12 ‘Code Words’ People Said That Actually Meant ‘I’m Lonely’


Everyone experiences loneliness sometimes. But the thing about loneliness is that it often makes you believe you’re the only one going through it. That because you are feeling lonely, you must have no friends, you must be unlovable, you must be someone no one would want to hang out with.

But this couldn’t be further from the truth, and it’s time we talk openly about the reality that everyone gets lonely sometimes.

Because feeling lonely is something a lot of us feel ashamed about, people tend to use “code words” or phrases that mean “I’m lonely,” without coming right out and saying it. Some may hint at what they are feeling, hoping their loved ones pick up on the clues. Others may post indirect and passive aggressive notes on social media because it’s harder to admit directly that they miss their loved one. And while these reactions are completely natural and understandable, it’s important to remember direct communication can get your needs met in a more satisfying way. Check out this piece if you want to learn more about getting your needs met with direct communication skills. 

No matter what reason someone has for using “code words” that really mean “I’m lonely,” talking about these phrases can help us identify loved ones who are struggling and offer them the love and support they need. We wanted to know what “code words” people used to indirectly communicate they were feeling lonely, so we asked members of our Mighty community to share one phrase they say.

Here’s what they shared with us:

1. “I’m bored.”

“’I’m bored.’ Since it’s usually just me and my cat and no one else. And when I’m lonely, my depression gets worse and I have no motivation to move.” — Courtney B.

“I say I’m bored, because I don’t want to sound needy.” — Jessica E.

2. “What are you up to?”

“‘What you up to?’ is my code for ‘Please spend time with me if you can.’ My problem is I always offer people an out, so unless they say they want to spend time with me, I’m often left alone.” — Jenny B.

“‘Are you free tonight?’ Majority of the time it’s a last-minute text, and majority of the time their answer is no. But just on the off chance they say yes…. I won’t have to be lonely anymore.” — Hali B.

3. “I’m fine.”

“‘I’m fine’ usually covers a lot.” — Christine P.

“‘I’m fine.’ ‘I’m just a mess, I’ll be OK.’ Literally almost anytime I say stuff like that it’s really that I’m feeling overwhelmingly lonely or just down. The anxiety and depression just weighs too much and I feel alone. But I don’t like to admit it.” — Hailey M.

4. “I just want to be alone.”

“Counterproductive… but I normally say, ‘I kind of just want to be alone.’ I push people away when I need them the most. I think I mostly just want someone to push me, that way I know they care and that I’m not just a burden. That they actually want to spend time with me.” — Alan B.

Saying I prefer to be alone. I like to be alone but it would be nice if someone checked up on me every now and then.” — Alexis D.

5. “I’m horny.”

“‘I’m horny.’ I’ve always had trouble making friends and lots of times my only company is my significant other. I’ve also had trouble maintaining romantic relationships and sometimes it’s easier to connect with a man on a sexual level than on an emotional one.” — Sandy M.

6. “I’ve been feeling down lately.”

“‘I’ve just been really down lately’ in hopes that person will want to do something with me to help me feel better and less alone.” — Roxy R.

7. “Thinking of you!”

“Message saying, ‘Thinking of you’ to my local contacts.” — Jane M.

8. “I figured you were busy.”

“‘I figured you were busy.’ I say this because even though I wanted to reach out. I don’t ever want to be a burden.” — Kendall C.

9. “Do you want some company?”

“‘Do you want some company?’ I find myself saying this daily, because if I tell someone I’m lonely, my brain convinces me I’m nothing but a burden to them for wanting them to make time for me. It leaves me feeling greedy and selfish every single time.” — Nova M.

10. “I wish…”

‘I wish.’ It’s usually, ‘I wish I could go to this place,’ or ‘I wish I could see this person.’ I feel like saying ‘I wish’ makes me sound less vulnerable for some reason. I rarely ever admit that I get lonely. So many people believe that I actually don’t get lonely and that I’m OK, but in reality, I’m almost always lonely. Even in a crowd. There’s a rare few that can actually make me feel whole and like I matter.” — Sloane S.

11. “Everyone says they’re there for you, but aren’t when you need them.”

I publicly post things on my Snapchat that are shady. [Things like], ‘Everyone says they’re there for you but aren’t when you actually need them’ or saying that I feel lonely or betrayed, etc. in the hopes that someone will spark a conversation with me. It’s so bad because I just want to be spoken to but it pushes people away instead and it hurts even more.” — Nina F.

12. “I don’t mind getting home late.”

When I’m out with my friend and s/he would ask if I need to come home early or something like that, and I’d say, ‘Actually, I don’t mind coming home late, just so I can hang out with him/her longer and feel less lonely.” — Rhodette G.

What would you add?


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