How to Know If and Why You’re an Extreme Introvert

Being introverted can be hard. You may struggle to make friends and wish you could be more social and outgoing. At the same time, you might really enjoy your alone time and don’t understand the hype of big groups or parties.

Being a hardcore introvert comes with unique challenges. This guide will highlight the main signs of being an extreme introvert. We will also discuss the causes of introversion, how you can still make friends, and how to make the most of your quiet time.

You might also like to read our guide to the best books for introverts.

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Signs that you’re an extreme introvert

Being introverted is more than just being quiet around others and needing alone time. If you are very introverted, this personality trait can affect every area of your life.

Here are some common characteristics that extreme introverts share.

1. Alone time is very important to you

Although a lot of people assume that introverts prefer solitude, some emerging research shows that isn’t necessarily true. Instead, it may appear that introverts simply embrace being alone more than extroverts.[1]

Why? Introverts may value dispositional autonomy, which means they enjoy learning about their internal experiences and emotions.[2] Therefore, if you have high levels of this autonomy, it makes sense that you like spending time alone. It gives you a chance to explore yourself and your inner world.

So, even if you don’t necessarily prefer being alone, extreme introverts might have a greater chance of making the most out of that solitary time.

2. You feel little need to be the center of attention

Research shows that extroverts like behaving in ways that attract social attention.[3] This might explain why they tend to talk more and enjoy spending time in large groups.

But introverts aren’t motivated by the same rewards. You might prefer a one-on-one conversation instead of talking in front of many people. And at parties, you probably don’t have the same desire to show off or meet everyone in the room.

3. You might struggle with work meetings

For an extreme introvert, a traditional work meeting may feel overwhelming and uncomfortable.

Extroverts may dominate the conversation. When it comes to leadership, many tasks, like public speaking or leading meetings, seem to favor extroversion.[4]

But in this article by the Harvard Business Review, the author draws attention to the myth that “smart people think on their feet.” She argues that introverted employees tend to make their greatest contributions after they can process appropriate information.

In my clinical experience, many introverts thrive when they can use asynchronous communication. This refers to communication that doesn’t require immediate attention, like:

  • Text messages
  • Emails
  • Online forums
  • Collaborative documents

Extroverts may prefer synchronous communication, which happens when communication happens in real-time (like in face-to-face interactions or phone calls). This article talks in detail about the differences between asynchronous and synchronous communication.

4. You might often feel overstimulated

Loud noises, too many people, flashing colors — all of these can be intense triggers for an introvert. It’s not that introverts are extra sensitive. It’s simply that you might notice all the details that other people typically overlook.

In her book, The Introvert Advantage, Dr. Marti Olsen Laney explains that introverts tend to be more sensitive to dopamine than extroverts. They need less of it to feel satisfied and happy. Extroverts, on the other hand, need more dopamine to feel good. That’s why they may gravitate towards big parties and lots of people.

If you become overstimulated too often, you might feel like you have an emotional hangover. See our main guide on managing introvert burnout.

5. You have entire worlds in your mind

In my clinical experience, I notice that introverts are often creative, and they love daydreaming. Others may recognize this trait, and they might call you “too intense.”

But if you always prefer the world in your mind instead of the real world, you might be an extreme introvert.

Daydreaming can be fun and productive, but it can also become a way to escape reality. Instead of dealing with life and making meaningful relationships, extreme introverts may prefer the comfort of their own imaginations. Of course, this pattern can become problematic when you need to focus on issues in the real world.

6. You might be great at making decisions and delaying gratification

A recent study showed that 40% of introverts do not make impulsive decisions. Additionally, over one-third of introverts do not feel the need to consult other people before making their choice.[5]

While extroverts may double-check and ask for reassurance, 79% of introverts indicate that they use their inner feelings and intuition to guide them. In other words, you probably feel comfortable relying on yourself to make the best choice.

7. You might have been told that you’re unapproachable

The world can be harsh to introverts. Some extroverted people might take your introversion personally, especially if they don’t understand your personality.

They might assume that your quiet demeanor means you are snobby or standoffish. They might also think it’s because you don’t like them.[6]

Unfortunately, this can feel discouraging. If you’re like most introverts, you want close relationships, and you don’t want to cause any waves. But you also don’t want to force yourself to be someone you’re not.

