Introverts Don’t Hate People, They Hate Shallow Socializing introvert shallow socializing

I like to make jokes about how much I hate people. As an introvert, it’s easy to do. The stereotype of the misanthropic introvert is backed by countless Facebook memes and pop culture references: Think of the animated character Daria with her oversized glasses and a book in her hand or that catchy quote from Charles Bukowski, “I don’t hate people, I just feel better when they aren’t around.”

These memes and quotes exist for a reason. They are funny and relatable, but they can also serve as a coping mechanism for those who need an excuse to hide behind. It’s the whole “I’m too school for cool” persona. It’s easy for me to say I spent the majority of the party playing with the host’s cat because the people there weren’t half as interesting as the books I have at home. It’s harder to admit that getting past the barrier of small talk ranges from somewhat daunting to downright terrifying. So I oversimplify and say I don’t like people, when what I actually dislike are the surface-level interactions of most social gatherings.

We’ve all been to those parties where the sole purpose of the event is for everyone to break into small groups where they talk about sports, the weather, or where the host’s second cousin got her hair done. It’s moments like these where it suddenly becomes very important to find out if there’s a pet you can play with, or when all else fails, perhaps a large potted plant to hide behind. If there’s a drink to be fetched or a bowl of chips to be refilled, this task will instantly become the sole purpose of my existence, because literally anything is better than small talk.

However, despite appearances, I don’t hate people. I just hate shallow socializing.

And therein lies the problem that has kept thousands of introverts awake until all hours of the night. Because being an introvert doesn’t mean that you want to be alone all the time. But unfortunately, in order to meet people to share your inner world with, it’s necessary to go out and socialize. In order to get to those coveted discussions about life goals, creative passions, and the existence of the universe, you sometimes have to start with some small talk, no matter how painful it might be.

Sometimes You Have to Go Out to Appreciate Staying In

I view socializing much like I view other aspects of my life that I know are good for me in the long run, but really aren’t very enjoyable in the moment. Do I really want to go to the gym when I could just go home and watch Netflix? No. Do I really want a salad for lunch when I could have a hamburger? No. Do I really want to go to a party when I could curl up in bed with a book and a cup of tea? It’s a no-brainer. However, to reap the rewards, you sometimes have to put in the work.

It’s all about balance. Just like I might treat myself to a piece of chocolate cake as a reward for all those days I spent at the gym last week, I’ll spend a quiet Saturday night at home because I know I already put in a night of socializing and interacting with people outside of my comfort zone on Friday.

The reward of staying in is so much sweeter when it’s saved as its own unique event to look forward to. Whereas, staying home with a book feels a whole lot less special when you are doing it for the tenth night in a row. Sometimes you have to go out to fully appreciate staying in, and vice versa.

I never would’ve met some of my closest friends if I chose to stay home and read all the time. Those relationships I have now were worth the anxiety and apprehension I felt upon venturing out of my comfort zone to establish them. Unfortunately, creating those kinds of relationships is rare, because socializing doesn’t always have tangible rewards. Sometimes I leave an event feeling drained and wishing that I had never left the house. Other times, I might feel that it went okay, but I know the surface-level conversations I held all evening probably won’t lead to any life-altering friendships. But that’s okay, because not every conversation or every evening out has to be life-altering.

For Introverts, Socializing Isn’t Just a Way to Pass the Time

As an introvert, it’s my natural tendency to always want every interaction to be about establishing a deep connection, but that can put too much pressure on the average casual conversation. Sometimes it’s just about staying in practice with my (albeit limited) people skills until the day when someone suddenly wants to talk about their dreams and goals and all the things that makes them tick. It’s impossible to know where a conversation will lead unless you try.

I’m aware of just how ridiculous my socializing philosophy will sound to extroverts. To them, socializing itself is the end goal. My extroverted friends are always looking for something to do on the weekend, during the holidays, and even on work nights. They pursue socializing for the in-the-moment excitement that it brings. For me, attempting to socialize is a long-term goal, one that I carefully craft and balance so I don’t get mentally or emotionally overwhelmed.

