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Ask HN: How do you cope with loneliness?
158 points by krmboya on Dec 11, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 77 comments
Even in a CS class (in this part of the world anyway), not so many people might be as interested in coding as you are. It's therefore you and your laptop mostly, with the effect that you lag behind in developing social skills (I sometimes feel like an 8 year old among teenagers). The loneliness even saps my programming energy. Does anyone else experience the same, and how do you cope with it, including bringing yourself to interacting with members of the opposite sex?

EDIT: Not suicidal or anything like that. Just want to hear you opinions.

Use your loneliness as an advantage. How? Being lonely means that you don't belong to any group and are free to move as you see fit. This is what I did, and it worked.

I assume that you start from 0 friends (I did, since I moved to another country some months ago). Start knowing someone close and easy: classmates, colleagues, occasional acquaintances, but beware not to be stuck with someone as lonely as you. Your objective is to expand from there. You can also go to special events or meetups made for people who want to know other people. Or go to some course for something you like (I dance Tango, for example). Once you know someone, try to go out with these people as much as you can: they will have other friends you can be introduced to.

Parties are a good way of doing this. Me and my friends occasionally host dinners or small parties in our houses. People are encouraged to bring new friends, which allows you to know more people. If nobody of your friends organizes some party, start the trend. If you have 3 friends and they bring a new one each, you will be already a group of 7, which is enough for a dinner/small party. Organizing one is really easy, you just need a living room, some snacks/food, some drinks.

This will almost solve your loneliness problems from a friends point of view. Members of the other sex specifically are a little more complicated. But if you do as I described above you will definitely be able to know some. After a while you can start going out alone with them. For example, I am dating some girls I met at the tango course and at some party. I know couples who formed this way.

If you like dancing, then I too highly recommend dancing! A majority of my (admittedly largely disastrous) romantic life was based on dancing. Note: this only works if you like it and you're good at it. The latter often results naturally from the former.

Parties are also great. My current relationship was the result of going to a School of Public Health crêpe party.

Seconded for Dancing. But you don't have to be good at it...

Everyone who starts learning the Waltz or ChaCha (or Swing, or Tango) is appalling at it. And it's pretty liberating to be in a group of people all of whom are happy klutzes.

At my (pretty tech-centric) university, the dance club had over 2000 members : the key selling point for the guys being 'girls like to dance'. And learning steps together has a logic component (so it's satisfying to see yourself getting better), but also a huge WTF component - which takes everyone out of their comfort zone in a good way.

Don't worry about the excellent dancers showing off : they'll be taking other classes.

I didn't say great or excellent, just good. If you don't like it, you won't get good. Competence is sexy. Shared WTF will get you started, but that's about it. Shared passion is another level entirely.

Agreed - and I'd be the first to admit that I personally took getting competent too far (and that in itself starts getting less social, since it's hours of practice each week with just one partner).

However, the basic initial win for the OP is to get out of the house, and have a blast learning something with a bunch of other people. The aim doesn't have to be to get good - it's a major step just to turn up. I was just trying to suggest that every beginner will be in much the same boat. IMHO, learning to dance is a much easier social activity than 'going to parties', for instance.

I too have to second the dancing. It's lots of fun and it throws you out of your comfort zone in a good way. It'll force you to develop socially and once you start to 'get' the dancing and get into it, you will improve in dancing. Most people are also very forgiving (as a guy at social dances, I've occasionally danced with girls many levels above me and found this to be true).

BTW, you might find going straight from coding all day to dance class an interesting experience mentally. :P

A bit OT, but the original, Japanese version of the movie "Shall We Dance" is very enjoyable, and maybe even speaks to the "dance" responses in this thread, a bit.

I would add, the mentality of "I just moved here" to that. When you visit a city, many people are a bit less inhibited to strike up conversations, get into social dynamics with strangers just due to the fact of being in a different city.

Carry that with you.

If you have interests, find groups that have the prevailing interest (this also goes for what type of partner you are looking for (male / female) in dating).

I love the above comment in encouraging those to bring their other friends. You will find interesting, dynamic people, as well as those you do not wish to associate with.

It is important to be honest with yourself on Whom you would actually wish to build a relationship (friend or sexual).

You're a programmer right? You build web apps and stuff? When you build one and launch it out into the world, do you expect everyone to drop everything and flock to your website? I hope not. You need to reach out, as uncomfortable as it might be, and engage people. It's hard work.

