15 reasons intelligent people prefer to be alone

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Recently I was asked to describe my dream house. “Cozy, in the mountains, and most importantly, away from people”, is how I replied.

Whilst many people I know love nothing more than being in the company of others, I much prefer to be alone.

I’ve often pondered why this is. Why do some people prefer to be alone? After all, aren’t we meant to be social creatures?

Research has suggested that loners could even be more intelligent. In this article, we’ll discuss why intelligent people prefer to be alone.

Highly intelligent people prefer to be alone

Generally speaking, human beings are indeed a sociable species. We have relied on cooperation in order to survive and to prosper.

It’s no surprise then that science says the more we socialize, the happier we tend to be.

That means for the majority of folk, deep connection, relationships, friendships, etc. bring joy and satisfaction.

But one study has suggested that for very intelligent people, this isn’t the case.

It analyzed survey responses from over 15 thousand people between the ages of 18 and 28.

Most people followed the expected pattern. The more they socialized the happier they were.

But when it came to the highly intelligent people amongst the group, the opposite seemed true. In fact, the more they socialized, the more unhappy they were.

15 reasons why intelligent people prefer to be alone

1) They don’t need others to solve their problems

One of the interesting theories suggested by researchers for why the smartest people may prefer to be alone is an evolutionary one.

As we’ve said, working in groups helps us to tackle challenges and solve problems. This is the reason for our success. The ability to come together to share skills and knowledge greatly aided our advancement on the planet.

But the smartest people in the group could have less of a reliance on others.

It’s thought that intelligence developed in humans as a way of dealing with unique challenges. So the more intelligent you are, the less you would rely on the group for support.

Put simply, the smartest people solve their own problems and so they don’t need other people as much. And so as a result they don’t crave the company of others as much.

2) It helps them be more productive

Intelligence comes in many different forms and expressions. But it’s common for intelligent people to enjoy solo pursuits that expand the mind.

They might prefer to sit quietly and read or get their head around an interesting idea or topic.

Being around other people might be fun, but to a highly intelligent person it can quickly become a “waste of time”.

Hanging out, chatting, and enjoying others’ company becomes a distraction from more productive tasks.

If you are committed to improving yourself, then reading, writing, learning, studying, creating, and contemplating are a better investment of time. And all of which are often more effectively done by highly intelligent people alone.

If nothing else, they find it easier to concentrate on tasks when no one else is around. When we’re in the presence of others, it’s easy to lose focus.

We’re distracted by what others say and do. And we’re often drawn into conversations about things we don’t care about.

3) It gives you more time to think

The most intelligent people I know are also the ones who spend the most time thinking about big ideas.

Their out-of-the-box thinking means they often struggle with what they view as mundanities and trivialities, such as small talk.

They are fascinated by how everything fits together in the world. How does society work? Why are there wars? What makes us happy? Where did life come from?

These questions fascinate them. And because they are curious, they want to learn more.

Intelligent people may put their big brain power to good use, but all that thinking is time-consuming.

Rather than quickly coming to conclusions, they are more prone to mulling things over to find the best solution. That takes deliberation.

This thinking time needs to be done alone.

In fact, if you enjoy spending time alone because it gives you time to think, then you might have a lone wolf personality. If you think you’re a lone wolf, then you might relate to the below video we created:

4) Finding your people can be trickier

Opposites don’t really attract. In fact, people are drawn to those who they feel they share similarities with.

We look for friends and companions who are “on our wavelength”.

One of the potential downsides of high intelligence is that there can be far fewer people around you who you feel you are on a similar level with.

Around 98% of the population has an IQ below 130. So it stands to reason that if you are part of the 2% you are clearly in the minority.

Being very intelligent means you often think differently from the masses. But that means that finding commonality in order to connect with others can be more challenging too.

Company without connection loses its significance.

In fact, being around people who you don’t feel understood by can be even more isolating than simply being alone.

Highly intelligent people may gravitate more to their own company because they don’t find as many people who they naturally click with and want to spend their time with.

If you don’t have something in common with the people you hang out with, you can feel like socializing feels more mundane or draining.

5) Being around people might feel stressful

Another interesting evolutionary suggestion for why the smartest people prefer solitude is that they have better evolved to adapt to modern society.

We live very differently now from how we once did. Rather than small communities, most of our societies are now spread out over highly urbanized areas.

As a consequence, our exposure to strangers has also significantly increased. The hustle and bustle of city life is a much more stressful way for humans to live.

One theory is that as we came to live increasingly in urban areas, the smartest people found a way of coping with that high-stress environment.

The simple evolutionary response was to withdraw.

Intelligent people could perhaps crave more alone time in order to remove themselves from the stressors of modern living.

It’s not just about avoiding crowds. It’s also about removing yourself from the pressures of having to interact with other people.

Related: If someone uses these 8 phrases in a conversation, they lack intelligence

6) To reset after socializing

Just as introverts need more time to energetically recharge after being around people, the same might be the case for intelligent people too.

Because of the way they may have evolved to deal with urban environments, they may also need to reset after being around others.

When you’re surrounded by people day after day, it can become difficult to cope with the constant demands and expectations placed upon you. You need time to process events.

In order to avoid the pressure of interacting with too many people at any one time, some people choose to go off and do their own thing.

This reset time is part of the way intelligent people are evolving to better cope with their environment.

It’s not always that they do not enjoy being with others. But they better recharge and relax through time spent alone.

7) They’re never bored

Growing up my mom used to say that only boring people get bored. Well, very smart people are not bored by their own company.

Unlike most people who may find it dull to be on their own and need company to feel stimulated, this isn’t usually the case for very clever people.

