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Loneliness is a measure of self-understanding (stan.bar)
140 points by stasbar 67 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 139 comments

Earlier today I sent my SO a long string of text messages about a problem that I was having, including one of them that said "I feel like garbage." I was feeling really down. They didn't respond to any of the text messages; when they got home, I asked them about it, and it seemed like they just sort of skimmed them and they didn't notice that one in particular. I didn't mention it; I just let it go.

Do I "not understand how I feel" because I feel lonely right now? Or is communication not a one way street? Most of the time when I miscommunicate with someone, I find it's as much about their not wanting to understand as it is about my being unclear.

As a man, I have lots of people in my life who love me, but they consistently fail to take notice of my emotional needs. When I express that I have emotional needs, all I get in response is a "deer in the headlights" look, from other men, from women, from parents, from friends, from my SO. So usually I just keep them to myself because I don't see the point in asking for something that someone can't offer me - a tremendously lonely experience. Do I "not understand myself?" Am I not speaking clearly enough? No, the idea that I might need something from the people who rely on me terrifies them, and they freeze up and stutter and generally are unable to offer me any assistance.

And of course, I'm sure all of us experienced during the pandemic the loneliness of not having access to other people or being able to fulfill your social needs - distinct from the loneliness of being with people who don't understand you.

"As a man, I have lots of people in my life who love me, but they consistently fail to take notice of my emotional needs."

Although every man's circles are different, your experience is highly common. I'm going to intentionally dramatize a little to get the point across efficiently.

Men effectively live in an emotional desert. Showing emotion, vulnerability or dependency is discouraged, dismissed or even ridiculed. Men lack a support system. They're often the last buck and there's nothing or nobody to back them up.

This is why to many men, their relation with their mother is holy. It's often the only source of genuine unconditional love and a safe place to be vulnerable. Of course, you can't even have that, this too is to be ridiculed, hence the many "your mum" jokes.

When men get sick, they're ridiculed for being such a baby. Here too a rare sign of vulnerability expressed is to be laughed at.

Men are judged by utility. Society doesn't care about men's needs or problems. They are willingly sacrificed in war, work, homeless on the streets, and in suicide without this even being a topic of mainstream interest.

The handful of reasonable feminists spotting how this complete indifference is a problem are shouted down by their radical counterparts, that have seized the movement. Not only is there no mainstream culture to care about men, it's openly hostile to men in general.

If I were to post my little lecture on a social network, I'd be piled on with: "oh you poor man, you have it sooooo bad lmao!!!"

Anyway, I know none of this helps, but I just wanted to share that your experience in many ways is the experience of many if not most men. And I think you analyzed the situation very well with the "deer in the headlights" remark.

Thank you for sharing. It is definitely underappreciated how the patriarchy simultaneously oppresses and privileges men. I'm sorry if you've had bad experiences with online dog-piling, but I'll note that understanding intersectional feminism has been important for my own personal understanding of my gender and the ways it negatively impacts my life (or positively for that matter). I think dog-piling is universal and a product of unhealthy discourse and the way online spaces erases nuance.

The female part of the patriarchy (a word I hate) is not to be underestimated. The idea that men should be more in touch with their emotions is nothing but a narrative, reality is exactly opposite to it.

Women do not select for emotional men. They select for status, wealth, attractiveness. Only when those qualities are met FIRST, perhaps you may also share some feelings here and there, but do keep that shit in check.

The above sounds brutal and primitive, but every social study and dating research confirms it. And it makes perfect sense as it 100% aligns with biological incentives, as much as we want to deny those.

Friend, I tell you truthfully that you are buying into a conspiracy theory, propagated by people like Jordan Peterson and Andrew Tate, which is not a true reflection of reality.

Men shouldn't be in touch with their emotions to attract women - they should be in touch with their emotions for their own well being.

The idea you're expressing is called hypergamy, and it's more of a caricature of human courtship than anything. There are women who are attracted to status and women who are looking for someone with emotional sophistication and there are millions of other things they might look for. They aren't robots; they don't behave in unison.

The other idea you're touching on is evolutionary psychology, the idea that human behavior stems from certain knowable evolutionary pressures. This makes sense at first glance but it ends up being a way for people to dehumanize others and use scientific language to justify the belief that a certain group of people are robots operating under a known ruleset. It's a rationalization of prejudice.

Evolutionary pressures are so vague and difficult to know, and sexual selection in particular, that you can justify anything with this framework. Try this on for size; "women disproportionately bear the cost of childbirth, so they're incentivized to select for partners with a high degree of emotional maturity, because these partners are more likely to attend to their needs during pregnancy, withstand the often traumatic stress of parenting an infant, and to be caring parents who will pass on these high-value traits to their male offspring." Is that any less sound an argument than that they select for high social status, or physical strength, or what have you?

I'd really encourage you to look into criticisms of these ideas. Unfortunately I don't have a lot to offer as far as places you may start, I've routed through my browser history and turned up a couple things that might interest you:


(Non-paywall: http://web.archive.org/web/20230115075145/http://www.nytimes...)



No, I'm not an incel, as that it was you seem to imply. I'm happily in a relationship for 15 years. I'm not on board with characters like Tate and Jordanson, they opportunistically exploit a symptom: a total lack of care or interest in men's wellbeing.

"Men shouldn't be in touch with their emotions to attract women - they should be in touch with their emotions for their own well being."

And the point of this discussion, what started it, is that they can't. Those feelings are ignored, dismissed and ridiculed.

I'm glad to hear you aren't an incel, and you have my sincere congratulations on 15 years of marriage, that's wonderful. I 100% agree with you about Tate & Peterson.

I think it would be worth considering that the ideas you were describing are axiomatic in incel ideology. If you dug through some Andrew Tate videos, you wouldn't have any trouble finding him make the same case as you've made. The crossroads here is, once one observes these critiques of masculinity - do you accept them fatalistically, attributing them to some indelible aspect of biology (this is the Peterson route), or do you seek to change it? Do you place the blame on women (the incel route), or do you observe that there is a power structure (the patriarchy) that is simultaneously oppressing and privileging both men and women in different ways, so that they both enforce the rules of the patriarchy on one another?

There is a problem here, absolutely, we're on the same page there. But it doesn't stem from biology, it is a set of social constructs and expectations; artifices created by humans and which can be abolished by humans, no more immutable than the concept of the divine right of kings.

I agree with the person who said that men should be in touch with their emotions for their own well being.

The relationship that one has with oneself shouldn’t be dependent on others ‘ignoring/dismissing/ridiculing’ them. Then it is a relationship they have with the outside world.

"Men are judged by utility."

I didn't realize this until recently. Rude awakening. Even the most close relationships turn out to be quite transactional.

"Only women, children and dogs are loved unconditionally" - Chris Rock.

It's not as transactional as to be loveless. It's conditional love.

I'd like to push back on this. I feel my friends & SO love me essentially unconditionally, but are simply ill-equipped to express that in a supportive way.

I think that this is technically true in most cases, but love isn't technical.

Is Chris Rock a comedian?

Between the two genders, men also disproportionately take the lion’s share of the spoils of war/relationship/employment/power/clout.

So here when men are judged by utility, it is essentially competition between the males of the species themselves.

It isn’t dissimilar to ape societies or lions. The alpha wars are happening due to testosterone. There is most certainly an evolutionary and biological reasoning for this.

This has nothing to do with women. Please leave us out of this.

