Are you an introvert or are you antisocial?

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.

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. retina_favicon1

Read this: 8 things you shouldn’t say to an introvert


  • Mark says:

    Seriously? Because society doesn’t make us feel badly enough about ourselves that you need to ask this kind of a question? What’s wrong with YOU? It is exactly these types of ill-informed and, frankly, hurtful articles that have caused me to no longer read this rag.
    There is nothing helpful here, only how society makes us feel badly about ourselves. We don’t need you to tell us that, we know already. Maybe writing something positive on how to deal with a society that does count us among the anti-social outcasts might help, otherwise it ain’t this.

  • 1heartle says:

    I don’t mind being around people, but social interactions are difficult for me. I recently went to lunch with a bunch of my wife’s friends at a crowded Chinese restaurant. Even though I knew them, I still felt shy and wanted to disappear. Weird thing is, after the meal, I became more talkative and participated in the conversation, even cracking jokes that made everyone laugh. I actually had fun, but it took the whole meal for me to get comfortable enough to chat. It might have helped that the kids at the table all zoned out on their phones, ignoring the parents.

    I usually prefer to eat alone with a book. I’m ok with a busy restaurant as long as I have a book. It creates a bubble of safety around me. The lunchroom at work is more challenging. Even if I have my book, some people have no hesitation interrupting my reading and trying to start a conversation. That is very uncomfortable for me, even painful. I often postpone my lunch until the break-room is empty to avoid that situation.

  • Te says:

    OMG,. when you compare introverts to antisocial you are not helping anyone. It would be helpful if you explain how social anxiety is very different from introvert personality.

    • Jenn Granneman says:

      Hi, Te! Certainly many introverts are not antisocial at all, and you are correct that extroverts can be antisocial. Please keep in mind that when the author uses the word “antisocial,” she’s using the more casual definition of the word. She means someone who “consistently avoids the company of others,” not antisocial personality disorder, which is characterized by a lack of consideration for others or wanting to harm others (as you mentioned). This is also very different from social anxiety, which is a disorder that causes someone to have excessive and unreasonable fear of social situations (it’s more than just being nervous around people sometimes). Many introverts do not have antisocial personality disorder nor do they have social anxiety disorder. I hope that helps clear things up!

  • Te says:

    Anti-social behaviours are actions that harm or lack consideration for the well-being of others. Extroverts can certainly be antisocial.

  • mrskristyn says:

    Just my opinion here, but I don’t think the author was writing with any judgment whatsoever. She acknowledged right off the bat that (1) there are all sorts of amalgamations of personalities and temperaments, like introvert/antisocial, introvert/not antisocial, and even extrovert/antisocial… and (2) the way she uses “antisocial” in her article is not meant to imply that introverts have antisocial personality disorder. I think it benefits introverts that a distinction is being made between what amounts to a personality type (introversion) and what is more of a mental/cognitive condition (social anxiety). As someone who happens to have both, I can attest to the differences between the two and took zero offense to this article.

  • M says:

    I don’t understand why some are taking offense to the article? Some people do assume that introverts are anti-social; they confuse the two. The article is clarifying the differences, which is in no way offensive or demeaning to introverts.
    I can’t help but feel that some of he commenters simply want to complain or act offended about something.

  • Chad says:

    I don’t believe in ambiverts, everyone obviously has a preference toward introversion or extroversion. To be an ambivert you would never lose energy from socializing or from being alone. It’s not helpful to anyone to say “I’m an ambivert” because it’s just an excuse not to learn your preference. Obviously some introverts have bigger “batteries” than others, and some extroverts can be alone for longer periods.

    What is the point of this article? To make me feel worse about myself and my anxieties? If there was some advice for “anti-social” people, I could see this as meaningful. However, you’re just calling out some people who a) need help or b) just chose to live that way and telling them there is something wrong with them? Hasn’t that been the point of this blog? To make introverts feel more accepted; where did that ideal go?

