Loner vs. Introvert: Compare and Contrast

introverted-womanThe terms “loner” and “introvert” are often used interchangeably to describe those who spend much time to themselves. I will often hear a person call themselves a loner when they’d probably be better described as an introvert, or vice versa. This seems to be because, in behavior, the loner and the strong introvert seem to be one and the same. Yet their mentality and reasons for choosing to be alone can be completely different.

In general, there seems to be confusion about what these two terms mean, and further confusion about the (lack of) actual similarities between them. To complicate things further, a person can be both an introvert and a loner. However, when trying to understand the differences it is more helpful to understand the terms on their own, in pure form, without the addition of other possible personality traits.

In the simplest description, a loner is someone who strongly prefers their own company to the company of others, and may actively avoid interacting with other people. It is important to note that the loner may or may not have a real need to be alone, but simply enjoys being by themselves. There are many causes that can result in a person becoming a loner, not all of them negative.

In contrast, introversion is the tendency to be predominantly concerned with one’s own inner world, at the cost of outer, more active life. The introvert also has a physiological need to retire from the hustle and bustle of outside life — introverts are more easily stimulated by outside activity and can become fatigued without ample time alone. An introvert can be a loner or shy, but it’s just as likely that they may want company of one or many other people, but simply can not take much socializing before feeling worn out.

Loners and introverts can be further understood by understanding the motivations of their behavior. There will be exceptions to the rule, but generally introverts and loners have different reasoning for their states of lonesomeness.

For example,

playing-basketballA loner, when asked why they are usually alone will proudly state that they don’t want the company of others, don’t find others to be interesting, or that they have a strong desire to be free to do as they please.

An introvert, when asked why they are usually alone, will say that they become frazzled after some time socializing and need time to “recharge”, and that they feel more refreshed and clear-headed during and after a long period alone.

A further example comes from the activity that each engages in when alone.

The loner (who is not also introverted) will often engage in outside activities by themselves. Biking, going to a public event, going out to eat. The only real requirement they have is that they do these things by themselves, and not with another person or group of people.

The introvert, on the other hand, draws away from outside activity of any sort. So the introvert will engage in personal activities that involve their mind, such as reading, surfing the Internet, writing, or other personal hobbies. This is because the introvert not only needs to do things alone, they need to be alone — away from the outside world of people and things.

Keeping all of this in mind, which one are you? Loner, introvert, both or neither?

See also:

Advertisements

41 thoughts on “Loner vs. Introvert: Compare and Contrast

  1. Introvert, definitely. I do enjoy company and will seek it out betimes. I’m a full INTJ (Briggs/Meyers) in fact, and spend most of my alone time trying figure out the Universe and writing about it.

  2. Hey Gideon!

    Oh, INTJ. You guys are kinda scary. *scared* Unless you’re one of the nice, warmer ones. 🙂

  3. I’m definitely a loner….

    I like to be around people sometimes, but my “me time” is my antidote, that’s how I recharge my batteries. I prefer 80 % alone time and 20 % with others…..

    Honestly, I don’t get most people. I like being alone because I’m in control of what/when I want to do, where I want to go and not the constant worry of someone else….

    and then again(I’m a dreamer), I live in my own universe and that universe is in my daydreaming and in my mind……

  4. Mkhululi,

    “Honestly, I don’t get most people. I like being alone because I’m in control of what/when I want to do, where I want to go and not the constant worry of someone else….”

    Sounding like a true loner. 😛

    But you could also be an introvert; they’re not mutually exclusive. It’s just that people often think they are the same, and they’re not.

    “Just testing my new Gravatar…lol”

    It works… You should be able to see it on older comments as well; the gravatars go on all comments you’ve ever made on WordPress.

  5. Im a loner and introvert and always have been. I stay in my head alot and I prefer my own company to anyone else’s. Other than my boyfriend, I do have a few people I like to see but only semi regular. If I see anyone everyday I feel restless and like I need to get away and get some me time. If I do get married and have a family, its gonna be a big adjustment for me for sure.

  6. Not sure which one I am. And I’m not sure which one is my husband. I think we’re both more on the social anxiety side, with me wanting human company more than he does. He often actively avoids it, while I want it, but rarely get an opportunity to practice it.