This is most likely why the vast majority of suicides are men.

But, in fact, the opposite is true: 3 out of 4 suicide attempts are by women.

OP talked about suicides, you talk about suicide attempts. Both of you are right, while women attempt suicide more often, men succeed at suicide more often and hence die by suicide more often (see Gender paradox: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_differences_in_suicide)

According to CDC, men kill themselves far more often.


And yet, women make 3x as many attempts, which is more relevant in a discussion on mental anguish and not, for example, gun ownership and aptitude.

you lost me at the cabal of radical feminists

> I sent my SO a long string of text messages about a problem that I was having, including one of them that said "I feel like garbage."

Is it possible you buried the lede? I'm a fellow sender of long strings of text messages. I've found that not everyone appreciates my potentially sprawling/parallel communication style. They don't always have the time or capacity to pick through all my words and respond thoughtfully to each point.

I used to take it personally, until I realized I was just being overwhelming. Now, if one thing in particular matters to me, I focus on communicating that one thing. I leave the rest on the back burner for more casual conversation.

I think that's more or less what happened, I don't blame them. Just demonstrating that understanding yourself and expressing yourself clearly are necessary but not sufficient to be understood and to feel seen.

Well the truth is that you didn’t express yourself effectively. My SO has done something similar, and being on the other side of an emotional text barrage feels like someone is thoughtlessly unloading their issues onto you. Get a therapist and some friends for casual “therapeutic” complaining and save any real issues you have to more appropriate mediums like a call or face to face.

I wouldn't presume to understand your relationship with your SO from a vague story, and I wouldn't presume to make proscriptions to you either. I'd ask for the same grace and courtesy from you.

The point was that, though the article suggests loneliness stems from being unable to describe your feelings simply and concisely, it is more complex than that.

I am trying to imagine what I would say to someone who drops ‘I feel like garbage’ within a long rambling communication with many thoughts expressed.

Now..if it was a singular sentence or text that says ‘I feel like garbage’, then I know the purpose of the communication and enquire what’s going on.

If ‘I feel like garbage’ is preceded by the reasons that explain the conclusion of ‘feeling like garbage’, then it is a conclusion of everything before it.

If it’s in the middle of the communication, then what comes after could be the explanation for ‘feeling like garbage’.

So ..at no point is it the focal subject of the communication.

One effective way is including: What, Who, Why and if they’re an ask, make it clear. Most people can’t read minds.

I am trying to be mindful about my communication and I keep changing how I communicate based on feedback. How my family reacts is diff from how it is at work.. so we need to have different groups..like concentric circles: closest circle, family..friends, colleagues..neighbors etc. it’s always equal give and take. Don’t expect more than you can give. Sometimes, certain relationships aren’t worth it and it’s better to walk away or have no expectations.

I know I said my other comment was my last word, but I've found a more productive way to express this.

This group of commenters in this subthread are laboring under the misunderstanding that I don't understand this criticism; I accepted it in my top reply in this subthread. The statement I think you're interpreting as a rejection of this criticism (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=34436762) is an expression of a boundary; I'm saying, you don't have enough context to understand this, you're overextrapolating from a single data point, and I'm not going to enlighten you with additional context - I'm deliberately limiting the amount I share in this thread.

Additionally, this isn't actually what I was arguing; if we accept the axioms presented in the article, a poor presentation of thought doesn't indicate a lack of understanding, a poor expression does. That it is possible to be lonely as a result of a poor presentation is contradictory to the article's conclusion; make of that what you will.

When you continue that line of criticism - without asking questions, without understanding the boundary I expressed, and generally without showing me that you've listened to my previous statements & just repeating the criticism - I take that as transgressing my boundaries, and I draw the inference you are more interested in nitpicking my statements and expressing your criticism than respecting my boundaries.

I'd ask that, if you want to express such direct and personal criticism, you read much, much closer, especially with an eye to when I tell you that I'm not comfortable engaging with that criticism. If you didn't understand that saying, "I would not treat you this way, please do not treat me this way" was an expression of a boundary - now you know to be on the lookout for this common script for expressing boundaries. If you understood that it was a boundary and interpreted that as a challenge, or you don't feel it's legitimate for me to express a boundary in an online space - that is something to think about.

Sorry, if it came across as criticism. I was trying to put myself in your shoes.

Edited to add after reading the comment again: Having said that, by the way you have reacted to my comment..I think it would serve you well to be more introspective of your thought process.

Why are you so sensitive to criticism and if you expect others to toe the lines of the boundaries that aren’t clearly defined, you shouldn’t have shared the details.

Engaging in any kind of interaction where people lend their ears to your words is calling upon their time and attention. If you call upon our time and ask for our attention and then complain about perceived criticism that you are not comfortable with it..then perhaps you should be aware that people can’t read your mind.

It comes across as manipulative where you are instructing the public as to the kind of response you’d like to hear. You have to pay people for that. Those people are called therapists and they charge $250/hour.

I think you need take some time off and ask yourself why you react like this. It isn’t normal and it must be difficult for you to interact with the RoW. It would be in your best interest to not consider everyone as against you.

Also: I didn’t read every comment and your reply to it in the thread. This is not my homework. I only replied to the parent.

ETA: good grief!! I read some more of the thread. Perhaps you need to speak to a woman instead of chatting with other men with the same problem. Someone needs to say this. As a female, I have a dim view of this chit chat amongst what seems to be a mostly a male bubble.

If a man wants to improve their relationship with women, then they need to speak to women. Not speak to other men who are essentially enablers here.

I never said my SO was a woman, I never said my SO and I were having problems, I never asked for advice; I made a counterargument to the argument in the article, sharing a single moment of my life, and talking equally about my SO as much as my friends and family. I asked that you not try to read between the lines and offer me the criticism of that person you imagine me to be - I'm not that person. You chose to double down on that.

> Also: I didn’t read every comment and your reply to it in the thread. This is not my homework. I only replied to the parent.

Do whatever you want. Understand that if you don't have the full context, you might not be received in the way you expect. If you are curious, for your own edification, you may find these comments enlightening:



I'm sorry if I made you feel called out or defensive.

This is how the thread made me feel: 1. You are an unreliable narrator. (“My SO isn’t a woman”. Somehow I knew you’d make this statement. You are still vague.) 2. You place the burden of understanding elsewhere without taking responsibility for unclear communication. 3. There is a lot of shuffling around framing of your statement. 4. The responsibility of clear communication lies with you. It is not our burden to carry. 5. I do not know you. It’s a big ask to trust your word when everything you have communicated says the opposite. 6. This is a manipulative tactic that is very subtle but not uncommon.

I want to say that I did feel attacked but because I chose not to get triggered by it, I was able to make a few more observations. But I respect your request and will not further this discussion as you will likely construe it as criticism and uncalled for..

There is nothing further to discuss. Thanks for engaging thus far. It gave me something to ponder over.

> The point was that, though the article suggests loneliness stems from being unable to describe your feelings simply and concisely, it is more complex than that.

I think the point we're all trying to make is that a text barrage is _not_ expressing yourself simply and concisely.

"I feel like garbage" is simple and concise. This is pedantic nitpicking, so that's my final word on the subject.

I was going to chime in with the same advice. It’s difficult to respond to walls of text. My cousin is notorious for sending these kinds of walls of text and it is impossible to parse correctly and quickly. Text isn’t a great medium for that, in person or a call would be better suited for it.