Now let's take your personal life. When you're at your computer most of the day, do you expect people to magically gravitate to you and be your friend? If so, you're living in a Field of Dreams. You're fooling yourself.

Try Rejection Therapy: http://www.rejectiontherapy.com. It's like a radical new form of networking. I've heard so many amazing stories of people pushing past their fear to make a rejection, and it ends up starting an amazing new friendship.

Stop being attached to outcomes. Stop being obedient to fear. Stop driving down that same road, day after day. You'll end up in the same lonely destination. Put on the 4 wheel drive and start off-roading into new territory. It's exhilarating.

People want to meet you, but you have to meet them halfway.

For inspiration, look at how this guy does it: http://sneakylittlefox.tumblr.com/

Absolutely agree with this. And I'll add to it also, if I may (it might seem slightly off-topic at first, but there is a point)

I used to be very shy (I still am in some specific ways) and one of the consequences I didn't realise at the time is that I had no idea where my true boundaries were.

So I challenged myself to discover them with initially small tasks; stuff as basic as "keeping eye contact when handing over change to a clerk" that sort of thing. I'd then progress to starting conversations with people in queues, going to bars on my own and trying to make friends and so on and so forth.

I'm very aware that at all points to an outsider I was probably acting a little weird (in the same way that someone learning to rollerskate looks a bit silly), but progressively these tests pushed my boundaries further and further. I even turned it into a bit of a game, trying to find more and more elaborate ways to make myself uncomfortable... I soon discovered that no matter how nerve-wracking and scary these encounters were, I never ended up harmed.

The net result is a compound benefit a/ the confidence to be able to the social things I want b/ a million amusing anecdotes to tell new people I meet when I do those things. Now it's pretty hard to be lonely, because it's easy to strike up a great conversation with almost anyone and find some amusing/interesting common ground.

Hope that helps a little.

The little tasks you assigned to yourself to try and tackle at least the low hanging fruit are in a way core to the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. CBT is the most often used form of psychotherapy not in small part due to its reported effectiveness. It's great to hear your story, thanks.

"People want to meet you, but you have to meet them halfway."

Exactly. Reach out to people. Put yourself out there. I'm discovering that the people that are worth getting to know take some effort. I've had lots of "friends" who in hindsight, where just chatty assholes.

As an alternative to rejection therapy, or possibly a compliment, on a college campus it's usually easy to approach anyone who happens to be by themselves. I made a habit of looking around the dining hall, and asking anyone solo (of both sexes) if they'd mind having some company. A few people will be busy cramming, but most people will be game.

Then you just follow the standard freshman approach to getting to know someone ... major, where are they from, etc. Keep asking questions and you'll stand a very good chance of meeting someone. No pressure, no risk, and in practice it's usually a very low miss percentage.

In practice, I think I ended up with two or three girls interested in me from this approach, but I think I was dating someone already each time. I also brought in a large number of people who joined my existing group of friends.

I've met brilliant 30+ year olds who were still on the 8 year old level you describe.

You need to adjust your value system until you don't feel like you've been wasting time by working on yourself rather than your software project.

Be prepared for horrible failures in the same fashion that you expect segfaults the first few hundred times you code in assembly. Segfaults wouldn't shake your confidence, neither should a girl who is either not interested or openly annoyed by you.

Take a lot more risk and be prepared to fail hard and make a total moron out of yourself. You will still feel better than just cocooning yourself.

Listen. Don't judge the cool, preppy, jock, whatever guys, observe what they do and how they talk, dress, etc. You're not trying to be like them, but you're just learning like you are when you are reading source code or reference manuals.

Do not intellectually dominate. You will draw attention to yourself and lose all the opportunity to learn. Observe other people's sense of humor. Is yours too confined to stuff only the reddit crowd would laugh at?

Read bullshit magazines like Maxim. There is so much crap in there, but there's some truth too and they are very direct about it.

Ideally, try to get a good friend who is a girl and not a geek. Forget about ever hooking up with this girl, she is there just to give you feedback on how you look like when you say or do some things and how your appearance/dress affects others. If you have a sister/cousin, even better, ask for feedback.

I went through 14 years of Catholic schools before going to university.

When I started out, I realised that everyone else was new like me so I took initiative and introduced people to each other, etc. At the time I was very excited about going there because I would meet new people, people like me.

People kinda picked up on that vibe when I started I guess. To be honest, I normally wasn't like that. But anyway, I realised quickly that if you are the kind of person who is seen as friendly, approachable, etc. then people will want to hang out with you, and invite you to things, etc.

