he was an “ISTJ” (from the Myers Briggs personally test) and that I should look information up on ISTJ’s if I wanted to better understand him as he needs to read information about it himself to remind him why he acts the way he does. I’ve been looking articles like yours up ever since to try to understand him better and be more patient with him and not take his space from me personally.

    I am an ENFJ (almost completely opposite of him) and have sent him articles about my personality type but not sure if he’s read them. For a while, he was getting better about communicating better and hanging out and having overnights more often which of course felt great to me. However, we’ve had a few busy weekends in a row lately (weekends are his time off) so I try to give him plenty of nights to himself to “crawl away into his cave” as he describes it to watch Netflix or game on his computer without bothering him.

    He’s mentioned in the past that he knows he’s difficult to understand and appreciates me being cool and patient with him. Thanks to sites like yours, i do understand now why he needs his alone time, but it doesn’t hurt any less. I love the projector analogy above as that is exactly how I feel sometimes. I literally feel like he doesn’t want to see me any more, especially after me getting emotional with him recently and me not hearing much from him since.

    Obviously, people like myself need to get stuff off our chests in order to feel closure. I’m seeing people like him need to process it alone, for a LONG time apparently with little to no communication. I am trying so hard to not take it personal and to give him all the space he needs but he doesn’t even ask for the space or remind me that he needs it, he just disappears for days on end sometimes. It is hurtful.

    I know relationships require LOTS of compromise from both parties snd I feel like I am compromising a lot to give him so much space and the time that he needs alone, and I know he’s trying to give me the socialization I need and sending only 4 texts in the past two days with no phone calls or interaction with me. Is it too much for me to ask him if he could please just give me better warning from now on when he has to disappear and at least text me good morning and good night so I know he’s alive during these times he needs to be alone?

    His roommates have already admitted to me that he literally gets home after work and just goes straight to his room and doesn’t come out all night sometimes. Obviously, if I did that, that means I’m sick or have a migraine so that’s extreme behavior for me so I’m trying so desperately to understand him and be patient but as we get closer, I would like him to know this hurts me without making him feel bad for being him.

    I’m sure you understand this dilemma and was just hoping you might have some advice for a silly extroverted girl. So sorry for the small novel above and thank you for all of your articles/blogs and taking the time to read my jibberish and trying to explain how the mind of an introvert works. I even started seeing my therapist again trying to get help with this relationship but she’s not an introvert so I would love to hear your thoughts if you have some free time.

    Thanks again!

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      March 17, 2016

      Dear Carla, It sounds like your man recharges in low stimulation. He also may get into an energizing and optimal flow state while gaming. I wrote a post on flow state last week if you want to reference that. You two are quite different with you personality types. ISTJs are usually quite conventional and responsible. Their dominant function is introverted sensing, which is how he takes in the world and learns. He will trust past experiences, facts and what makes sense to him. Your dominant function is extroverted feeling. You strive for harmony and care a great deal about how your actions affect others. Besides your introvert/extrovert difference your sensing/intuition function is also in contrast. This is the function that determines how you prefer to see the world. If it is the same it is like speaking a common language. Couples of different types can definitely make it work but it will require more effort and understanding. There will have to be a willingness to learn and understand each other, a growth mindset from both of you.
      I think it is perfectly fine to tell your guy how hurt you feel when he doesn’t give you fair warning about his cave retreats. He should be willing to honor and try to understand your needs as well. Your man’s type will require him to retreat to a safe space where he can concentrate and run issues through his personal value and learning systems. It will be difficult for him to do this with you or others asking for his attention. It’s a private thoughtful process. Are you truly willing and able to be with someone who is so internal? He will not be especially emotional but rest assured he has feelings.:) He may be sentimental about memories or memorabilia from the past. He will most likely have loyalty as one of his virtues. Best of luck. It all boils down to how much effort you are both willing to put into it.

      Reply
      • Carla
        March 23, 2016

        Brenda,

        After looking back at how LONG my initial message was, I wanted to thank you for taking the time to not only read my ramblings, but for your amazing and helpful response. I took it to heart and left the ball in his court (telling him so too) and well, he did nothing with it, unfortunately.