    That being said, while I’d appreciate more socialization in my life, I definitely need some alone time in a day. I can’t socialize 24/7 – far from it. Unfortunately, people here will quickly penalize you for not being cheerful and in your “social mode” all the time. My best friend for example, she just got back from a business trip in Germany, where she shared a room with her co-worker. Whenever my friend would try to have some alone time, at least in her mind, this woman would bug her: “why are you quiet? What are you thinking about? What’s wrong? Why are you so quiet all the time? ” (despite socializing with her only half an hour before). Not sure about America, but in my culture it’s seen wrong to be in the same room with someone, even a stranger and not socializing the whole time.

  7. @ Mira…I know what you mean

    I had a friend of mine visit me for a weekend and she would constantly ask me “why are you quiet? What are you thinking about? What’s wrong? Why are you so quiet all the time?” and then she concluded that she overstayed her welcome……

    I doubt if I would marry, I would feel claustrophobic. If I would marry, It would be someone as aloof as me or who understands and appreciates the way I am…..

    I’m a loner and I’m here, better get used to it…….. 🙂

  8. Loners can be the most genuine people cause Ill let people know if I actually want to spend time with you and not avoiding you (even if its just like hanging out once a week or so) than I definitely like you and your important to me. Im not moved by socializing cause im suppose to or to keep up appearances or even just because of boredom cause if im bored, ill go watch a movie by myself and have the best time doing it. I like my own company. So whoever is in my life even if I wont see them everyday, they can truly know that I like them and care for them cause I really wont bother whatsoever otherwise.

  9. I doubt if I would marry, I would feel claustrophobic.

    For me even despite being a loner, I do have a need for longterm romantic relationships so I probably will get married but definitely get how you would feel claustrophobic. In my early twenties when I was first out on my own and broke, I couldve saved alot of money by having a roomate but that was never an option for me no matter what. It was a worst case scenario like only right before homelessness would I consider that. I feel suffocated even when ive had family/friends just stay a few days. I may enjoy it first day maybe two if I was really wanting to see them but after that I start to feel claustrophobic as well. Ive even had to adjust to just my little cat living with me 24/7.

    I use to say when Id get married Id just have separate bedrooms so that I can go in my room and my time away. People thought that was crazy to suggest that but I dont get the big deal, I mean obviously Id go in his room or he’d come in mine to have sex but the point is Ive got my room to go to where I can be alone undisturbed.

    Ive told my current boyfriend about that idea I use to have and he’s like no way at all is my wife having a separate room so looks like im gonna have to seriously get adjusted to that if im gonna get married.

  10. Okay last one before someone else comments. What I find super annoying is when extroverts as well as the type that love being around people and have to have them around all the time seem to be judgmental of loners/introverts especially loners because they think we are reclusive and weird and it truly blows their mind that anyone would prefer being alone to being around people. Ive dated guys like this and it seemed to really bother them even if I saw them all the time, the fact that I didnt want to be around their friends/family on the regular, they took as an insult. They just dont get it. Its nothing personal.

    Im introverted and socially awkward (to an extent) as well but even if I wasnt those things, I would still be a loner cause its just who I am.

  11. “What I find super annoying is when extroverts as well as the type that love being around people and have to have them around all the time seem to be judgmental of loners/introverts especially loners because they think we are reclusive and weird ”

    @ Jess

    That’s true,…..people tend to scorn/ ridicule others when they cannot comprehend your nature or/ I think it intimidates them that they can’t fully understand you….

    One of the other reason, I like being alone so much, because I have major trust issues. I trust no one and I don’t want anyone too close. I feel that …..if someone would psycho-analyse me…I would feel completely naked and exposed….

    Being alone for me, is mandatory, it’s crucial and my nature(well I’d like to think) and I’m not apologetic and don’t owe anyone any explanation….

    Then again, I feel like others don’t get me. I know they don’t get me because I hardly explain myself and I find it hard to articulate who I am because they never take the time to listen, all they want to do is to talk all the time

    I realised recently that I’m a friend to a lot of people but they are not my friends, if you know what I mean? I don’t mind listening to others and help them sort out their problems but I hardly let others in my business and I think they can sense that I’m apprehensive about myself…..