    • Antoine, Chad, Mark, ditto.
      I don’t understand either the point of this article. We are introverts, period. Why is there any need to over analyze all this? I hate to pick the phone when I don’t expect a phone call, I would love to live in a quiet place in nature, because the city is driving me crazy, and I don’t find it necessary to share my life with others, although I found another wonderful introvert to get married with. People describe me as wonderful in social interactions, yet I’m certainly not an extrovert. Is this article based on any scientific research? It contradicts anything you have posted about introverts so far. Please…

  • Robin Norris says:

    I think part of the issue with this article is the use of the very negatively loaded term ‘antisocial’.

    I know that I am an introvert. I can enjoy people when I prepare myself for the experience. And, I sometimes crave interaction with another person.

    That said, I feel no strong drive to be part of a couple. Been there, done that (for 20 years). I’m at the stage of my life where I know who I am and what brings peace and joy to my life. I do not ‘need’ someone to share my life with, whether it be sharing a home or not. I am aware of several long term relationships where the partners life separately. If I were to get involved in a romantic relationship, I cannot imagine sharing a home again. In order to be mentally healthy and fully functional, I need a regular retreat to a space that is wholly mine.

  • Antoine says:

    Hmmmm, I’m not sure if it’s “right” at all …
    I mean, I’ve always been a very deep introvert, and a lot of those things here that fits me are described as “antisocial”.
    I’m not antisocial ! I’m not sick ! Of course I dumped my cellphone, don’t like crowds, need “space”, living in a very rural area, do not need special companionship, blah blah blah … but I get along very well with people, have friends, family, contacts … and I have no problem with that … !
    It’s more like … a type of lifestyle, you know ?

    I’m sorry, I don’t really get the point of this article and the fact that there’s a comparison between introvert & antisocial …

  • Eben Macintosh says:

    Well I guess I’m antisocial. That sucks.

  • Micah B says:

    Hi, just wanted to provide some education from your friendly neighborhood Therapist. I would like to thank those who correctly pointed out that anti-social means “against society” and is what we think of with psychopathy or sociopathy. Folks with antisocial traits do not have empathy or remorse, and use people for their personal gain. Using “antisocial” to incorrectly label introverted traits does them a *huge* disservice– please stop and use “asocial” or “not social” or “selectively social” or “socially avoidant” which describe the introvert’s plight. Putting “antisocial personality” in an article that actually describes introverted traits, and possibly schizotypal traits, is confusing. Thanks!

  • JD says:

    Ugh, why do we have so many made up labels? Our brains just love to compare and contrast and put people into categories, but where is the heart? I just feel bad for the person who reads this and puts themselves in the anti-social category and then thinks there is something wrong with them. I wish we as a society would stop trying to separate ourselves from others and realize we are made from one energy, expressed uniquely, no better, no worse.

  • As a very introverted introvert who truly loves people but is quickly exhausted by social interaction, I found this article deeply painful to read. This beautiful website, “Introvert, Dear”, is a place where I travel often to feel nurtured and understood. This is the only article on this site that did the opposite, making me feel alienated and alone. The facts are stated inaccurately (many normal introverted traits are implied to be abnormal “antisocial” traits) and the tone seems condescending to me. I’m sure that this was not the author’s intention; I believe that all of the lovely people who write for this site do so with the motivation of helping others. Unfortunately, this article could use more editing and some added empathy.

  • Heather says:

    I am a strong introvert
    I am a strong loner
    However, I am not antisocial

    Loner is different again

  • Nat says:

    Why people get offended by the article. It simply explains that introvert people don’t have any social issue.