        I suffer with chronic migraine disorder so when I do get a migraine (about once a week), it sends me to my own “cave retreat” and I usually want nothing to do with anyone although when I have to work or do other necessary tasks, I still do what I have to, even amidst the pain. About a week and a half ago, I had a migraine that was so bad that the above mentioned guy offered to take me to the ER and even stayed with me the entire time (I noticed how uncomfortable he was being there) so I truly appreciated his effort.

        When we got back to his place so I could rest quietly while he “gamed” after I woke up, I got very emotional after my off and on two week migraine and he didn’t handle it well, he backed away and hasn’t gotten near me again since. I suppose I mistook this distance as one of his cave retreats but now that we’re going on the second week of not speaking or seeing each other, I believe I must have done something to offend him and when I just wanted some kind of closure if it was over, I asked him if we could meet to discuss where we both stood. He agreed but never showed. What he did say via text is that he thinks we moved too fast too soon.

        I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried over the past week. I feel foolish and angry at myself for allowing someone I haven’t even known long to get to me this way. I guess I was ready to put in the effort to get to know his introverted personality type but he was not willing to do the same. I’m not sure what I did wrong and I keep replaying everything I said and did that day to see what I could have done or said differently that would have resulted in a different outcome.

        When we first met, neither of us were looking for anything serious as we both got out of relationships recently prior to that. However, in time, he started doing things that had “boyfriend” and “relationship” written all over it: i.e. taking me out to eat, cooking me expensive meals, calling me when he was out of town, introducing me to his closest friends, talking about his past and future with me, etc. and I could go on with much, much more. It seems as though when I finally reciprocated, he ran and I haven’t heard from him since unless it’s initiated by me. I have decided even though I wish we could’ve talked and had closure and “end” it officially, I can see he doesn’t want to do that so I dropped off some clothes of his while he was at work today which was tough for me as that was kind of my final closure and having to say bye to his dogs I adored through the front window.

        Anyway, I just wanted to give you an update and thank you again for all that you do on this site. I don’t regret putting myself back out there, even though I got hurt yet again, as I have learned so much about myself and other people and how to better handle and be patient with people different from myself, including close friends who are also introverts, so thank you for all of your insight and help!

        Best regards,

        Carla

        Reply
        • Brenda Knowles
          March 25, 2016

          Carla I’m sorry you didn’t get the closure you would have liked. Sometimes we do have to create our own closure in order to move on. It sounds like you have taken the mature and evolved path of seeing the lessons learned from the relationship. They will serve you well when the next love appears. Some introverted types (INTPs, ISTPs) really do not handle emotions well. They are often confused and uncomfortable dealing with them, especially if they are not mature themselves. Sending you peace and a kind hug.

          Reply
          • Carla
            March 29, 2016

            Thank you so very much for your kind words, Brenda. They mean a lot and I know you’re right. Thankfully, I also happen to be very strong and independent and I always survive and come out better and stronger on the other side after the pain passes. But I do not have any regrets and know that all of this will give me even more experience and insight into future relationships and friendships as you say. Thank you again for all that you do. 🙂

  4. Kemi
    January 16, 2016

    Well well, I think I’ve come across my FAVORITE website. Oh my so I no longer think I’m a horrible mom. I absolutely love my daughter but crave alone time soooooo much ( she happens to be extroverted.) I’m a single parent so I don’t get it all that much. I can’t stop reading articles on this website. I’m like having a marathon built of article reading. Loving it.

    To answer the question, I LOVE to be alone. When my love bug (my daughter) goes away to horseback riding camp for a month in the summer, I really enjoy the quiet and find myself not really doing much but relaxing and frequenting libraries. I even take a ride on the train to a near by city, visit the library there, eat dinner and go back home at the end of the day. I crave taking trips on my own. A couple of times I invited a couple of people to come along on my now (annual train trip) and regretted it. They drove me nuts.

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      January 17, 2016

      Your month-long hiatus sounds like a wonderful renewal time for you. Do not underestimate the importance of recharging. You know what you need. You are not alone in craving that sacred time to yourself. You know if you’re a supportive mother, very in tune with your daughter when you are together. If so, it’s perfectly OK to have boundaries that allow you to replenish your spirit. When the key players in your life are extroverts it can feel like you are wrong for wanting time away, but you are not wrong, just different. I hope you can help your daughter understand your needs. It will be helpful as she meets and creates relationships with others with temperaments like yours. It will allow you to be the best parent you can be. I’m glad you found brendaknowles.com. Welcome!!

