The secret life of introverts: 9 traits that set them apart

If you’re not an introvert, this post might read a little like a nature documentary. 

Defined as someone who is quiet, reserved, and prefers spending time alone, it’s difficult to follow what they do get up to on a day-to-day basis as they’re often in their own company and like to exist behind doors.

Introverts also often get unfairly misjudged as being unfriendly and aloof owing to their quietness and desire to spend time alone.

So what’s so great about introversion and what sets them apart from more extroverted individuals?

Let’s get into it:

1) They’re highly imaginative and prone to getting lost in daydreams

Introverts have an affinity for daydreaming and getting lost in fantasy worlds. 

Their pensive nature and capacity to immerse themselves in thought means that they’re also likely to be highly creative

Introverts also often retreat into the peace and solitude of their own minds, particularly when they feel like they need a break from the outside world.

Faced with a dilemma or some other form of stressor, a more extroverted individual would seek comfort from the input and company of other people. 

Think, “I’m sad. Can you come over and keep me company?”

Introverts, on the other hand, tend to turn inward. 

A typical response to feeling overwhelmed will be canceling plans; they’re going to be busy (hanging out with their cat).

They’ll turn to their own consciousness for advice, seek solace from their thoughts, and recluse themselves to heal and decompress.

2) They tend to prefer (and enjoy) spending time alone

Ever felt a deep wave of relief when social plans you made a couple of weeks ago but now aren’t really feeling get canceled last minute?

Or maybe you’re just really happy to squirrel yourself away at home and spend time reading, gaming, or hanging out with your pets.

Introverts genuinely enjoy their own company. They like hanging out with themselves and will often feel their happiest and most able to concentrate when alone.

Many people mistake shyness and introversion. 

However, these are not necessarily the same thing. 

A more extroverted individual might adore being in social situations and love being the center of attention, but find that their self-esteem means that they get scared when pushed into the spotlight.

An introvert can still be shy, but often they just prefer avoiding unnecessary social interactions or small talk. 

3) They have a small (but trusted) group of friends

Loyalty tends to play a big part in the relationships that introverts do form.

They usually have a smaller, close-knit circle of friends. 

Preferring quality over quantity when it comes to close friends, they value those friendships immensely. 

Those who introverts do keep close to them tend to be handpicked and highly trusted. 

So you shouldn’t be too surprised to find out that an introvert is still best friends with their junior school buddy.

After all, it’s probably taken a great deal of opening up and getting vulnerable for someone who is highly introverted to share their inner world with an outsider. They’re not letting go of their best friends too easily.

However, if someone they consider close and trustworthy breaks that trust, this can often lead an introvert’s sense of faith to crumble. 

They might be quick to blame themselves and withdraw, which can cause long-term damage when it comes to trusting again.

4) They analyze everything

And should someone in their close circle break that trust, an introvert might spend hours and weeks analyzing what happened and what went wrong. 

This doesn’t just apply to friendships either. 

Introverts often analyze all parts of their lives; from philosophical quandaries, to their career, to themselves.

Their minds can spend hours combing over every detail and taking everyone else’s perspective into account when assessing a situation. 

Studies also suggest that introverts are more sensitive towards negative criticism which can amplify this level of analyzing and lead to overthinking, which can be incredibly taxing.

However, these analytical skills can also be immensely useful when applied to other areas of life. 

The ability to study and consider all possible causes and outcomes can mean that introverts have unmatched problem-solving skills and can see and consider possibilities that many others fail to think of.

5) They’re great listeners

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As introverts tend to listen and not lead the conversation, they often pick up on small cues and minor details other people might miss. 

They might struggle to convey and express their own emotions, but they’re often the person others turn to when they need a shoulder to lean on. 

Owing to their analytical mind and their ability to consider all factors, introverts can often be highly empathetic. 

They have the cognitive capacity to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and feel what that person is feeling, even if they haven’t gone through the same experience. 

6) And they’re great at reading people

Even if they don’t fully share what’s going on inside their head, introverts are pretty good at reading people. 

They’ve spent most of their lives quietly watching from the sidelines and now have a fine eye for picking up on minor changes in body language or subtle emotional deviations. 

If you turn to an introvert to confide in them or ask them for advice, don’t be surprised if they meet you with, “I knew something was up. I noticed you’ve been acting differently”.

7) They’re sensitive to the environments around them

Introverts tend to thrive in their home environment, where they can control certain factors and feel safe.

Beyond the safety of their own home, the outside world can seem a scary place for introverts. 

Loud noises and random interactions with strangers can all cause an introvert to feel overstimulated and alarmed. 

Big crowds and noisy subways can often be highly stressful environments for people who are extremely introverted. These they might avoid altogether, or need a bit of encouragement and coaxing to get through.

8) They have a high level of focus

When not lost in daydreams or overanalyzing a flyaway comment someone made three years ago, introverts tend to be skilled at maintaining their focus on whatever is at hand.

This doesn’t just apply to work environments, as introverts will often fully immerse themselves in books, films, or whatever their special interest is.

Of course, not all introverts have this laser focus. 

Additionally, many extroverts may also be able to focus their attention on a project or an activity. 

However, extroverts are more likely to find their attention pulled in other directions like stopping to chat to a colleague about their weekend. 

Introverts are more likely to be zoned in, headphones on, shutting the outside world away whilst they concentrate.

9) They often need to recharge their social batteries 

You’ve probably heard the term ‘social battery’, used to describe the amount of energy a person has for socializing. 

Extroverts often have an unlimited capacity to socialize and thrive off spending time with others. Their social battery is charged by social interaction, and they leave parties or celebrations buzzing with energy from having danced and gossiped and interacted.

In comparison, introverts find many social situations incredibly taxing. 

This might not be so easy to see from the outside – they might be chatting and laughing and having a great time at a dinner or on a night out. 

Then suddenly, they disappear. 

Introverts love a good old Irish Exit (when you leave a party without telling anybody that you’re leaving).

And when they can’t just disappear, they might suddenly seem quiet and listless when their social battery begins to drain. 

A big Friday night on the town might be followed by an introverted sequestering themselves away and unwinding in their own company to recharge their social battery.

Introvert appreciation

Carl Jung famously said, “There is no such thing as pure extrovert or a pure introvert. Such a man would be in the lunatic asylum”.

So whether you think you’re an introvert or you’re an extrovert with an introverted friend that you’re trying to understand better, it’s important to remember that no one is fully one or the other. 

Don’t worry – neither of you are headed for the lunatic asylum. We all sit somewhere on the scale between introversion and extroversion. You might find that some of these traits apply to you or someone you know, but other traits don’t. 

You might also find yourself more of an ambivert, which is a balance of the two.

And if you are now thinking wow, I’m pretty introverted… be proud of that!

We give introverts too hard of a time for being stand offish or cold. 

In reality, they often make amazing friends or partners owing to their introspective nature and ability to consider other people’s feelings. 

It’s definitely a quality we all need to celebrate more.

Liv Walde

Liv Walde

London-based writer with big thoughts, big dreams, and a passion for helping others.

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