  • I would just like to point out a few things to the people that complained about this article because they clearly did not read it, or they read it but did not understand it.
    First, Mark. You sound like you just read the title, wrote a comment and left. Did you even read the article? The author clearly states that you can be a social introvert and, as far as I could tell, she said nothing negative about either introverts or antisocial people.
    Second, Te. Clearly you only read the title as well. Nowhere does the author mention social anxiety anywhere in the article in comparison to introversion. Also, if you had bothered to read the article you would see that she is comparing social introverts to antisocial introverts, and not once does she compare introverts to an antisocial behavior disorder like what you tried to claim in your second comment. In fact the author explains very clearly in the second paragraph what she means by antisocial.
    Third, Chad. At no point does the author say anything about being introverted or being antisocial as having something wrong with you. She is just comparing what I see as the positive traits of both social and antisocial introverts.
    Fourth, Eirini Koutelaki. The author only mentions antisocial extroverts as an example. The rest of the article is comparing the traits of a social introvert and an antisocial introvert. As she very clearly explains, you can be an introvert and still enjoy interacting with others. There is no over-analyzing here, there are just two types of introverts that the author recognizes and then compares.
    Fifth, Antoine. Like many other people who skimmed, instead of reading, the article, you missed the second paragraph. The second paragraph clearly states that the use of antisocial in the article has no connection to the antisocial personality disorder.
    Sixth, Micah B. This is an instant where connotation and context matters. The author clearly states in the second paragraph that she will not be using the standard definition of antisocial, and then goes on to describe the connotation she is using for it. If it bothers you that much, change every antisocial to loner and it will read the same. *I am aware that some would be offended by my use of loner.*
    Seventh, JD. I read this and happily put myself in the antisocial introvert category. I see nothing wrong with wanting to be alone most of the time and not have to talk to or see people for days, weeks, or even months at a time.
    Eighth, Rebekah Witherspoon. I did not detect a condescending tone in the article. The author was not trying to alienate you, but rather help you narrow down where you belong. The traits were not inaccurately labeled either. The author took typical introvert traits (such as recharging via small groups or by being alone), and separated them into two subcategories, the social introvert (recharging via small groups) and the antisocial introvert (recharging by being alone).
    Ninth, Heather. Just replace the word antisocial with loner and the article will say the same thing, but using your word for an antisocial introvert, aka loner.

    To sum up a few things, I read through the four questions and answers and each time my answer was the same as the antisocial introvert’s answers. If anyone who was complaining had bothered to read the first few paragraphs, they would have seen that the article was not, in fact, comparing introverted people to antisocial personality disorder people. Nor is it saying that you may not be introverted, but antisocial. This article is comparing tow types of introversion, social and antisocial, and the author at no point uses antisocial to mean the personality disorder, but rather a loner-esque subcategory of the great introvert personality type of which we are all a part of.

    Thank you Nat, M, Mrskrystyn, and Jenn Granneman for being the voices of reason in this comment thread.

  • Mick G says:

    There is nothing wrong with being an introvert. Actually in the modern age people think they are very social when in reality they are not. Posting on Facebook is not a social activity. When you are young you are pretty much forced to have “friends” because you go to school and mostly come from the same socioeconomic background. Then as you grow older things happen in peoples lives. Your friends get married and spend most of their time with their spouses and then families, people move away, people die and people make different amounts of money. All of these factors factor into the equation of being an “introvert” or “antisocial”.

    I will give an example of what I am talking about and how it relates to what was written. When I was younger in my 20’s and 30’s I always felt like I had too many friends. I questioned which of these friends were “real” friends and which were more acquaintances even though I might spend more free time with them. People had kids at a young age and you become the cool aunt or uncle and then you realize that you have to have “social time” with their whole clan. The spouse and kids. The only “alone” time you get with your friend is when you are in the yard or the car. There isn’t a chance that you can take a vacation with your friend, they have their family now. You drift apart. Then basically people move all over the world and on rare occasion you go and visit them. The same thing, you end up spending most of your time with their spouse and kids. You realize that you could of went on a great vacation to somewhere else by yourself and had a great time because usually by the second day of screaming kids you realize that spending your vacation time with friends from your youth sucks. People die, that ones self explanatory and then there is the I make more in a year then most of my friends make in 10.

