When a happily single introvert decides not to pursue a relationship, it’s a choice. They are content with being alone.
In their day-to-day lives, introverts deal with misconceptions about their personalities — shy, cold, unfriendly, and awkward are just some of the incorrect “dictionary definitions” of introverts. And for single introverts, those misconceptions can extend to their personal lives.
People may think that single introverts are lonely, or that they’re looking for a relationship. I would like to correct these notions. “Alone” and “lonely” are not synonymous, and introverts understand that difference.
“Alone” means being literally by oneself, as in, “I live alone” or “I’m going on vacation alone.” “Lonely” means feeling sad without the meaningful company of others. Yes, humans do get lonely — including introverts — and connection with others is vital. And yes, it’s possible to be both alone and lonely at the same time.
But it’s also possible to be lonely in a sea of people you don’t know (or when you’re on a date you don’t want to be on). Those are the times when introverts miss the meaningful connection with another human being, or when they just want to go home for some peace and quiet.
Introverts love alone time and need it to recharge. If an introvert is not looking for a relationship and prefers to be single, it’s important for others to respect that.
Misconceptions About Solitude and Singledom
Introverts already face enough of the dreaded word “should” in their day-to-day lives for it to extend to their personal lives. Over the years, for example, I have been told I “should” smile more. “Should” be more outgoing. “Should” speak up.
Add I “should” try this or that dating app, “should” join this or that group for single people, or “should” meet so-and-so’s friend. Introverts, if you are not in a relationship, and don’t want one, please don’t compromise who you are — and waste those precious introvert energy reserves — for something you perceive as a “should.”
When a happily single introvert decides not to pursue a relationship, it’s not because they fear getting out of their comfort zone. It’s because they are content with being alone. And some people — whether introvert or extrovert — can be happy being single, prefer being single, their entire lives. Let’s normalize being on our own and not looking.
When people ask me about my personal life, I politely explain that I’m not looking at the moment, or that it’s not a priority, or I don’t have the emotional space for it. All are true. In response, while some people have fully accepted what I said, I’ve also heard variants of, “Oh, maybe you’ll meet someone,” or “You’ll find someone when you’re not looking.” But what if, at the moment, I don’t want to “find someone” at all? Introverts, being single is not something that needs to be fixed. Just like introversion itself is not something that needs to be fixed.
Could it be nice to be in a relationship? Of course. Plenty of introverts are in happy relationships. But an introvert is not going to force a relationship just for the sake of not being alone. Introverts have limited energy reserves for people, and want their interactions with others — whether dating-wise or otherwise — to be meaningful.
Why Introverts Like Their Own Company
Life as a single introvert can be full of the peace, quiet, and solitude that introverts need. Speaking for myself, I like being alone, and would never want anyone to think of me as lonely. As an introvert, that recharge time is one of the most precious things in my life. The 21st century’s pace is draining on an introvert’s batteries. How could something so crucial to me — almost as important as actual, literal sleep — make me unhappy?
My attitude has inevitably shifted since I moved from my 20s and into my 30s, when I became more comfortable and confident with my introversion, and clearer about what I wanted from life. The older I get, the less weird I feel about it. And I appreciate the benefits of being alone and single, with time entirely on my own schedule to:
- Enjoy a quiet cup of coffee (or two or three)
- Pursue introvert-friendly activities, like cooking, writing, or gardening
- Venture out to a new cafe or restaurant on my own
- Go to a park for a walk and some reading
- Plan a solo weekend trip and go wherever I want to go
- Just think, relax, and listen to my favorite music at home
- Literally dance like nobody’s watching
I like being able to spend an entire quiet Saturday reading, going for walks, and having zero schedule. Could I do that while in a long-term relationship? Absolutely. But I like the way things are right now, and am more comfortable with my introverted ways and solo lifestyle than I’ve ever been. My introverted energy reserves are being put toward other areas of my life right now. If an introvert wants to make emotional space for a relationship, they will, and they will not take that decision lightly.
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What Introverts Would Actually Want in a Relationship… but Only if They’re Looking
Because introverts value — and need — solitude and independence, we will only be happy in a relationship if we are with someone who respects and tries to understand that. Because we spend so much time in our own heads, we still need to feel like ourselves and have the space to recharge.
Introverts need to be with someone who can recognize when their introverted partner needs to leave a room. Who gives them advance notice for an event that could be overstimulating, like a giant family reunion. Who is cool with sometimes making separate weekend plans. Who is willing to compromise, as in, “We’ll spend a couple of hours at the party, then come home and make dinner and watch a movie.”
To be candid, I learned that lesson the hard way and spent too much time thinking about what a relationship “should” be vs. what I actually wanted. Going along for evenings out when I didn’t want to and playing into an image of a “fake extrovert.” Making myself seem less “boring” — yet another misconception about introverts — so that someone else wouldn’t get bored with me. But today, I want people to see me as an introvert. To understand that I am a person who prefers taking solo trips rather than large group (or couples) vacations, who relishes a weekend spent 100 percent alone with zero plans rather than one full of dates. That’s me, no apologies.
The 21st century makes pursuing a relationship both more difficult and easier for introverts. Some introverts may like dating apps because there’s a more distant getting-to-know-you period of chatting ahead of meeting. But some, like me, know that going out and making small talk with a stranger isn’t right for them. I’d rather stay home and read, FaceTime with family or a close friend, go to the movies with a few coworkers, go for a walk or run, put on some music and do chores around the house, or, frankly, go to the dentist. And sure, sometimes starting with small talk is how you get to know someone, but doing that over and over? No, thank you.
And one last note to friends and family of single introverts: Please do not set us up if we don’t want to be set up (and yes, we know when you’re being sneaky about it!). No, we don’t want to meet your friend-of-a-friend, or your cousin’s roommate, or that person you keep running into at the coffee shop. We’re sure they’re very nice, but we’re not interested right now.
Introverts are not averse to relationships. But please respect the happily single introverts. Know that many of us who are single are perfectly content. As very introspective people, we know ourselves well enough to be confident in that choice. Life as a single introvert is not lonely; it’s one in which we value our alone time, appreciate our introverted lifestyle, and are truly comfortable being ourselves.