    If I have a problem, I sort it out myself and hardly ask others for help because it seems to work for me and in addition their in put never seems to really help……

  12. In addition, I find interaction with others nerve wrecking, I feel anxious most of the time and uncomfortable, less interaction the better for me. I don’t know how to be around others and I have to be constantly cautious of what they might do and how I would respond….

    Most of the time, I’d be around others and I would feel lonely and that I don’t belong…it’s like they are speaking a foreign language and I’m aloof most of the time, I just find it time consuming for me and an unnecessary pain ….

    I even wrote a poem called ” Entourage in a lonely corner”

  13. Most of the time, I’d be around others and I would feel lonely and that I don’t belong…

    Same. Im better one on one but in groups its harder not only because really im just not interested, I feel like im the different one or the one that doesnt really belong. I always feel like im on the outside looking in, I dont feel apart of anything.

  14. I’m both, an introvert and a loner. I open up to people eventually but I have a bit of social anxiety. Im a big believer in having my alone time but I have my moments when I really crave company and I’ll hang out for a few days straight. I’ve accepted the way I am. I’ve also experienced extroverted people constantly asking ” why are you so quiet?” and questioning me like I’m weird. I always thought people who talk just to hear themselves talk were the weird ones lol. It’s refreshing to see there are others like me.

  15. Jess,

    “If I see anyone everyday I feel restless and like I need to get away and get some me time. If I do get married and have a family, its gonna be a big adjustment for me for sure.”

    I’m a pretty strong introvert, but not a loner and I think having my own family will be enjoyable, if somewhat of an adjustment. Hopefully my family will be made up of other introverts and they understand the feeling.

    “In my early twenties when I was first out on my own and broke, I couldve saved alot of money by having a roomate but that was never an option for me no matter what. It was a worst case scenario like only right before homelessness would I consider that.”

    LOL.

    You know it! I utterly refuse to do a roommate again. No, no, no. For so many reasons: quiet/alone time, privacy, cleanliness. I just don’t think having another person in my “space” could work.

    “Ive told my current boyfriend about that idea I use to have and he’s like no way at all is my wife having a separate room.”

    Uh oh.

    “so looks like im gonna have to seriously get adjusted to that if im gonna get married”

    Or he has to adjust to living with you. I’m team SG all the way, but I’m team Jess, first and foremost. 😛

  16. Mira,

    “Not sure which one I am.”

    I think I’ll go with just introvert for you…

    “And I’m not sure which one is my husband.”

    And introvert and loner for the husband. 🙂

    Many introverts, especially if they live in a more extroverted culture, speak about their introversion in a sort of regretful way. Like “I wish I could but…” Loners are just, “I don’t want to hang out with people, I like doing stuff on my own, so what?”

    America is an extroverted culture, but not to the extent that you have to be socializing 24/7 with someone just because they’re in the same living space as you.

  17. Jess,

    “it truly blows their mind that anyone would prefer being alone to being around people.”

    Yes, lots of people like that around. And the “Why don’t you ever go out?” people that think they have to go some place every time there is a free moment or for every special occasion.

    Mkhululi,

    Get out my head (a bit)!

    “One of the other reason, I like being alone so much, because I have major trust issues. I trust no one and I don’t want anyone too close.”

    I don’t really trust people either, but that’s not the reason I don’t interact with them. I find that most people are not all that interested in getting into your inner world and like to keep things at a surface, “light/fun” level so there is no threat re: trust.

    “Then again, I feel like others don’t get me. I know they don’t get me because I hardly explain myself and I find it hard to articulate who I am”

    I think others don’t get me because they just don’t. I could explain myself forwards and backwards, yet the interpretation I get back from them is so off. People routinely misinterpret my words and actions. It’s to the point where I just stop saying things, and doing things, so they don’t get the wrong impression.

    “I realised recently that I’m a friend to a lot of people but they are not my friends, if you know what I mean?”

    Yup, I do: that’s me.

    I really don’t mind though… I don’t want to burden people with my issues, don’t want to discuss them, and doubt most people could help anyway.

    Hi Cherie,

    “I always thought people who talk just to hear themselves talk were the weird ones lol.”