An important thing to realise as well is, you don't really have a lot of common interests to be friends with people. I've met great people over the years who were totally different to me. Having things in common helps but, relationships in general to me are more about understanding, not checking off a list of things we both like.

Being on your laptop really isn't an excuse not to socialise. Most of my time in my CS classes was spent in the lab, with a laptop sure, but I mean people need to eat and of course have their all important coffee breaks... or even just to get up and walk around for a bit. The thing is, if you're seen to just spend all your time alone / on your laptop then people will just assume things like you're busy / don't want to be disturbed etc.

As for members of the opposite sex, well, I can say that things got better for me as I got older. It might seem like a really big deal now but when you look back years later, you might not feel that way.

For approaching women, dating, etc, know that chances are if you're new to the game, you will screw up. That's nothing to be worried about or take personally though.

I see you're doing CS so I mean, chances are when you started programming you will have made mistakes along the way, even basic syntax errors. Heck, you can still write software for years and still make mistakes. So I mean, it's like anything really just practice and you'll get better.

Focus on creating a coed group of friends, it makes it far easier to get feedback from both sexes, as well as expand it from both sides. If you're capable of being a friend with a girl, it makes it much easier to sustain a more complicated relationship. Then again I had an odd group of friends where exs tended to stay friends. (I had 4 exs as guests at my wedding.)

Here's something that worked for me: salsa dancing. It's fun, and good music, and it's a great way to meet lots of women in a brief span of time, if you go to the right sort of places (avoid the ones where it's all about seasoned couples showing off their repertoire of crazy moves). Also, you learn to shrug off the 'no thanks' that you'll of course receive. I should also add that it's an acquired skill, and very much about a man dancing with a woman, so it's not like dancing in some random place where everyone sort of shuffles around in tune to the music.

I've done salsa, but always preferred swing. At least in Philly, the salsa crowd takes it self far more seriously, and the swing dancing crowd seems to attract more of an intellectual crowd.

On the same note, the salsa events tend to be at nightclubs/bars, while the swing events are at dance floors. I suspect I just prefer the environment.

Yeah, I suspect finding the right environment is the important thing. In Padova, a friend and I found a really great bar where they do salsa, which was full of people having a good time rather than people showing just how awesome their talents were.

+1 for swing, much more about the fun of the dancing, less serious about getting the technique exactly right, and you fit it to all kinds of music.

“If you’re lonely when you’re alone, you’re in bad company.” - Satre

I don't know how this should help. There's a difference between social isolation and not being able to be alone from time to time.

It helped me. I think it depends on someone's outlook on being alone is. I am an introverted guy so I enjoy being alone more than being with other people (small company is fine occasionally). Some of the bad feelings some people have towards being alone comes from the social pressure of "if you are alone something is wrong with you".

If you can get over the feeling that there is nothing wrong with being alone, you might actually enjoy being alone.

But of course everyone is different. This might not work for everyone.

Coping with loneliness is a temporary fix(speaking from experience here), you have to get rid of it.

Im not sure exactly how, but during the last 6-7 years(im 21) I've slowly transformed from the typical socially awkward super shy nerd kid, to a somewhat social friendly nerd. It didn't happen in a day, i just slowly opened up to people, I slowly learned the social rules, practiced them, and now i speak social as a second language, even though i still have a strong nerd accent. Even though i still prefer to be alone in my room on my PC, with my slime repl, i still get drunk with my friends at least once every two weeks, or go out to play pool, or hang out in coffe shops, or go to lan parties.

I got out of my self-induced mode of minimal outside contact by regularly (3x times a week) going to the climbing gym. You go regularly, you meet a bunch of people who regularly go, and there is no pressure to do anything but chat about your common interest, rock climbing. It's fun to hang out in a casual way with people when there is a focus...Some people like to casually hang out at parties and don't need an activity, but that isn't me.

With an example like the rock gym, you can take it as far as you want. You can just be friendly and another regular at the gym, or you can slowly work your way into climbing trips with other regulars, etc. Not to mention, you get in great shape.

BTW, you can replace rock gym with ____ readily (above comments mention dancing), the key is to have a common activity that is fun and lends itself to interaction, learning how to break the ice, etc etc.