“Going out” is rarely exciting for me in the moment. But I always have hope when attending a party or trying a new networking event that I will make a friend who is also dying for a quiet cup of coffee while chatting about life, or who wants to take a trip to the beach just so we can lay side by side and read in complete silence.

When I socialize, I’m not looking for a way to just pass the time. I already have a full list of hobbies and interests and not enough hours in the day to enjoy them all. But I am always looking for a new person with whom I can share my passions and my world. Sometimes meeting that one new person can be worth the agony of socializing. I like to think I’m the kind of person worth socializing for, and I know I’m not the only one of my kind.

So, my fellow introverts, please occasionally put down your books, go out, and search for the people who make socializing worth it — because I’m out there looking for you.

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    • M.

      This. Just … this! I literally have no words to describe how well-written and spot-on this article is. I just feel it’s true to the bone! I’m an introvert, and I go through socializing to look for people like me. It’s worth it in the end.

      • Lisa Wilson


      • liz

        Try Socrates Cafe.
        (Or maybe Mensa)

        • Carol White

          Mensans are boring. At least in my city. Quite a few gas bags.

          • liz

            Every Mensa group I’ve been with has some great people! Try recruiting folks that YOU like, or check out another nearby city.

    • Zoe Magesse

      Love this!

    • Joana Marie Dalisay

      <3 this. Hope I can meet others like me and you. Or you to be exact..which isn't possible given I'm on the other side of the world. Asia. Philippines to be exact. lol. Exact same sentiments. I try to go out and socialize too sometimes. To see and experience the world out there outside my inner world. The excitement of meeting some interesting know the prospect of meeting interesting people. Sometimes a success..most of the time disappointing lol. But you never know. 😀

    • chinkychunk

      Can we just make a Tinder for Introverts?

      • Lord_Boofhead


    • Chip Dickerson
      • James Darling

        I’ve done this.

    • DhanmatiLindaSonachan

      So real every single word especially being drained and tired, You can have a cup of coffee with me thanks again

    • James Darling

      Fantastically written.

    • Spot on ! That’s exactly how I would explain myself.
      It’s nice that you were able to put into words that’s others can understand. Thanks.

    • Yea. It’s not an easy thing for me on too many occasions.But there are those social events I’ll move heaven and earth to attend because I feel really deeply about the reason. Great article.

    • Robyn

      Probably the most well put, well written explanation of how I feel. I especially vibed with the whole reward system in that, if I’ve worked with or been around enough folks, I look forward to the evenings or entire days of kicking back and either internet surfing or reading another good book.

    • Pollyanna

      I agree completely and do appreciate how well you have explained “the struggle” but what about the possibility of sharing and exposing our higher standard of communication? Like, instead of just putting up with the misery of inane comments and half-formed “thoughts”, instead of counting the minutes until you can be one with your bed and that book that you want to finish reading, politely and gently (as much as comfortably possible) making an effort to steer a shallow conversation into deeper and more genuine waters? Wouldn’t that be better than accepting sub-par interactions and allowing people who think that they’re witty AF to continue to do so?

    • Rachel

      Thank you for putting into words what goes through my head every single time I go to some social gathering. This is it exactly!

    • Jake

      I genuinely thought maybe I was just shallow? selfish? picky? for hating meeting people with whom I don’t think we have much to talk about, especially for dates. Often when I’m setting up a “blind date,” basically anyone I never met in person and only know online or through a friend, I just start to ignore them or never follow up if our text conversation doesn’t go anywhere, because I dread meeting them and having a boring conversation for two to three hours. It’s like my greatest fear lately! Such a date occurred a week ago, and I vowed, never again! But I thought I was just weird.

      This essay gives me so much reassurance.

    • Chan

      Interesting article. It reminds me that introversion isn’t same for all of us.

      I really do hate small talk and what I call “fake social niceties”. I see no real reason to go through those motions.

      I strongly dislike social functions and do my best to avoid them. There really is nothing, from a social standpoint, that will ever make them worthwhile for me.

