5 Things People Get Wrong About People Who Like To Spend Time Alone
It's no secret that everyone has different preferences when it comes to how much alone time they need; but these preferences are a little bit more complicated than just being an "introvert" and "extrovert." According to doctors and online quizzes (hey, they can be reliable!) I am what's known as an "extroverted introvert" — which means that I need plenty of alone time, I crave deep connections rather than casual friendships, and big crowds aren't really my jam. I go through periods when I spend more time socializing than usual, but then I need a break because it's exhausting. Personally, I couldn't live without quality time with my close friends, but I also couldn't live without my alone time.
But no matter what kind of introvert you are — a straightforward introvert, an extroverted introvert, or someone who falls somewhere in between — we all have one thing in common: we genuinely like to spend time alone. And, to be clear, introverts value their close friendships as much as anyone; they're just more likely to seek out deep connections rather than have a wide circle of casual acquaintances who are always up for going out on the town. Either way, it's often hard for people to understand why we enjoy our alone time — and, as a result, there are a number of things that people get wrong about individuals who like to spend time by ourselves.
Here are five misconceptions about people who value their alone time:
1. We're "Hiding" Because We're Afraid Of The World
Turning down an invite to a crowded party or loud concert doesn't mean we're afraid of the experience — it just means that, after a long week, we'd rather unwind on our own with a glass of wine while reading a good book or catching up on our TV shows. This misconception is troubling to me; it's actually a sign of strength to be comfortable on your own and I think it's something to be proud of.
2. We're Antisocial
Valuing alone time is absolutely not an indication that a person is antisocial or friendless. When we say that we enjoy spending time alone, we're not implying that we want to lock ourselves in our houses or apartments forever and never interact with anyone. I would argue that my alone time actually makes me a better friend than I would be if I forced myself to be at a social event every night — alone time makes me feel more comfortable with myself and, because of this, I feel more engaged when I am with my friends.
3. We're Depressed Or Negative
It's certainly true that isolation can be a symptom of depression — but that's not because individuals with depression enjoy being alone. It's more related to the fact that everyday life is a struggle for people with severe depression and the idea of being in social situations can feel daunting. Depression is an exhausting illness that takes everything out of you, so it makes sense that depressed individuals isolate — but plenty of happy, well-adjusted people genuinely enjoy our alone time. We like to have some solitude in order to foster our creativity, get to know ourselves, and engage in activities that we prefer to do alone.
4. There's No Point Inviting Us Out, Because We'll Always Decline
We may prefer to spend more time alone than other people, but that doesn't mean we hate the company of others and never want to attend any sort of social gathering. Full disclosure — we may decline more often than our more outgoing friends, but we still enjoy socializing and meeting new people. And we still like to be asked and included — even if you don't understand the logic of when and why we want to spend time alone, we're not antisocial and we don't want to be alone 100 percent of the time. There's a huge difference between appreciating alone time and being a hermit.
5. We Must Secretly Be Really Lonely
I can't overstate this enough — there's a major difference between spending time alone and feeling lonely. Based on our personalities, we all require different amounts of time socializing and time spent alone. I have super social friends and I totally understand why many people think the amount of time I like to spend alone means I must be a lonely person.
But, like everyone else who enjoys alone time, I don't associate this time with loneliness at all. I see it as a healthy way for me to unwind, get to know myself, and be comfortable doing things on my own. I can't express how much I value my friendships and I would definitely experience loneliness if they all suddenly moved to different cities and I was left with no one to spend time with.
It's not that people who like to spend time alone never feel lonely — when my closest friends are away for extended periods of time, I miss them terribly and I do feel lonely knowing that they're not a phone call away. But, in general, I'm in control of the amount of time I spend alone and the amount of time I spend with my friends — and I can assure you that I'm not crying on the inside every time I choose to stay home and read or go to an art museum by myself.