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Why People Become Reclusive and Like It

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Analyzing why people do the things they do and how those things affect others is one of my favorite pastimes. I enjoy finding solutions.

There are many reasons why people choose to live a life of solitude.

There are many reasons why people choose to live a life of solitude.

Why Do People Become Reclusive?

What causes a person to voluntarily remove themselves from society and live a life of solitude? For some, it may be a symptom of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). They witnessed or became a victim of some horrific act, or something horrible happened to somebody they loved, and they had no control over it.

In many cases, people become reclusive after somebody within or outside the home repeatedly infringes upon their privacy or threatens them in some way. The act or acts play over and over again in their head, causing them grief, anxiety, guilt, and/or fear. These emotions overwhelm them, leaving little or no room for comfort, peace, or joy. They may also develop agoraphobia, a fear of going outside.

Common Reasons for Becoming a Recluse

  1. You Want the Privacy and Comfort of Being Alone
  2. You're Dealing With Feelings of Inadequacy
  3. You Lack Money to Go Do Things
  4. You're Concerned About Your Safety
  5. You're a Writer or an Artist
Maybe you simply prefer being alone and maintaining your privacy.

Maybe you simply prefer being alone and maintaining your privacy.

1. You Want the Privacy and Comfort of Being Alone

For some, being alone feels more comfortable than being around other people. Some of them enjoy entertaining their own thoughts and hobbies without the obligation to contribute to conversations or happenings of others. Their privacy may be more important to them than any need to share the details of their lives. They have spent much of their lives catering to the needs of others, and they feel a need to step away from all that and just relax and enjoy a peaceful existence.

In some cases, the prospect of sharing stories of their life tenses them up, and they want to protect their privacy. Whenever they share private information with others, they often regret it. Many of these people may become reclusive because they feel inadequate. They can't imagine why anyone would find anything they have to say interesting. The whole idea of being around other people who ask questions of them causes them more anxiety than joy. Staying inside their own home makes life easier for them.

2. You're Dealing With Feelings of Inadequacy

Some people know that nothing they say or do will change the past. Therefore, they mistakenly believe that sharing their feelings about the past serves no purpose. Other people know that what they have to say will make a difference. They want to share it with the world. However, they either fear that speaking out will make them more vulnerable or that they are the ones who repeatedly tugged on their mom or dad's leg as a child only to hear, "Not now; I'm busy." They were the ones who knew the answer in class, frantically waved their arm back and forth, yelling, "Pick me; pick me," only to hear another person's name called out.

Parents and teachers are busy people and sometimes, they have to give someone else their attention. However, the child internalizes this as a belief that their voice lacks importance. Throughout their lives, people unknowingly speak over them because they also have something they want to be heard. However, that is little comfort to the people who have questions, answers, or statements reeling around in their brains with nowhere to go.

Sometimes, spending time alone is a natural reaction to life events.

Sometimes, spending time alone is a natural reaction to life events.

3. You Lack Money to Go Do Things

Other people stay inside because they can't afford to do anything that interests them outside the home. In the beginning, their friends invite them to places, but they have to decline because they don't have the funds. When this occurs time and time again, most friends figure they already know the person will not join them; therefore, they stop asking.

The reclusive person becomes more accustomed to doing things alone in their own surroundings. The longer some of them spend away from other people, the more uncomfortable they feel when they have to be around them. However, some of these people maintain friendships and feel perfectly at ease when they visit.

4. You're Concerned About Your Safety

The need to feel safe in a world where there's no guarantee of security against foreign or domestic terrorists or violent criminals such as stalkers or muggers causes some people to choose a life of seclusion. Ironically, the good people who would never bring harm to another human being become prisoners in their own homes while the people who do bad things or threaten to hurt or kill another person or people walk around freely. Unfortunately, laws designed to protect people from others who threaten them rarely incarcerate the perpetrator for any significant amount of time.

In fact, in most cases, the laws provide more protection for the criminal than they do for the victim. Many victims would venture outside more if the perpetrator was locked up. If the perpetrator was locked up in a state far away and not allowed to ever leave that state, victims of that perpetrator might be able to function outside the home.

You may find that solitude provides you with artistic inspiration.

You may find that solitude provides you with artistic inspiration.

5. You're a Writer or an Artist

Writers, sometimes, become reclusive because sharing their knowledge or wisdom becomes an obsession. A friend stops by to ask if they want to go out somewhere and they shew them away; saying, "I can't go right now. I'm in the middle of an important article," or, their phone rings and they quickly stuff it under their pillow. Their life and everybody in it become distractions.

Their ultimate goal of getting their point across releases them from feelings of insignificance and worthlessness. They imagine that what they've shared on paper or screen makes something easier for someone to understand, or helps somebody feel better, or makes another person smile or laugh and they like it. They like working on pieces that entertain their audience. Leaving their mark on the world trumps experiencing more of it. They like the idea that things may be better for future generations because of something they wrote about. They like spending all their time working on making the people of the world more aware, healthier, or happier. They like being a recluse.