      Reply
  5. Laura
    September 7, 2015

    Wow!! Finally someone out there has just described me to a tee! In my world, introverts are looked upon as perhaps abnormal or shy. People think introverts need to learn to be social and may even be pushed into social situations that feel uncomfortable. I am an introvert. I think deeply about many things in life. My kids think I’m wierd. My dream would be to live the balance of my life in solitude and come out only when I feel a need to connect. I just dont have a way of supporting that dream. My daughter resently had a baby and I came to live with her and help her for a while, and find that babies are really not my cup of tea, so to speak. She found it terribly crule of me and took it as rejection. corporate America seeks extroverts and sees introverts as not able to lead or create ideas and solutions. Its all about the interview and how well one works with others. Introverts are seen as week and non confrontional. I often feel like I don’t fit in this world. I only want to live on my own. After a difficult divorce 4 years ago, I was left in financial ruin and having to live with others. All I think about now is how sick of living with others I’ve become. I haven’t had my solitude for all that time and it wears away at my patience for everything else. I become silent when others are around and sometimes seek solitude in an empty room close by. My daughter and I live in a small one bedroom apartment and it is very difficult at times. If I explain myself to others, I am misinterpreted as being negative. So I say what people want to hear so that I can get along with them. I read alot more then ever before. Reading and playing games on my phone seem to help me to have some solitude in the midst of people. Not sure what to do anymore.

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      September 7, 2015

      I have shared apartments, houses and dorm rooms. It’s hard. I always loved it when I came home and no one was there. Weird maybe, but the truth. As I get older and more accepting of my nature, I realize if I am surrounded by people always trying to pull me out of my shell or people who drain me, then perhaps I need to change the people I surround myself with. When I am with my positive friends that know and accept me as I am or people who I find interesting and engaging, then I do not deplete as quickly. Sometimes I even get energy from others.
      I understand financial circumstances keep you in close quarters. Do libraries, parks or coffee shops offer any relief to you? Sometimes just going to a quiet place where no one knows you can be a boost. Perhaps you could show your closest people some articles from space2live, so they can see it is not you being negative, but you honoring your way of being. Many readers use space2live as a neutral language to explain introversion.
      I am not sure I’ll be the doting grandmother either. I’m all about quality experiences with my own kids. I can see me spending time with the grandkids doing fun, creative and old school activities like playing board games or going to the park. Babies are sweet but full time dependency is not appealing long term. I’ve been there, done that, and now am glad to be onto the more engaging ages (teens). People do tend to take boundaries personally. It’s not rejection. It’s salvation of your own integrity, which is not always selfish as many would have you believe. Advocate for yourself. Be direct but loving. Help them understand it’s not them, it’s you.:)

      Reply
      • Laura
        September 7, 2015

        Thanks Brenda, I will try some of those suggestions.

        Reply
  6. Hippy Love Child
    February 13, 2015

    I googled ‘happy in my solitude’ and this post was the one on the first page that jumped out at me.
    You know me. This is awesome.
    I am the most introverted person I know and have given up even trying to explain myself to others because they don’t even seem to speak the same language. I’m using the right words to me but their interpreting me wrongly. So I just don’t. I retreat. I isolate. I withdraw into books, music or the Internet. My problem is I don’t actually feel alone when I do these things. So I never feel alone. I live in an ex-homeschooling closely knit household with my two girls, my loving husband one of our girls boyfriend. (Not to mention the pets). It’s a small house by most world standards. So I hide in my room for “solitude”. I don’t feel alone when I go out of the house (not to mention guilty). I guess I don’t actually get to the solitude bit. I know one day the girls will be out of the house then I will be able to take more time for myself. But until then, how do I stay sane?

