You like spending time alone, so does that mean you’re antisocial? Maybe—but probably not. There are many possibilities: you could be an introvert who is also antisocial, an introvert who is not antisocial, or an antisocial extrovert. Another option is you could fall more on the other end of the spectrum—you like spending time alone, but you’re an ambivert, which means you exhibit qualities of both introversion and extroversion.
However, there are distinct differences between an introvert and an antisocial personality. Keep in mind I’m not talking about antisocial personality disorder, which is characterized by a pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of other people. When I say antisocial, I mean people who consistently avoid the company of others. (This is distinctly different than having social anxiety.)
Many people mistakenly think that introversion and being antisocial are synonymous — but that’s not true. How can you tell the difference between the two? It’s simply a matter of asking the right questions. Below are four questions that can help you tell the difference.
Question 1: Do I answer my phone when it rings?
Introverts are okay with initiating contact with people and have no problem arranging the occasional lunch date or meeting. Introverts enjoy the company of others, they just need more control over their schedules in regards to who they meet, how many people they meet, and when they are meeting. They also need plenty of time after socializing to recharge alone. The antisocial person, however, doesn’t call or text because they avoid initiating contact with anyone. An antisocial personality doesn’t need an unlimited talk and text cellular plan. They could easily get by with a prepaid phone.
What’s your personality type? We recommend this free personality test from our partner Personality Hacker.
Question 2: Do people see me as friendly?
Lots of introverts have great social skills. They gravitate toward conversations about abstract ideas and are quick to philosophize. They just take time to warm up to others because they despise small talk. They prefer passionate conversations that nurture deep relationships. However, the antisocial person gives off more of a misanthropic vibe. An antisocial personality may even come across as abrasive, unfriendly, or completely guarded.
Question 3: Can I thrive even when surrounded by people?
Even when an introvert is surrounded by people—say, in a coffee shop or on a crowded city street—they still feel a sense of autonomy within the crowd. They find the balance of privacy and participation alluring. For the introvert, it’s often not the presence of people that’s draining but rather the social interactions. Antisocial people, on the other hand, may have trouble thriving in urban environments or settings with other people. They need their space. The antisocial personality needs both emotional and physical space. Antisocial personalities may prefer living in bucolic, rural areas.
Question 4: Do I long for someone in my life?
Companionship is another way to understand if you’re an introvert or antisocial. For the introvert, a desire for a significant other or close friend is a key to living a fulfilled and happy life. Introverts may be selective about who they let into their life, and they won’t need as much “social time” as extroverts. They may also spend plenty of time alone. But for the introvert, occasional companionship is mandatory. An antisocial person would beg to differ. The antisocial personality does not see companionship as a necessity. They prefer to be left alone, only interacting with others when it’s absolutely necessary.
How do you see yourself? Let me know in the comments below or post about it on the community forum.
Read this: 8 things you shouldn’t say to an introvert