    That will destroy friendships. You are smart, have picked a successful path in life and you have friends who are struggling. The quickest way to lose friends or even family members is to lend them money. It actually might not even mean that much to you but to them they think that every time you contact them you are going to ask for payment. The thing is you are not. They start ducking you. It ticks you off. You think this person and I would still be close if I hadn’t lent them money.

    Then you hit your 50s. You are well off. you waited a little while to get married and have kids. You have your own family and spouse and realize that you are pretty content. The kids are grown, out on their own paths and maybe one of them is following in your footsteps. Your spouse is the only friend you need. Your get labeled antisocial because while you don’t look down upon people my take is if I haven’t communicated with you for 20 or more years then there was probably a reason for that. Does that make me antisocial? Does it make me an introvert? My opinion is NO. I am perfectly content with my hobbies, watching a movie or even walking the dogs. I speak with my neighbors on friendly terms but do not consider them friends. They are neighbors. Friendly but not friends.

    There is no textbook for life. You live it and for some reason if you don’t conform to society norms you get labeled. I really don’t have the time for social networks, Facebook is lame IMO and LinkedIn is a lot less useful then it comes across as. If I want to see how you are doing I’ll call you or Email you. I don’t go on Facebook, many people I know have closed their accounts. I don’t care what you had for breakfast, I have things to do and a life to live.

    I’m not saying I’m Einstein but he was labeled an introvert and antisocial. If that’s the company I’m in, is that so bad? The same goes for those who read this and think they are antisocial or introverted. Guess what? You are 100% normal, sometimes a label is just a label.

  • Matt says:

    I for one loved this article. It’s reassured me that I am not anti social, and in fact I am just an introvert. I just wish the people around me understood and didn’t always call me rude or antisocial of some days I do enjoy spending on my own.

  • I don’t understand why there’re people offending this article. The author was just simply differentiate the two terms. Maybe you already knew it, but it doesn’t mean everyone else does. I am an introvert and I know I’m not antisocial, but before I acknowledged my introversion, I did thought I was antisocial. There are heaps of people think the same way. Did you even read the article? or just comment base on someone else’s?

  • jisoo says:

    i dont know whether im introvert or not. but somehow i hate being labeled. i think im more blunt but even so i dont like people call me that too. i just tell truth and people hate it. did i need to fake a laugh when its not funny and sometime they thought its funny how i responded. once my friend made a lame joke about a cow, and i just unintentionally asked someone to pass food at that time since we are having dinner, and they laughed at my responded instead of that joke. they thought i was giving a cold responded to her jokes. and the “joke maker” start to hate me saying im bloody cold and rude. people start to be afraid of me. but it made me more stress when i act indifferent toward her action. shes hating me even more. we arent that close before but when im hanging with my friends and theres her and her gang. i dont want to make enemy tho. if im faking friendly, u can probably see its so fake and awkward and sometime seem mean. thats even worse. how should i acted? why cant people just understand, im tired..

  • Robert Rivera says:

    I’m a hybrid of both.

  • ButtChee says:

    I’ve always wanted to be part of a good group of friends and I always want have close relationships, but I’ve always been socially awkward and so I’ve never been able to be part of a group of friends and I’ve lost almost all of my best friends at some point. As of right now, I have one best friend, my girlfriend. Everyone else, I’m pretty sure only thinks of me as a passing acquaintance. I prefer not to meet up with people because of this, I know/feel they probably think I’m too bland. I’m always a wallflower and I don’t know how to change it. I just have the hardest time trusting people. I get easily exhausted going to an outing with people because I have to front. I can’t get myself to open up, so I’m always robotic. I only text people back when I feel like I can do it or I am in a social mood, otherwise I just don’t feel like it. It takes a long time for me to respond to people and I always feel obligation before my desire. I mostly prefer to stick to myself, but it can be lonely, I want friends, to feel like a valuable part of something, and I know you must be social to make it in this world. :/

    Where does that put me? Am I just mildly anti-social? Am I antisocial with an exception to not wanting to always be alone? but I think that’s a basic human need, so I guess I am just antisocial.