Social connections are clearly crucial for the vast majority of people. There's a huge pile of research demonstrating that social isolation has an immense negative impact on well-being. Social connections help buffer us against all sorts of negative experiences and make it easier to cope. They also provide value and meaning to us.
People with depression and anxiety (among other things), tend to have reduced social connections. Isolation contributes to, and results from, anxiety and depression. It's a vicious circle of feeling shitty and avoiding social contact.
But what about spending time alone for those who aren't badly depressed or anxious?
Being able to be content alone appears to be important to us, too. Strong discomfort with being alone can be a red flag.
This short piece on being alone reviews an interesting set of studies which demonstrate that many people are comfortable doing things on their own but choose not to. It's related to a fear of being judged (i.e., what a loser), and the prediction that doing things alone will be less enjoyable. Neither, it turns out, are true.
From the Atlantic:
The Unexpected Pleasure of Doing Things Alone
People avoid going out by themselves because they think they'll appear antisocial, but it turns out they'll end up having a lot more fun than they expected.
By Joe Pinsker
Two years ago, a Dutch creative agency opened a concept restaurant in Amsterdam that would be, in the words of its founder, “the perfect place to dine in pleasant solitude.” The restaurant is called Eenmaal—this name has been translated into English as “dinner for one”—and was launched in an attempt to start dissolving the stigma attached to going out alone. Apparently picking up on the same cultural drift, a new fast-casual restaurant in Washington, D.C., has tiered, bench-like seating with individual trays, an arrangement that caters to solo diners.
As antisocial as those ideas may sound, it’s surprising that the world hasn’t seen more of them. Today, more than a quarter of American households are home to just one person—a figure that has tripled since 1970. Also, the median age at which Americans get married has recently reached a record high. Given these demographic shifts, one would think that by now, going out to the movies or to dinner alone wouldn’t be the radical acts they still are.
Read the rest here: link.