    They are the weird ones…

  18. @ Alee, you are so on point….lol. It’s refreshing to find someone that is smilar to me or who knows what I’m talking about.

    lol @ “I could explain myself forwards and backwards, yet the interpretation I get back from them is so off”…

    “I don’t want to burden people with my issues, don’t want to discuss them, and doubt most people could help anyway.”

    True that…….I’ve tried but it’s not me. I just feel foolish while I’m asking for someone to advise me, because most of the time, they tell me exactly what I already know….

    Ultimately, I guess they way were are, is what makes this world so interesting and exciting….

  19. This discussion has helped me. I am neither a loner nor an introvert, but I am in love with one. The funny thing is that I doubt I could ever get him to share as much with me about his feelings and relationships as you all have discussed online here. We’ve been together 3 1/2 years (living apart, of course). Is it safe to assume that if a loner would never want to live with children?

  20. Hi Janet, welcome. 🙂

    “The funny thing is that I doubt I could ever get him to share as much with me about his feelings and relationships as you all have discussed online here.”

    Well, speaking for myself I’m more of an introvert than a loner. As for him, there might be other factors going on besides his loner tendency.

    “Is it safe to assume that if a loner would never want to live with children?”

    No, don’t assume anything. Each person is different and has different levels/needs for alone time. And I’ve seen many people who can’t stand to be with people much at all get very attached to their children.

  21. I am a loner with diagnosed introvert tendencies. I road bike every morning and enjoy the purity of the sport. I will socialize but it always feels vaguely not my most valued time

  22. Hello, I noticed your comment over at Adrienne Dellwo’s about.com column on fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue. Your comment was posted on an article that talked about the common tendency in fibromyalgia and cfs to require 48 hours “recovery time” after a stressful event.

    I wanted to let you know directly that your comment about fatigue being related to introversion didn’t really track coherently in re: these syndromes. We are talking about illnesses with legitimate, scientific studies showing loss of energy due to neurological, hormonal, and even mitochondrial dysfunctions.

    Personality may play some very small role, but in general most scientific studies that try to take emotion and personality into account in these syndromes have come up resoundingly negative. Despite this fact, doctors and psych professionals (as well as uninformed members of the general public, including sufferers’ families and friends) persist in labeling fibro and cfs as being “all in your head.” Trust me, to a person we are all heartily sick and tired of hearing this nonsense.

    Also, speaking from personal experience, I and most people I know who have fibromyalgia are extroverts or ambiverts. A common pattern is that we get into trouble after many years of over-achievement, striving, and stress. Please do not construe my statement as a judgement against introversion; there’s nothing wrong with this personality type at all (or with ambiversion, or with extroversion for that matter,) it just doesn’t to hold the answers fibro and cfs sufferers require.

    You may want to beat your introversion drum in some other environs; I assure you that you are not helping anyone on the fibro/cfs forums. Good luck, and I hope you find a way of boosting your readership that is more legitimate than mining forums you think may vaguely apply.

  23. leorising,

    “I noticed your comment over at Adrienne Dellwo’s about.com column on fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue”

    I’ve never commented over there, nor have I ever heard of that column. Someone must have linked to my article there, but it wasn’t me. I have no interest in CF or fibromyalgia.

  24. I’m so happy I’m not alone..I’ve been really confused about who I am lately! I can’t get close to ppl and if I do I soon try to distance myself from them, I’m just happy on my own, ..I have a room mate now, sadly…but only cuz I’m in boarding school, in ayear or so, I’ll have my own room and I can’t wait! I need no I CRAVE my space. And peace and quiet, but my roommate just won’t let me be ,..But I’m a loner or an introvert dunno which, Im friendly but have no friends and thats how I like it.

  25. Hi Mariah, you sound like an introvert to me. And yes, roommates are not the best for introverts, but it will be a learning and growing experience at least.

  26. I am an introvert. I like spending time with my friends ones in a while, but use the other time to recharge.

  27. I would say, I am both a loner and an introvert. Living alone, doesn’t expect a guest to come visit me, doesn’t want a neighbor-friend-like to bother me, do things on it’s own. Whenever a neighbor-friend-like invites me to eat because there is a celebration after, I would step out and go back home. No reason to talk or communicate to (them). I would step out or walk out of uninteresting conversations. As both loner and introvert, I find this characteristic; I can keenly observe and conclude things out base on words I heard whether it’s a lie and actions I see, especially the face expression.