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      February 14, 2015

      In my post, Introverts Explained: Why We Love You but Need to Get Away from You, I mention a radio DJ who says she doesn’t fully recharge if there is someone with her at home even if they are in another room. You and I seem to feel the same way. That to us is not truly being alone. I had the same situation for years because I am part of a family with kids.
      My workout time at the gym with headphones on helped but even that is not the same. Running by myself helped as well. Do you work outside the home? If not, is there any time during the week when your girls and husband are out of the house for work or school? I know that is hard to find given so many people involved. My only suggestions to maintain your sanity is to have your closest people read a few posts from space2live to give them a neutral perspective on introverts and their needs, then establish your boundaries by asking for an afternoon or whole day to yourself once a week or once a month, whatever you feel comfortable asking for. If your family does not mind being out and about it would greatly restore your energy reserves to be truly alone. It is difficult to be speaking the ‘introvert language’ when most speak the ‘extrovert language’. Know you are not alone in your feelings and needs. I hope you obtain regular blissful solitude.:)

      Reply
      • Hippy Love Child
        February 14, 2015

        Thank you.
        I’ll try your suggestions. I guess I gave up asking for things for myself too. Now that I’ve taken some time to think, my husband used to run with the girls down the park when they were younger, but now they’re older they do what they want when they want and somehow someone always seems to be home!
        Here begins my quest for illusive slices of solitude.

        Reply
  7. Joachim Jupiter
    January 27, 2015

    It’s nice to hear from someone who understands.

    Reply
  8. David
    January 18, 2015

    Thanks for the great post! I woke up early this morning to enjoy some solitude and not long after my young daughter woke up to find some company. And then when I slipped away for a bit more solitude, I read your post.

    My entire life I have enjoyed solitude, but it is just within the last few years I have realized it is a need. A need in my personal life and in my work life. I don’t need or want it all day, but a little time alone each day is how I work best. It is funny that I have been married for many years and until I started writing about introversion I did not realize that not only do I need some solitude, but my wife does too. This has been helpful for us to understand and make our great marriage even better.

    We need to continue to get the word out that there is a need for solitude in many of us that is not selfish or strange, but in reality brings us to our best self.

    Reply
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  18. Arii
    December 27, 2013

    This is such a wonderful read. I want more. I feel every thing you’ve written. If I could just have a break for one week, four times a year – with no demands, phone calls, sexual needs, or responsibilities other than work (writer) – I’d experience bliss. I have a loving husband and two 18 year old sons. I love them. I enjoy them. But, I also need a lot of time to myself. I would explode if I didn’t work from home. But even then, they call during the day, interrupting my Utopia. 🙂 The kids are doing their own thing, but my dear husband seems to take my need for alone time as rejection. sigh

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      December 28, 2013

      Solitude is so easily misunderstood. We are not curmudgeons or misanthropes for needing time to ourselves. When I was married and the kids were younger, I used to daydream about going to a hotel or a cabin in the woods for a week every couple of months.
      I have the next 5 days to myself because my kids are with their dad for the holiday. I am in bliss:) I will miss the kids in a few days but I will be so much fuller when they return.
      Thanks for sharing.

      Reply
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  20. Erika
    November 11, 2013

    I have many friends but is amazing how I just love being on my own. Sometimes I feel like I’m weird for enjoying “me time” while most of my girls are out doing things together. I love nature and most of them don’t like what I like, but still is something so strong is hard to describe like I just enjoy being in peace and quiet. I was in a long distance relationship a few months ago it worked out fine the only reason why I had to call it off it was because this person seemed to need a lot of my attention and it started to feel as if te time that I use to give my self I was giving it to him and being an independent woman single mother etc this tarted making me feel as if I wanted to run away even though he was already thousands of miles apart. I’m an analytical thinker and I’m always thinking and figuring out better ways to make me happy while I’m alone. I’ve dated so much but guys just don’t give me that space______ I need and don’t understand that my time is important. Thanks for sharing all posts also are so awesome and funny.

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      November 12, 2013

      I feel and understand what you are saying. I was in a long distance relationship too at one point. It seems like the distance would give you enough time to yourself but it often doesn’t. I think being a mother plays a part. We often don’t have time to ourselves even when we aren’t dating. I love spending time with friends but I space it out. I don’t have more than one social gathering per week if I can help it. The men that I date are often quite independent (sometimes too independent, believe it or not;) but I was married to a man who didn’t understand ‘me time’. I felt like I was hurting him every day.

      I am like you in that I figure out ways to be happy while I’m alone. I need that quiet uninterrupted time in order to process and make associations, engage my creativity.

