As introverts, we're fine with being alone, but does that put us at risk of getting caught in a loneliness loop? Read More
I will occasionally turn down social engagements and then wonder why I did that when I'm looking for something to do. But it usually happens that I'm not in a social mood when asked and then get in that mood before the event. I do enjoy socialization when everything with my mood lines up right. Sometimes I wish that happened more, but sometimes I glad it doesn't. I find I'm more often seeking alone time than I am seeking socialization.
"I find I'm more often seeking alone time than I am seeking socialization."
Similarly, I more often regret choosing the social activity rather than the solitary.
Those rare social activities that I don't regret are invariably due to a meaningful (mutual interest, focused) conversation with one or two other people.
As always, it's important to distinguish between solitude-alone/loneliness and social/public. I love traveling alone and being alone in a crowd.
I do see how a bias toward solitary activities could lead to loneliness but I don't think that just being an introvert makes one susceptible. I believe there are other factors.
Many western social engagements revolve around alcohol, drinking lots and lots of it, and extroverts are probably the ones who can drink most introverts under the table. Extroverts are the ones with the excess energy, so imagine topping that with alcohol or energy drinks -- gregariousness X 2. How can non-drinkers or introverts compete with that? This is how I feel around extroverted drinkers...like there is a need/requirement for me to match their ROWDINESS...and some of these people actually talk and behave like college students; so much of the conversation is nonsense. And once these people get drunk, they shout at each other! LOL...plus they start acting up and bringing attention to themselves!
I don't mind being around groups of people...I just prefer non-alcoholic settings, or more refine, where you can actually hear each other talk and where you don't need to get pumped up before socializing. A lot of extroverts will even PRE-DRINK before they get into a bar!
I think an event or social gathering that involves drinking a lot of alcohol/ beers is what can turn off introverts from these types of social settings. Many Asians, up to half, are unable to drink alcohol, their bodies do not process alcohol well -- so their faces and skin (even eyes) become flush red...an unbearable feeling.
There is pressure in society to drink...and handle drinking lots. Sometimes there's even drinking contests -- like there is some prize or something in it for you, or a social status thing that will win more respect from friends. That's why a lot of youngsters all feel they must experiment with and be the first of their friends to gain more EXPERIENCE so they can show off. Teenage years seem to be about trying to grow up fast and see who can get more "experience"...drinking, drugs, sex....all of this supposedly adds to your "social capital".
People who drink and get plastered are not a pretty sight. I pity these fools. How is this fun? These people stumble around and need help standing up, they're half-conscious, they throw up, they fall down, they're incoherent -- they're dependent on people to get them home safely! It's like taking care of a big baby...glad they're someone else's baby. LOL.
I once was at a friend's friend birthday party (25?), her boyfriend was there and it was a large group -- we were in a bar, frequented by a lot of university students; it wasn't a place where you dined, people don't order food there, they just drink and get drunk. I guess this is people's idea of relaxation and letting it loose.
So people in our group had pre-drinked before coming into the bar, and they bought this birthday girl over half a dozen drinks and bottles of vodkas, which obviously she wouldn't be able to consume all of them that night (under 2 hrs?) -- but it didn't matter. So this girl danced a bit, but 95% of the night she just sat at the table drinking away...trying to finish all the alchohol people bought for her -- it was PATHETIC. She looked PATHETIC. What kind of boyfriend would allow his girlfriend to get wasted in such a nasty fashion on her birthday? I can't believe this is people's idea of FUN.
She was drunk, kept stumbling, spilling alchohol all around and couldn't carry a conversation with people...many others in the group kinda left her alone to drink because she was so wasted and kept spilling her drinks...which I thought was sad. Even her bestfriend didn't sit with her -- I SAT with her, and just tried to make sure she didn't kick the table and have all the drinks and alcohol come crashing down. I even responded to her when she was trying to have a conversation with people...I was like the only one there who was really listening.
So this girl was too wasted to go to the club afterward, she wouldn't be able to get in anyhow -- too wasted. We found out later that she threw up a lot and her boyfriend took her home. Wow, I sure hope she had a great birthday and had F.U.N!!! The venue and all of this was their idea of how they wanted to spend her birthday. Well, she must have also felt absolutely great the next day...a reminder of just how much fun she had the night before. LOL.
"But if introverts are at any particular risk for loneliness, it could be because we set a high bar for friendship. We desire and require deep connections and would rather be lonely alone than in a crowd. But realistically, those deep connections are not easy to find, and if we get caught short and our only choice is superficial socializing or nothing, we can get lonely."
I agree completely with this statement. At this point in my life, I've been disappointed so many times by friends who fail to meet my expectations, that I currently have no one with whom I can spend quality time. Like other introverts, I enjoy spending time alone... but when I AM in the mood to socialize, my choices are limited. So the idea of a "loneliness loop" makes complete sense to me.
