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Why Do People Choose to Be Lonely?

A friend loves at all times.
–Proverbs 17:17

Why would anyone deliberately choose to face the crises of life alone? There are several reasons that people choose to be lonely.

Some people choose loneliness because of an inability to accept other people’s faults. When I was growing up, our family used to go to the movies on Friday nights. We would all sit together in the theater–except my brother Tim. He was so irritated by the munching of our popcorn and the slurping of our drinks that he would sit by himself at the front. The upside to that was he didn’t have to listen to those annoying sounds. The downside was he paid the price of isolation. And many of us are that way. Other people bug us, so we say, “I’m not going to get close to anybody.” We need to remember what Paul said in Romans 3:23: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” And we’ve fallen short in the expectations other people have of us as well.

Another reason some people choose to be lonely is selfishness. Have you ever heard people say, “I’m too busy for any relationships right now”? Busyness is a euphemism for selfishness. When we think we are too busy or have too much going on in our lives to help somebody else or to be a friend, we need to remember the ultimate example of selflessness–Jesus Christ. Paul described a Christlike attitude of selflessness in Philippians 2:3-4: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”

One more reason for loneliness is an unwillingness to forgive other people. Friendships can be painful at times. We can all recall times when a friend disappointed us. Unfortunately, some people never recover from those disappointments. They have this attitude: “I’m never going to get burned again.” So their unwillingness to forgive causes them to go through life alone. Years ago, I received a letter from a church member that listed everything he didn’t like about me. And I will never forget the concluding line: “I hope you won’t take this personally.” Not only did I take it personally, but I swore I would never talk to him again. But after a few days, I swallowed my pride and went to see him. I asked, “What in the world is going on?” He admitted he was having a bad day, apologized, and our friendship was salvaged. We have to be willing to forgive if we are going to maintain friendships. Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times.”

Finally, some people choose loneliness because of a failure to understand the value of companionship. A recent study found that the four most important factors that determined whether a person lived or died were age, sex, health, and formal social networks, with the latter being the foremost. That’s what God’s Word says. God has designed companionship as a way to ensure our emotional and spiritual fulfillment in life.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Choosing Companionship over Loneliness” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2019.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.


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