I am sure any long term relationship (long) requires the ability to make space for counseling each other.

That is great human progress! Knowing that the way you ‘behave’ might not be the best way and not taking it personally! Meta cognition and enlightenment!

Thank you, the power of introspection and therapy!

You mentioned that you're not sure about how to improve the one-sided empathy situation with your SO. So I thought it might be helpful to share some pertinent info that I've come across on HN in the past. I feel that the article and comment discussion on the "Intentionally making close friends" post (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=33774353) may offer some actionable advice. Also, see the authors other post specifically on "debugging others" (https://www.neelnanda.io/blog/30-debugging-others).

My own advice is to be direct with your SO about your needs / expectations not being met. I went through the same thing with my SO. We went to couples therapy for many years with no improvement, until eventually they realized it was serious enough of a problem to lead to the end of the relationship, prompting them to put in the necessary effort to change. Another poster mentioned Gottman "bids for attention" which is spot on as well. Both partners in the relationship need to show up for each other to provide emotional support. Some people are simply more used to receiving support and don't know how / aren't used to providing it. It should be made clear that this is unacceptable and needs to change, but also that you are willing to give it time and work with your SO to help them gradually improve their empathetic capacity so that they can be a better partner to you (and better person in general) and keep your relationship healthy.

I think it's also important to note that balance is key. You need to be mindful not to overload the other person's empathetic capacity by venting so much that they never have a chance to vent to you or to relax / recharge. If your SO is dealing with a lot of emotional distress themselves, they simply won't have bandwidth for you. We can never be perfect emotional support for each other, because each person deals with their own emotional distress / stressful events which temporarily limits their available empathetic capacity.

> It should be made clear that this is unacceptable and needs to change, but also that you are willing to give it time and work with your SO to help them gradually improve their empathetic capacity so that they can be a better partner to you (and better person in general) and keep your relationship healthy.

When I wrote my sibling comment it didn't come to mind, but this is exactly part of what I'm feeling as well - a strong lack of empathy on the part of my partner. It could be due to an underdeveloped insula or orbitofrontal cortexes from some of the reading I've done. This falls in line with my understanding of them having an avoidant attachment style, too, which generally I've heard is also due to being underdeveloped, compared to avoidant and securely attached individuals.

I also likely exhibit "too much" empathy myself, which is a heck of a pairing. It's not easy for me to feel like I need to "tune down" how receptive I am to my partners every little issue or negative expression and try to be there for them - but it is just so unequal otherwise, sometimes to both of our detriment. I am guessing also I need to give them space to feel negative feelings before jumping in so quickly.

I have been direct with my partner in the past about my needs not being met, as you suggest, but I think the conversation needs to happen again (and again?) as reminders and check-ins maybe? It doesn't feel good to have to do this though, especially during moments of distress when I really need them.

> We went to couples therapy for many years with no improvement, until eventually they realized it was serious enough of a problem to lead to the end of the relationship, prompting them to put in the necessary effort to change

In your case, was it truly just a matter of willpower on the part of your partner? How have things been since?

Since you seem more well read on the subject than myself: are there exercises or skills to help build someones empathetic capacity? Anything I can do (perhaps without involving/telling my partner directly) to help them? Behaviors of my own that I can change to get us going in the right direction?

Can I get this change from my partner without threatening the relationship itself as you had to do? I feel like that would undermine all the effort and reassurance I've put in, that they so badly need to help develop and feel safe.

> are there exercises or skills to help build someones empathetic capacity? Anything I can do (perhaps without involving/telling my partner directly) to help them? Behaviors of my own that I can change to get us going in the right direction?

I'm no therapist, but IMO, it is not healthy to try to help your partner change "without involving/telling them directly". It sounds like you are afraid to discuss this with them because of their reaction, and maybe they will tell you they don't want to change or feel the need for change, which would be another slap in your face.

Talk with a therapist; maybe your relationship is not all that great when it comes down to it, and you need to face that and perhaps consider leaving, or at least learn to accept that your partner is incapable of giving you certain things that you would like to have, but can't get from them. Not all things are fixable, and love doesn't conquer all, at least in my experience.

Another thing to consider: your relationship seems to be in trouble and you are unhappy with it. This could be magnifying other difficulties in your life, like at work, that would not be such a big deal if you didn't have these ongoing relationship concerns.

That's fair. They have to be a willing participant. It is just so infinitely hard to tell someone, especially someone you love and support, and who's support you so greatly want (and need), "you lack empathy", especially after telling them already several times you don't feel cared for. Maybe phrasing is part of the issue, and starting with "you lack empathy" isn't quite the right way to attack this issue and is an unnecessary attack on my partner. But, where to begin with them then?

I'll admit I wrote that comment frustrated and after not sleeping great after reading this thread.

I certainly know what it's like to be in your shoes, losing sleep, feeling depressed, searching for answers. I can and do truly empathize with your relationship struggles. And honestly, I still struggle with this (though to a lesser extent than in the past), and certainly all my relationship problems are not solved. However, my relationship did truly experience a significant improvement. So perhaps my experience / research is of some value to you and others that are in a similar situation. I'll go ahead and share a few more pertinent thoughts / resources below, but it won't be comprehensive. If you'd like to discuss this more comprehensively (I don't want to share too many personal details here) I'd be happy to chat with you via email or phone. You can email my throwaway account to get my contact info. My throwaway email account: barndoor16@protonmail.com

I think you touched on the root of the one-sided empathy situation with your SO and most likely also your broader relationship issues: incompatible attachment styles. After much research / reading and therapy, I eventually identified this as the root of my own relationship issues as well. Essentially it boils down to this: a person with an insecure attachment style is poorly matched for a person with an avoidant attachment style. I highly recommend reading the following book on this matter: "Attached Are you Anxious, Avoidant or Secure How the science of adult attachment can help you find – and keep – love by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller". I also recommend reading Gottman's book "The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work" (Gottman doesn't really utilize the attachment styles model but his model is effective for relationship issues nonetheless).

Regarding how to talk to your partner about this, the optimal approach is in fact certainly much more nuanced than "be direct". You need to take care not to make your partner feel criticized, as this will trigger defensiveness, causing them to become more resistant to making changes. Generally, using "I feel" statements is a good approach but it can be tricky to implement well in practice. Also, you certainly don't want to make your partner feel the relationship is threatened / communicate a threat, unless you sincerely feel you're tired of trying / progress isn't being made / you've exhausted all other approaches. With I statements, it's possible to communicate that an issue is very important to you and your happiness in the relationship without making your partner feel excessively worried that the relationship is threatened. In particular by making it clear that you're not looking for immediate changes / perfection - that you're willing to work through it with them. And there's certainly much more to communication - it's a deep topic.

I think it's also important to note that attachment style / relational incompatibility is a matter of degree. As you'll learn from the book I recommended, attachment style is quantified on a four quadrant spectrum. If you're only a little insecure and your partner only a little avoidant, then your incompatibility is probably more workable. So I would certainly recommend using the attachment style assessment tool to gauge the degree of your and your partner's attachment style incompatibility. So while it will certainly always be difficult being in a mismatched attachment style relationship, it is possible for both partners to meet closer to somewhere in the middle and have a mostly functional relationship, through a mutual deep understanding of the mismatch and a sincere willingness to modulate your respective behaviors and expectations. However, if eventually you observe that your partner fundamentally lacks a willingness to make any significant changes to their own understanding and behavior, then I agree with the other poster in this thread that leaving the relationship should be seriously considered. But from what you've shared so far it sounds to me like you've not yet reached that point / haven't exhausted all your options. That said, the decision of whether to keep trying to make the relationship work or to give up on it, also depends on how much you've invested in it already. A long marriage with a kid (my situation), warrants trying harder to find solutions, putting up with unmet needs longer, and generally being more patient. If you don't have much time invested in your relationship then it may not make sense to keep banging your head against the wall for years (as I did). In which case you may want to set a more reasonable time limit on the order of months (keep this to yourself of course) to see if there's sufficient progress.