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I’m grateful for your sharing.:)

      Reply
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  28. massagingmonkey
    March 16, 2013

    Ha ha yes! Awesome post my dear. As of the present moment, I can literally take at least a good two weeks of Me time. I’m super tired, so two days laying in bed sleeping and watching tv, and for the rest of the days either painting or writing.
    I’m too mentally and physically fatigued that I can’t have proper solitude, so two or three days of unplugging my brain should do it, then I’ll dive into the good stuff.
    I don’t even bother with boyfriends and forget getting married. In the end they all become needy because I create neediness in them.

    Reply
    • brennagee
      March 17, 2013

      I have been in your place where you’re too tired to benefit from solitude. You must rest first and then put yourself in the position to go into flow mode. I hope you experience delicious solitude soon. It’s life-giving.

      Oooh what do you mean you create neediness in boyfriends/partners? You need time to yourself so then they become needy while missing you? I can see that. I’ve been through that. I keep thinking I am going to quit dating cold-turkey but then another intriguing man enters my life and I can’t resist the possibilities. Sigh…

      Thank you for sharing. Appreciate your input.:)

      Reply
      • massagingmonkey
        March 18, 2013

        There are some intriguing men out there no doubt. I’m super weird with guys, in that most of them at first seem totally awesome, but then they become stupid, you know what I mean? Almost that they become annoying, in a needy (stupid) way.

        It’s my fault – I’m never blameless. It’s simply because I’m independent. I create stupidity in others. They stop acting like who they are, and become someone they think I want them to be, when all the while all I want is for them to be their awesome selves – it’s so simple but people make it so hard, like I’m judging them or something.

        In the end I DO end up judging them on their insecurities. I want someone REAL, completely independent of what judgments they think I cast on them. Otherwise they will continue to be needy of the attention or connection, rather, that I don’t give. What their neediness really means is lack of connection. Their own fear of lack of connection is the very thing that keeps us apart.

        It’s insane circular logic, but I see it when it happens.

        In my personal experience, it’s so hard to find a soul mate. Someone who call’s you out on all your shit, but still loves you without taking your junk personally. We all have our shit. But that’s true love. It’s true love if they are independent enough to know who you are and who they are. Their self awareness is unshakable. And that’s the sexy stuff, to me anyway (very rare to find).

        Anyway, sorry for the long response. I’m drunk and been out all day with my ex-boyfriend who is now in a relationship with my good friend. I spent the day with both of them. He’s still in love with me, but it’s not real love, it’s the love that says “What’s wrong with me why don’t you love me?” kind of love, you know what I mean?
        It’s crazy, my life is nuts. I majorly need solitude. I need to extract myself from others bs and focus on my own bs for a while.

        People are crazy! Never forget that people are nuts. They play a game of insecurity vs power.

        Anyway, you don’t have to respond to this, I know it’s long. I just felt like writing tonight. And right now I can go on and on…I barely grazed this subject. Lot’s to be said here on this matter. But it’s YOU who creates neediness in others, it’s not all them, it’s you too. It’s important to know that. Your ex wasn’t strong enough independently , he needed your validation 24/7. Love shouldn’t be based around validation, it needs to transcend all that garbage (you’re already there).

        You are at a place where he needs to be – independant and strong. This is where friction happens. It’s nobody’s fault really. It’s just that he’s not there yet. But hopefully this experience will take him where you are now. From an outsiders perspective, I see that this divorce will strengthen his spiritual evolution.

        Oh man I don’t want to get married…

        My next post will probably have something to do with self actualization and believing in yourself – all parts of the creating process – all done during times of reflection and solitude. Your ex was too hung up on not being secure with himself. He needs to find it within, not from you, but in himself.

        Okay I’m done. Time for bed. One more episode of Freaks and Geeks on Netlix, then bed.

        Reply
        • brennagee
          March 18, 2013

          You are too funny! Your first couple of sentences made me laugh out loud. I love your direct, no BS personality.
          I feel the same way about dependent partners. I believe there is some interdependence as far as support, encouragement, physical labor but the sexiest men are the ones who know who they are, do their own thing and have passions that fuel them. They don’t have to look to others for validation and security. I admit, I still need validation occasionally, probably too often. I felt that was missing in my marriage but I know now that it’s all within me – the strength, glow, light.

