The world has treated some people well: They’re successful, liked, and rarely been burned. Not surprisingly, those people seek more contact with people.
Alas, the world hasn’t been as kind to other people. They’ve been hurt, unsuccessful, and badly burned. As one client said, “When you’ve gotten knocked out each of the first nine rounds, it’s hard to make yourself come out for the tenth.”
So it’s not surprising that many such people encase themselves in an ever smaller world: seeing ever fewer people, going out less. One client deliberately wore dull clothes, all the way down to a matching dull-colored pen in her pocket so she’d be as invisible as possible.
That’s especially true of older people who feel themselves less prepossessing and efficacious than they once were. They think, “I didn’t do that well when I was more energetic and on-the ball. Now, they’ll really chew me up.”
I’m dubious of the argument that being social leads to long life. Yes, socializing and long life are correlated but I believe that’s because if you’re healthy, you’re more likely to want to be social, not the other way around. So if you’re tempted toward more solitude, I believe health fears shouldn’t deter you.
Marty Nemko was named “The Bay Area’s Best Career Coach” by the San Francisco Bay Guardian and he enjoys a 96 percent client-satisfaction rate. In addition to his articles here on PsychologyToday.com, many more of Marty Nemko's writings are archived on www.martynemko.com. Of Nemko's seven books, the most relevant to readers of this blog is How to Do Life: What They Didn’t Teach You in School. His bio is on Wikipedia.