      If you want to have a conversation with me, fine. Just don’t expect me to say much. I’m the guy people (sometimes even complete strangers) come to when they need a listening ear.

      I live alone and that’s just the way I like it. I’m very happily single. Lonely? I’ve heard of it, but I really don’t know what that’s like for people. I imagine it must be really difficult for those who experience it.

      I don’t actually spend much time at home, though. I do actually go out into the world and sometimes I even let people talk to me.

    • Nobody of Import

      I guess I’m an odd bird then. I *loathe* a lot of the shallow crap. But I reach out and do it anyway after some small threshold. I go into overdrive once past a certain point in all of it. I’m “alive” once I quit putting it off and deal with a small amount of the worthless crap. Once in the space, it doesn’t matter much. The offset I gain from the worthless banter buries the annoyance with how stupid it really is.

    • Wish I’d been able to verbalized things that well over my life. Introverts of the world, unite!! (In meaningful dialogue of course!)

    • If only I could explain this whole article to everyone.

    • AimsForPerfection

      I identify completely with this and like others wish 90% of the people that I have ever interacted with (or not) could read this. My circle of friends, though small, is tight-knit and understanding/tolerant of my introvertedness, even compassionate when I really feel the need to hide away. Luckily, I found a profession (made up overwhelmingly of Meyers-Briggs I personalities) and career/employer that allows me to do meaningful work while I work from home, allowing me to avoid the dreaded office banter. We all know that’s a double-edged sword. As painful, yes physically painful, and exhausting as socializing can be, I’ve found in the last few years that I often come home energized that I met new people. Okay, usually just one or two. But it is especially rewarding when the conversation goes beyond the mundane drudgery of Hi’s and Hello’s. Then I sleep for 12 hours, but wake up and know it was worth it. Thank you for this article. It will be shared with those that look at me with disbelief or a disappointed text message when I decline an offer to paint the town.

    • I started life out as an introvert then become an extrovert in my teen and young adult-middle aged years. But when I got a chronic illness and became more and more exhausted, I morphed back into an introvert. I used to love entertaining at my home….the more the merrier. My husband is an extrovert and so it has become a very difficult situation in our relationship. I am always happy for him to go wherever alone but he misses my company. If I do go out, I will skip the chit chat and ask pointed questions to friends and strangers alike such as, “What were your childhood dreams”, “Are you happy in your life”, “What was it like growing up in_____?” My husband will often apologize for my questions or tell people I want to be the next Oprah but for me, I REALLY am interested in hearing their answers. It does take most folks aback and I always preface my questions with, “Feel free to tell me you don’t want to answer” so they can choose to answer or not and I NEVER ask questions about intimate stuff (I ain’t no stinkin’ perv!) LOL. Just about everyone answers and they are ok with me asking (at least to my face!). I am not shy or timid in any way, shape, or form but as most of you, I cannot stand small talk…it makes my brain explode and seep out of my ears!

    • Chris

      I related so much to this article, and also appreciated the perspective it gave on socializing and how it can be beneficial in the long run, even though it feels agonizing at the moment. I don’t think I ever thought about it quite that way. Guess I need to get out of my comfort zone more often.

    • Jan

      Yeah, man. I wish somebody had defined Introversion when I was in my 20s and written something like this for all to see. (I’ll be 60 in May. Better now than never to feel understood.) Beautiful writing, Rachel! So spot-on and full of EXACTLY what I think about socializing. Thank you for a great read!

    • Simcha Pivovoz

      thank you

    • Tammi Johnson McGinn

      Totally spot on!!! You speak my language and it is so lovely…Like a good book and a comfy chair!

    • Poe Bear

      No, just no. Even if the world was 100% awesome all of the time, and everyone was super nice, introverts would still feel the need to be cooped up wherever makes them comfortable for as long as they needed

      If you’re only an introvert because you think the world sucks and is filled with shallow people, you aren’t (inherently) an introvert. You just think it’s cool to call yourself one, for some reason? Must be why people used to wear fake glasses all the time…

      • summer30134

        I didn’t get that she thinks people are shallow. But I do get that she finds it take a lot out of you to make small talk, because its just NOT interesting. And it does drain you. Evidently extroverts enjoy small talk , but i don’t.

