Why some people isolate or distance themselves from others?

Why do some people isolate and distance themselves from others? This post looks into some of the reasons why some people do this.

Why people isolate.

There are many different reasons why some people distance and isolate themselves. Some of these reasons are simpler and more well known, and some reasons are lesser known. I will go into some of the main common reasons, as well as some of the less well known reasons.

Why do People Distance & Isolate Themselves?

Past Experiences

Past experiences resulting in trauma can cause isolationist behaviour. This could be the result of toxic, abusive relationships, or simply too many bad experiences. This could be related to a type of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Unbalanced Traits

Being different from the majority. This could be because someone is very high or low in certain personality traits. It’s likely a combination of them. Being very high or low in intelligence will move someone away from the norms, and it could make it difficult for an individual to relate. This could result in isolation, perhaps even being a preference for solitude. Quieter people, for example, are often judged negatively. They suffer more prejudice because they differ from the common views of behaviour. This is especially true when a society rewards extroverted behaviour, like western societies.

Situational & Society Standards

If somebody values dignity and self-respect above their desire for friends, they may prefer to live in solitude rather than to be negatively judged, or/and seen with lower status. One common reason for this is being single. Being in a relationship is generally seen as being in a better position in life than being single.

Some may see this as being a failure in life in some sense. Some people may prefer to live in solitude, rather than suffer from those negative judgements. For this to be true, certain personality traits and a combination of those traits will be needed. Firstly, they will likely need to be very introverted, so, they often seek out and enjoy their alone time and solitude.

Personality Trait Connections

A contributor to this is being high in the trait of neuroticism. This means that they are generally more sensitive and self-conscious, which makes those negative judgements worse. It may lead to frictions, perhaps conflicts if they feel they are being insulted. This can become very tiresome over time. This may cause them to seek peace, and this peace can be gained from solitude.

High neuroticism is also partly responsible for having low confidence and self-esteem. Genetically, these people have a tilt towards negative emotions. Especially, if they are low in extroversion, which is the positive emotion trait.

High neuroticism could also be responsible for anxiety disorders, or make them more likely. This could result in self-isolation. Those with social anxiety may wish to avoid social situations because they find them uncomfortable. This behaviour could be called a coping mechanism.  

Some of this is speculation using the big five personality model to explain why some people may be more sensitive and susceptible to certain events and experiences. I also think that some, maybe most, people that isolate themselves will be the result of many of these different reasons combined.

Some forms of autism such as aspergers could also be a contributory condition to throw into the mix.

Also, those that isolate could fall into two groups, those who crave social interaction, and those that don’t. Those who crave it could often feel lonely, and those that don’t crave it may actually feel more contentment when alone.

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