Sunday, February 6, 2011

Lonesome vs Lonely

My Mother taught me to distinguish lonesome from lonely. According to her, lonesome meant that you were yearning for companionship and that someone nice in the room would fix this. Lonely, according to Mom, meant you didn't feel like people understood you, and a million people around wouldn't feel any better.

This lifestyle in which Hub is gone throughout the week very isolating. Not only because my favorite companion is not around, but I cannot leave the house after the kids' bedtime (about 7 ) without the arrangement hassle and expense of a babysitter. Moreover, inviting me over during the week includes having my energetic kids around too. A visit from or to me is pretty useless anyway, since I spent a lot of time wrangling the kids when I could be listening or sharing. Friends balk at having me over in their non-child-proofed homes.

I have been feeling lonesome for about two years now. My internet time is a testament to that. But lately, I feel lonely. Not being able to watch the Superbowl really clinched this feeling that I am not like my peers, and limited in my socializing options.


  1. I love this distinction. Even though my husband and I live apart, I rarely feel lonesome. My lab is extremely social and I have wonderful friends here who fill my "social" quota. But even with all these friends, I've felt very empty for the past year or so, and didn't really know how to describe it. It perfectly fits your definition of lonely -- all the wonderful friends in the world can't take away my unhappiness with my life right now, because none of them understand.

  2. I like your distinction! I've always made a difference between "being lonely" and "being alone". First is not liking the feeling, second it simply stating a fact - no negative feelings... I so understand the idea of not spending the superbowl with anyone (or rather, without friends since spouse can be there and was in your case). To me it's mostly about the fact that it is an "easy social time" where you can catch up and hang out together.

    In the time right now though, I am feeling what you describe and not liking it.... hope it gets better for you and that you can find a place where you all four can live together! The idea of being together every night and then being able to go out one evening with friends, but leave children with spouse without feeing bad about, yes- I wish that for you.

  3. It is so tough and I totally understand. Talking to your husband on the phone helps somewhat I know, but it is just not going to take the loneliness away (I think loneliness fits here because you are with your kids). We sometimes, like I constantly have to keep reminding myself, have no choice except practice the "one step at a time" to drag through it. Take care.

  4. I agree and would further distinguish by saying that lonesome is a word that lends itself to describing the particular type of lonliness where one yearns for intimate companionship, i.e. a spouse.

    Lonely is a very diverse term that can mean many things. It is hard to say that you are lonely if there are many people surrounding your life, such as parents, friends, siblings, acquintances, etc. It is more likely that if you feel lonely in a situation like that, where you aren't technically alone, you are actually lonesome: yearning for more intimate and special contact with someone such as you'd find in a very close friend or a mate.

    Apparantly, 'lonesome' is only an American English word, not found or used in Britsh English, and supposedly is a direct synonym with no difference to the word 'lonely' whatsoever, at least according to most dictionaries. However, having experienced lonliness, and lonesomeness, and having discussed it with a variety of people, I believe the North American usage alomost invariably describes a feeling resulting from a lack of intimate companionship, whereas lonely can mean that but other things as well.

  5. My mother also told me the same thoughts on the difference between lonely and lonesome. I understand the difference now more than ever. I sm spending the summer at our cabin retreat while my husband stays at our main home in another state. I don't have many friends here and when I first arrived I felt very lonesome but not lonely at all. My grandmother always said, "If you can't stand to be by yourself, it doesn't say too much for the company you keep." Now that my time here is nearly over, I dread going back home to a place where I won't be lonesome but will feel lonely because in spite of all the friends I have at home, none of them really "get" me and my husband works all the time. My grandmother also said, "There are worse things than being alone." I hope you can figure out your life and if you do post it for the rest of us!