I also highly recommend seeing a personal therapist as they can provide an alternate source of empathy to you for your struggles so that you're not totally reliant on your avoidant attachment style partner - this was invaluable for me personally. Couples therapy was also helpful as forum for discussing relationship issues with my partner. It helped lend more weight to what I had to say, so that they took my stated issues and my analysis of the cause and solutions for the relationship problems more seriously.

Hopefully this is helpful to you and anyone else in a similar situation that comes across this post. It's really difficult to understand the cause of one's relationship problems and to find solutions because there's just so much information out there that it's hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. Not to mention that you're doing all this research under the constant drag of feeling emotionally distressed / depressed. And although therapists are very helpful, in my experience, without extensively researching / reading on your own, you're unlikely to cultivate a deep enough understanding to work through to a positive outcome for a fundamental relationship problem such as an attachment style mismatch. It's a real struggle and I really wish there were better resources to help people that are dealing with relationship issues and mental health issues in general. In any event, best of luck to you, and as I said feel free to reach out if you want to discuss this further.

I have gone through literally this exact same scenario. I'll send my partner texts during the day and they'll ignore them even through their lunch/breaks, or skim them and miss something important. I get to the point sometimes where I have to stop texting them, even about unrelated topics or important updates, because I know the number of texts will build up too much and when they see it they won't read any of them. As is common, my partner is dependent on me. I am her rock and the breadwinner for our family. She doesn't provide enough emotional support, I have to constantly hold back my emotional needs. Maybe she is emotionally underdeveloped. Like hell, I have to remind her to say caring things to me, and even then sometimes they don't know what to say even with a prompt. I'm curious how many of these other things you relate to or you have in common with me.

I'm also curious, does your partner have ADHD?

Chiming in, same experience. Partner has ADHD, but I feel like it’s so common nowadays it can be cause of everything.

You have rock solid support system elsewhere I see. I’m curious how do you feel about them ignoring the texts? Would you feel different, perhaps even insecure if the your partner wasn’t dependent on you?

> it seemed like they just sort of skimmed them and they didn't notice that one in particular. I didn't mention it; I just let it go.

I sometimes wonder if I feel more lonely when I "let it go" aka suppress how I'm feeling. I imagine if it were me, I may have felt annoyed or sad or confused that they didn't see the "I feel like garbage" part and didn't reply to it, and when I"m feeling courageous, sometimes I'll say that to them. I think I've noticed that when people have that deer in the headlights look, I can slowly start to suppress more and more things about how I'm feeling and then sometimes feel stuck, wanting to go deeper and also trying to respect that they may already feel overwhelmed.

I don't know if there's an answer in any of what I wrote above, just wanted to share how I can struggle with this as well.

It's a shitty situation, and it seems all too common for men.

The usual knee jerk response is to blame the men for being unable to communicate effectively.

I think the sad truth is that not everyone is cared about equally, and sometimes it is everyone else's fault.

But it isn't like you can get mad about it. That is just going to push people away and make them bitter toward you.

It's very hard to deal with unactionable bad news. You need to be in a good place yourself, because this will bring you down with no obvious means of relief. Then you need to be free from all distractions and commitments to figure out how to respond, either by doing something or even just the kind of active listening that requires concentration and emotional commitment.

If you ask for something specific and especially something your partner will not totally hate doing, you will make it easier for them to be there for you. "Can you make me my favorite comfort food for dinner tonight?"

One way we can help people help us is to give them an ask - "I feel like garbage. Can you deal with dinner?" or "I feel like garbage. Do you have time to chat with me?"

People need scripts and many people struggle to provide active support to someone they view as supportive. Giving them a script can help.

You might need to surround yourself with more compassionate people, if you truly feel that no one is willing to consider your emotional wants and needs.

They are lovely and compassionate people, they're simply unable to extend that to me, partly because they're blinded by societal expectations of men (they often don't really see me as an emotional creature), partly because they lean on me for support, and so the idea that I might not be an unshakable pillar is terrifying for them. When I go to them for support, it's not that they don't want to provide it, it's that they fail to.

I'm sure that somewhere out there is a person (or hundreds or thousands of people) who would be a perfect friend to me, but I doubt I'll ever meet them. It's pretty difficult to make friends as an adult, and every friendship I have made as an adult has been fleeting and fairly shallow.

It's bearable. Therapists exist for a reason.

Sounds like a similar situation I had where the relationship dynamic that was created at the start was the main cause for the issues later.

I recently went through a purging of many of these one sided relationships. People I thought were friends, the kind who I would show up for and never ask for anything, but when it came time for me to need someone to lean on it was crickets. They are not bad people, I wouldnt have wasted time on them if they were, but now we are no longer compatible since my standards changed. (for both my approach and theirs)

It took some time to realize how un-healthly keeping that dynamic around had been, and that I am better off mostly alone doing my life while meeting new people (though it is difficult to make new friends).

There was one, even with their own limitations at the time, that tried to be supportive without making jokes or other weird behaviour I got from others. The surprising part was I had known them for a long time but they are at a distance and the relationship was mostly just sending jokes and random comments to each other from time to time. They are still in my life and the relationship changed to the supportive kind (still w/jokes) that I thought I had built w/others. My take is that the relationship wasn't built on a dynamic where they came to see me as an unshakable pillar so it wasn't confusing or awkward for them.

I feel this one deeply. I was in a similar situation in a past relationship; The traditional male role of "unshakeable pillar" meant that support was a one directional flow only, and any mention of feeling down or bad would cause a huge fight or fear response.

Unfortunately I don't have any great advice to solve this, except that therapy can be really helpful here, if just to provide a compassionate person to talk to.

I can relate. I actually had a friend tell me "if you ever think of killing yourself, get in touch with me" after an acquaintance committed suicide. Well, I did have a depressive episode and got in touch for help, but got radio silence. Soon after the friendship was dead, he lost interest and couldn't hang out. Now I rely on therapy only.

I don't want to excuse your ex-friend's behavior, but I'm afraid a lot of people have no idea how to be of use to a friend who's going through such an episode.

Suggestions to those who don't know what to do:

Can I take you out to lunch? I found a new spot I think you might like.

Want to go to <nearby park> and take a walk?

Want to play catch?

Want to come over for dinner?

I was hung up for a long time because I don't know how to solve any serious personal problems, so I thought I couldn't be of any use. But just being there for someone, inviting them to something nice, and being a good listener can help. And it might be enjoyable for you, too.

Those are great suggestions, and they would have worked wonders for me. Thanks for doing the work of helping others.

In my case I wasn't even that in need of an ear, as I had a therapist on speed dial. I just wanted to see someone, for life to go on. The sudden distance, silence and unmade plans made me feel like a leper.

> They are lovely and compassionate people, they're simply unable to extend that to me

Imagine that I told you about a group of people who, for example, "are lovely and compassionate, they are simply unable to extend that to black people". Would you agree with those adjectives?