It’s not that they even need to do anything in particular to stay entertained. Their minds are rarely at rest and they can retreat into their own little world.

Within their own imagination, they have countless things that keep them engaged.

They are constantly coming up with new ideas and concepts. And when they aren’t thinking about things, they may be reading or writing.

Intelligent people will often come up with ideas that no one else would ever consider. This gives them a sense of satisfaction.

And because they are so busy thinking about all sorts of different topics, they are never bored.

8) They don’t need as much validation from others

We all need love and validation from others to a certain extent. It’s part of our genetic makeup.

But some crave it more than others. They need the reassurance of others to make them feel good about themselves.

Intelligent people tend to look less to others for their self-esteem. They are usually more confident in themselves and their abilities. Rather than valuing lots of people’s opinions, they have a smaller number of people who they trust and look to for validation.

As a consequence, they don’t seek that approval from those around them in the same way.

They are less fixated on acceptance of society in general and more on self-acceptance. They care far less what others think of them.

This self-reliance leaves them better equipped at breaking free from the social conditioning that can plague most of us.

Once we remove the social conditioning and unrealistic expectations our family, education system, and even religion has put onto us, the limits to what we can achieve is endless. And an intelligent person realizes this.

I learned this (and much more) from the world-renowned shaman Rudá Iandé. In this excellent free video, Rudá explains how you can lift the mental chains and get back to the core of your being.

A word of warning, Rudá isn’t your typical shaman.

He’s not going to reveal pretty words of wisdom that offer false comfort.

Instead, he’s going to force you to look at yourself in a way you have never before. It’s a powerful approach, but one that works.

Here’s a link to the free video again.

In many ways, intelligent people who enjoy time alone have broken free from the trappings of looking for acceptance and validation from others.

9) Highly intelligent people experience higher levels of anxiety

Intelligence may be a gift, but it can have its downsides too.

To a certain extent, it’s a double-edged sword, and increased anxiety levels often accompany increased brain power.

All that overthinking can make intelligent people more prone to worrying too. Researchers have found a link between worry and intelligence.

They found that people who reported a tendency for worry and rumination scored higher on the test of verbal intelligence (which was taken from the well-known Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale).

People who are prone to anxiety and worry can find themselves self-excluding from groups as a coping strategy.

It becomes easier to manage stress when potential triggers are removed from the equation.

So one possible reason why smart people might prefer to be alone sometimes is that social situations could make that anxiety and worry worse.

It’s more calming to be alone.

10) Other people slow them down

When you are the smartest person in the room, not only do you not need the input of others as much, you might find that they only slow you down.

Having to work with or cooperate with people, not on the same wavelength becomes a hindrance.

It can lead very clever people to become frustrated or impatient with people if they aren’t able to operate or think at the same speed as them.

The problem is that when you’re smarter than everyone else, you might start to feel like you already know more than the people you are with.

Being alone becomes a way to make sure you’re not being slowed down or held back.

11) They don’t always fit in

Along with finding it more challenging to find people on their level, highly intelligent people can be made to feel like the “oddballs” of the group.

By definition, they think differently from the vast majority of people. This can give them certain quirks that the mainstream don’t share.

Any difference within society can quickly lead to ostracizing.

If someone doesn’t fit into a mold, they can feel isolated and even shunned by other people.

People can find the smartest people in society intimidating. They may be less understood by others. This can lead very smart people to feel excluded from the group.

Being different can make it harder to fit in and so feel easier to be alone.

12) They are ambitious

Smart people tend to be driven and motivated.

This can mean that they want to achieve things and get ahead faster than others. But this can also mean that they are willing to put in extra hours to get what they want.

And while some people value the rest and relaxation of socializing, others may see there free time as an opportunity to push themselves further.

Some people will take the extra effort required to succeed because they are so driven. For these people, success means doing whatever it takes to get there.

For the smartest people, their career, ambitions, and goals are more important than going out drinking or “time-wasting” doing nothing in particular.

13) They are independent

Intelligent people often have strong opinions about how things should be done.

While many people would rather go along with the crowd, intelligent people are often unwilling to compromise and natural born leaders.

They might become annoyed when they have to spend time working around another person’s ideas.

They might not understand why anyone would choose to follow someone else’s path.

Because they are so good at thinking logically, they are likely to come up with solutions that no one has thought of before.

As a result, they can even be seen by others as arrogant or self-centered at times. However, they are usually just trying to do what they believe is best.

This strong sense of independence makes them natural lone wolves rather than sheep.

14) They prefer quality connections over quantity

Enjoying being alone does not mean that intelligent people don’t also enjoy being with others or that they are total social recluses.

They usually value connection just as much as anyone.

But their time alone often helps them to value time with others more. Rather than filling their time with just any connections, they tend to have several quality connections.

These valuable relationships are not social fillers that lack depth. Instead of spending time in large groups they prefer to have fewer relationships which they can give more quality time to, and which they find more meaning in.

Their circles may be smaller, but this means they do not get spread too thinly.

They can focus on truly getting to know and understand the people they chose to let into their lives.

15) They don’t worry about missing out

FOMO has become a common expression in modern society.

It’s an anxiety that is created by the thought of missing out on something exciting or interesting that is taking place elsewhere.

Intelligent people tend to be better at focusing on what is happening in front of them and the task at hand.

Their mind is already engaged in the present, which leaves less opportunity for it to wander other places.

That means they are less likely to think about or worry about what other people are up to. They are happy alone spending time on whatever it is they are doing.

They are more likely to feel fulfilled on their own and don’t spend time contemplating what is going on elsewhere.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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