        • Sue Willoughby

          Her title is: Introverts don’t hate people, they hate SHALLOW socializing. And she uses same reference in body of letter.

      • angie497

        But see, funny thing – the fact that you can make comments like “introverts would still feel the need to be cooped up wherever makes them comfortable for as long as they needed” pretty much indicates that you’re not an introvert and don’t actually have the first clue what introverts might be thinking or feeling about socializing.

    • francoise007

      I recently read something that really hit the nail for me. It said extroverts are people who NEED the energy of others, that their brains are wired to seek social interaction, and they crave it. It said that introverts tend to see extroverts as narcissists when it’s really more a matter of how our brains are wired. Introverts are drained by too much social stimulation, they are aware of so many things, it becomes overwhelming. I can be very introverted, and I can be fairly extroverted, it really depends on the circumstances. But I did tend to think that extroverts were more superficial, until I came across that piece I read recently, and it’s made me give it more thought. As an introvert would 🙂

    • George

      That is true as I’m an introvert myself spending a lot of time alone to do things I love to do. When I meet with family and friends on occasions I will go hard in terms of socializing & engaged in conversations.

    • Arshee Islam

      I don’t know why do people have an issue with us … we’re introverts but that doesn’t mean we’re dumb or antisocial…. it’s just that we appreciate silence in a world which can’t stop talking….

    • Dre Mosley

      This is accurate. We are so misunderstood.

    • MyLovelyNose

      Maybe what you’re really looking for in that conversation about “dream, goals,” etc., is for the conversation to be about YOU.

      • summer30134

        No, she means more meaningful, satisfying , give and take conversation.

      • angie497

        Not. Even. Close.

      • Kristina

        No… we already know what makes us tick. It’s more interesting to hear what makes other people tick. The soul of a person and meaningful exchanges of ideas. The latest gossip about who is now so-and-so’s side piece or who is hooking up with whom or five minute squeelings and raves about someone’s new hair color or outfit or nails (and then another five minutes of whispering about how bad it all looks when that person is out of earshot) is just draining to people like us.

      • Disqustinator

        Read it again. Slowly.

    • Jason Strnad

      Thank you.

    • Julie

      As an extrovert I am growing weary of all the commentary to the effect that extroverts are shallow and insensitive. Depth of character and sensitivity have to do with your essence and are not tied to whether you like chit chat or not. Let’s quit putting other people in boxes to make ourselves feel better. If you are not sociable, fine but don’t turn it into a self-glorification fest at the expense of people who like to be with people.

      • Sarah White


      • angie497

        Except saying that someone is comfortable with social chatter is not the same as saying that they are shallow or insensitive.

        • AngYouDontStop

          The word shallow is literally in the headline to this story.

          • angie497

            Then work on your fucking reading comprehension. In the headline, the word shallow is a descriptor for the word socializing; it is describing an activity, not a person or their personality.

            • AngYouDontStop

              So much anger over something so ridiculous unscientific and meaningless.

          • Disqustinator

            “shallow socializing”. Not shallow people.

        • Disqustinator

          I think youmissed the bit where it saiys “shallow socializing”. Not shallow people.

      • peacenow4all

        And yet so many parties and social gatherings are totally shallow, vapid and exhausting. How to explain the people who seem to thrive in those environments and constantly degrade the rest of us a being “anti-social” because we crave a more personal, intimate, meaningful exchange? Maybe some of them are shallow? Certainly not all of them. My partner is an extrovert and he isn’t shallow or insensitive but he has a very high threshold for socializing and loves to gab it up and is happy as the center of attention in a large crowd, where I am always in the corner with other introverts avoiding the spotlight and discussing something weird and esoteric if possible. There are times when even the thought of small talk gives me an anxiety attack, yet my partner can always do it with seemingly endless energy.

