8 reasons why people with complex personalities are so easily misjudged

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Straightforward people are usually the easiest to understand.

They’re simple, and I don’t mean that as an insult. I just mean there’s not too much to try to figure out about them.

Complex personalities on the other hand aren’t always so clear-cut. They can leave people unsure.

And when we’re unsure, it’s very easy to misunderstand.

That means people with complex personalities are often easily misjudged.

What is a complex personality?

Before we dive into the reasons why people with complex personalities are so easily misjudged let’s briefly clarify what we mean by “complex”.

Whilst there isn’t a technical definition, as the name suggests, it’s someone who operates on lots of levels.

There is a depth to their character, and that depth incorporates many different rich elements.

You may be:

  • Very sensitive
  • A deep thinker
  • Highly creative
  • Very intelligent
  • Incredibly curious

But with every yin, there is a yang, and complex personalities also have their challenges along with their blessings.

They are often a consequence of the exact same traits that make them so interesting and profound.

At times you might fall into overthinking things, which can bring anxiety or worry. Perhaps you feel things too deeply and can become overwhelmed by emotions.

In fact, these occasionally contradictory qualities can be one of the things that others don’t get.

10 reasons why people with complex personalities are so easily misjudged

1) Because you can seem like a contradiction

Here’s the thing:

Life itself is often a bit of a contradiction.

There’s a whole wide range of things that co-exist together, sometimes that seem at odds with one another.

And complex people are sort of like that.

They may crave deep connection, whilst seeking solitude at the same time.

They may be loud and the life and soul of the party one day, and quiet and reserved the next.

They may be a stickler for the rules over some things, and then show their rebellious streak over other things.

In short: they’re complicated and that can feel like a contradiction.

Not everyone is going to understand that.

It can mean you’re misjudged as people struggle to get their heads around what makes you tick.

Just when they think they have you figured out, you seem to change.

2) You’re a puzzle they can’t figure out

It’s an unfortunate reality that anything that people don’t understand may end up being misjudged.

We’ve actually evolved to quickly judge one another.

Human beings are experts at trying to get a read on each other.

It was a survival tactic that helped keep us safe to make split decisions about who we can trust.

In fact, you might be shocked to hear that research shows it takes us about one-tenth of a second to form an opinion on someone we’re meeting for the first time.

Sounds kind of ridiculous, right?

And it seems what they say is true, you only get one chance to make a first impression.

Because we apparently spend the remainder of our conversation looking for reasons to justify our initial hunches about someone.

You can blame our cognitive biases for that one.

But as we’ve just seen in the point above, complex people aren’t so easy to get an instant read on.

That can mean that when people’s first impressions of you aren’t accurate or true to your full character.

3) Your introversion can be misread as standoffish

You’re not aloof, you are simply introverted.

And let’s be clear:

Introversion does not mean that you are anti-social. It simply refers to people who tend to be more inward-focused.

In contrast, extroverts focus their energy outwards.

As a consequence, introverts often need a lot of alone time. They enjoy being with their thoughts and contemplations.

They also need more time to process social interactions, because an introvert’s brain is actually wired differently.

Sadly, it’s not something people always understand when they aren’t introverts themselves.

Despite there being an estimated 25-40% of people in the world who are introverts, it’s still an extrovert’s world

I’ve often been misread as being rude because of my introversion.

Especially as I don’t fit the stereotypical image people can have of how an introvert behaves.

We still mix up being shy with being introverted, even though they are really not the same thing.

So because I’m chatty and can be outspoken, people assume I am extroverted.

But that means when my battery runs out and I shut down in social situations, I’m viewed as being impolite or closed off.

The bottom line is that we don’t know how people are really feeling inside, and that causes us to make assumptions about them.

4) You can be emotionally and intellectually intense

I’m not going to sugarcoat it:

Complex personalities can be intense.

That’s sort of the deal. There is a trade-off. You cannot have depth without intensity.

You feel a varied range of rich emotions and thoughts when you have a complex personality.

At times you might notice that’s a lot to handle, even for you. Well, it can be a lot to handle for others too.

That certainly doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

The truth is that the most fascinating people in life can be the most challenging at times.

More simple people are always going to be easier to navigate, whilst complex people can feel like a handful.

Personally, I find it difficult to connect with people if they’re not a complex mess of mixed emotions and thoughts — because I most certainly am.

So I seek fellow complex characters out.

That way we can sit around together contemplating the meaning of life and delving into the mysteries of the Universe.

…Whilst intermittently chilling out and watching Netflix of course (even complex personalities need downtime).

But I’m aware that for some people I’m just “too much”.

Anyway, my point is that it’s less about wrong or right and more about us finding like-minded people who we click with.

5) You are on a different wavelength from some people

Perhaps you’ve seen it said:

‘Your vibe attracts your tribe’.

Ok, it’s a little cheesy, but there’s truth in it.

I like to think of personalities as radio waves (bear with me for this analogy!).

But we’re all operating on different frequencies and are tuned in to different wavelengths. 

The complex and multifaceted sound waves of a complex personality just cannot be heard by some.

They’re listening to another station.

The reality is that in such a diverse world, we’re not going to get everyone.

They cannot understand your experiences, or where you’re coming from (and probably you can’t understand theirs either).

And that’s a recipe for misjudging one another.

6) You suck at small talk so might seem socially awkward at times

It’s actually pretty common for complex people to feel like they don’t fit in.

When you operate in a different way, have different interests, and a different focus you may feel like you’re misunderstood.

Particularly when you’re in big groups, this might become even more obvious to you.

Working a room isn’t always a skill that comes naturally to complex personalities.

Meeting lots of people at once can be overwhelming to your senses, and you might struggle with small talk.

Whilst you’re capable of having long and in-depth conversations about things that interest you, making polite chit-chat can feel almost painful.

Because it doesn’t light you up.

7) People mistake your independence for being a loner

Complex people are often incredibly autonomous.

They’re naturally inward-focused as we’ve seen. They’re independent thinkers. And they enjoy spending time alone and doing their own thing.

Even independence, whilst being generally valued by society, can still be disparaged.

Too much independence can be seen as being awkward or selfish — particularly when you don’t automatically go along with everyone else.

If you are the independent type then you may be seen as a bit of a loner, when really you’re just not a sheep.

Maybe you don’t feel as though you need company in quite the same way as others crave it. 

But that certainly doesn’t mean you don’t value strong and deep connections.

You just prefer not to waste your time on shallow or superficial relationships.

8) What you present to the outside world, doesn’t always accurately reflect what’s going on inside

I started this article by explaining how the contradictions of a complex personality can make you appear a bit like Jekyll and Hyde at times.

But what’s also true is that the image you present at any given time to someone isn’t necessarily going to be a full reflection of what’s going on for you underneath the surface.

Complex personalities can be more naturally prone to mental health struggles. They can over-analyze the smallest of details.

Sometimes their thoughts can be overwhelming at times.

And someone looking from the outside isn’t going to see all of that. They’re misjudging you on very limited information.

To conclude: I’ve learned to seek out people who value my complexities

As we say in the UK, you’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea.

It’s a fact of life.

Sometimes that can feel painful. But the truth is that I wouldn’t wish away the complexities that make me who I am.

I value those things about me, even if they do present their own challenges occasionally.

And what I’ve learned is that there are plenty of others who value it just as much.

They don’t like me in spite of my complex character but because of it.

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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