Join a few meetup groups in the city. For example, there might be technical meetup groups about Linux, Python etc as well as non-technical meetup groups about a ton of interesting activities like music or food or various hobbies. Various foreign language conversation groups can also be interesting. I found a few meetups through meetup.com and Craigslist and even started one or two.

The other suggestion would be to maintain the friendships you already have! Don't forget them even if you are in a new city now. I regularly call up old friends and my family and ask how they are doing.

Start small, learn how to make small talk when you're out and about, shop assistants that sort of thing, get used to talking with strangers.

Learn to listen, this is the secret to getting on with females. The other secret, when they tell you about a problem, don't immediately give them your suggestion for a solution, often you're being talked at, don't think you're being asked for an answer, you almost never are.

The only way to develop social skills is ... get out and about and interact, find people with common interests, above all make an effort. The onus is on you to do all the work.

I have no specific advice for you but I had a similar experience during my youth and I can convey some advice that an old mentor gave me at the time:

If you find something you are passionate about and share it with others you will not have to find friends, they will find you.

Are you willing to hang around with any people that don't mind you hanging around? If not, then your loneliness is a choice. Maybe an unconscious one but still, a choice. In that case you have chosen to value your alone time more than the social time with people you possibly don't click with. At this point you are aware of something you feel you deserve, having rejected the things you feel you don't deserve.

I was in your situation a couple of months ago, but I realized that joining a club/team is the easiest way to meet people who share the same interests as you.

If you want to meet other programmers or people who are similar to you, join a CS or Robotics club. If you want to meet different kinds of people, join a sports team.

I noticed that tech people tend to float towards techy things, but a whole variety of people do sports, and that trend was visible both in high school and university. On my dragon boat team, there are people from every faculty on the team, even other CS people.

So it depends on how you want to meet people. Staying in your room programming is definitely not going to make you meet new people. If you want to know a lot of different people, a team is your best bet, because they usually have team-building games or social events where they go out to eat or have fun.

a friend told me once that "friendship is based on trust and mutual interests". maybe not 100% true, but not a bad starting point i think.

it is easy to work on these. just look at people you tend to trust easily, and eminate the qualities that allow you to trust them. (act well grounded, speak slowly and softly, look people in the eyes when talking to them, act caring)

nurturing broad interests is also not too hard: decide often you think somehting is interesting... nobody likes everything, but not liking (or disliking) something clearly raises barriers in getting to know new people. for instance i dont care much for football (soccer), actually i dont care much for sports in general: by this i miss out on a lot of easy socializing. [i consider to start liking sports just for this reason]

for making intimate relations (opposite sex or same sex, im openminded here) i suggest using the friendship route. just build a friendship, but make sure to let know you are interested in getting intimate in a polite manner: a long hug, a kiss on the cheek, a hand kiss, expressing you really like him/her. rejection is not a big of a deal when you build friendship first -- it is not bad to have friends that you would like to get intimate with but are not.

it helps to get intimate with people if you feel comfy with your body. so dance, practice yoga, taichi, sports, gym, or what ever... i prefer dance. :)

please let me know if this was helpful advice.

How old are you and where do you live?

This is similar to how I felt during my two-three years of university.

Some people already suggested that, but I will repeat: - find a hobby outside of computers (like Salsa) - sign up in an NGO (Toastmasters, AIESEC in my case) - cut off internet cord to force yourself to program outside of your home - absolutely remove all instant messengers, ircs etc. if you want to socialize with people then go out and eat lunch with them. if you don't know any people irl (or afk ;) then go and meet some on networking meetings / parties

Perhaps the most important thing is that you need to broaden your horizons. I know it may sound like a heresy, but a good programmer is a one that "feels the real world". If you lack social skills and you lack interests outside of programming then this will influence the quality of your work.

Why? For one - you will have problems working in a team of programmers. Two - if you're into anything else than low-level systems programming then you will need to interact with people who are not programmers. Not understanding normal users will hurt your career a lot.

Oh - and if your city doesn't have enough people interested in programming then move as soon as possible. Living far away from a community will hurt a lot (if you want to be really good).

Often it's a vicious circle. You're shy, introverted with a lack of self esteem. So you start avoiding social interaction. Also if you're in an interaction you can't enjoy it. You often are afraid to act non-conformal. Avoidance leads to less self-esteem and social skills and so on.

You need to tackle the problem on all fronts.