> It's bearable. Therapists exist for a reason.

Maybe the things that are "bearable, but require a therapy afterwards" should be improved.

It isn't a choice for most men to just surround themselves with compassionate people.

It's hard to find them for one, and often you won't really know until you have gotten to know them a bit. And this assumes they are even interested in exploring a friendship with you.

I wonder if this is related to "bids for attention" in a way (see https://www.gottman.com/blog/turn-toward-instead-of-away/) - you reaching out to your partner hoping for acknowledgement and not getting any response

I feel you. I am separated right now and sometimes I want desperately to be back in a relationship -- forgetting that even within a relationship it's no guarantee to not be lonely. Hope everything is okay with you. I just try to be stoical about everything and be not fight the negative emotions but learn to live with them. It helps.

How are they doing? Perhaps they have stuff going on that you don’t see?

A SO is just like you and the hard part is being able to share and open up. Because sometimes it isn’t right in a relationship and you can feel even lonelier.

I can relate (as a man) and can say it was only when I started hanging around other dudes who would relentlessly mock each other that my feelings improved.

I really like the thrust of this argument (loneliness is about not being understood) but I think the solution is off the mark...

> So it’s your task to make others understand you

There is another task that is just as important. You need to find people who are capable of understanding you. It may sound like a cart/horse issue where you need to understand enough about yourself to find people who are receptive. That my be true to a degree. But no amount of self-understanding is going to change how people respond to you if who you are is not comprehensible to those people.

As an example, imagine you are a straight man with many close friends who have known you for a long time. And at some point, you begin to grapple with the idea that you're not straight, but maybe bisexual. It is possible that some of your old straight friends will have the capacity to listen and understand and respond in ways that make you feel known. But it's not necessarily likely. And if those are the only people you are close to, no amount of self-knowledge is going to change their capacity to make you feel seen and heard.

You're gonna need some new friends.

>> You need to find people who are capable of understanding you

This is spot on. I made a comment independently which made a similar point. Also, people who are too memetic (who tend to want what other people want) tend to lack self-understanding.

Such people tend to feel uncomfortable when they hang around other people who understand themselves because it makes them question their own motives and realize that their desires were never their own to begin with.

They are not capable of figuring out the meaning of their own life so they keep trying to borrow it from others around them and the futility of this makes them feel lonely. They can never find someone who can fill that void but they can't stop looking for them.

BTW it's "mimetic" as in "mime" or "copy" as opposed to "memes".

Makes sense. Thanks for pointing this out.

On a tangent, I can see a connection between the concepts 'meme' and 'mime'. I suspect they both involve mirror neurons. Viral memes spread by being relatable.

The phrase comes from the work of Rene Girard. Look up "mimetic theory" or "mimetic desire" if you want to learn more about the concept.

In my case, humor is effective way to know if others understand u or not. You make humor (that you find it's a humor), but not all others understand it a humor.

That's a big one. I think humor can often be a tool to share pain and relief. A group with a stronger connection can stomach and seek out more chaotic and darker humor as well as deeper sarcasm, because there is a common understanding, comfort, trust and shared pain.

Humor brings down walls and people allow vulnerability out.

Is sexuality the only conflicting thing we can think of nowadays? I can think of at least 10 things people might freak out about me, without even getting to thinking about what sexuality I may have.

In general I agree with the premise of "You need to find people who are capable of understanding you".

It's actually a combination of that and your feeling about yourself. I'm not sure how to describe it, but I'll just call it once you're in balance with yourself, i.e. in an okay(maybe not perfect or ideal) mental state, and you have some sort of pillar you can lean on(your beliefs, your understanding of the world, etc.), then its no longer about your desire to get others to accept you, but rather putting yourself in an environment where you feel okay.

OP chose it as example. It’s one I can relate to as a person who realized my queerness late in life, and still selectively “out”. My reaction was similar to OP’s, but the example I thought of was finding out I’m autistic. I understand myself a great deal better knowing that, but it hasn’t exactly made people more willing to get to know the me I can better explain.

There are tons of examples OP could have chosen, this was just one that they did. It’s not the only example, but not everything needs to be exhaustive to be valuable for thought and discussion.

It’s not the only one but it’s a very good example of how social dynamics can change with the additional of new knowledge, even if it’s inconsequential for the learner. It’s reportedly better now but my gay friends all have these horrible stories about how people they used to get along with fine cut them off abruptly or even got violent once they came out. Most similar intensity responses are for things like racism where there’s not the surprise whiplash element.

Another one I’d use is leaving an insular religion but the way that works tends to mean fewer people have observed it (e.g. if you don’t hang around with fundamentalists you probably haven’t witnessed it first or second hand).

> I can think of at least 10 things people might freak out about me

Wow! I'm a total weirdo and I can only think of like 4-5.

As far as making their point goes, sexuality is a pretty convenient placeholder for issues of identity.

As for reaching personal balance independently, it's a much shorter path to self acceptance moving from environments that stifle you to one's that encourage. Perhaps largely because it answers the question of whether there might actually be something wrong with you, and not everyone else. Before even getting into the possibility of actually thriving.

I'd add that nothing with sufficient complexity can be adequately described in a simple words, let alone explained in a concise yet simple manner.

You may go up in abstraction to make it concise, but this risks either oversimplifying to the point that all nuance is lost and you feel alone, or requiring that the other person shares sufficiently overlapping definitions. They may probe further to build said abstractions, but this requires a time investment, and as you said, the capacity to relate to some extend.

I believe that a person who understands themselves well is bound to have a rich inner world and abstractions that adequately describe them while feeling very natural but because we are all humans with our own subjective experiences, finding people with similar abstractions - and experiences - such that we can relate to each other is difficult.

Richard Feynman did a pretty good job

You guys discuss your sexuality with your friends? This seems weird, I don't think keeping some things private means one is lonely. Of course, at some point my friends will meet my spouse, which is broaches upon the topic. But in this context, it's clear that they are not potential targets of my sexuality, so there is no tension introduced. Also, once I have a significant other, I am no longer that lonely and I am open about my sexuality with at least one person.

I agree with most of what you said; however, I believe that once you really understand yourself you also:

1. Understand others, therefore can describe them in a way suited to their way of thinking. This is probably controversial assumption but I believe people are unconstrained, everyone can understand everything, it may just require more time. If you believe people are constrained, or just don't want to spend time on them—find people who are capable of understanding you right away. By being honest about yourself you will attract like-minded people. The process of "explaining yourself" obligates you to approach new people (not only your current closest) and explain them your existence. If you feel understood only by your closest friends, then you are not good at expressing yourself.

2. become less self-concerned. You no longer seek validation and significance—you are fine with being normal. You no longer need someone who will make you less lonely, someone who will fix your flaws. You no longer focus on yourself (you know this guy good enough), rather, you pay all the attention to others, you become emphatic, which connects with others, and thus you become less lonely.

3. You can honesty communicate your needs, fears, desires, emotions. They are part of you, and hence it's your responsibility to explain them to others. Don't expect people to read your mind. Don't run away using abstractions, give concrete examples. If you believe in small lies for a greater good, then you are not communicating yourself. If you consider breaking up with your SO, talk about it with him/her, not your friends. If your boss annoys you, tell him which actions annoys you. It requires a lot of courage therefore little people do so, but not doing it results in loneliness. You have a choice.

When you connect with another human who sees you, life becomes full of color.