8. You don’t always share your opinions

We live in a society where it seems that everyone voices their opinion without thinking twice about it. The Internet makes it easy for anyone to pretend they’re an armchair expert.

But extreme introverts don’t necessarily have the desire to share their thoughts with the whole world. In fact, you might even prefer staying quiet about how you feel unless someone asks you directly.

If the other person disagrees, you may not feel the need to argue back. Instead, you might choose to listen, observe, and come to a reasonable agreement together.

9. You prefer listening over talking

In my experience, introverts usually make for great listeners.

You’re introspective, analytical, and empathic towards other people. And once you open up to someone, you might feel a deep connection to them. But many times, you prefer to listen and observe instead of sharing your own feelings. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’re guarded. It just means you feel more comfortable being the one who gives support than the one who receives it.

10. You can be loyal to a fault

An extreme introvert may be overly loyal, even when it’s no longer beneficial. For example, you might remain friends with someone who doesn’t treat you very well. Or, you might stay in a relationship just because it’s been comfortable. Of course, this isn’t necessarily because of introversion- it can happen for many reasons, including social anxiety and low self-esteem.

The idea of having to go out and meet someone new, connect with them, and build a relationship seems draining. It often feels more comfortable to keep things the way they are.

Best jobs for extreme introverts

Since we spend so much of our days at work, it’s important that you find a job where you can embrace your introverted personality.

Engineer

Engineering is a well-paying and high-demand job. You’ll probably work with a mix of extroverts and introverts. But many engineering jobs focus on using independent problem-solving skills to solve certain technical problems. In many cases, you will work alone and occasionally touch base with other team members.

IT Specialist

If you enjoy computers, IT specialists are always in demand. You don’t need to talk to many people, but you do need to be skilled in troubleshooting and thinking independently. Many IT specialists can work remotely.

Librarian

Working as a librarian allows you to embrace a quiet space while engaging in some social interaction with others. In this job, you will catalogue books and movies, oversee different library services, and assist with helping patrons find what they need.

Paralegal

If you’re interested in law, working as a paralegal can be a perfect job for an introvert. You will help your attorney with research, organizing files, and preparing legal briefs. Even if you work alongside a team, you’ll spend a good part of your day managing these tasks alone.

Accountant

Every individual and business must keep track of their finances, and accountants assist with taxes and money management. For the most part, you will work alone and consult with clients periodically. Many accountants either work in a firm or remotely.

Social media manager

Although it has the word “social” in the title, this job can be a great option for introverts. Most of the time, you’ll be doing tasks like SEO, PPC campaigns, and creating unique content. This job also tends to be remote, with most communication done online.

Artist/Writer/Creative Professions

If you enjoy creating art, you may want to pursue a creative career. In these jobs, you often work entirely alone. This allows you lots of uninterrupted time to imagine, brainstorm, and create. You may talk to people related to marketing or making sales, but many of these interactions can occur online.

How to be more outgoing and make friends

Introversion isn’t the same as shyness, even though many people confuse the two words.

Shyness is usually a form of social anxiety. You feel nervous that others will negatively judge you, which keeps you quiet and reserved.[11] Introversion refers to needing time to recharge alone.

Some introverted people tend to be very outgoing, and they make friends easily. Because of this, others might think they are extroverted. But they still get drained, and they usually set limits around their social interactions.

If you’re introverted and shy, you will need to learn how to ask people the right questions, get more comfortable with rejection, and change your self-talk. See our main guide that details exactly how to be more outgoing.

Common questions

Am I introverted or is it something else?

Sometimes it can feel like we are introverted when in reality it’s something else. Identify if your extreme introversion could in fact be social anxiety or depression. These symptoms can also lead to isolation.

When is it isolation instead of introversion?

Sometimes, it’s hard to tell which one is which. Are you spending time alone because you enjoy hanging out with yourself? Or, are you alone because you can’t stand other people?

Here are a few ways to tell the difference.

