What Makes a Person an Introvert?
Before I get into anything, let me be clear in my definitions here. Asocial behavior is behavior to leads to one becoming isolated and generally NOT WITH other humans. ANTI-social behavior is a different beast altogether. That's what serial killers and serial abusers are crafted from.
So, asocial means withdrawn from society. Anti-social means (oftentimes violently) against humanity. Anyway...
Introversion: What is it? Who has it? Is it like a disease or something?
Every philosopher, psychologist, and psychiatrist has taken a crack at this question. Sigmund Freud coined the term “introvert” to describe one of the traits associated with narcissism. In Freud’s view, introverts were neurotics who had taken “a turn from reality to phantasy [sic].” Now everyone loves to quote Freud because almost everything he ever said was controversial in one way or another. The problem with Freud is that the vast majority of his theories were baseless and not provable, and remain so today.
Who else has a fun opinion of Introversion? Two psychiatrists Costa and McCrae developed the famous Big 5 Personality Inventory. And even more recently, have drawn introversion into a six-faceted animal. Warmth, Gregariousness, Assertiveness, Activity Level, Excitement Seeking, and Positive Emotions. These six, combined, aggregate a person's level of introversion.
What this is trying to show is that there can be a gregarious, thrill-seeking introvert. Though typically, introverts tend to prefer solitude and the general monotony of life, to the ups and downs of extreme behaviors. These facets are also the facets of humanity, in that anyone can express them, and that included introverts.
But what REALLY makes a person an introvert? Most theorize it's a mix of biological and environmental. Say, your father is a quiet, reserved man who is well liked by everyone, but your mother is a thrill seeking maniac who goes to a different club every night, and gets in fights with all the neighbors over nothing. Put aside the point that they're married.
Think. How would their child turn out? Children tend to fluctuate between which parents they like the most, or identify with the most, even into the early adult years. Children effectively 'try on' various personalities and by seeing what they do at home, at school, and later, at work, they start to figure themselves out. It's a long, arduous process, and it begins at birth and ends at death.
My Son or Daughter is an Asocial Introvert, What Do I Do?
I'm glad you're here. As I am one of those people. I am an introvert. I am calm, reserved, reticent at times, thoughtful, and conscientious as well. I can also be gregarious and just as loving as anyone else. But most often, like your son or daughter, you'll see tendencies that look "unhealthy" or "abnormal".
Society has a list of words that it uses to describe those who can't or don't conform with the status quo. If you think you're being original by calling us unhealthy or abnormal, I recommend a thesaurus.
By creating an artificial distance between yourself and your loved one due to their introversion is like to create resentment on both sides of the table. They will dislike you because you fail to understand their actions, and possibly because they feel pressured to inherit family traits, or the family business.
You may feel resentment toward them because they're seemingly throwing their talents and their life away and not really acclimating to society. Both sides are understandable.
But there's a reason that the child is behaving that way.. Either they didn't receive enough love or attention as a child (that's one common theory) or they just tried out several ways of behaving and found that particular set of actions to be preferable..
Whatever the case, Introverts are driven by different means than extraverts. Extraverts may thrive on how other's see them, or by getting formal commendations at work, but introverts have an internal value system that they strive to keep in line with.
So, when a parent tells their introvert child that they're failing, they may not see it that way. They may be succeeding in areas that are just insignificant and altogether pointless in your eyes. And the same can be said for the opposite situation. An introverted father may see his extraverted daughter striving to be the most popular girl in school, and see her selling out her soul, one commitment after the next, and he wishes that he understood what could possibly drive that kind of behavior.
Do your best to understand. Have genuine conversations. Be ready to yell and scream, but don't ever give up on your child.
Introverts Need Happiness Just as Much as Extraverts
They need love, and fulfillment and success too. But some of our isolating tendencies and brusque demeanor leave other people thinking "Can this person really be worthwhile to society?"
The sad answer is, not always. When you stare into the abyss long enough, you may find that the abyss stares right back at you. Isolation, avoidance, flattened-affect, and many of the characteristics of hardcore introverts tend to be correlated with being absent from certain life events that generally provide happiness and contentment. Skipping prom is fine. Never having a girlfriend/boyfriend is not. Drawing the line between being a useless social outcast, and thriving and succeeding with your unique talents are literally the two sides to the halberd that comes to bash your head in. Makes perfect sense.
An Appeal to You Introverts
Find happiness, in whatever context it means to you. Find success, even if it's in a video game. Find a friend or two whom you can trust entirely. Tell them your feelings, tell them your hopes and dreams. Don't become entirely alone. Don't cloister yourself so much that you forget who you are, or start to become delusional about the outside world.
Yes, on every street there is a jerk, a wife-beater, a pedophile, and maybe even a murderer. But even those types of people are worth getting to know. Everyone is struggling with something right now, and it goes a long way when someone opens up their own shell to understand what makes another individual happy or sad.
Create connections. You can do that online too. Make sure that if you drop off the grid entirely, that you at least have one person to pull you back out from inside the abyss.