I think a lot of our societal issues stem from not being able to connect authentically.


Making someone feel seen and heard is a skill…if one doesn’t have that in their family or friendship group then that is a real shame. I believe that nuance was missed in your analogy.

This type of reasoning is so sketchy. Language is only roughly mapped to thought, it isn't an exact thing like mathematics.

I don’t know. I believe that language shapes reality.

For example, I decided I wanted to let go of latent homophobia by dropping a word from my vocabulary that was seen as fairly harmless by sis males when I was growing up. After consciously avoiding it and choosing not to say it, even in my mind, for a while, it truly left my pallet of words for expression. I do think that had a perceivable (to me) effect on my attitude and thinking.

How many esoteric words have you learned in life that helped you to better describe a situation? I look up any word I don’t know (in something of an OCD way). I’ve had many “aha“ moments where learning a word gave me a slightly greater ability to understand the world, hence “shaping” my view of it. It’s not exact, but I wouldn’t be so dismissive of the value in thinking about words and decisions on how to think about things.

> the lack of understanding you by other people is caused by the lack of skills to explain yourself to others

This is the point where the argument went off, I believe. People only listen to what they want to listen, and generally they care less, or won’t bother to care at all, if the topic is not somehow related with themselves.

So no, the lack of understanding you by other people is usually not caused by the lack of skills to explain yourself, but more often caused by human nature.

Indeed, even my most empathetic, patient friends will struggle to care about a topic entirely unrelated to them for long. You do have to make an effort to find people who can relate to you in some dimension. That's why hobbies are a common suggesting for making friends, you immediately have common ground.

Thank you for your comment. My goal was to be as succinct as possible and cover most of the cases of “casual” feeling of loneliness.

Although I still believe that self-understanding and communication are fundaments, other people are also important factor in this equation.

I wrote complementary points in this comment: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=34497083

For me, loneliness is not a lack of understanding but a lack of connection. The main difference being understanding is often about "knowing" and connection is often about "not knowing" (or being comfortable with not knowing something).

I personally have felt the most lonely when I feel disconnected from how I'm feeling AND how someone else is feeling.

1) If I get too focused on how I'm feeling and distant from how others are feeling, I can start to believe that no one will ever understand me, or "get me."

2) If I'm too focused on how others are feeling and not on how I'm feeling, then I may feel a lot of resentment towards them for not paying attention to me.

3) If I'm not focused on either how I'm feeling or how they might be feeling, I can feel quite numb and empty.

So for me, what helps is trying to focus on how I'm feeling and how other people might be feeling, while also trying to focus on letting myself accept uncertainty for both of those things.

I like the structure and insight of the argument, but I think it needs some re-working.

Definition 1 could be broadened to: "Loneliness is when we aren't known and loved by others."

Loneliness can occur because we're socially isolated for some reason. It can also occur when we're with others who don't know us, because we're not willing or able to open up to them. This could be because we are afraid to be real with others, but it could also be because we're afraid to be real with ourselves.

There's nothing like being real with yourself, being real with others, being loved by others who really know you, and knowing/loving them as well.

Incidentally, this ties in with Christianity's value proposition: no human can both know and love you perfectly, but God can and will to those who receive his gospel.

One can be known and loved by others, but lonely, marooned & castaway on an island. Alone by definition is just "all one" - no others, which is not #1. One would be better off consulting a dictionary before going on a definition tangent.

I'm kind of already not on board with this based on definition 1; but even if we redefined the word "loneliness" to fit those terms, the remainder of the argument feels more like wordplay than insight, to be honest.

The definition comes from Alfred Adler, more precisely the book “The courage to be disliked”.

Definition 1 is wildly inaccurate.

Even if we take it as valid, how are you going to communicate who you are to others who aren't equipped to understand? As an extreme example, consider being dropped into another nation where they speak a language you have no knowledge of. Without shared language and culture, you can't hope to be understood.

Doesn't mean you can't be surrounded by helpful, caring people (friends?), though, which is why this argument is completely flawed from the get-go.

  Consider being dropped into another nation where they speak a language you have no knowledge of. Without shared language and culture, you can't hope to be understood.

  Doesn't mean you can't be surrounded by helpful, caring people (friends?), though, which is why this argument is completely flawed
Upon considering the scenario you described, my first thoughts were on how lonely an experience that would be. Also, helpful and caring people that don't understand what's wrong can't provide very effective support.

Upon considering the scenario you described, my first thoughts were on how lonely an experience that would be.

That's the point. You can't be understood to a gratifying degree by people who don't share your culture, and simple words aren't going to fix the disconnect.

helpful and caring people that don't understand what's wrong can't provide very effective support.

If you saw someone from another country looking starved and miserable, you couldn't buy them food and direct them to shelter?

Loneliness means anything from not having enough people to chat with today to not having a soulmate who understands and affirms your every view.

This notion reduces the totality of human interaction to language. Do you think proto-huminoids who hadn't developed complex language felt lonely because they lacked an ability to explain themselves?

If I become a duller and less complicated person, will I be able to more easily explain myself, and therefore less lonely? Absurd.

There are many ways to bond with others that are non-verbal.

"Loneliness is when we are surrounded by people and feel misunderstood by others." By this definition a prisoner in solitary confinement is not lonely. That seems problematic. The overall argument might still be useful, but I wouldn't call these things definitions, just implications (IF you are surrounded by people and feel misunderstood by others THEN you feel lonely).

> You need to explain yourself to other people, you have to help them to understand you, you need to learn to communicate who you are.

This is rather difficult in some cases because it requires not only that you understand yourself but that others understand themselves. For certain personality types, it is actually healthier to give up on the idea of having everyone understand you and the worrying that accompanies that. In other words, loneliness can actually increase because some will simply not understand you. It isn’t in their personality’s makeup, and frustration will arise in wondering why they can’t understand you.

There is no one golden rule when it comes to personalities, loneliness, and self understanding. I recommend understanding your enneagram type, as it’s a great start into investigating your personality and self introspection.

"Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood."

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

I think he's referring to misunderstanding their message, which is...orthogonal to understanding them as people or not.

Related: The entire introduction to the first edition of GK Chesterton's book on his friend George Bernard Shaw (1909): “Most people say that they agree with Bernard Shaw or that they do not understand him. I am the only person who understands him, and I do not agree with him.”


You seem to have misunderstood Emerson’s usage of the word understood here. No particular irony intended.

I like the definition that loneliness is not having the social interactions you want, because you are rejected. Not being understood can lead to rejection, but I don’t think it works for many types of rejection such as bullying, racism, phubbing etc.

“If you are lonely when you are alone, you are in bad company.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

Nice deduction with limited utility.

Someone who feels alienated from others is most probably not in a place where they can just explain who they are to other people, even if they have perfect self-understanding.

Who or what am I is the ultimate spiritual question (i.e, self-understanding). When you understand that loneliness wouldn't even be a concern, because that is an issue for who?

This style of reason has very shaky foundations.

Watch some videos by Gabor Maté. He links addition in adult life to childhood traumas. You can fit loneliness in there as well.

Many thinks traumas in adult life are linked to childhood addition.

Can childhood substraction also be the cause ? /s

I'm guessing both of you mean addiction?

Maybe the problem is there is so much division these days.

Parents always do seem to find meaning in life after they multiply

It's definitely one of the factors.

I find that loneliness is often caused by a lack of integration.

P.S. Sorry if my comment is derivative.

