“You’re so shy.”
“Why are you so quiet?”
“Don’t you get lonely?”
“I don’t think I could go that long without social interaction.”
All these questions and statements have been said to me at one point in my life or another. If you were to ask other introverts if they’ve been told the same, I’m willing to bet they’d say, ‘yes.’
Introverted people often get labeled as “anti-social” or “lonely” and are assumed to be people that need that extra push out the door to get a social life and learn how to work better with people. The truth is there is nothing wrong with people who have a strong preference to be left alone. In fact, for some people, it is absolutely essential that they get some good alone time.
Introverted People vs Extroverted People
One of the biggest things that differentiate introverted people from extroverted people is where they get their energy from, or how they ‘recharge.’ Social interaction tends to energize extroverted people, while alone time does the same for introverts. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with either scenario. Some people even find themselves somewhere in between being introverted and extroverted (meaning they need both social interaction and alone time to recharge) and are aptly described as ‘ambivert’.
No matter where you fall on this spectrum, there has recently been some interest directed towards introverts in particular (don’t panic, fellow introverts).
The People Who Don’t Like To Be Alone
In her book Alone: The Badass Psychology of People Who Like Being Alone, Bella DePaulo, Ph.D. presents 60 different writings from people who prefer to be alone and dives into science-based reasons why they have strong mentalities and are really powerful individuals. (1, 2)
In her book, she dives into a common association of being single that people tend to associate with spending time alone. In a lot of people’s minds, being single equates to being alone and – due to a common misconception that being alone means you will be ‘forever alone,’ people tend to regard alone time with discomfort or worry.
DePaulo addresses a study conducted by Stephanie Spielmann and her team at the University of Toronto entitled “Settling for Less out of Fear of Being Single” published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. The study was designed to explore the fear people have of being single and how it can influence people to settle in relationships and end up in nonideal scenarios. (3)
The study focused on two groups, one consisting of 301 people around the age of 29 that were recruited online and the other consisting of 147 Canadian undergraduates that were around the age of 19. Of the total 448 participants, 35 were married, 236 were single and not dating, and 177 were actively dating someone. Over the course of the study, the researchers came to the conclusion that the fear of being single did, in fact, play a significant role in why some people settled for less in relationships. People allowed their fear of being alone dictate relationship decisions. (3)
What Makes Introverted People Badass
In consideration of this study, DePaulo proceeded to analyze people who she deemed as “true loners,” or people who aren’t afraid to spend time alone and be single. She came to her own conclusion that these people don’t fall under traditional neurotic or frightened stereotypes. These are people who know who they are and aren’t afraid to spend time alone or be alone. These people would rather be alone for the rest of their lives than settle for someone who doesn’t make them happy. Their worth, sense of self, and happiness are not dependent on the validation of others – and there is a lot of power in that.
In DePaulo’s own words…
“People who are unafraid of being alone are not overly sensitive to rejection and they don’t get their feelings hurt too easily. When they are in romantic relationships, their own self-esteem does not depend on how those relationships are faring. They do not have a particularly strong need to belong. And they are less likely to be lonely or to be depressed.
“Put all that together with their openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion, and low levels of neuroticism, and people who are unafraid of being single look totally badass.
“People who are unafraid of being single are not just talking a good game.” (1)
No matter where you place yourself on the introverted-extrovert scale, there is a lot that can be learned from people who not only prefer to be alone but also aren’t afraid of it.
Where do you identify when it comes to being introverted or extroverted? What are your thoughts on spending time alone? Do you believe it can be beneficial for everyone, not just introverted people?