Loneliness and Social Impulse

'I am no longer alone, Monsieur. And I shall never be alone again.'
'Ah, so you know a lot of people?' I say.
He smiles and I promptly realize my mistake.
'I mean that I no longer feel alone...'

Jean-Paul Sartre, Nausea

Loneliness is primarily a subjective feeling, no doubt being triggered by objective elements. But the threshold value differs from person to person. There are people who feel lonely even in the company of many friends, while there are people who don't feel lonely even they are alone. Of course, the opposite also exists: there are people who feel lonely when they are alone, and there are people who don't feel lonely when in the company of many friends.

In every person there is a 'social impulse', which differs not only in its intensity but also in quality. The people who have a very low intensity of social impulse feel more comfortable when they are alone, or with a few individuals. People with a high intensity of social impulse feel more comfortable in a crowd of friends. The difference in quality is that some people feel the need of having a close companion with whom they can share secrets and to whom they can reveal their thoughts which they usually do not express; such people are likely to have a few very close friends, while having a superficial cordial relationship with other friends. Let's call such people as best-friend type. In contrast, there are people who do need feel the need of sharing secrets exclusively with a specific person. Such persons tend to have a group of friends, with almost a uniform degree of closeness with all of them. Let's call such people as non-best-friend type.

The best-friend type are much more prone to loneliness, because in the absence of their close companion(s), they would feel alone. The non-best-friend type are relatively resistant to loneliness, because they can having a party time with any friend who is available.

Comments

Gaya said…
But the close relationship that is achieved by the best freind type cannot be achieved by the non best freind type.
U cannot be close to 'everyone'.Even if there is a group of friends there is a hollowness(at the subconcious level)
Awais said…
Yes, you are very right. The close relationship can only be achieved by the best-friend type. I myself am a strong best-friend type.

I suppose the non-best-friend type do not have a strong psychological need for close attachment.
Kunwal said…
I do not agree.

According to your classification, I'd also be "best-friend-type" but I want to bring in a word for the "non-best-friend-type".

First of all, with your choice of words you have implicitly indicated (even though it might not be your intention) that the former type is "better" than the latter, since the term "non-best-friend" is a negative of the former. So if you want to find terms you should use postive terms for both groups. (Unless it is indeed your intention to bias)

Secondly, even though the "non-best-friend" people have a greater number of relationships it does not mean that they are all hollower than the relationships of "best-friend-type" of people. Indeed, these open people usually also have people around them with whom they are exceptionally close sharing all secrets AND in addition to that they have a large number of other friends. But for an outsider it is difficult to see that sometimes.

Of course there can be exceptions. But these are very few. Usually "non-best-friend-type" have the same need for close attachment and they are just much more open to a larger number of people than the "best-friend-type".

It's like they keep their door open at a wider angle and to a larger number of people (and not let them peek through the window only).
Awais said…
Usually "non-best-friend-type" have the same need for close attachment and they are just much more open to a larger number of people than the "best-friend-type".

I accept that i had somewhat ignored this possibility.

But i still believe that different people have different need for close attachment. So, it is possible that a non-best-friend type has a high need for close attachment. But it is also possible that a non-best-friend type has a low need for close attachment.

And i have observed more cases of the latter in my own limited experience.
Kunwal said…
Yes, you are right Awais. Different people have different needs for close attachment. But I wouldn't dare to generalize it to the two groups, let s say "reserved people" and "open people". (At least not without sound statistical evidence --
or add an "i think"/"i believe" or sth like that.)
Kunwal said…
Actually that was still referring to your original post, not to your comment.
Awais said…
[i]But I wouldn't dare to generalize it to the two groups.[/i]

You are right. Perhaps it would be better to say that these two groups i have classified are extreme positions of a spectrum, with various intermediate possibilities existing between them as well.