14 Signs You’re Becoming A Recluse

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Nowadays, connectivity and socialization are promoted as being fundamental to mental and emotional well-being.

Reclusiveness, on the other hand, is the act of detaching and isolating yourself from the outside world.

It’s more than merely enjoying alone time or your own company.

If you’ve always been a recluse, and that’s how you like it, that’s no problem.

But if you once enjoyed socializing and find yourself slipping further and further into isolation, it may be cause for concern.

If it’s not your natural disposition, becoming a recluse can cause serious harm to your mental, emotional, and physical health.

And left unchecked it can be difficult to deal with. The more time you spend alone, the harder it can be to reintegrate into society.

Spotting reclusive behaviors in yourself is therefore crucial to intervening and getting help.

Here are 14 signs to look out for:

1. You prefer solitude.

The desire to be alone is healthy, and some people need more solitude than others.

Introverts, for example, tend to get overwhelmed by too much socializing and need quiet alone time to recharge their social batteries.

However, a preference for solitude may become unhealthy if you start wanting to be alone all the time, especially if this isn’t your natural inclination.

The more time you spend in solitude, the more uncomfortable you start to feel about social situations, and the more you start to avoid them.

2. You constantly decline social invitations.

It’s perfectly normal not to want to go to every event you’re invited to.

It’s not so ‘normal’ to decline every social invitation, particularly those from close friends or family that you used to love seeing.

You may find yourself passing up invitations to social events that you know you’ll enjoy because the idea of being there makes you uncomfortable and anxious.

3. You avoid public places.

Even if you love staying at home by yourself, it’s usually not healthy to avoid going out in public at all.

If you’re becoming a recluse, you may find that crowds start making you uncomfortable. You may find yourself avoiding public places if you think there may be a crowd there.

With the modern age of internet shopping, takeout, and grocery delivery you can get just about anything delivered straight to your door. You may find yourself using that as justification to not go out at all.

4. You neglect your relationships.

Relationships are an essential part of the human experience for most people.

If you’re becoming a recluse, you may find yourself withdrawing from your healthy and fulfilling relationships.

That doesn’t necessarily mean you stop taking calls or responding to messages (although it might).

It could also involve putting up social boundaries or emotionally distancing yourself from your healthy relationships.

5. You stop communicating with others.

If you’re becoming a recluse, you’ve likely stopped reaching out or returning calls, or you just leave messages unread.

You might not have cut off all communication, but you’re likely seeing a dramatic reduction.

Perhaps you doom-scroll social media but never participate.

And it’s not unusual to start to feel like you just don’t like anybody.

6. You spend an excessive amount of time indoors.

Outdoor activity is healthy for you. We all know that.

Sunshine, fresh air, and nature all contribute positively to your health.

However, if you start avoiding going outside altogether because it feels uncomfortable, this may be a sign of a deeper issue or mental health condition.

An avoidance of going outside at all may turn into something more severe, like agoraphobia, so it’s important to seek medical advice and support if you’re concerned.

7. You start neglecting your personal care.

Why bother engaging in personal care, grooming, or hygiene if you know you’re not going to see anyone today? Or tomorrow? Or for the next week?

A person slipping into reclusiveness will often find their personal care slipping alongside it.

Most people like to at least feel clean each day, even if they’re not going to see other people.

So, if you find you’re going days without washing or brushing your teeth (and you aren’t in bed with the flu or similar), it’s worth considering why that is.

8. You engage in unhealthy escapist behaviors.

Unhealthy escapist behavior is more than just indulging in an enjoyable and distracting activity now and then.

Most of us have binge-watched a TV series or two in our lives or played a marathon video game session. Some of us have a drink or smoke a joint to relax and unwind, and there’s nothing wrong with that in moderation.

On the other hand, repeatedly doing these things to avoid facing problems or responsibilities is an unhealthy behavior. And doing it at the expense of maintaining healthy and fulfilling relationships may be a red flag that you’re becoming a recluse.

9. You develop a disinterest in current events.

Listen, given the state of current events, it’s reasonable not to want to hear or read the news.  

However, it’s healthy to have at least some minor interest in what’s going on around you.

You can bet there’ll be things happening that’ll directly affect your life, whether that’s stuff going on in your city, state, or country. And completely disconnecting yourself from that can be the start of a downward spiral into isolation.

10. You start to depend on technology and virtual interactions.

If you’re becoming a recluse, you may find virtual interactions preferable to face-to-face ones so you can cut yourself off from everyone.

You may have previously enjoyed ‘real-life’ interaction, but now only text or talk on social media.

You may use technology to avoid social interactions altogether, like ordering all your groceries or takeout online instead of going out for them.

Technology-based hobbies may replace those that you used to enjoy in a physical space or with other people.

11. You experience increasing social anxiety.

Social situations that didn’t previously cause you anxiety may start to. Or social anxiety that you used to be able to overcome, may start to become unmanageable.

You may notice that as your confidence drops, shyness or anxiety increases.

This social anxiety may stop you from socializing altogether because you’re afraid of looking foolish or being judged.  

You may be afraid to be your authentic self around other people.

And a person who retreats deep into reclusiveness may lose touch with how to socialize altogether, which only serves to exacerbate the anxiety.

12. Your physical health is deteriorating.

Reclusiveness can introduce or exacerbate physical health problems for different reasons.

It may be a lack of exercise, outdoor activity, and sunshine.

Since you aren’t socializing, you may not feel the need to match your schedules with the outside world. And remote delivery means you don’t need to try to time a trip to an open store.

As a result, you may find your sleep schedule becomes erratic, with irregular waking and sleeping hours. This is linked to a host of metabolic disorders and health problems such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure, to name a few.

13. You experience depression.

Depression is a common cause of reclusiveness…and reclusiveness can cause depression.

The relationship is circular. The more depressed you feel, the less you want to go out and socialize, but the less you go out and socialize the more disconnected and depressed you feel.

If you feel you’re caught up in this loop, it’s important to seek help from a therapist or medical professional as it can be difficult to break out of it on your own.

14. You justify your isolation.

You may find you’re rationalizing your isolation as a preference for ‘time alone’ rather than accepting that this new desire to avoid all socializing is a problem.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be alone from time to time, or even for most of the time if that’s your natural inclination.

However, it becomes a problem when it starts negatively affecting your quality of life, valued relationships, or health.

People who have fallen into the trap of reclusiveness often refuse to see it as the problem it is.

One way to tell the difference is to consider how you would respond if you lost all your escapism tools today. If you spend your days in isolation binge-watching TV, gaming, or drinking, consider what would happen if these things suddenly went away.

How do you think you would feel? Would you feel okay? Or would it cause you unbearable distress and loneliness?

If you are truly content with being alone, the reaction shouldn’t be all that severe.

But if it is, it’s probably a sign that you’re not actually comfortable with isolation and should seek support from friendly, family members, or a trained therapist.

Remember, it’s a hard habit to break, so the sooner you do it, the better off you’ll be.

About The Author

Jack Nollan is a person who has lived with Bipolar Disorder and Bipolar-depression for almost 30 years now. Jack is a mental health writer of 10 years who pairs lived experience with evidence-based information to provide perspective from the side of the mental health consumer. With hands-on experience as the facilitator of a mental health support group, Jack has a firm grasp of the wide range of struggles people face when their mind is not in the healthiest of places. Jack is an activist who is passionate about helping disadvantaged people find a better path.