Being of European background, I was always taught to be self sufficient and therefore, to a certain extent, introverted. My biggest shock was, when I came to America over 50 years ago, to find how friendly (and shallow) many people were. I did develop friends over time but not in the millions like today's Facebook crowd. Do I miss the crowds - sometimes, but not for very long. Friendships take a long time to cultivate - just like the gardens. It takes constant work, love and care while still letting them be themselves.
Introverts can be perfectly happy alone, or terribly lonely in a crowd.
This statement for me is so true. Looking back I feel that I have rarely been comfortable in social situations. Especially those where I don't know many people. Conversely I have always been quite happy on my own without feeling lonely. Having very few friends I don't often get invited to social events and often turn down the few invitations I do get. I rarely feel I have missed out however as when I do go to an event I tend to sit in one place. I will interact with anyone who wants to talk to me but otherwise I simply observe what is going on.
My wife (an extrovert) does not understand this and is often telling me to 'go out and make friends'. Unlike her however this is not easy. The only thing that overrides this is alcohol but as I tend to stay within my limits I very rarely get drunk!
Finding this blog has been a godsend to me as I have learnt that my behaviour is not abnormal or strange. I have learnt a lot reading it and can relate to so many of the issues raised. Keep up the good work.
Im American and I would love to marry a British guy. I guess it's bc I like British movies and books. I would also watch Beatrix potters bbc stories when I was little. Do some Brits imagine marrying Americans?
I really want to just go live in a log cabin somewhere in a mountain and not have to interact with anyone except close family members. I want peace of mind. Everytime I interact with people whether at university or work, it's such a struggle for me. I hate gossip, the sarcastic jokes they make, their judmentalness. I know that I judge but I keep it to myself, these people make jokes to others about others. It's horrible and I don't like to involve myself in that. Also, I hate it when people run their mouth wihtout consideration that what they are talking about in a negative light in front of a group of people can actually apply to one of those person's. I'm sick of insensitive people. For those reasons, I want to go live in a mountain in a log cabin and become self-sustaining but have enough income to also buy necessities.
...I always found it peculiar when people seemed to prefer any sort of human interaction, however superficial, to solitude. I could only assume that they had a morbid and irrational fear of loneliness, and/or some degree of self-loathing, so they steadfastly avoid introspection.
This also brings to mind those who routinely turn the TV on "just for noise". If anyone did that at my place, I would throw them AND the TV off the balcony! I tend to hit the "mute" button myself (in waiting rooms, etc.).
Oh what an assault on my senses is television. Why must we deal with cacophony everywhere we go?
Wow, I am tickled I'm not alone in my aversion to TV! smile!
When I was younger, I tried to 'fit in' with the college crowd, going to bars etc and drinking and trying to be rowdy etc. Now, I realise that I was not really enjoying myself but just pretending to be someone I'm not. With maturity, being true to myself is the most important thing and I do not enjoy vacuous, alcohol fuelled, meaningless 'socialising' which is so prevalent in the western world. I long for deeper, much more fulfilling connections with people over shared interests, conversations, and enjoyment of life. I find that unfortunately, these deeper connections are hard to come by and find that I have been feeling lonely for a while. I think that to be true to oneself leads one to be more selective where we focus our energies and this means at times being alone and sometimes feeling lonely. However, I want to continue throughout my life to seek and develop meaningful friendships and connections and by being true to myself, I hope this will attract like people in my life.
Wow, I never knew I was an introvert, and yes, I have been fighting it all my life and thought I had some kind of phobia! I love how articulate everyone is here! Thank you for the blog and the responses, really wonderful to feel "normal"!
When younger U tried drinking a little, but for the most part, I really enjoy who I am and I love my own company (with books, thoughts, journal, dog etc. no TV just internet and radio), but I force myself to go out and be social, but seldom. It often sends me into a panic when I make myself do things I don't feel comfortable doing.
It feels like I just had a light-bulb moment. Thank you!
I'm an introvert and being introverted sucks^1000. Why? Because I've been single my WHOLE life. I'm 26. Is it because I'm ugly, fat, retarded? No.
It's because I don't feel like small talk, mingling, going to social gatherings where you don't really know many people, approaching strangers, being the life of the party, etc. You know, all the things that are REQUIRED to get out there to meet women.
Everyone (all the extroverts that is) say that I'm "shy". No, I'm not shy and I can prove it:
Years ago I did the whole "Pick-up Artist" thing (AKA cold approach) for a while in order to meet women. Part of my training included going to the shopping mall and saying hi to every attractive girl I met. So I killed that fear of approach.
But after a year and a half of cold approach and trying to attract women I was miserable. I felt so sick I didn't want to approach a single girl again. Yet I knew what to say, how to say it, and what to do, but I just didn't feel like it. Of course, I didn't get a girlfriend because a lot of the woman that I attracted were psychos. I've turned down a lot of women because I didn't like them, too extroverted.