The Importance of Listening to Reclusive People

Whether the desire to be reclusive stems from comfort or fear, it's important to weigh the risks and benefits of getting out in the world or staying in and to analyze which choice, if any, could be looked back on with the least amount of regret. Some reclusive people simply need somebody to help them see the beauty of who they are. They need somebody to hear their voice.

Whether they yell at the top of their lungs from a podium or they sit alone in their home writing onto a notepad or typing into a computer, what they have to say matters to somebody somewhere. All people have a story. Their experiences continually change who they are and who they are destined to become. Every page of their lives has the substance to teach, heal, or entertain. A mere chapter of their story could, potentially, change a life, or, maybe even, make the world a better place to live in.

Sometimes people can get caught up in their work and withdraw from social events.

Sometimes people can get caught up in their work and withdraw from social events.

The Misconception About Reclusive People

People choose or feel forced into reclusiveness for other reasons as well. A common misconception is that they sit around in a catatonic state and do nothing or that they are all feeling sad or lonely. Some people may be experiencing a deep depression. It's possible that they slipped into the depression over a long period of time, and they don't realize that their desire to be alone is a result of that.

Therapy may help them make changes to feel better. However, many people who choose a reclusive lifestyle live productive lives doing exactly what they want to do. They feel happy and content. Many of them run businesses from their homes. Some may concentrate their time on being more relaxed and less productive, but if they are happy and content with where they're at, they are in a better place than many people who are rarely alone yet feel lonely often.

Some reclusive people may seek therapy because they want to become more social beings, but they don't know how to feel safe or more comfortable in the process. Therapy may help people who want to mingle more with others or feel safer outdoors. Each individual has the right to choose and options to change if they desire to do so.

Questions & Answers

Question: My friend has been through a lot, and she's extremely reclusive. She’s twenty-one-years-old and gorgeous. She has boys chasing her all the time, but she never drinks and never goes out to the club or parties. I’m her only friend. She doesn’t like to hang out. She always wants to be at home. She never wants to talk. She has no motivation for anything. What's wrong with her?

Answer: You say that she's been through a lot. Has she talked to you about those things? She may not realize how much a therapist could help her work through her thoughts or social awkwardness if those are things keeping her isolated. It's great that she has a friend like you who is concerned for her and trying to help her enjoy life. Could it be that she's just not into the bar scene? Maybe suggest going bowling or to the movies or ask her what she would enjoy doing outside of her home.

Question: Privacy and comfort appeal to me as contributing reasons for a more reclusive existence. Is a reclusive lifestyle an all or nothing proposition? I could see myself being happy for extended periods as a recluse but wanting to be around others on occasion even if I was not interacting directly with them, e.g., going to town to do the food shopping.

Answer: I think it's healthy for people who choose to be reclusive to at the very least get out among other people occasionally and have positive interactions with other people even if virtually at least once a week. Many reclusive business people who either consider themselves recluses or have been labeled by others as such still interact with people, often daily, to conduct the business they do. Sometimes even people who enjoy being alone become depressed or anxious if they go too long without human contact so it helps to either get out or have somebody over once in a while or when negative feelings creep up.

Question: How do I help my twenty-three-year-old daughter if she is becoming a recluse?

Answer: Therapy might help, but it's sometimes difficult to convince somebody to talk to a therapist. From one parent to another, what I would do in a similar situation is look for something outside the home that my daughter and I could do together once a week. I'd let her know that I really want to spend time doing fun or exciting things with her. I'd start with something fun like a trip to an amusement park or a dance class (if she likes dancing) (something that both of us have to put our phones away for). For ongoing weekly outings, maybe we could find a cause to work on together (like becoming adult literacy tutors or volunteering at a children's hospital) or maybe set up a bunco club with people of both our age groups, go to the show every Sunday, or take a culinary class together. I might see if my sister and niece want to join us on some of these outings to give her someone her own age to talk to.

Question: My partner has become a self-loathing recluse over the last five years. He won't answer calls, texts or the door for even his family, who now blame me. How can I help him?

Answer: Talk to him to let him know that you care about him and you want to do what you can to help. Let him know you will listen with an open heart and you would like to be part of a plan to bring him happiness. Suggest seeing a therapist who might be able to get to the root of what's wrong and how to combat it. Invite him to gradually participate in outdoor activities with yourself at first and then maybe another couple and eventually maybe family members. Start with short periods of time close to home such as a two-hour barbeque in the backyard, and if that works well maybe have another one the following week and perhaps make a date to travel a little further with another couple the week after that.

Question: I have Prolonged Duration Traumatic Disorder, and I am constantly being let down by the NHS who wrote today that they are withdrawing support because I do not trust them. What do I do?

Answer: You should talk to your general practitioner or another medical professional to find out what your next step should be. They may steer you in the direction you need to go with medical personnel and also ask if they know of other resources that may help you along the way.

Question: I've become reclusive from my fear of losing everyone and becoming lonely. I figured if I'm alone then I can't lose anyone. But, I've become lonely not from loss, but from isolation. What should I do?

Answer: Go out and meet people; have some fun; and appreciate the time you get to share with them. Don't worry so much about things you have no control over. It's really tough to lose people we love but it's tougher to live life without love and to look back at time wasted alone that would have been better spent with caring people.

© 2012 H Lax