Isolation

You’d almost always rather be alone. You may feel depressed and worry about being a burden to others. But even though you prefer being alone, you struggle with feeling lonely. If others check up on you, you might ignore them or pretend that everything is okay. Unfortunately, this pattern can make you feel more depressed or anxious.[4]

Your isolation can be a short phase. But it can also persist for several months or even years. To get out of it, you need to be willing to interact with others again.

Introversion

You like connecting with others, even if it sometimes tires you out. You have many activities that you enjoy doing alone, but you also enjoy doing many things with family or friends. You can tolerate social settings, although you prefer them to be small. You might be quiet, but that doesn’t mean you don’t care about other people.

Sometimes, you make excuses about why you can’t hang out. But you also try to push yourself to socialize.

Why am I an introvert?

Introversion is on a spectrum. Even though introverts share similar traits, there are different subtypes. For example, it’s possible to be a more social introvert, and it’s also possible to be a more anxious or restrained introvert.

Why am I so introverted?

A study found that introverts and extroverts have important brain differences. Introverts have more blood flow in the regions associated with making plans and solving problems. They also higher levels of brain activity with motor control, learning, and vigilance.[7]

Is it healthy to be an extreme introvert?

Absolutely! It’s okay to enjoy solitude and prefer more intimate communication with others. But it’s important that you understand the differences between introversion and having an underlying mental health issue such as social anxiety.

What does it mean to be asocial?

Asocial people aren’t motivated to seek out social interactions. Being asocial is one of the main symptoms of schizophrenia, depression, autism, and some personality disorders.

Some introverts are asocial. But being truly asocial is relatively rare. Most people crave human interaction. They want to be close to other people, but they might not know how to form those relationships. Or, in the case of introversion, they want connection, but too much interaction (or the wrong kinds of interaction) can be draining.

Can an introvert become an extrovert?

A meta-analysis shows that personalities can change over time, particularly as you get older.[8] It’s possible to become more outgoing and social with others. It’s also possible to make more friends and put yourself out there more often.

Keep in mind that introverts and extroverts also process rewards differently. Extroverts tend to release more dopamine when they get excited.

Therefore, they tend to seek experiences that trigger the dopamine response. Introverts also feel joy, but they experience less dopamine when something exciting happens.[9]

What are the different types of introverts?

Introverts don’t come in a one-size-fits-all package. There are different shades of this personality. This post by Scientific American offers a quiz for each category to help you determine which kind of introvert you might be.

Social introverts

Social introverts enjoy intimate gatherings with people. They just prefer the groups to be small and close-knit. If you’re in this category, you may enjoy activities like meeting up for coffee, having dinner with a few close friends, or going on hikes with someone.

Of all the types of introverts, social introverts tend to be the most outgoing. They don’t feel shy around others, but they do get drained when they’re in social settings for too long. You may have a good amount of friends, but you don’t share much about yourself unless you feel really close to someone.

Thinking introverts

Thinking introverts can sometimes come across as aloof or distracted. That’s because they are often “in their heads.” If you’re a thinking introvert, you spend a lot of time creating, imagining, and storytelling. You enjoy daydreaming and fantasizing, and you also value analyzing the world around you.

Other people might think you’re shy or aloof. But that’s because you’re attuned to your own feelings and experiences. It may feel weird or exhausting to try to explain this to other people.

Anxious introverts

Research shows that anxiety disorders affect nearly 20% of the U.S population.[10]

Anxious introverts often have an anxiety disorder in addition to their introversion. In this case, social interactions can feel uncomfortable and intimidating. You may really want to connect with other people, but you feel nervous. You also become self-conscious if you think others might be judging you.

Anxious introverts are the most likely to become extreme introverts. That’s because your social anxiety might keep you from socializing. Instead of working through this fear, you may avoid interactions and isolate yourself from others.

Restrained introverts

Restrained introverts tend to be more guarded when they first meet people. They read the room before opening up. If you’re a restrained introvert, you don’t like change. You also become uncomfortable if you feel pressured into a specific situation.

Restrained introverts like their routines. Once you do feel safe around other people, you tend to feel comfortable. But you want to know what to expect when spending time with them.

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Viktor is a Counselor specialized in interpersonal communication and relationships. He manages Socialpro’s scientific review board. Follow on Twitter or read more.

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