It was a typo, indeed I meant "addiction".

There are situations where this doesn't work- what if you are gay and surrounded by people who would beat you if they knew? What if you have ADHD and are surrounded by type A people? What if you are a bookworm surrounded by jocks? What if you are just so different from everyone around you that they are just baffled by your existence? Revealing your true nature can be not only difficult, but in fact dangerous. It can put you at great risk.

And the sad thing is, if you grew up this way, you're going to learn to be very defensive and keep all your feelings secret and you're going to learn to blend in, and never let anyone see who you are, in order to protect yourself. And that will become a habit to the extent that anyone finding out anything about you is going to trigger fear rather than relief.

Not sure how seriously to take this but:

1) First of all, staying in the world of pure deductive reasoning, isn't this fallacious?

> lack of skills to explain yourself is caused by lack of understanding yourself.

It's: (can't explain) => (doesn't understand), not (doesn't understand) => (can't explain). (I.e., there could be other reasons you can't explain yourself well).

2) More seriously, I think the "if you can't explain it you don't understand it" adage is more about concepts than about people. A person is a complicated set of constantly changing thoughts and emotions, and I'm unsure that it's possible to explain the entire phenomenon of a given person "simply".

That said, I think there's definitely a nugget of truth here. Often you feeling lonely may be the result of you not expressing yourself openly or honestly with people around you.

This resonates with something I felt deeply as a kid and which stayed with me for a long time, into my early adulthood.

But you can't actually guarantee that others will understand you, no matter how good you become at explaining yourself. At the same time, acceptance and even connection on the basis of imperfect understanding is very much possible— connection of a kind that is still deep and meaningful, and which abates loneliness.

There is definitely some truth to OP, though. Feeling understood and correctly recognized absolutely does help with loneliness. I hope most people don't see their loneliness as a burden or personal failing, that they wouldn't have if only they were a perfect communicator.

I've got a strong objection with "You don’t really understand something if you can not explain it using simple words."

While understanding and being able to give a simple explanation are correlated, this statement doesn't take into account that some understandings are deeply personal, require a pre-existing experience, or maybe a minimum level of intelligence on the part of the other person.

This type of reasoning usually makes me think the people doing it are clueless about life in general but are merely academically inclined.

I think the causality is inverted here. People who don't understand themselves will not understand others (and won't feel the need to). At the most superficial level, almost everybody is a nice guy... Dig deeper and almost nobody is.

My loneliness is a measure of other people's lack of self-understanding. I know this because I get along best with people who understand themselves. These people are more genuine because they're not caught up in the pursuit of memetic desires. There are very few such people.

Wildly inaccurate. Simply having a person exist across a room alleviates loneliness. "wilson" from "Castaway" comes to mind.

Loneliness is when you desire company but are not able to find one. What the author is trying to describe is lack of intimacy which is what people normally desire after having company. It's weird how some people can't even conceive not being able to have an opportunity for others to get to know you to begin with.

It's like a rich person thinking being broke means you have only one house.

Is there even any suggestion that people are capable of self-understanding?

I've heard some people claim that they know themselves, but I don't believe they do, at least their own description of themselves seem vastly different from how I'd describe them (not that I claim to know them very well either). I kind of attribute the claim of self-knowing to a lack of reflection on the topic, and maybe mistaking ones values and ideals for ones actual behavior.

> Is there even any suggestion that people are capable of self-understanding?

We certainly can improve at that, even if we never become perfect. Here is what I use to understand myself better:

* Reflecting on my past behavior. No matter how much I may hate to admit it, if in situation X I repeatedly did Y, it is fair to describe me as a person who "in situation X does Y". This is probably too humiliating for most people to do properly.

* Related: noticing long-term trends in my thoughts and behavior. What I feel today may be strongly influenced by what happened to me recently; tomorrow I can feel differently. But if I feel the same way or do the same things as I did 20 years ago, that probably means something important about me.

* Comparing my past behavior to other people's observed behavior. This is important, because many traits are relative to the population. Like, if you were the only person alive, you couldn't really classify yourself as "tall" or "short", even if you knew your height precisely to a millimeter; it is the comparison of your height to other people's heights that makes you "tall" or "short". By reflecting on my past behavior, I know what I am, but by comparing it to other people, I know what I am in the context of the society I live in. The context is important, if I want to communicate who I am to other people.

Hmm, I wouldn't describe that as knowing oneself though, it's very external, very much like looking at any other person (with a slight bit of additional knowledge of internal state)..

I mean, I can certainly say some things about how I react in certain situations, based on past observations, and I can also point out where those behaviours conflict with my own ideals, and how I will try to recognize and change that.

But I can't tell how I react in radically different and new situations, I can base it off of old observations and mix in some wishful thinking about how I would WANT to react based on my values, but in reality, I don't _KNOW_, I don't know it the way I know math or the way I know how a piece of code will execute, even without executing. There are unknown variables and just too many variables in total.

You know the phrase "you think you know people", it's the response to someone acting outside of your expectations, because we certainly also can't know other people, only their past behaviours and the pieces of their situations that we can observe or infer.

Wow! You just solved loneliness using 5 lines of high school level logic! Give this man a nobel prize.

This is embarrassingly over-simplified. Maybe don't immediately turn every half-baked shower thought into a blog post and post it online.

Is high school logic less sound, valuable, legit?

Also, I would not be surprised if Nobel price ideas were invented under the shower. Actually it's the most likely that synthesis happens during the diffused mode of thinking, which happens under the relaxation like shower.

I don't claim my idea is worth Nobel price. I just explained in succinct (possibly over-simplified) way my experience of feeling misunderstood for most of my life and the solution that finally helped me.

I shared it to validate whether it's a solution to all causes of loneliness or just mine.

Def #1 is way off. Loneliness is to feel that other people don't relate to you; to be misunderstood _can_ create this situation but so does different likes/dislikes, different moral premises, or even plain prejudice.

Def #2 assumes that there's no such thing as non-verbal knowledge. I wouldn't be so sure; if there's one thing that all that qualia crap shows, is that some things cannot be communicated verbally.

>the lack of understanding you by other people is caused by the lack of skills to explain yourself to others,

Even if someone accepts the heavily questionable premises ("definitions") #1 and #2, this is still problematic because it is an unwarranted assumption. It is not a logical consequence of the premises, even if dressed as such.

>Ultimately, you are the recipient of feeling understood or misunderstood, not others. So it’s your task to make others understand you.

GI/GO. Questionable premises + faulty reasoning = dumb "advice".

Some people will never understand you no matter how much you know yourself, and how good you are at explaining yourself to the others. And some people will never relate to you no matter how much they understand you.

That's only one possibility, one might not enjoy either talking trivialities or sharing more substantial things without prior trust and shared context. Sometimes loneliness is preferable to unfulfilling socialization.

Reminded of Russell’s teapot.

If others think I have misunderstood myself, the burden of proof lies on them to prove the existence of such a misunderstanding.

I'm curious what do you think about this relationship between loneliness and self-understanding?

As a very language affine person with a MA in fine arts I don't agree with the step where the inability to put your inner workings into words equate a lack of self understanding.

The true great art in any field other than poetry and literature lives from the fact that language cannot express everything in just words. You can of course explain or describe everything with language, but unless you are truly a great writer everything that is essential about your experience will be lost on the way to the receiver. And some things are not expressable in language at all (e.g. it takes music, film, a painting or other expressions to get there).

