I’ve often wondered whether it’s normal or healthy to spend so much time alone. Because the truth is that I prefer my own company to the company of others.
In many ways, it just feels easier.
I can be at peace and I get to do what I want. I don’t have to wear a mask or put on any false pretenses.
Curious to discover if there was something wrong with me, I went in search of the reasons why some people simply like to be alone more than others.
What I discovered was the following 9 personality traits that people who enjoy being alone often have.
1) You’re a deep thinker
“Hang on, I’ve got to overthink about it”.
That sort of sums me up. My mind can be hard to switch off. It’s often caught in contemplation and pondering.
Sure, sometimes this can get annoying. But it’s also a rich source of constant entertainment.
Rather than focus our attention outwards, us loners like to bring it inwards. That can lead to great insights and wisdom.
After all, many answers can only be found within!
Here’s the thing:
People who always prefer company don’t seem to understand why we don’t get bored on our own. But the reason is that we like to be with our thoughts.
As the next trait on our list highlights, we find enough stimulation from low-key activities.
2) You’re creative
This enjoyment of the slower side of life is one explanation for high levels of creativity.
That’s why people who enjoy being alone often favor creative hobbies such as writing, reading, and the arts.
We don’t need to be “doing” all the time in a flurry of activity.
Rather than being lazy, it’s all about how we are wired.
If you enjoy being alone, the chances are that you are very sensitive to dopamine. This neurotransmitter and hormone is responsible for our pleasure and reward feedback.
That sensitivity means that it takes less to stimulate you.
You don’t need a wild party to get a rush. Simply sitting and journaling can give you quite a thrill.
It all comes down to the way our nervous systems tend to react to stimuli.
The reason why extroverts love company is that their brains have an energy-spending nervous system. Meanwhile, introverts have the opposite.
This is why there’s a good chance you’re naturally introverted if you like to be alone a lot.
3) You’re introverted
Let’s get something straight:
If you like being alone, that certainly doesn’t have to mean you are shy or uncomfortable around other people.
Sure, many introverts can be quieter or more reserved, but not all are.
Whether you identify as an extrovert or an introvert comes down to what we touched on above. It’s how your body and mind respond to the world around you.
For introverts, our busy and hectic planet can create stimulation overload if we’re not careful.
So being on our own is really calming for our nervous system. We can metaphorically recharge our battery and rest.
When we are with other people, on the other hand, we may find it all becomes a bit too much.
Have you ever come home from a party totally exhausted? All that small talk, chatter, noise, light, and energy really takes it out of you.
If so, I’m willing to guess you are a fellow introvert. You lose your energy when you are around people.
So it’s no wonder that being alone —where you can conserve and protect your energy— feels so good!
4) You’re well balanced
Maybe you enjoy being alone because it frees you from other people’s drama?
If so, it makes sense. Having company can be great, but as we’ve seen, it can also become a drain.
Any old-fashioned stereotype of loners being weirdos couldn’t be further from the truth, as research has highlighted.
As Bella DePaulo, Ph.D. — an Academic Affiliate in Psychological & Brain Sciences at UCSB —explains in Psychology Today:
“People who like spending time alone, and who are unafraid of being single, are especially unlikely to be neurotic. They are not the tense, moody, worrying types.”
The truth is that it requires a certain amount of self-esteem and comfort with who you are in order to be alone.
This is reflective of a balanced and well-rounded individual. And, as we’ll see next, one who likely knows what makes them tick.
5) You’re introspective and know yourself
I’ve already mentioned how those who like their own company are big thinkers.
Well, as a consequence of being an inward-looking person, chances are you really know yourself inside out.
This self-knowledge and awareness can be a real blessing says Tasha Eurich, PhD, researcher, and organizational psychologist:
“Self-awareness allows us to shift perspective, to see both hard realities and possibilities. We’ve found that people who are more self-aware are also more self-accepting.”
It turns out that the better acquainted we become with ourselves, the more confident we feel. We’re more likely to be proactive too.
Perhaps that explains why people who like their alone time tend to be the independent types.
6) You’re independent
It stands to reason that people who are happy alone learn to become more self-reliant. After all, there’s not always someone on hand to help.
Rather than always looking to other people they turn to themselves for strength and guidance.
As explained by WebMD, this can have many advantages:
“Recent research has found that positive loners describe themselves as autonomous. Their behaviors, values, and interests are “resistant to pressure from others,” and they are “interested in learning more about their personal experiences and emotions”.
7) You’re open-minded
This one may come as a surprise.
You would perhaps assume that the most open-minded folk are the ones who spend lots of time with others.
But on the contrary, research has concluded that people who like to be alone are more likely than others to be open-minded.
The desire to be alone means you score more highly for being:
Rather than being judgemental of others, you are more likely to be agreeable.
The good news is that according to studies, open-mindedness is also linked to higher levels of happiness.
The lead author of one such study, Anna Antinori from the University of Melbourne in Australia says “Open people appear to have a more flexible gate and let through more information than the average person”.
8) You’re sensitive
For both good and bad you are highly sensitive.
Well because whilst being so sensitive to stimulation makes you highly intuitive, aware, and observant, it can also be overwhelming.
As I mentioned earlier, introverts don’t need as much stimulation to feel alert, and studies have proved this.
As explained by Sensitivity expert Andre Solo in Time:
“As a personality trait, being sensitive means you take in more information from your environment, and you do more with it. Sensitive people are wired at a brain level to process information more deeply than others do. That includes sensory input (like noticing the texture of a fabric), emotional input (reading social cues), and ideas (spending a longer time thinking things through and making more connections between concepts).”
In practical terms that may mean that noise, light, and busy environments can become too much for you.
This is yet another reason why you may seek out the comfort and calm of home instead.
On top of that you may be emotionally more sensitive too. That can mean you have deep empathy and feel what others are feeling.
In some situations, this can put you under pressure.
For example, the burden of small talk makes you squirm, or you are overly conscious of what others may be thinking about you.
You may even conclude that it’s better to be alone than be misunderstood, which can cause you to retreat into yourself for the sake of an easier life.
9) You’re focused
It’s easy to see why so many of the traits of people who like to be alone end up going hand in hand.
Perhaps you are more likely to be focused when you are self-sufficient and capable of self-motivating.
Maybe you even find yourself getting lost in a flow state.
When you are in the zone doing something you are good at, hours can go by in a flash. You feel as though you could keep going forever.
It’s harder to enter this state when you are being distracted by 1001 things around you. So it tends to find people more when they are alone and able to better concentrate.
This intrinsic motivation brings with it many blessings. It helps you to enjoy the moment and disconnect from the world outside.
To conclude: Being alone is not the same as being lonely
As we’ve seen from our list of traits people who like to be alone have, there is great confidence, comfort, and peace that comes from being a “loner”.
Not everyone may understand, but being alone is a far cry from loneliness.