If you're lucky, find a woman/man who isn't prone to the same flaws as you. Help them with their shortcomings, and they'll help you with yours. That's what marriage is.
In short, live another day, because tomorrow is full of infinitely possibilities, both good and bad, glorious, and devious.
My Boyfriend/Girlfriend is an Introvert, What Do I Do?
Thankfully, I was extremely fortunate in this regard. I met my wife in a video game of all places. Yes, you heard me. An MMORPG too. She was a quiet, shy girl who just really seemed to open up while kicking my character's behind in duels. I got to know her over the course of several months before asking her to move across the country and live with me. She's a hardcore introvert just as myself, but this isn't always the case. Not to mention, an introvert being attracted to extraverts and the opposite is very often the case.
I know from my own ventures in dating, that the glowing socialite of an extravert can be the most attractive. Wheeling and dealing conversations like it's nothing; ah, it's a bit like envy. They have what I do not. I can stomach social interaction if there's a clear goal in mind, but some of the women I fell for had an unending appetite for it.
What do you do with a potential significant other who has a different appetite for socializing than yourself? Try to understand. If possible, delve into their childhood even and find out what makes them swing toward one end of the spectrum versus the other. How do they *feel* when out in public? What exactly is the sensation they get when walking into a pub that they have yet to explore? Is it dread, or quite possibly excitement at getting a chance to meet some new folks. Humans are interesting people, there can be no doubt, and it's our duty to understand our partners for who they are and how they might meet their needs.
I have met a few extraverts who are absolutely petrified of one-on-one interaction. One girl I knew refused to meet with anyone this way. Meet at a coffee shop for a chat? Nope. Refuse. Study in the library together? Absolutely not. Bowling with twelve people and then a rowdy bar crawl afterward? Sure. Let's do it. I never once saw her with less than two people, and in my eyes it made it hard to get to know her. For each person involved, the obstacles to deep and meaningful conversation increase. Even after years, I never really felt like I knew her. That's how she wanted it, even after I received a "yes" to a first date from her. It was a double date, of all things, which is just barely at my people limit. While it was an enjoyable time, I didn't feel much of a connection since there was another couple there as well.
While we didn't end up together, I still marvel at her ability to bounce from one conversation to another with seamless grace and a dearth of awkwardness. Don't scorn what you don't understand. Just try to keep talking :)
Introverts Come in All Shapes and Forms
They are politicians, doctors, janitors, scientists, speechwriters, and comedians. Introversion is just a way of life, but it's also flexible. Given the right scenario, I'd be willing to jump out of a plane, or travel to italy, or go shopping in a mall, or attend a dance, or go to a party. There are very few things that are absolutely entirely on my "will never do" list, because I know that being fulfilled in life isn't just about getting along with myself, it's about finding a few other brave soldiers to assist you in your endeavors, and perhaps one who you may want to spend the rest of your life with.
Helpful tip: Don't keep an introvert in a loud nightclub all night, bad things will happen. And conversely, don't keep an extravert in solitary for too long. While I thrive on silence, most do not.
And remember, both introverts and extraverts have enormous amounts of overlap when it comes to daily activities. It's not night and day different. I'm saying this because you may have a coworker or even a friend who may be an introvert and you may not even realize it because they are so acclimated to their limits in social contexts that they may produce results in situations that are on-par with even the best of extraverts. Now, if you see this friend always ducking out early from parties, you've got your answer ;) They've had their fill, and now they're going back to their bat-lair for some peace and tranquility.
If you've learned anything from this, it's that stigmas are created by idiots with too many words on their lips, and that the truth is most often obscured. Do try to find it.
© 2014 Alistair
Christopher Fowler on January 30, 2020:
So, asocial means withdrawn from society. Anti-social means (oftentimes violently) against humanity?
I beg to differ from this statement... I believe that violent crime offenders are more likely to be anti-social people, but the majority of anti-social people are not violent.
Artemis J Smiley from Texas on September 01, 2018:
I've known for a long while now that I'm an introvert. Also, for a long time, I thought of myself as "antisocial". I now know that I was wrong about the later --I'm "asocial".
As for friendships and being social, I do have a few close friends and I can be quite sociable, especially when at work. It just takes time for me to become comfortable enough with others before I reach that stage. In fact, some people have thought I am shy because I rarely initiate conversation; however, if a person starts talking to me I'll communicate with them. It's not that I'm standoffish, I'm just observing and getting acclimated to the environment.
"I'm an observer. Some people take it as being antisocial. I just have to see what the crowd is like before I open up." (Author unknown)
At the end of the day, though, I relish my solitude. I need that quiet time to "recharge" for my next excursion into society. During that time I read for entertainment, or to learn something about a subject(s) I'm curious about or in which I'm interested. (And that has made me an veritable encyclopedia of useless knowledge.) I rarely watch television and, my family might say, spend too much time on the internet. But in my defense, I'm inquisitive by nature and the internet is a window to the world. Information about anything is at my fingertips.
Keisha on May 25, 2018:
The part about an introvert making a friend or two
I know it was coming from a good place
But a asocial-introvert
It’s definitely not a couple of letters that make the sentence
It’s like asking to climb Mount Everest naked...