1) This is about your learned behaviour. You have to relearn. As some mentioned before, do some training. Stuff like going out alone. There're programs for stuff like that. Do it professional! That's the most important thing right now in your life! Don't rely only on internet ressource, even if they can be a great inspiration. Go to a therapist if you think that your shyness (or social phobia) is a problem, e.g. if you can't go to salsa dancing because you're to shy. You must break the avoidance circle.

2) Work on your own thinking process. Often, people don't know their own needs or don't dare to stand up for them and try to compensate by being great to get attention. That's a dead-end street. If you don't understand how you "work", the training ( 1) ) can only be of shallow impact. It's really important to unveil your thougts and emotions. I like the Yoga approach very much. To me, it's sound and practical. swamij.com is the greatest resource on the planet. It's a lot and takes time to understand. You could start at the articles about Karma. The kind of awareness and unattachment you step by step achieve makes you stronger. Stronger to understand and handle your legitimate desires. (which does not mean, supress them. In your case, don't supress your loneliness but go out to socialise. But overcome your fear and go to the salsa dancing event.)

I can't tell you the number of times that Hacker News has helped lift my day. Also, going to a coffee shop with a book works short-term wonders. There are times where I question my short-term goals (finish client work) when they prevent me from hanging out with friends (deadline).

Get a cat or a dog. Sitting alone in my house with my crazy cat is better than being alone.

I will also echo the advice to start dancing. It will teach you much more about male and female interactions (particularly intimate ones) then just "going to parties"; the only other subject matter I know of that would do it faster is Pick Up. You also make a lot of really great friends who love to have fun. There's nothing like going to the Salsa club on a Thursday and Friday night with your "Salsa group" and dancing away the night till 3AM - sure beats being lonely to me.

I really like what DeusExMachina had to say about using your loneliness as an advantage. You are free to move about and if you learn how to be secure in that as well as socially capable "on-the-fly" you will be able to go anywhere and do anything without fear of people and without fear of no-people. You are in a much better place than just "loneliness" and all it takes is a shift in your attitude towards it (IMHO) for something to blossom from it.


Here's a bit of my own story, maybe it will help give you some perspective:

I'm naturally a loner, I prefer to be self-sufficient but love very much having fun with people that know me; I believe in personal autonomy and freedom from the need for peer-based validation that many of us are raised to seek. I believe friendships are healthier when they are "I want" rather than "I need".

I wasn't always so calm and confident about my social presence though. Five years ago, a new city, and loner behavior had me yearning for a social outlet - I had just moved to Vegas, which is (in addition to my social short-comings) notorious for its cold social climate and hidden, niche social groups.

After deciding that I was definitely depressed I made my mind up to remedy the silly situation. I remember coming across a website called meetup.com and quickly started searching for one of my favorite activities [hiking] on their website. A year later, I was happier, had many more casual friends and was going on three to four weekly hikes all around Las Vegas (Vegas is awesome for outdoors because it is so close to many great locations). I was also being constantly invited out to singles parties, volleyball games, bbqs, and 2AM treks by moonlight to the Goldstrike hotsprings on the Colorado river. I'm also an avid snowboarder and had a number of great bonding experiences with some of my regular hiking buddies doing that.

All of this though and my interaction with the opposite sex was still lacking and uneventful - I was wanting more fulfillment there.

Then, one day, a hiking acquaintance emailed me and said I should try out Salsa dancing; interested, I showed up for a Tuesday night class, fumbled like an idiot (we all do for the first three weeks) but really enjoyed the experience. The next class was Friday night and the class was going to go to a local Salsa club afterward. FYI, it's particularly helpful, when starting out, to go with your class to a club because it provides you with other newbie women to dance with and people to shoot-the-shit with on the sidelines when you don't feel like dancing. This is very important because experienced Salsa dancers tend to ignore the noobs - much more so women than men, because if you can't lead there's no dance.

The class+club experience changed me for life. I forced myself to "scout" the club and get up the balls to ask a girl to dance. That act is one of the most frightening in the world; I've done back country powder runs off of 60ft cliffs and that doesn't even compare to the feeling of walking up to a gorgeous (even more gorgeous when she's dancing), critical, and experienced woman and asking her for a dance - especially after having watched her be lead like a pro by another hot, well dressed, and experienced dancer. But you do it and do it again and sooner or later your dancing will get better and the regulars at the club will remember you - women who dance regularly at a club go there for connection, so being goofy, fun and conversive on the dance floor won me their affections. Unlike a lot of men, I also had the balls to ask them for a dance; I was also improving very quickly.