      • DRF

        Oh yes, especially considering how many people at those parties go out of their way to think of funny jokes and stories and make their small talk entertaining. It’s just that it’s fun for some people and not others.

      • Aycha Sirvanci

        Yes I totally agree – I am fairly extroverted but I belong to book clubs etc and have friends who have parties that are “smart” and “not superficial” and have interesting things to say. Maybe this person needs to change the people they hang out with – there are people who are not shallow and talk about real things 🙂

        • Disqustinator

          The article is not calling people shallow, but rather aspects of socializing that are shallow.

          • Aycha Sirvanci

            If you reread the article I agree with you that it says some people socialize shallowly – not really a word 🙂 What I’m saying is that there are also extroverted people who don’t socialize in a shallow manner. This introvert hasn’t found those people or isn’t hanging out with the right people is what I’m saying.

    • Cynthia Gallegos

      Great writing. At parties, sadly ,yes…could be found with a large picture/art book in my hands. So glad this ends on a high note: I agree. Even introverts have to meet socially & somewhere. !!

    • summer30134

      Boy you hit the nail on the head with this article! You explained introverts perfectly.

    • Sarah White

      Yes, yes, yes. At some point, it would appear, someone falsely equated “introvert” with “introspective” and decided that meant that they got to corner the market on being deep. I get it, social anxiety is a thing, but calling everyone who doesn’t struggle in social situations “superficial” is immature. Don’t like shallow small talk, then don’t have it. I’m extroverted, I don’t don’t like talking about “shallow” things so I don’t. Talking to strangers about meaningful things is, quite literally, one of my go-to “make new friends” strategies. Being the person who “always finds the pet to hang out with at the party, aren’t I quirky, lol” and wearing that like some kind of badge isn’t productive. If being social is something that you legitimately want to be better at, then work on it instead of writing articles, making memes, and glorifying anti social behavior patterns. If you don’t care anything about being social, then carry on. The party is going to happen whether you are there or not.

    • Jimbaux!

      Going to parties (which I don’t anymore do) really felt like work, because I knew that I could make some connections that might have some currency-like tangible benefit – like, a cheap-but-not-advertised apartment or a good job. That’s exactly why it felt fake, that even my late-night “social” interactions were commoditized.

    • DRF

      There is a solution other than just enduring all the parties and small talk: talk-optional socializing.

      Why do dudes (especially cross-generationally) go FISHING so much? Because it allows them to either have conversations or remain in total silence (without ever making eye contact, even!) and still feel like they’ve spent the day in each other’s company.

      If you join a hiking club, you’ll find that some people yap the whole time and other people keep their eyes on the rocks and mouths shut but no one thinks they’re not participating. In a martial arts class, the first month might be awkward, but all speech and other social matters are so clear and regimented that it soon becomes no-pressure. (And these are both so physical that you can skip the gym that day.)

      The point of all the small talk is to do enough of it to get people to feel like they know you enough to share the deep information that introverts find rewarding. If you climb enough mountains with someone or help them finally get a whipkick right, they’ll feel like they know you even if you’ve never said two words in a row.

      So the next time your extroverted friends are looking for something to do, tell them you have an idea and pick something where you can keep either your eyes pointed through a camera or on your hands whenever you need to. “Let’s go birdwatching!” “The new pottery school is offering a first class free.” “I’ve never been to the botanical garden.”

      I’d love to read a follow-up article about this.

      • peacenow4all

        Good ideas! I’ve done many of the above for years but it didn’t occur to me that this is the best way for introverts to socialize. It’s true. We like to do things together, to share in what really moves us, and not to waste our time on small talk. When I’m at a cocktail party I can almost feel the sands of time slipping through my hourglass.

        • DRF

          My friends and I would cook or bake together. The first time one of them held a traditional party I was bored out of my mind.