Example: When we talk about a lonely old person that died recently and I would perfectly describe their inner workings, their thoughts and feelings to you in a empathic way, nothing would prepare you for the unique feeling you would get when you'd just pace through their now empty flat and wittness the way they decorated it. The materials, the objects, the traces they left would tell you another story, one they could never express with words and all of that would strike a different chord within you, maybe one you didn't even know existed.

That being said, as someone with a pretty good self understanding who grew up in a rural space at and during the dawn of the internet: loneliness to me never was about a lack of self-understanding, it was about living in an environment that did not have the capacity to receive the expression I had in a y way that was meaningful to me. I understood myself perfectly well, the people around me were just too dull, without ambitions and with so simple images of the world that what I had to say would just confuse them, make them angry or make them shrug. Sure — like every rural person you learn pretty quickly to dumb it down just enough to make them feel comfortable, but that makes you even lonelier, because you are deeply aware that the dumbed down version is not you anymore.

So sure, there is a link between being lonely and your ability to express yourself in a way that connects you with the people around you. But there is one additional, but crucial point: it needs to connect you to the people around you in ways that are meaningful to yourself, otherwise it will leave you empty and drained.

Moving away was the best thing I ever did for myself.

Wow, beautiful writing. You know how to use words well.

Your second last sentence “it needs to connect you to the people around you in ways that are meaningful to yourself, otherwise it will leave you empty and drained” is in my opinion a key point on this debate on longlines/communication.

As with anything in live communication, relationship, friendship needs to be a two ways street otherwise it won’t be of true value for either side or won’t work in the long run.

> Wow, beautiful writing. You know how to use words well.

Thank you for the compliment, I am trying to improve my English continuously.

> As with anything in live communication, relationship, friendship needs to be a two ways street otherwise it won’t be of true value for either side or won’t work in the long run.

I think so too, although true value can take odd or unexpected shapes at times. Being open towards your own expectations is important.

I don't really agree that being able to effectively explain yourself to others is either necessary or sufficient to cure loneliness. Take my relationship with my kids, for example. I don't feel lonely when I am with them, and I would not say our relationship is predicated on me being to explain myself to them or their understanding me.

Being able to explain/express yourself is a nice skill to have, and it may help certain people who are struggling to maintain relationships, though.

I agree. "I'd have close relationships (and not feel lonely) if I could simply, accurately explain myself."<-- seems sus.

Not all people who are lonely are misunderstood. Perhaps others understand the person, but don't agree with their actions/thoughts/etc, so they isolate themselves from the person. Being misunderstood could contribute to loneliness, but it isn't the sole cause someone would be lonely.

This article touches on something interesting but is woefully inaccurate to the point of causing harm. It devolves into almost an entreaty to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and take responsibility for not being understood.

Being understood is a complete joke, it's simply not important and for many of us on extreme ends of the bell curve is effectively impossible.

I was born with multiple heart defects, I was constantly at the cardiologist until about 15 with multiple surgeries and procedures. In all likelihood I will die relatively young.

My first memory and start of having memories was at 3, where I was about to go into surgery and might just die. A high probability of imminent death is the first remembered experience of my life.

I was fully grown by ~12 as a result of the stresses of surgery.

My parents both died when I was right around 20, a few years apart.

I started working fulltime at 15 to keep a roof over my families head and food on the table because of a combination of my fathers depression, the lies an old friend told him, my mothers poorly timed diagnosis of cancer and the evil state of pre-existing coverage rules pre-aca.

I was homeschooled after the age of 5.

I was not allowed to lift anything heavier than a jug of milk until 16 due to my heart problem.

I was not allowed to play organized sports.

I never had a birthday party with friend until 30 due to my birthdate.

My entire perspective on life is inverted, I am a dead person still living not an alive person avoiding death. This is fundemental and very very rarely understood.

Do you think at 7 any of my peers could understand me? No. Ditto as a teen and even into today. I am an extremely clear and concise communicator but I cannot inject complex, time layered, developmentally critical... insanity into a concise story that conveys the truth of living it. Not even as a novel.

The people I felt best understood by were a group I knew when I was 10 and they were in their late 70s and early 80s and about to die.

They played cards together at a senior citizens center, some traumas and life perspectives cannot be understood, it's a bell curve like so many things.

I am now in the top ~.5% of earnings for my cohort, this is also further isolating, I have a rare amount of resilience as well.

There are other unsusual things that are more common but still rare in and of themselves and compound the lack of shared reference points.

Small bits of my experience can be connected to by others now that I am older, the early loss of a parent, having a career as a child, the existential fear of returning to poverty, extreme poverty when young, homelessness, kids that had a leukemia relapse and the distancing that caused with their parents... but all together there is no one who can enter into my headspace, there is no cohesive framework of experiences for people to understand the extremes I have overcome.

Some trauma and experiences can smooth your edges and help you have the compassion to better connect, but at the extremes you just have to realize that being understood and being loved are not the same.

You can have a full life filled with love and many dear friends and community without being "understood".

Of course I can't say I understand you, but I've had to live with my share of secrets which others can't understand.

I was also born with a genetic disorder, and been going to doctors constantly since birth. Not a heart condition but had likely organ and brain damage so they were always checking my development as if they knew I would never amount to anything. Always on expensive medications and scared of losing insurance too.

Sorry about your parents, my parents are still alive, they helped so much.

I was also homeschooled after age 10, but couldn't even hang out with other kids (they could come over, but I couldn't go to them). And never sleepovers of course.

Dealing with so many limitations I also felt most at home with seniors, couldn't really relate to my peers.

I know I'll die earlier than others, that's fine, I learned to appreciate the time I have more.

I'm also in the very top % income for my age, I can't tell anyone of my friends how much I make besides the ones in similar jobs. Showed those doctors at least.

I've never even met someone with the same condition let alone became friends. And I have other secrets that I'm too paranoid to share.

That's extremely isolating. I just think I'm not meant for love and deep connections/understanding. I have good friends but they can't possibly understand what I've been through to laugh and have drinks together.

Then again, you can say the same thing about other people too, and they still manage to not be lonely.

I also made mistakes sometime, pushed people away because I was so used to being alone. But really what did I do wrong? How is it possible to fix?

I embraced that life is absurd and a mystery and that many people are kind and good hearted. Knowing they exist makes me less lonely, it doesn't matter if they can understand me, it only matters that they don't "think" that they understand me. I found solace in sonder I guess.

That's enough, the world and my life isn't meant to be understood or make sense, as far as I can tell my life is not meant for "anything" by "anyone"... though maybe I'll find out differently one day.

I don't know if that is part of ego death or what, but I am glad to be here, I'm glad and lucky I didn't die at 3, I do seek out people who are good hearted but weird, iconoclasts, unfiltered... in one instance I became a close friend to someone who has tourette's and I always know what's on their mind.

I don't know, I guess I ended up a misfit toy that really enjoys other misfit toys.

Gen Z spends the most on alcohol? Hard to believe.

Length is a measure of distance. You need a ruler to measure the distance.

If "Loneliness is a measure of self-understanding", how can you measure it?

Psychometric tests or neuroscience may be the "thermometer" of both loneliness and self understanding, at least approximate one.

Loneliness is a feeling, but since when locigal equations can equal to feelings, idk

Logical equations explain the principles of the universe, they made us travel to the moon, why wouldn't they be able to explain phenomena related to feelings?

self is relative

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