  28. I think I’m a mix of both. . though it depresses me sometimes because I feel too lonely and I want to go out and socialise but when I do go out I feel pay and alone even if I’m around alot of people and I just want to hide away .. im considered really pretty by almost everyone I meet ,I don’t mean to sound conceited. . but that depresses me more knowing that I’d rather just hide away because I don’t love myself yet. ..wow I need help.

  29. I like spending time with people. I love going out. I dont like large crowds though. I prefer small groups. I come off as shy to people but I’m not. I get lonely and want for company.. but every now and then I have to be to myself to feel balanced. I’m outgoing only after I’ve gotten to know someone. I keep relations with people at a distance. There’s things people I hang with almost everyday don’t know about me. Am I both a loner and an introvert? Am I an introverted loner?

  30. Hi A.,

    I’d say you’re an introvert. You like spending time with people and become lonely, you just need your alone time.

  31. I am both. I do enjoy company with a few buddies. But that’s like what? Once or twice a month? Most times I keep to myself at work. Some co-workers think I may be one of those “silent but violent” employees that would suddenly go berserk one day, hence why they treat me nicely. :p

    Maybe I’m not that introverted, but it really depends on the company. Most times I’ll keep to myself. Loner? Well maybe part. When I have to do activities like groceries, biking, going to the movies, going to the gym, I’d say 90% of the time I do that alone even when I have the choice of asking someone to come along and help with some chores or just keep me company.

  32. You know you’re an loner introvert when your idea of a Saturday night is staying in alone. I enjoy my me time, especially after working in retail the whole week. I need a new job

  33. Hi! I find this article really helpful. I am an introvert, the only companion I prefer and I can stand for a long period of time is my dog. I am surrounded by a lot of extrovert people and most of them can’t understand my situation. They think being an introvert is a bad thing. They think me, being alone all the time is pitiful, yet, I feel so alive and happier when I’m on my own. I just let them think that way though. If they only knew the sense of liberty I feel when I’m alone.

    Reading this article and the comments helped me know the difference, if not for this I would never know there is a difference. And it feels good to know there are other people who are just like me.

  34. Hi everyone I have just ended another relationship and I believe it’s because I spend too much time in bed. I have just clicked that when I am in bed alone I feel so free! People like to be around me as they keep telling me this! But I much prefer to be alone otherwise I get sooooo…… Tired and my head hurts….. It’s been great hearing your comments… I have been diagnosed with depression and anxiety for years and have taken medication on and off for years… But I really am starting to think it has bee my life experiences that have made me prefer my own company.

  35. I don’t really have much of a comment as I do a question. A little background first. I have met a man whom I have grown to care for very deeply. We have things in common but he told me he likes to keep to himself. He recently had a tragic incident happen and I told him if he needed to talk he could call me any time and gave him my phone numbers. It has been almost 2 weeks since I’ve seen him and talked to him. Is it because he is not interested in me or is it because he may be a loner or introvert? I am neither one but I want him to know that I am his friend first and if anything more developed after that then super. Did I maybe scare him away? My personality is such that I am friendly and outgoing, however I don’t have a lot of friends. And I am 10 years older than he is. Should I leave him alone and not contact him. He is my superior through work, however he works out of another office. I would appreciate any feedback on this. I feel so lost and I miss him terribly. What do i do here?

  36. Hi Lisa,

    I would try to contact him, maybe through text or a phone call. Reach out to him and let him know that you are there for him. If he reciprocates in any fashion, he is interested and maybe just a bit shy or overwhelmed. If he doesn’t, move on.

  37. I just left my family’s house for thanksgiving and they were driving me crazy. I had to question myself because I was like is this normal. My home is generally quiet and calm. My family was loud and just too much talking. I was in a rush to leave. I really started to question if I had mental issues or if I was expecting too much. I prefer home, but I will go out, I just don’t like crowds. I don’t feel anxiety when Im in a crowd. I just don’t prefer it. We rode down to my grandmother’s with my aunt and her daughter. They were arguing(little mother daughter stuff) I was so annoyed. I am an only child and I don’t have kids. I really hate how I feel about my family. I can only take them in small doses…….I don’t know what to say about me

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s