    • Areyou Solame

      I totally don’t get most of what you’re saying. It’s like you’re in a fog and don’t know how to properly be an adult, but you are pointing to your desire to be alone as the root cause. YET YOU LIKE BEING WITH SOME PEOPLE. Do you think that EVERYONE, ALL THE TIME, LIKES TO BE WITH EVERYONE ELSE? You act like you have this big problem, and it’s unique to you, but most people have favorite and unfavorite people. You just seem unable to cope with being with unfamiliar people, until you can determine whether they’re going to be on the fav or unfav list.

      To recap what you said…You like being with people, but only the specific people who match up with the very specific kinds of activities you enjoy, in only in the the exact way you want to do those activities. And only when you feel like it. You sound like someone who isn’t comfortable with new things (fear of what?) and isn’t socially adept at all. Is this being an introvert, or is this just the result of not having parents/adults/peers in your life to show you how to live in a world that is full of people who ARE NOT EXACTLY LIKE YOU!?

      You talk about small talk as shallow socializing, but have you looked in the mirror? How can it be so shallow when you are 1/2 of the conversation between 2 people? Have you nothing to offer in the way of conversation and so then you deem it “shallow?” Are you unaware of the basic social customs in your culture/county/age-group (are you an awkward conversationalist because you don’t know how to do it properly?) and so then you feel uncomfortable when having to talk with people, or (gasp) new people? The old saying goes something like this “If you complain about being bored, it’s because YOU are BORING!”

      Has it ever occured to you that the WAY people mingle, merge, meet and develop friendships has a basic pattern, and it includes making “small talk” during “social gatherings” in an attempt to find commonalities between people? I suppose that except for people who you have known since birth and are comfortable with you need to do this. Everyone does. Except for the people who you’ve known since birth, you need to go through this cycle and deal with it on a consious level.

      There is no rocket science involved and EVERYONE goes through this in an attempt to meet like-minded folks to spend their time with. Again..YOU ARE NOT UNIQUE in this aspect. Its just that you seem to not know how to do it properly, easily, comfortably, and it seems that you can ONLY interact comfortably with people who want exactly, specifically what you want.

      I suppose having a bunch of acquaintences who are exactly like me and want to do the exact same things as me is ONE way to live my life, however I prefer to have a lot of friends–some who are similar and some who are very different because of the learning opportunities that it provides.

      Good luck with life, and maybe take some classes and learn how to be open to new ideas and other ways of thinking. Meeting people shouldn’t be so complicated.

      • peacenow4all

        You are a perfect example of why some people don’t want to socialize. Let me know what parties you’re going to be attending so I can avoid them!

    • Jamila Ajon

      I can relate so much! I’m the wallflower in parties, the one who pets the dog or plays with the little sibling. But when I find a friend who has the same interests, we talk for hours! Heck, we can stay up all night just talking, sometimes shallow things but we talk about serious topics too.

    • Yes! And I ESPECIALLY hate shallow socializing around a camp fire with pretentious sweaters and JC Penny catalog hairdos.

    • James Flood

      Can all we introverts in the comments section somehow meet up? This is awesome!

    • Michael Massey

      According to the Meyers-Briggs personality types (which is based on Jungian psychology), the difference between introverts and extroverts is where you draw your energy from. Extroverts draw energy from interacting with others, introverts (who draw energy from within) are drained by social interactions. An introvert, I worked in an extroverted field. I needed ‘alone time’ to recharge. Being aware of this simple distinction, helped me manage my introvert/extrovert time.

    • Christine Verstricht

      I can so relate.

    • Mattie

      “But I always have hope when attending a party or trying a new networking event that I will make a friend who is also dying for a quiet cup of coffee while chatting about life, or who wants to take a trip to the beach just so we can lay side by side and read in complete silence.”

      Exactly so.

    • Corina H

      Just beautiful and accurate. Thanks for writting this

    • Ray Smith

      Your comment made me laugh out loud because I can identify with it so much. Thank you for sharing it. I love “Ryan goes by R. Yan”. I may try that myself. And “laughing at all the jokes you can’t here” is something I live daily – mostly because of ringing in the ears. But I also identify with not being able to hear in crowded gatherings due to all the noise. Thank you!