          I’m fascinated by self-actualization, Maslow, peak experiences, etc. Reflection and solitude are the food of my spirit. I’ll be sure to check out your post once you create it.

          Thanks for your insightful and hugely entertaining comments. I like you!

          P.S. I just got my teen son into Freaks and Geeks.:)

          Reply
  29. The Foundation of Creative Thinking Part 2 | Read it to absorb my awesomeness
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  31. tashab
    March 2, 2013

    Wonderful post! I’ve only just discovered your website and am so thrilled I did! You have a great way with words!
    I can really relate to this post. Solitude is an absolute necessity – like air and food and sleep! I can be tough to explain to others but without some time alone to recharge I just get so grumpy and become such bad company that they tend to wish I’d go away anyway 🙂

    Reply
    • brennagee
      March 3, 2013

      Thank you for reading and commenting.:) Wouldn’t it be great if people worried about getting enough solitude like they worry about getting enough sleep, vitamin D, water, etc.?

      I get grumpy when I am low on quiet and/or alone time. It’s hard to ask for space. Most people take it personally. Sigh…

      I hope to create and spread more understanding of the introvert nature and needs.

      Thanks again for stopping by.:)

      Reply
  32. Sandy Sue
    February 27, 2013

    A beautiful piece. As a person with bipolar disorder, I often suffer from social phobia. Dealing with more than one or two people at a time drains and confuses me, though I long for meaningful contact and interaction. I’ve learned to relax in my solitude and let it be a place of healing.

    Reply
    • brennagee
      February 28, 2013

      Thank you for your insight into bipolar disorder and social phobia. It must be frustrating (to say the least) to desire meaningful contact but at the same time be drained by it. I feel the same way sometimes. I interact with people specifically, individually and deeply. I can only do that for so long and with a limited number of people at a time. I always want to do more but I don’t have the energy. May you continue to find peace and healing in solitude.

      Reply
  33. 4:15 am. And Inspired. – Lead.Learn.Live.
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  34. Luna
    February 20, 2013

    This was a beautiful article to read, especially because it’s so pertinent to real life, and the difficulty each day in spending some time with ourselves. When I’m alone I feel invigorated, and completely alive and free, especially in nature … I seem to enter this hypnotic state of deep peace. Thanks for mentioning the two articles on LonerWolf as well 😉
    x

    Reply
    • brennagee
      February 21, 2013

      Thank you for your kind words Luna. I know that hypnotic state of peace. It’s almost addictive.:) I feel strongly that we need solitude for well-being.

      I am enamored with Lonerwolf. So thrilled I found your writing.

      Reply
  35. Girl about the Globe
    February 20, 2013

    I also feel more alive in solitude. I travel alone so I can really appreciate life. My ex-husband also didn’t understand but I am so much happier now that I have even been. It makes you stronger, gives you clarity and a sense of being. I can’t recommend it more.

    Reply
  36. elizabeth2560
    February 17, 2013

    I know what you mean about the disharmony with one’s spouse. Once the children left home, my husband also saw my need for solitude as a rejection of him; whereas I had spent many years fitting in with his need for socialising. So sad.
    Great post.

    Reply
    • brennagee
      February 17, 2013

      It’s a delicate balance – socializing and solitude. If you can find a partner who not only understands but respects your needs (be they extroverted or introverted) you are very fortunate. I guess we all take things personally but solitude is not a rejection of others. In a way, I felt like my introverted needs were rejected. So difficult. Much communication, respect and love is needed to work through the differences.Thanks for sharing Elizabeth.

      Reply
      • elizabeth2560
        February 17, 2013

        In our case it was, sadly, more that he felt his ‘need’ of my total devotion and attention to him was not being fulfilled. My own ‘needs’ were put aside or I was made to feel guilty, as I battled to try and make him happy. In so many ways, I did not fathom out my own introverted needs until he left. Then, it was a case of … wow! I see the light. I can be myself.

        Reply
        • brennagee
          February 18, 2013

          That light is so important. Cherish your light and shine it on others. If it comes from your true self it is life-giving.:)

          Reply
  37. Corinne
    February 16, 2013

    Beautifully said. This really resonated with me.

