Single but not settling: 10 traits of fiercely independent individuals

Have you ever met somebody that’s never in a relationship—and seems to like it that way?

They enjoy life on their own in a way you wish you could.

So what is it that makes them so independent? So happy? So free?

Whether you’re looking for a way to understand such people better or you’re aspiring to become more like them, this article is for you.

Here are 10 traits of fiercely independent individuals.

1) They are self-sufficient

“The shoes on my feet (I bought ’em)

The clothes I’m wearing (I bought ’em)

The rock I’m rocking (I bought it)

‘Cause I depend on me”

I couldn’t have said it better than this verse from Destiny’s Child’s 2000 hit “Independent Women, Part I”. 

When it comes to being independent, being able to provide for one’s own needs is essential.

One of the main traits of fiercely independent individuals is that they can—and do—pay for everything they have: their house, their car, their clothes, and everything else.

Independent people usually have a system that helps them keep track of their finances, such as a budget diary or an expenses app.

Knowing where their money is going helps them cut back on unnecessary things, especially if they are saving up for a special occasion or an unforeseen circumstance.

Self-sufficiency doesn’t just refer to financial ability to provide for yourself, though.

It also refers to how secure and content someone is with him/herself.

Strongly self-sufficient people are not so bothered by others’ opinions of them. They feel complete within themselves and thus are able to cope with major life events.

They’re also very involved in paving their own path in life, making decisions that drive the direction they are going.

2) They’re comfortable going solo

Whether it’s a vacation, a formal event, an errand, or even a spur-of-the-moment trip, independent people don’t have qualms about flying solo.

This trait of fiercely independent individuals allows them to go where they want, for however long they want, create their own itinerary, and engage in activities they like, without having to think about what other people would want to do.

Becoming a solo adventurer also works wonders for a person’s self-esteem. In an article, licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Chloe Carmichael, says: “Traveling in itself is an act of confidence. The fact that you went somewhere by yourself demonstrates strength. 

“If you do something that requires a certain amount of strength or independence, you then see yourself as a stronger and more independent person. Your behavior is reinforcing a positive self-esteem. As your self-esteem grows, you start engaging in more independent, self-serving behaviors.”

Traveling alone also helps independent people free themselves of anxiety over how they feel other people perceive them.

In the same article, another psychologist, Dr. Margot Levin, explains: “Many people feel uncomfortable being alone in general, and especially in public. They may feel that others are judging them and they tend to overestimate how much they stick out to others and how unusual it is to be by yourself.”

3) They like to live alone

Similarly, it follows that one of the traits of fiercely independent individuals is preferring to live by themselves.

For this example, I’d like to use a scene from an episode of Sex and the City (season 4, episode 13: “The Good Fight”). 

During this period, our heroine Carrie Bradshaw is cohabitating with Aidan, which she quickly finds out is not as fun or easy as either of them expected it to be.

“You guys,” Carrie begins, “I miss walking into my apartment with no one there and it’s all quiet. And I can do that stuff you do when you’re totally alone. Things you would never want your boyfriend to see you do.”

She continues: “My SSB—My secret single behavior. I like to make a stack of saltines; I put grape jelly on them. I eat them standing up in the kitchen, reading fashion magazines.”

Asked why she has to be standing up to do it, she answers: “I dunno, it’s weird. But it just feels great.”

Living alone affords single, independent people the freedom to live how they want. They have much-treasured peace and privacy, and they have total control over the location, the decor, and the furnishing of their place.

4) They have a casual attitude towards dating

As a daughter of a man whose three sisters are, to this day, unmarried and childless, I believe I have a front-row seat to how these labels are not as bad as society would have you think.

I grew up with three aunts who exhibit the traits of fiercely independent individuals, one of which was not making dating a priority.

This is not to say that they never had relationships, because of course, they did. 

But what I’ve observed is that it’s not something that independent people feel they need—or even want—to do. If it comes, then great, but they’re not the type to go out and actively seek it.

pic1871 Single but not settling: 10 traits of fiercely independent individuals

5) They may appear cold

Being independent sometimes translates to never consulting with or asking for help from anybody else. 

And, especially if they are lone wolves, it is very possible that they prioritize their careers and responsibilities over things like birthdays, anniversaries, recitals, or vacations.

As such, one of the traits of fiercely independent individuals is coldness or aloofness. But keep in mind that this isn’t always on purpose.

Illustrating this is the story of someone I know who we will call “B”. B was the breadwinner in a brood of five children. She had to go abroad to provide for her siblings, two of whom were still studying. 

She shares that even though she really missed her family and wanted to go home so badly, she had to stay, be strong, and earn money in order to help her family. 

So sometimes, strength or resoluteness can look like coldness. But this is rarely a trait that independent people willingly adopt.

6) They value privacy

As an independent person, alone time and the privacy it gives is very important and preferred.

This trait of fiercely independent individuals ties in closely with their inclination for solo trips and living alone. 

They prize privacy. It provides them with a sense of calm and peace.

They also don’t feel the need to share every tiny detail about themselves or their choices with others, even with people closest to them.

7) They can be stubborn

People who are used to calling the shots in their personal or professional life. 

They don’t automatically think of other people’s way of thinking or doing things and so, in some cases, could come off as being stubborn.

That’s why they can sometimes push back on the accepted way of doing things or otherwise find it a shock when their routines are disrupted.

They’re always game for a spirited debate on differences in opinion, from say, movies, books, food, all the way to fundamental beliefs and values.

It’s not easy to change an independent individual’s mind, which is a good thing if their ways and thoughts make sense.

However, it might not be so good if they take it to the extreme. We all need to listen to other people so we can improve on things we sometimes cannot see about ourselves.

8) They don’t usually ask for help

Yet another trait of fiercely independent individuals is that they believe they don’t need help to do things.

This is one of the less favorable characteristics of independent people especially if they find themselves in a sticky spot.

They are so used to taking on everything on their own even if they are already having a hard time. In some cases, they might even burn out.

Whether or not they admit it, everybody needs help from time to time.

9) They take responsibility

As I had mentioned many times in this article, independent people take charge of their own lives.

They have a plan, they make choices—some of them hard—and they follow through. Usually, their plans take them where they want to go; but when it doesn’t pan out, they take full responsibility for things that happen. 

This is an important trait of fiercely independent individuals: the ability to answer for their choices.

They don’t leave their lives at the hands of other people, be they their parents, teachers, siblings, or anything outside of their control. 

They understand that owning up to their mistakes is just as important as acknowledging their victories. If they can fully accept their mistakes, then they are entitled to fully accept their wins as well.

10) They know what they deserve

One last thing to know about independent people—they are authentic. What you see is what you get.

They tend to speak honestly and do not need affirmation from others.

They are also comfortable with who they are. They know what they like and what they don’t; what they are looking for in friends and potential partners; what they want out of life; and they know what they deserve.

They have high standards and instead of settling for less, they’d rather be single and happy.

Bottom line

Independence is something that all of us want in life. We all want to be able to do what we want, when we want, and how we want. 

Unlike what we’ve been told by society in the past, being independent and being single is not dooming. In fact, it can be freeing. 

Hopefully this list will help you understand your independent friends’ and family’s way of life and help you become more independent yourself.

Picture of Louise Logarta

Louise Logarta

Louise Nichole Logarta is a content writer by profession, with experience crafting feature articles, editorials, and news articles. She has been published in noted Philippine broadsheets Philippine Daily Inquirer and The Manila Times. Topics of interest she likes writing about include relationships, current affairs, health, and pop culture. Travel, journal notebooks, fiction books, and iced coffee are some of the things she enjoys.

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