I'm now at the point where I dance for a Salsa team, made numerous casual friendships, and had made a couple of girlfriends out of those I met while dancing. Salsa is a social hobby, I do it casually like most people go to the movies except I'm using my body, meeting fun people, and interacting with the opposite sex in an intimate manner most of us in the West don't get to do anywhere else. Salsa, if you love it, will become a big part of your life.

I won't bore everyone with the rest of my personal life story but I do hope this is an inspiring comment for you and anyone else that ever "deals" with their loneliness rather than actually embracing it and doing something about it.

Like many responding I understand your situation at least in part. One thing that helped me during my lonelier times was mailing lists. If you have a specific interest, see if you can find a mailing list hwere you'll find people with similar interests and geekiness. For me that was music, for you it could be something different entirely.

It may sound strange but I find a lot of friendship just in people's words - old books that I've carried with me through the years, literary critics, dead philosophers, internet famous (like PG) programmers who I've never met in person, and so on. An essay like "Why nerds are unpopular" goes a long way to getting some perspective on why you might be different.

Finally, as others mentioned, use the loneliness to your advantage. There may come a time where you're married with kids and your blissful moments of quiet come when you're on the can.

This too shall pass, make the most of it.

Go see your family. If you can't, find a good housemate.

Also, host parties or social gatherings in your home.

Hosting a party in your home is great practice if you have trouble socially. It takes some work and planning, but most anyone can learn to do it. It forces you to take some responsibility for entertaining guests, and to relax ssome of the control you maintain over your personal domain. You won't be able to spend the entire time avoiding attention.

It does help, though, to have handy at least one socially outgoing person who is comfortable leading conversation beyond the typical introductory chit-chat.

Oh, and it doesn't have to be a drinking party or a dinner party. You might gather to play games (card/video/board), discuss books, or watch sports, TV shows, or a movie. I mention sports and TV shows because they're more conducive to breaks for conversation than a movie.

Do you lag in developing social skills?

I have met very social people that moved to a new place, had 0 friends and you know what? they made new friends on weeks time(I'm talking from Spain). Do they have so good "social skills", no. The reason they made new friends quickly is because they love people and enjoyed being with other people instead of staying home thinking about excuses.

Your laptop, CS class is no excuse. Just remember, no excuses, just go out and meet people. If your brain stops you, refuse to think and do it, experience, don't plan. People is going to see you are alone,face it like a man, but it will change fast as you make new friends.

Being lonely is easily one of the best things that has ever happened to me. When I was in high school I was quite social, never found myself alone.

Since high school I have become an entrepreneur. I can count the number of friends I have on one hand (not including acquaintances) - and I'm 100% fine with that. The more relationships you actively participate in, the less time you have to code, work, and change the world.

Just make sure you have enough really close friends to count on one hand and you're fine :) I'm always glad to be your friend too! eric@esft.com

Is there a ACM club or something similar (robotics perhaps?) at your school? If not, it can't hurt to try to start one and attract others with the same problem as you. You never know how many others at your school may be feeling the same way, even if it's just a couple others.

disclaimer: if you do start a club, make sure it doesn't become too elitist or cultish, I felt really out of place because I didn't know anything at a robotics club before, but once the seniors left we restructured it to be more inviting to folks with a will to learn.

I had this problem 4 years ago. I joined a fraternity. It was awesome. Was it juvenile sometimes? Yes. Was it one of the best decisions I've ever made? Yes. It greatly widened my social circle and introduced me to people I'd never have met otherwise. Plus, I met my soon to be wife from a function there. I never would have met her slogging through engineering.

Also, I've been in the work force about a year and a half, and I think the social skills I learned were probably more important in the long run than the technical ones.

I have the exact same problem in my CS class. I cope with the issue by coming to HN or more recently, by reading up stuff on programming related sub-reddits (/r/programming, /r/python etc.).

I am ill and bed-ridden right now otherwise I wouldn't have time to comment so much on HN or read reddit.

I am not sure your "real-world" social skills will improve through reading reddit. It takes real time investment and accepting that you will fumble, fail and make a lot of mistakes. HN people often talk about how domain expertise rarely transfer easily into another domain and here's a perfect example.

You may come to find that 95% of people are assholes anyway. And the remaining 5% are perfect assholes. I don't too much believe in friends just different people with different agendas. I would say of all the people I've met in my life >=.01% where for any period of time actually friends. If anything work on diplomacy and worry about yourself. As for members of the other sex, just remember they're after the same thing you are only thing is their brains are fu¢ked.