    Reply
    • brennagee
      February 17, 2013

      Thank you. I write as personal therapy as well as to connect. Resonating with someone makes me over the moon happy.:)

      Reply
  38. Deb
    February 16, 2013

    I am very lucky. My husband is an extrovert who talks a lot. One day we were in the store and he ran to get some thing we’d missed. We waited and waited. My youngest daughter said, “Oh, don’t worry. He’s probably found someone to talk with.” I love and am amazed with my husband’s talkative, friendly nature. However, I am different and he is very considerate of my need for alone time. He is very aware and compassionate about my discomfort meeting new people for the first time also.

    Reply
    • brennagee
      February 16, 2013

      My father is a lot like your husband. We always took twice as long to shop if Dad was along. He chats with everyone.:) Even though I am an introvert I can be like that too. Just the other day I struck up a conversation with a woman sitting next to me at a restaurant. I love listening to people and asking them questions. I do need to balance socializing with solitude though.

      It sounds like you have a remarkable relationship with your husband. Respect and understanding are key ingredients. Enjoy your blend of temperaments. 🙂

      Thanks for reading and commenting, truly appreciate it.

      Reply
  39. Francie
    February 16, 2013

    Beautifully written and spot on. Our son, now 25, is a poster-child extrovert. My husband is even more of an introvert than I am, and on the Myers-Briggs, taken multiple times, I score as an INFJ, with the IN all the way to the end of the spectrum.
    Understanding these core differences when he was growing up was a valuable tool in making sure all of our needs were met.
    After seven years away at school, and home again for eight months as he completes and defends his dissertation and begins to look for work, I find myself counting down the days before he leaves on a three month trip. I have creative interests that I cannot concentrate on when he is here,. He is a child who has brought immeasurable joy to our lives, but his energy fills the house and wears me down.
    I have a lingering guilt about how eagerly I am looking forward to having the house to ourselves again, even though intellectually I understand why. Thank you for this post, it is very timely and helpful.

    Reply
    • brennagee
      February 16, 2013

      I am either an INFJ or an INFP. I feel you.:) My children (3) are mostly extroverted. I believe only one of them is a full-on introvert. I feel immense guilt when I need them to give me space. I’m also trying to teach them that it’s OK to need alone time. Introversion is not as “cool” as extroversion so it’s a tough sell. Someday they’ll see the gifts of introversion… In the meantime, I just hope they realize I have deep love for them always.

      You brought up creative pursuits. Creative pursuits are particularly difficult to cultivate because of their solitude requirements. It’s wonderful if the children can join you in your pursuits, but not always possible. I know. Writing is very difficult to fit in with child rearing. I need so much mental space to make associations…

      Thank you so much for your lovely sharing. Deep breaths and you will have your home to yourself again soon.:)

      Reply
      • Francie
        February 16, 2013

        Ah yes, we are indeed kindred spirits. I am so glad to have found your blog via a Facebook link from Introverts are Awesome, and I have signed up for David Kanigan too, via your blog, just love the potential for sharing ideas through the Internet!
        There were times when he was small, and I was desperately in need of space while juggling work, a child and a husband, and taking care of aging parents, that I would try to tell him that mom needs time to herself. That did not work. Instead, I would make some popcorn, we would turn on his favorite PBS program or Bugs Bunny cartoons and we would snuggle for a few minutes, at which time I could breezily say that I needed to take care of a few things, and I would be back shortly. He was then reassured, it worked, and I figured the use of the electronic babysitter was worth it if it helped me refuel even a little.
        Now as an adult, he is an ENFJ, and his very serious girlfriend is an INFJ. He gets it, and in fact gave me the book Quiet, by Susan Cain, for Christmas. I treasure it.
        Now retired, with a working background in computers, web and graphic design, and a passion for photography I thoroughly enjoy gifting my skills to our local national wildlife refuge. All of those “creatively crafted” moments of solitude that happened along the way have brought me to this wonderfully alive place. I affirm those moments for you also, and do so understand how solitude is essential for one to shift into the creative zone.
        Richest blessings to you and yours, I look forward to your and David’s future posts!

        Reply
        • brennagee
          February 16, 2013

          Popcorn and family TV watching work well for us too! Connecting time, then independent time. I do think children learn to entertain themselves if not constantly coddled. My mother always told us to go outside or go play in traffic (if it was one of those days;).

