People who become more introverted as they get older usually display these behaviors (without realizing it)

In my younger years, it never occurred to me that I was an introvert.

That’s because I mistook a lot of the signs. I was capable of being vocal and opinionated and I thought that had to mean I was an extrovert.

This sort of misunderstanding is really common. But what defines an introvert is more nuanced than that.

Sure, some introverts are quiet, but not all are. It’s ultimately about whether you’re more inward-focused than outward.

This quality can affect your personality and behavior in big ways and small.

As you get older, your introverted nature may become stronger, without you even realizing it.

Here are the signs that may be happening…

1) Excusing yourself more from parties or large gatherings

Despite what people might think, introverts are not anti-social, nor are they necessarily shy or socially awkward.

But what they are is easily exhausted by too much company.

I often explain to people that I’m like an iPhone. I can be socially high-functioning, but my battery drains very quickly.

So I need to recharge.

As we get older, we hopefully come to understand and accept ourselves more.

So my younger introverted self felt more pressure to push past these natural limitations. I didn’t want to “miss out” or appear anti-social to others.

But that sometimes meant I wasn’t honoring my own needs.

Introverts usually feel more comfortable in smaller, intimate settings. That probably hasn’t changed much over the years.

But as you get older you may feel more confident in turning down invitations. Taking care of yourself seems more important.

As you no longer put yourself under pressure to party, you may find that you say “no thanks” to larger gatherings.

2) Moving to live in quieter places

After several years of city living, I can’t take it anymore.

I already sleep with a white noise machine and earplugs. But all that bustle has an impact on my nervous system.

So later in the year, we’ve decided to pack up and opt for countryside living, and I cannot wait.

Preferring quieter places is normal for introverts. That’s because overstimulation drains us.

We can be particularly sensitive to noise, smell, and energy in general.

It comes down to how we’re hardwired. Unlike extroverts, too much sensory input overloads our brains.

Plenty of city friends have commented that we may find the change of pace difficult. But that’s not something I’m concerned with.

Because as we’re about to see, a quieter life can feel so much more rewarding to an introvert.

3) Doing much less in your spare time

I will happily spend hours on end doing very little indeed.

I don’t feel the need to be constantly on my phone, scrolling social media, watching TV, or being lost in some other distraction.

I’ve often proudly told people I’m pretty boring.

But what I really mean is that I’ve never felt the need to cram my time with countless activities.

As I get older, I’m doing even less.

I know plenty of people will find that very dull indeed. But I find contentment in very simple everyday things.

The scientific explanation for this comes back to how we process information.

We’re much more sensitive to the reward hormone dopamine, so we don’t need as much to feel satisfied.

Introverts’ brains operate an energy-conserving nervous system. So we’re drawn to downtime and less likely to suffer from boredom.

Spending time alone with our thoughts becomes an activity for us, and that can bring some real benefits, as the next behavior on our list highlights.

4) Displaying greater self-awareness

Developing self-awareness is a skill that takes practice.

But as an introvert, chances are, those years of reflection have paid off.

As I mentioned in the intro, one of the defining features of introversion is having an inward focus.

We tend to be more deeply immersed in our own inner sensory world of thoughts, feelings, and personal experiences.

That can help us to find greater insights into what makes us tick, and as a consequence help us to make better decisions. 

Jonathan Cheek, professor of personality psychology, points out that his introspection also means you’re less likely to do impulsive things you later regret.

“Introverts are temperamentally defined to pause to reflect. If they can do that in a productive way, then that’s not only a personal characteristic but it can function as a strength, gift, or contribution to a given context.”

5) Gravitating towards more solo pursuits and interests

It’s not that I can’t work in groups, but I prefer to do it alone.

That’s always been the case, and I suspect my introversion has a lot to do with it.

We thrive with the space to think things through on our own, and so tend to be highly independent when it comes to getting things done.

No wonder then that when Covid hit, it was the introverts who excelled at working from home.

As you get older, you may notice yourself being increasingly drawn toward jobs that involve more independent working.

You may also naturally prefer hobbies and activities that you can do alone like reading, writing, gardening, puzzles, gaming, drawing, and crafts.

6) Cancelling plans more often

Cancelling plans with an introvert isn’t usually a problem. The truth is, you’ve done them a favor.

They’ve been staring at their phone since 3 pm hoping you would text saying “something has come up”.

The difficulty with being so energy-sensitive is that it is hard to predict when making plans how you will closer to the time.

So it’s not that we don’t want to see someone. It’s just that when the day arrives, we can’t face it.

I’m only in my early forties and I already notice a big energy difference compared to my twenties and thirties.

So I’m bolder these days about dropping plans that I’m not looking forward to. 

I think self-confessed flaker, Cory Stieg, sums it up nicely as she writes:

“The small twangs of guilt about not hanging out with a friend are just not as strong as the blissful freedom I feel sitting alone and doing absolutely nothing — but that’s just my opinion. In the words of Beyoncé, “Freedom! Freedom! I can’t move” (from my couch).”

7) Ditching shallow friendships and acquaintances

Introverts are known for smaller and more intimate friendship circles.

Their motto is generally quality over quantity.

That’s certainly not to say that extroverts have more shallow friendships.

They just have more energy to devote to others, and so can nurture more connections effortlessly.

Meanwhile, us introverts have to be more selective about our social interactions.

In the last couple of years in particular, for me, that’s meant moving away from connections that have run their cause.

It’s meant reflecting on how much time to invest in people who are simply acquaintances and are unlikely to ever be much more.

The more you prioritize deep, meaningful relationships, the more those that don’t make the cut tend to almost organically start to fall away.

8) Becoming less talkative and more reflective

Introverts under the right circumstances can be incredibly talkative.

My husband, family, and closest friends know that sometimes I struggle to shut up. But introverts often need more specific conditions to bring this side out of them.

Some introverts have always struggled with initiating conversations with people they don’t know very well.

Small talk can be a particular problem, and make them squirm. Instead, they gravitate towards deep conversations that cater to their reflective nature.

This may well intensify as you get older. You may find that become less talkative as you increasingly retreat into your own little world.

People automatically assume introverts are better listeners. But speaking less doesn’t automatically equate to greater listening skills, as Psychology Today reminds us.

“As introverts struggle to monitor all the strands of conversation and may even be plotting an exit strategy, their quiet may be mistaken for deeply engaged listening, which spurs extroverts to keep talking.”

Embracing increasing introversion without becoming withdrawn

I think that’s the balancing act for introverts.

There are plenty of plus points to having an introverted nature. To me, it offers me far more than holds me back.

But as my introversion increases with age, I’m also mindful of striking a compromise.

If it were up to me, I’d happily shut myself away. But that doesn’t mean doing so would be good for me.

Pushing our comfort zone and making the effort to connect with others is still really important at any age.

This is what ensures our introversion doesn’t inadvertently end up cutting us off.

Louise Jackson

My passion in life is communication in all its many forms. I enjoy nothing more than deep chats about life, love and the Universe. With a masters degree in Journalism, I’m a former BBC news reporter and newsreader. But around 8 years ago I swapped the studio for a life on the open road. Lisbon, Portugal is currently where I call home. My personal development articles have featured in Huffington Post, Elite Daily, Thought Catalog, Thrive Global and more.

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