Sucks to be you. Enjoy life my friend, is not as bad you might think :)

I doubt he doesn't enjoy life. It's possible to enjoy life with such attitude too. And actually it's quite easy.

And no emotional hangover after "friends" fail you!

You and the OP both have some serious issues. Don't listen to either of them.

Actually, the two of you have a lot in common. Maybe you guys should be friends!

And after all we're just loose clouds of atoms and free will is an illusion, so stop worrying and start liking people. You don't have any choice anyway.

If you are still in college, do study abroad.

It's a great way to meet new people, both from your home country and the country you are visiting. Living in one country you get accustomed to a certain way of life, so this can help you break out of your comfort zone to try new things. Studying abroad was really an eye opening experience for me; definitely one of the best decisions I ever made.

Also, have you tried dancing? :) As Woody Allen said, "80 percent of success is showing up."

Some suggestions:

1. Go to events that thematically match your interests. If you're an university student, that probably will be attending student conference or science fair. You'll definitely find people like yourself there. It helps if you participate and show your work to others. I met a number of smart people this way. 2. Considering getting in some research group. Not only you will find people to talk to, but also it will help you grow professionally.

Even in a CS class (in this part of the world anyway), not so many people might be as interested in coding as you are.

So you're having trouble relating to people because they're not as interested in coding as you are? Sounds like what you really need is a broader range of interests.

I can't tell you what you should be interested in. All I can tell you is that there's a lot more to life than sitting around coding, and university is the perfect time to experience it.

Get a job outside the dorm/studio/home to fill your free time. Get a cat. Play RPG games.

(not being sarcastic, that's how I dealt with my five years of university)

Upvoted, but I have a small disagreement: do NOT take a cat (or any animal) while lonely. You won't truly get rid of loneliness, but you will decrease your motivation (by providing small distractions). Animals are fun, but get friends first.

Join a volunteer group, or perhaps a church (that actually does something useful). Mix with non computer people, and contribute to your community. You will feel better about yourself, and help others. Appreciate what others do for school or a living, and they will appreciate what you do, rather than try to run a rivalry.

Get a dog. Seriously. Cures loneliness. Great prep for human relationships. Also puppies are people magnets.

I'm not practicing it, but you can always go to a totally different place where you can just be a more social person (gym, some art class, etc).

OTOH, I'm do not envy those folks that are friends of everyone and anyone. Frequently they are lonely too, on a deeper level.

Whenever I feel lonely I review this classic comment from proggit:


I know how you feel.

When I went to university I went to a different city, I was completely lonely. Back then, I decided to focus only on the course and tried to learn as much as I could. As a result I've got several friends. Good times :)

I party/get drunk with my non-programmer friends at least once every 3 weeks.

This is precisely how and possibly the best answer I've ever heard: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7X7sZzSXYs

Beside Salsa dancing (where I met my girlfriend 3 years ago), I can also recommend meetin.org - at least for people who are 25 or older it's a great way to meet people and hang out.

in my experience it has been moments these that have forced me to grow, forced my out of my comfort zone. more often then not resulting in new friends.

its a lot like traveling alone verses traveling with friends. if you have friends around you are less likely to talk to those around you.. conversely when you alone.. the only way to meet others is to talk to them.

over time i became better at it, and now i almost prefer to start out someplace alone, slowly building new relationships.

being un lonely all starts with your own operations ...

first decide what you'll do ... ONLY THEN .. who to bring along

and theres MUCH subcontext that gets conveyed through communications

if you believe you're lonely .. thats going to seep out into your interactions

so find hobbies to unlone yourself ! lol

im also a big fan of IRC ... ive added tons of Facebook friends from IRC channels ... AND they're got really quality topics to talk about

Check out meetup.com - I expect you will find there are local meetups of programmers in your area.

I got a dog. Seriously. I'm cured.

there's beer out there. go forth.

I'm in a similar situation. Although I got it pretty much under control.

----Long story alert----

Back in high school, in-class socialising with little out-of-school chit chats was enough for me. Few meetups here or there and the rest of time knees-deep in code and/or listening to music.

After high school I went freelancing and traveling way (2 foreign countries in different continents in 2 years, back in my home country now). Living 10k kilometers away from everybody you know is quite a loneliness :) I handled it quite well the first time, but got stuck quite worse the next time (too rural area). Also had same problems when moved back home - some old friends went abroad, some are quite different people now.

