and yes there is a big difference!
Having just spent a lot of time being in both of these modes, I will just discuss from my view.
You can be lonely and still be with other people, but you really can't be alone with people around. Lonely is more of a feeling or maybe an emotion. While alone is a place or maybe a state of being.... as in you are the only one around.
Now I don't mind being alone. It really is a good thing. Everyone should have some private time. Time to themselves. Time with their thoughts. When I do have my kids, I do enjoy some quiet alone time. And even now with them gone, I have enjoyed some of my alone time. It is a very good thing.
However, being lonely.... well that just down right sucks ass! I hate feeling lonely. It makes me depressed or maybe I feel depressed sometimes because I'm lonely? (Interesting).
Like I have said, my kids aren't here. They have been gone for the summer. While they have been gone, I have been in a room full of people that love and care about me, but yet there was this huge lonely feeling. My babies weren't there. I'm very lucky though because I know I'm blessed.... just a few weeks and they will be back.
Then there is the single thing. First of all my marriage was nothing more than a legal bond between two people.... at least for most of it. There was some feelings and yeah I have love for him even now... We had history and memories, and I have known him about 14 yrs now. We have three kids together that we share many memories with. But, I was always very, very lonely in my marriage. There was little emotional connection. Happy couples have that emotional connection.
So I don't like being lonely. And, now that I am single and dating, yeah I am looking to fill that lonely void. I don't want to be lonely. I don't think many people do.... some? Yeah maybe.... so what are most single people looking for, you got it right and its no big mystery.... They want someone to be with so they aren't lonely.
The sad thing in my eyes is this. You can be lonely and be with someone. Some people just confuse being alone a lot with being lonely. I guess they think, if they are with someone else (not alone) then that equals not being lonely. Well I hate to burst that bubble, but it is very possible to being with someone and be lonely. I know that from first hand experience, as I mentioned.
Anyway, just my opinion... :)