In some sense
Beautiful work nonetheless =p
Paul on March 24, 2018:
Great to see your points on asocial introverts. I realised I am one. As you pointed out I can have done just about everything you can do in life but if I had a choice I choose peace and quiet and a limited number of friends and social interaction.
More importantly people tend Tim right off introverts as not as valuable - but the opposite is true - we are able to view the world more honestly from our bubble but as you pointed out make sure you don’t stray to far from the realities of the world.
Mina on December 24, 2017:
If someone is an introvert, are they automatically asocial? Is there a level of how much a person can be an introvert before they can be considered an asocial?
Eunice on September 09, 2017:
All my life , I have been on the reserved side. I enjoy my own company too much I am not afraid to speak up when I have a point to make though I listen more than Talking and I am most productive when I go solo. I do find people's company enjoyable, it's the extended companionship I have problems with. I go to parties and absolutely enjoy it but I Am usually among the first people to leave. To the category I belong, I do not know.
Kayla on December 08, 2016:
Wow, everything you said about introverts completely relates to me, sadly.
I was a child that was always surrounded by traumatizing events. Witnessed my dad choke my big sister and put a knife to her throat. I was only 6 at that time and wasn't in a stable home with food on the table everyday. I've come really far from lashing back at teachers and students, to opening my ears and understanding them. I'm diagnosed with past-trauma-stress.
So I'm usually depressed and anxious and if someone tries getting close to my heart, I turn them away.
I'm a survivor though, and I do try finding happiness in small events like fuck, just getting a hug from one of my friends will keep my groove on.
My outlet is drawing and listening to music. People say I have a gift with my art skills but man they don't even know the bull I went through to gain these skills.
And there's a guy I like, he's kind and he's smart too. Giving me advice to survive highschool and boosting my self esteem when we hangout with my sister and her crew. He's great but he's an extrovert and I feel like we won't have much in common. I'm terrified of falling in love because I never got the loving I needed in the beginning. He's got some of his life together while all I do is lay in my bat-lair on my phone every time I get off from school. Today I'm not sure how I'm going to get my shit together. Maybe next year when I'm old enough to get a job I can start from there and work my way up.
Thanks for this article it helps me
See what I have to work on for the better.
Rae on November 23, 2016:
I was with you up until you stated that "skipping prom is fine... never having a boyfriend/gf is not". That's where you lost me, I am 100% asocial introvert to the core, I've talked to guys but never had a serious boyfriend and I'm not missing out on anything. I'm actually strongly considering becoming a mother via IVF and running off into the sunset with my two kids- sans husband. I don't like the idea that everyone "needs" a significant other, I highly enjoy and very secluded life of solitude, with very little social outings and I'm still a happy, healthy addition to the world around me. Asociality and introversion are just one aspects of the many unique personality traits we each can have-- there's also things like asexuality, or sapiosexuals ect. This is such a broad topic you can't put everyone that's asocial into boxes.
not76 on July 26, 2016:
Quote from article, "idiots with too many words on their lips, and that the truth is most often obscured"... Ha, one of the things that makes me an introvert is the dislike of those idiots avoiding and obscuring: the extroverts. Or as Balkesh posted "it could be because your meeting is a lot of talk about talking or some other nonsense." An extrovert speak to hear themselves and an introvert speaks when it has value in my experience.
Anyways that's a good article for an extrovert to learn a little something. Sadly judging by the votes only 3% of people reading are extroverts. I'm not surprised as they don't learn, they just already know everything, right or wrong.
Asocial is part of being a reasonably intelligent introvert, I think. Too much thinking going on, too much actually seeing whats going on. It's hard to tolerate nonsense and lies, hard to tolerate society when you see how dysfunctional it is. I had to convince myself to just accept how people are to not be anti-social. Appreciate the good parts and let the rest go.
I think the majority of people are neither classification, they are just well rounded.
TPF on October 12, 2015:
I'm introverted and trying to find out more about asocial personality types. It seems the two are related but necessarily the same. The description for an asocial type fits me, but I'm not anti-social. I haven't found much written about asocial personalities and would appreciate suggestions.
Joy on January 13, 2015:
While these are all terrific ponits, as a person who vollies back and forth between extrovert and introvert, being singled out in a meeting for your opinion is a fate worse than death. Even though I tend to be more reserved, I always speak up if I feel like I have something valuable to add. If I had a boss that constantly put me on the spot, that would certainly make for a challenging work environment.
Balkesh on January 13, 2015:
I agree with Erica. I am an introvert, all the way. That does not eauqte with being shy . I am absolutely not afraid to speak up if I have something to add to the conversation, which I often do, as I spend more time listening than talking and can distill things to a point where my contribution can be short, efficient and sweet . Calling on me in a meeting would be completely counterproductive, in fact, it would make me pretty angry as it would be obviously manipulative. If I have something to say, you WILL hear about it. If I don't, it could be because your meeting is a lot of talk about talking or some other nonsense.