13 Things People Do That Actually Mean ‘I’m an Introvert’

An introverted woman smiles.

Can you tell the difference between an introvert and a rude person? Or the difference between introversion and depression? Can you pick out the introverts in your family or friend group — or do you simply consider certain people to be a little “closed off” or “awkward”?

Although introverts are living in a golden age where more awareness than ever has been brought to temperament, we “quiet ones” are still frequently misunderstood in the workplace, at school, and at home. Few people know what introversion truly means. It’s often confused for something else — like a lack of confidence — and introverts are mislabeled as depressed, rude, or simply weird.

Here are 13 things people do that might actually mean “I’m an introvert.”

Things that Mean ‘I’m an Introvert’

1. Arriving late or leaving early

For introverts, socializing is all about dosage, due to the way our brains respond to rewards. Many introverts want to have friends and feel included, too, but they can only be around people for so long. They may arrive late to a social gathering or leave early to prevent burnout and overwhelm.

2. Seeming hot and cold

You might be dealing with an introvert if the person is chatty and outgoing one day, then practically nonexistent the next. Introverts alternate between periods of socializing and periods of alone time.

3. Spending a lot of time alone in their bedroom

Yes, this could also be an indication of depression. Many people who are depressed report struggling to get out of bed and get anything done.

However, this could also be a sign of introversion. For many introverts, our bedrooms are sacred spaces where we shut out the noise of the world. Although everyone is “lazy” sometimes, when introverts are relaxing in their bedroom, it’s probably because they’re trying to lower their stimulation level and recharge their energy.

4. Avoiding socializing

Steering clear of others may indicate social anxiety, especially if the person is experiencing a panic attack or fearful, racing thoughts. But it could also indicate introversion.

Introverts simply don’t have as much “people” energy as extroverts, so they pick their social interactions carefully. Running into someone they haven’t seen in years — and not wanting to suffer through energy-sucking small talk — might send an introvert dashing into the “safety” of a public restroom until the coast is clear.

5. Getting tongue-tied and being unable to explain something

Everyone struggles to put their thoughts into words at times, probably because our brain evolved to think in images, not words. But for introverts, it may be even harder to express what’s going on in their inner world, because introverts may rely more on long-term memory than short-term memory. Extroverts may do the opposite.

6. Craving deep relationships…

…but not knowing how to get there. 

Many introverts long for deep, intimate connections with others. They want to know what’s really going on in someone’s mind and heart — not just the face they’re showing the public. Conversationally, they want to tackle the big questions, share what they know, analyze an important issue, or learn something new.

Problem is, they don’t always know how to make those meaningful conversations happen.

7. Hating being the center of attention

A shy person might hate being the center of attention. But an introvert might hate it, too, for a different reason.

Shyness has to do with fear, but introversion has to do with being more sensitive to certain types of stimulation. Just as a shy person might find it anxiety-provoking to do a group icebreaker or give a speech, an introvert might find it overstimulating — and thus overwhelming.

8. Having plenty to say over text but going quiet in person

You might be dealing with an introvert if someone is articulate, witty, and intimate over text, but quiet, private, and a little awkward in person. Many introverts feel they express themselves better in writing than through spontaneous speech.

9. Zoning out in a very busy place

It may seem rude when someone zones out and doesn’t talk much — especially in a social setting. But don’t automatically conclude this person is rude or self-absorbed. This person might simply be an introvert.

Compared to extroverts, introverts have less tolerance for loud, busy environments (like a restaurant, bar, club, or party). They can easily become overstimulated and overwhelmed — and their mind will check out.

10. Suggesting low-key things to do on the weekend

If someone frequently suggests “boring” things to do on the weekend, like watching a movie at home, ordering takeout, or hanging out just the two of you, this person might be an introvert.

11. Seeming closed off when meeting someone new

Unfortunately, we often assume the worst about people who are quiet. We may think they’re stuck-up or cold if they don’t bubble over with pleasantries or personal details about their life.

Many introverts simply don’t feel comfortable sharing intimate information about themselves until they know someone well. When it comes to someone new, introverts like to spend time observing and figuring out what makes the other person tick before they let their full personality out.

12. Coming across as blunt or cranky

Yes, this person might actually be mean or high strung. But this person might also be an introvert who’s simply out of “people” energy.

When an introvert is suffering from social burnout (a.k.a. an introvert hangover), it gets harder for them to regulate their tone of voice or even think clearly. Every little thing starts getting on their nerves, and they may even feel physically unwell. An introvert hangover feels like being completely wiped out after running a marathon.

13. Needing more “recovery time” than others

Introverts can go out and have fun too, just like extroverts. But when extroverts are ready to go out again the next day, introverts are in desperate need of some recovery time. They can’t go-go-go all the time.

If someone wants to stay home after a busy day at work or a “fun” night out, you’re probably not dealing with a killjoy — you’re dealing with an introvert.

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Jenn Granneman is the founder of IntrovertDear.com and the author of The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World. She also cohosts The Introvert, Dear Podcast and blogs for Psychology Today. For most of her life, Jenn felt weird, different, and out of place because of her quiet ways. She writes about introversion because she doesn’t want other introverts to feel the way she did.