Another part of attracting women also involves kino (non-sexual touching like touching a hand on an arm while sitting face to face). And I couldn't force my self to kino because it makes me sick, I don't like being touched and I don't like touching other people. Yet it's always necessary to take a date to the next level. Extroverts do it without even noticing.
So I couldn't figure out why I was feeling this way. I ended up being depressed. It wasn't until I took the MBTI test while attending a procrastination workshop in grad school that I learned what it meant to be an introvert. I finally understood why all those years going to parties and meeting new people made me so drained and apprehensive.
So I quit that and slowly crawled back into my shell. Years later, I'm still single, and it's gotten to the point where it looks like I'll be that way forever.
I've been looking for books on how to find and attract women AS an introvert, without betraying yourself and pretending to be an extrovert like I did in the past. Yet all I find are stupid books that tell you how to be happy as introvert or praise losers like van Gogh and how these introverts are so "valued" in society. Give me a break! Van Gogh was a lunatic who lived a miserable, lonely existence, only sold one painting for peanuts then chopped his ear off and killed himself. Hurray! Let's all celebrate being rejects!
Some books even read about how fun it is being alone. Just because I'm an introvert and like to spend time alone doesn't mean I want to be single forever!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Grad school doesn't help because most of the people in my program are introverts. There's only one professor in my discipline that's an extrovert. It's a very awckward social environment, there are some real autistic professors. Some of professors are also completely single and hopeless. Being in that environment is very comfortable, but too bad my program is mostly all male!!!! I wouldn't want to really mess with an introverted woman anyways because it's not fun to try to get to know one. The guys that do have a girlfriend or wife found them by some miracle, I haven't been able to figure out how that works.
I can't find any decent books that can help me, none. And I've been scouring the internet and came across this corner of Psychology Today. What a joke. Dozens of useless articles but none that help me.
Try learning about the enneagram.
Not into esoteric (Satanic) teachings. No thanks!
The enneagram is not satanic it is a study of personality. Check out Father Richard Rohr, a Catholic Monk who writes BOOKS on the Enneagram and teaches about the Enneagram. Richard Rohr is a full-time Catholic...not a satanist! Enneagram is based on ancient eastern and sufi knowledge passed down through the centuries and is the basis of the knowledge of the 7 deadly sins -in the Catholic Church. The enneagram came upon that knowledge Before the Catholics did. It is a compilation of personality studies reaching back to the eastern sufi religious mystics, which then spread to the west to the Catholic church, monks, etc and became the basis of the 7 deadly sins information which is widely accepted today. It now is woven with Carl Jung's knowledge of personality, so that if you are into psychology, it is the perfect thing to study. CERTAINLY not satanist.
i had similar experience with the real life...
It is quite hard and tiresome for me to do small talks and allow strangers/new ppl into my life it just took too much time and noone is willing to wait for that time to past.
So my life till now is quite similar to yours with the only difference that i just dont care so much anymore. I am feeling quite good at my alone time.
The only problems for me are the expectations and pressure from my parents and the society that i am suppose to do whatever is expected no matter if i am willing or enjoying to do so
I thought you guys would like an update, being as it's been over 6 months now.
Guess what? I'm still single! And now I'm 27. Thanks!
Isn't being introverted awesome or what?
Every time I read about the longevity of individuals who have close connections, lots of friends, and an active social lifestyle I think to myself, "I guess I'm going to have an early departure!" Has anyone determined through study that 'extroverts' live longer than 'introverts' because of our tendency toward aloneness? Remember the relationship theory of monadic, dyadic, and triadic attachements? Again, it seems that the triadic (more extroverted) individuals were determined to have healthier relationships and attachments...sigh...
I wonder if it's extraverts who don't have many friends or an active social life that die younger. An introvert with the exact social life they want will have fewer friends and perhaps less social activity but they may live as long as an extravert who's social life is as they want it.
Maybe social dysfunction, for the entire spectrum, is the problem and not the absolute number of friends and level of social activity.
Find a mate who's more extroverted than you are and comes from a big family.
This is a very complicated topic. I think there is a gradation from loneliness, which is unpleasant and draining, to aloneness, which is OK, to solitude, which is something I need. (Sophia said something like this in her post, I think.) The complication is that I am an extroverted introvert. I can be quite sociable, but not to the point of preferring anyone's company to mine. When it comes to people who are compulsive chatterers, interrupters, or full of themselves, I would rather be by myself and read or listen to music. But one can't always pick and choose. Preferring solitude to annoying company sometimes leads to loneliness. I think one needs to accept this as a consequence of being choosy.
I think there is a social aspect to this too. Exchanging email messages and communicating on social media is not really connecting at a deep level. I have started reading a book called Hamlet's Blackberry: building a good life in the digital age. This is about how one can re-claim one's life from the incessant demands of electronic screens and cultivate the deep experiences that one craves.
More information about formatting options
Sophia Dembling is a widely published Dallas, Texas-based writer. Her latest book is The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World.
When and how should we open up to loved ones?