----Long story alert----

tl;dr been lonely badly in foreign places, managed to fix that

Few things that didn't work:

- Be dragged into parties I didn't like (theme or people) - there's nothing worse than mandatory socialising

- Locking myself in and working all around the clock

- Choosing money/savings over going out/socialising/traveling - you can't work unless you're sane. Saving in this area causes lower productivity and even less food on the table in the long run. Although it's always possible to go out cheaper :)

Few things that did work (works best when you use few of them!):

- Get out of town. Cycling and hiking works best for me. It's a nice way to keep yourself busy, while enjoying new experiences. Also, it's easy to socialize this way. Just say Hi! to anyone on the trial. Small chit chat will follow naturally. And health benefits is a nice bonus!

- Go to public parks, squares etc. Take a book or whatever (no headphones, this will cut your off from outside world) and just hang out there. Even if you're not lucky to score some random conversions, being around other people gives that warm socialising feeling

- Hit the streets. Just go for a walk. Better hit busy downtown streets - more possibilities for conversations, more being-around-other-people feeling. Again, without headphones/music works better.

- Pick up an indoor hobby. Reading, building models... Whatever works for you (although for me PC-based hobbies didnt work well..) Just enjoy yourself.

- Rock shows. Enjoy music, get a few drinks, talk to random people, party.. Evening well spent + maybe new friends or at least socialising/being in a crowd feeling :) Not sure about non-rock music based events, never been there.

- Hit the bars. Go to bars alone and start talking to strangers. Although this is one of the hardest things, requires a lot of courage :) But results are quite good.

edit: messed up smth with formatting, looks ok now...

I cope badly.

I've had to work from home since a few months, because of a strange allergy reaction at work.

It is depressing.

This seems to be the only major city on the planet where there aren't lots of nice cafes to work from. Otherwise, that is what I would do.

I've noted the same effect in others and also hopes for good answers to your question.

For the record: I like people but have limits, since I'm really quite introvert.

The comfort of being alone and not interacting awkwardly currently outweighs your resolve to solve this problem.

It's hard to self-diagnose with introversion, you might just be seriously depressed and not willing to admit it to yourself, but I don't know you at all so all this is maybe BS.

Good thinking; you are often wrong when generating hypotheses about yourself and they are hard to test.

But I've seen it in myself at other times over the last decades, too.

(I didn't know introspection was harder for introverted? Reference?)

I wouldn't say introspection was harder for introverted and I definitely would have no reference for that.

It's just that introversion is a personality trait whose meaning was overloaded by pop-culture and pop-psychology. Stuff by Freud, Jung, Eyesenck, Myers-Briggs, etc. is useful to know as much as it is useful to know about the work done at Xerox in the 70s and 80s. Informative and a foundation for later work, but by no means current.

This http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myers-Briggs_Type_Indicator#Rel...

will tell you about just how inaccurate it is to take a classic test like MBTI. While there is something to be said about personality traits and nature vs nurture, Psychological Types are so 1923.

There was a lot more concrete research done in the last 20 years on depression and related mood disorders as it is somewhat of a modern-day plague (OK plague is too harsh, can someone help me with a disease analogy here?).

I was trying to use the term "introverted", which isn't exclusive to Myers-Briggs. Sorry for the confusion.


Cool, understood. Just keep in mind that most psychologists will tell you that you are (or you can be) by and large in full control of your personality traits and that these things can change dramatically through your life, either through your conscious decision or through environmental influences.

So to make a determination over why you are the way you are based on how you perceive yourself in terms of a personality trait category that (Jung or not) is related to the Psychology of Types is doing a bit of that self-fulfilling prophecy.

There's nothing wrong with preferring to keep to yourself and socialize less frequently, but perhaps it would be wise to rule out other hypotheses (like, really really convince yourself that there's not something else bothering you in life). That's as far as I can speculate, because although I might claim you might not be consciously aware of the whole story, I am even less aware, it's just a pattern that I noticed with some friends and some of them, years later, refer to those periods as periods of depression, some of them even talked to a good psychologist about it.

When I was at Purdue University, Molecular Biology is just as lonely, I joined an International House a fraternity that housed us and non us students in one place with weekly parties.

The weekly parties were set up as cultural exchanges where we had interesting meals, presentations and social gatherings.

If it is a State or non-state USA college I am sure that one of these types of fraternities exists to help the social interaction aspect.

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