Do you think curling up with a good book beats a party any day of the week? Do you consider it a win when you’ve gone a whole day without talking to anyone? Does your cat know more about your personal life than most of your friends? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you just might be a loner.
However, just because the term “loner” may have taken on some negative connotations doesn’t mean being one is bad thing by any means—there’s evidence to suggest that loners aren’t inherently unhappy, and in many cases are of higher intelligence than their extroverted counterparts. In fact, according to social scientists Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler, co-authors of Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives, if you’re a not-so-social butterfly, you’re—somewhat ironically—in good company. According to one study conducted by the authors, the vast majority of American adults polled had just two non-family members they counted as close friends, while other estimates suggest that between one-third and one-half of the adult population is introverted.
“Loners tend to be introverts. They enjoy their own company and like choosing how to spend their time to follow their interests,” says psychotherapist Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, M.Ed. “This is where they get their juice, not from being with other people.” If this sounds like you, read on to discover some surefire signs you’re a loner. And if you’re wondering why flying solo can be a good thing, discover these 20 Reasons Spending Time Alone Is Essential for Your Health.
If you’re a loner, your ideal evening isn’t spent out on the town. In fact, you think the best seat in the house is right in your living room. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy going out, however—it just means you know that the best company is your own. And when you want to make your alone time more relaxing, check out these 30 Easy Ways to Fight Stress.
Being a loner doesn’t necessarily mean you avoid all social functions, but it does mean you choose them carefully, and that you generally need some time to recuperate afterward. “As introverts, many of them may get overwhelmed by too much socializing,” says Koenig. “But, many loners enjoy the company of others, as long as they have the choice to take them in small doses.”
Just because you’re a loner doesn’t mean you’re always eager to be completely alone—in fact, many loners are devoted pet parents. If you’re a loner, your furry friends may even seem like better conversationalists than your average human (or at least better listeners). However, there is some link between being a loner and the kind of four-legged company you keep: researchers at the University of Texas at Austin found that cat owners were more likely to be introverted than those with canine companions. And for more reasons to appreciate your furry friends, check out these 15 Amazing Benefits of Adopting a Pet.
If you’re a loner, the idea of heading to a crowded bar and trying to meet someone in person sounds about as pleasant as getting a root canal—without anesthesia. And while online dating is significantly more comfortable, the idea of actually meeting up with any of your prospective dates takes a lot of mental energy.
In your book, the best way to get something done right is to do it alone. That means that when you’re tasked with doing a group project, you’re eager to split up the work as soon as possible so you don’t get stuck with a chatty partner.
A dark room where nobody’s talking is practically your idea of heaven, so you’re a frequent solo moviegoer. It doesn’t matter to you in the slightest that you’re surrounded by people on dates or there with their friends—to you, seeing a movie solo just makes more sense.
Ah, the sweet relief of canceled plans. While you do feel some genuine concern when a friend informs you they’ve come down with the flu, you also breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that the less time you spend with them means more time to yourself.
If it can’t be communicated digitally, it’s not worth doing in your book. You communicate with work via messenger, order food via app, and send info to your family via group chat—to you, it’s not only a more expeditious means of conveying information, it also protects you against the inevitable exhaustion that follow most in-person conversations and Skype sessions.
Just because you largely prefer your own company doesn’t mean you don’t want a romantic relationship. However, it does mean figuring out the balance between making the other person feel valued and giving yourself ample time to spend alone. “Loners can be very engaged with and loyal to the people they love and care about, but even with them, they need time to themselves,” says Koenig. And if you think you’re better off living unencumbered, make sure you know these 40 Reasons Why Being Single in Your 40s is the Greatest Thing Ever.
You’ve never understood the stigma against eating alone. In fact, you’ll take virtually any opportunity to have a meal by yourself. To you, your favorite book provides every bit as much mealtime company as a friend might—and your dog-eared copy of Anna Karenina never asks to split dessert.
When your phone rings, your mind starts to race: who’s calling? What do they want? Are they going to leave… a voicemail?! Texting is always a more comfortable means of communication for you—and you’re not the only one who feels that way. A recent survey by OpenMarket reveals that 75 percent of millennials would take a text over a phone call any day of the week.
Being a loner doesn’t mean that you don’t want to keep in touch, it just means that you’d prefer to do it from a distance. You love getting to see all the highlights from your friends’ lives—their weddings, their promotions, the birth of their children—but to you, it’s information best accessed from behind a screen.
If you’re a loner, you know that sleeping solo is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself—and you’ve got the just-big-enough-for-you-and-no-one-else twin bed to prove it. Why would you let someone snoring, flopping from side to side, and trying to cuddle you interfere with a good night’s rest, anyway?
