Lonely or Alone? Loneliness or Loner?

There is a difference between being lonely and being alone. This is one of those topics that frequently pop up in an introduction to psychology class. The discussion tends to focus on the potential dangers concerning feelings of loneliness and depression, but I don’t remember any discussion about being alone and/or being a loner. Some questions were left unanswered concerning what it meant to be a loner and if it is acceptable to desire to be alone. These questions, and many more, are addressed in Party of One The Loners’ Manifesto by Anneli Rufus. I’ve focused on “Lonely Places” this month, but Rufus’ book shows us that being lonely is not synonymous with being alone.

Rufus’ book, as the title suggests, sets out to provide insight and assistance in living life as a loner. The book addresses several aspects of life from childhood and community to friendship and religion and how each aspect relates to the life of a loner. Rufus also discusses how popular culture such as film, literature, and even clothes play a role in how the world views loners and how loners view themselves. These topics, along with several others, are well researched (the book is over fifteen years old so some data may be dated) and is presented in any easy to understand manifesto.

I read Rufus’ book around the first half of 2005 and it has remained on my shelf ever since. It has margin notes from at least four different pens so I have revisited the text  a few times since that first reading. Before I read Rufus’ book I didn’t have a solid understanding of what it meant to be a loner let alone how a loner could get by in a world that imposes social interaction and forced community. Although I don’t agree with all of Rufus’ assertions I’ve found it informative and helpful over the years.

If you, like me, felt those lonely vs. alone conversations in introduction to psychology were a bit lacking then I suggest Party of One A Loners’ Manifesto. Rufus’ book is essential reading for anybody who is a  loner. This month focuses on “Lonely Places” but it is important to realize that loners don’t always feel lonely.


Party of One The Loners’ Manifesto (2003) by Anneli Rufus

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