          I love Quiet by Susan Cain! So affirming.

          Your passions and creative outlets sound so nourishing. One thing about introverts is we are almost never bored.

          David Kanigan is incredible. He inspires me.

          You have great wisdom Francie. Thanks for sharing it with me and space2live.

          Reply
  40. David Kanigan
    February 16, 2013

    Flat out…GREAT. Period.

    Reply
    • brennagee
      February 16, 2013

      Thank you David!! Glad I could hit home with you as your posts so often resonate with and inspire me.

      Reply
  41. Christopher Kijowski
    February 15, 2013

    Reblogged this on The Dharmata and commented:
    Written by a friend of mine…Brenda Golbus. this says it all!

    Reply
  42. Christopher Kijowski
    February 15, 2013

    I feel free when I’m alone. Those around me often confuse “lonely” with “alone.” I have been more lonely when with a group of people than I ever have when I have chosen to be alone. Great post!!!

    Reply
    • brennagee
      February 16, 2013

      Alone and lonely are worlds apart. There is a rich freedom to being alone. The mind, soul and body are open to all possibilities. I too, have felt the loneliness of a crowd or a relationship. Thank you for reading and thoughtfully commenting.

      Reply
  43. OneHotMess
    February 15, 2013

    Yes, this:
    “I am most alive and myself when I am alone. That sounds strange and un-American but I feel all of my loose ends grow together when I reside in a healthy space of reflection. Ideas glimmer and surface when there is room between thoughts. My whole demeanor shifts from raised shoulder blades, frantic answer searches and obligatory action to easy breathing, expansive thinking and thoughtful action. I become me, in the truest sense.”
    When I was a child, before I fully “got it,” my mother used to say, “Go away long enough for me to start to miss you.” I get it now completely. That might just mean 10 minutes, or a school day, but let me be me long enough so that I can be back with you, fully. I have seven kids. The older six are all adults, and all introverts. My little guy is 8 years old. He gets off of the school bus, we walk down the hill together and talk, then I am banished upstairs for a time so that he can be alone. Yes, make that seven introvert children. I adore people, and need them, but in very measured doses.

    Reply
    • brennagee
      February 16, 2013

      How did you get all introverted children??? Wow! At this point, I think only one of my three is a full introvert. As you can imagine, their energy is high and sometimes a lot to process. My children NEVER tell me they want to be alone, which makes me feel extra guilty when I need space. As they get older I am slowly teaching them that it’s OK to need time to yourself. Their whole world (father, school, t.v.) says you should be wildly outgoing, competitive, popular and ambitious. I hope they find the strength to be themselves, whatever temperament that is.

      I love your mother’s phrase – “Go away long enough for me to start to miss you.” My sentiments exactly on many days.

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience and insight. Love and appreciate your view.

      Reply
  44. kimberlyharding
    February 15, 2013

    Wonderful words and I so feel the same. THANK you for sharing your perspective. I feel inspired to request the solitude I need.

    Reply
    • brennagee
      February 16, 2013

      Oh! thank you.:) I love to inspire. I am inspired by your writing and artwork as well. Happy our paths crossed. May you find yourself immersed in solitude soon.

      Reply
  45. Lila
    February 15, 2013

    I feel completely free when alone. I relate to many of the things you described. I think I’d be proud of myself if I did what you did (i.e. explain to your daughter that you couldn’t do it). Though I know I’d feel some guilt about not helping–I’d get over it soon after.

    I feel some guilt about alone time when it becomes most of my day because my family would miss me and feel rejected. But if I get a few hours a day to myself, it would be all I need and I’m great.

    Growing up though, since I frequently go to my room to get my “time alone,” my mother would refer to me (and still does when I occasionally need my solitude) as her daughter “in law.” Kind of funny, but yes, solitude is still taboo to most people.

    Peace & love.
    Lila

    Reply
    • brennagee
      February 16, 2013

      I agree. A few hours alone is all I need, and not even every day. When my children were small they took naps and didn’t talk back as much.;) I could handle their constant company. Now that they are older, very active and opinionated, their presence is much stronger and I definitely need breaks.

      I spent a lot of time in my room as a child/teenager. I was also very social. It was a beautiful balance.

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting Lila. Your insight is much appreciated.:)

      Reply
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