The three words you least want to hear from someone at the office aren’t, “You’ve been fired,” they’re, “Drinks after work?” While spending time with your coworkers is a necessary evil to you, the thought of adding hours to your time together at a crowded bar seems like a punishment and not a reward.
There are few things you enjoy less than having a stranger come talk to you on the street. With that in mind, you favor clothing that’s not flashy—you’d never be caught dead in a logo t-shirt or pants with writing on the butt.
When other people imagine their dream vacations, they imagine friends and family coming with them. For you, peak relaxation means flying solo the whole time. In your mind, there’s nothing better than sightseeing by yourself and getting to do everything on your own schedule. And when you want a relaxing solo trip, book your next vacation at one of the 20 Most Zen Places on Earth.
Just because you’re a loner doesn’t mean you don’t have any friends. In fact, you have a great support network—albeit a highly curated one. “Loners are often misunderstood, in that they’re all thought to be anti-social. Some are and some are not,” says Koenig.
You’d love to try SoulCycle and Zumba intrigues you—but for now, you’re stuck pedaling and dancing alone in your living room. While you’re not opposed to camaraderie, per se, the thought of having an instructor talk to you personally while you sweat it out, or any pressure to go for post-workout smoothies, isn’t worth the risk.
Schedules are kind of your thing, so last-minute plans tend to get on your last nerve. You need to know that you’ll have enough time to be alone, preferably both before and after any kind of social affair, so you never feel bad about turning down plans that only leave you a few minutes to get ready.
Whether you’re grocery shopping, at work, or just walking down the street, you can bet that your headphones are on. In your quest to remain unbothered by strangers, you wear your headphones virtually everywhere you go, whether you’re actually listening to music or not.
To many people, hitting up a bar or cafe and ordering a libation alone is a sign that you’ve got a problem. To you, it’s a totally acceptable way to enjoy a glass of wine. You come armed with a book, choose the spot where you think you’re least likely to be bothered by other people, and enjoy the lack of company.
If you want to clear your head, you know there’s no better way to do that than hitting the road solo with no destination in mind. While road trips with a group of friends or family members seem like a nightmare, getting behind the wheel alone is always a restorative experience for you.
There are few things you loathe more than having to make small talk. Those “how are you”s and “what’s new”s are like nails on a chalkboard to you, and you’ll never understand why people are so eager to fill dead space with meaningless chitchat.
While you endure the drudgery of your 9-to-5, your ultimate dream is to work from home. It’s not the work itself that bothers you, after all—it’s the constant interruptions from your coworkers and the expectation that you’ll spend your precious free time outside the office socializing with them, too. Fortunately, it looks as though things are looking up for loners in that department. According to research from Gallup, 43 percent of American workers said that they were allowed to work from home at least part of the time, up four percent from 2012. And if you have dreams of never commuting again, learn the 25 Work from Home Jobs with the Highest Salaries.
You’re not the kind of person who spends their whole day talking to the people around you—in fact, you often realize that you haven’t said more than a few words to other people over the course of an entire day. That said, when you do have a conversation with someone you trust, you tend to provide a lot of information all at once. After all, you never know when you’ll get another chance to.
You know that your personality type doesn’t exactly scream “welcoming” to others, so you often come across unapproachable. Fortunately, you’re self-aware enough to realize that this means you often have to get the ball rolling on things yourself, whether you’re eager to land a promotion or want your homeowner’s association to make some serious changes, and that means you’re not afraid of speaking up when necessary.
We all know those people who suck all the air out of the room when they start to tell a story—and that’s definitely not you. Being the center of attention has never appealed to you; while you love being viewed as competent, you don’t care if your role is always in the supporting cast.
You’re about as likely to show up completely uninvited to a stranger’s birthday party as you are to be caught at the gym during peak hours. The odds that you’ll run into the same people—or worse yet, someone you actually know—are too great, so you’re sure never to hit the gym right before work, during lunch, or right after work. The only times anyone will catch you in the weight room are before dawn or after dark.
Anyone who knows you knows you’re not a big talker. And considering how much you value being regarded as intelligent, you take your time when you’re presented with a question. It may seem like overanalyzing to some, but you know that this may be your only shot to get your point across, and it’s important to you that when you do converse with others, you’re putting your best foot forward. Fortunately, research supports the high opinion you have of yourself. A study published in the British Journal of Psychology reveals that highly intelligent individuals find themselves less happy when they’re regularly interacting with others.
While many people view loners and introverts as timid, you certainly don’t see yourself that way. In fact, your introverted nature doesn’t mean you don’t want to learn about the world around you. As it so happens, the opposite is true: you’re eager to explore at every opportunity, you just prefer to do it alone. And considering how focused people are on making every event a social activity, you definitely think it’s a little bit brave for you to buck the trend. And when you want to see your self-esteem soar, start with these 70 Genius Tricks to Boost Your Confidence.
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