Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Original, curious, imaginative: the personality perks of people who like being alone

elephant.PNG

People who spend lots of time on their own get a bad rap in modern society. We tend to think of them as sad, lonely or even slightly suspicious; “keeps herself to herself” is never a positive accolade, after all.

But, argues social psychologist Bella DePaulo, there’s a difference between people who are forced to be alone through rejection and exclusion, and “true loners” who simply enjoy their own company.


Read more: single people live happier and longer lives, according to this psychologist


In a new piece for Psychology Today, DePaulo examines evidence for badass personality traits that go hand-in-hand with the latter category; people who relish solitude, and actively seek it out.

As a sub-category, this includes people who are unafraid of being single, and whose self-esteem, “when they are in romantic relationships... does not depend on how those relationships are faring”.

These kind of people agree with the statement, “when I am alone, I feel relaxed” and disagree with the statement, “I feel anxious when I think about being single forever.”

SATC's Samantha Jones: a woman who relishes being single

SATC's Samantha Jones: a woman who relishes being single

To examine the personality traits of people who love being single or love being alone, DePaulo looks at two landmark studies: Stephanie Spielmann’s “Fear of Being Single” survey and the “Desire for Being Alone” scale, developed by Birk Hagemeyer and his colleagues.

Both studies analysed five personality traits:

  • Neurotic: tense, moody, worries a lot
  • Open: original, curious, imaginative
  • Extroverted: Outgoing and sociable, talkative, assertive
  • Agreeable: considerate and kind, trusting, cooperative
  • Conscientious: reliable, organized, thorough

“If our stereotypes about people who like being alone were true, then we would find that they are neurotic and closed-minded,” DePaulo writes. “In fact, just the opposite is true. People who like spending time alone, and people who are unafraid of being single, are especially unlikely to be neurotic. 


Read more: a single woman explains why she’s much happier alone


“People who like spending time alone, and people who are unafraid of being single, are also more likely than others to be open-minded,” she adds.

In fact, these kind of personalities score well on all five traits; they are agreeable, conscientious and “not overly sensitive to rejection”. In addition, people who are not scared of being single “on the average, have more friends than married people do, and do more to maintain their relationships with their friends, neighbours, siblings, and parents”. 

DePaulo notes that not everyone accepts this, since “people who like being single, who choose to be single, are threatening cherished worldviews about what people should want”.

But, she adds, “as more and more people openly embrace their single lives, maybe things will change”.

Related

study parents children personality kindness.jpg

The personality trait you're most likely to inherit from your parents

rexfeatures_6072783bt.jpg

Britney Spears on how ‘overwhelming’ anxiety caused 2007 breakdown

black coffee.png

Black coffee lovers, science says you're more likely to be psychopaths

More

Sandi Toksvig’s shock Bake Off confession completely rocks our world

Can we get a “THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING”, please?

by Kayleigh Dray
21 Sep 2017

Gossip Girl was supposed to have an entirely different ending

Good morning, Upper East siders…

by Susan Devaney
21 Sep 2017

How to use Instagram to boost your career (and land your dream job)

It’s time to make your Instagram account work as hard as you do…

by Kayleigh Dray
21 Sep 2017

Students disciplined for making rape joke during a charity fundraiser

The four teens spelled the word ‘rape’ with body paint

by Amy Swales
21 Sep 2017

Colin the Caterpillar has been given a cute Christmas makeover

We only just got over Halloween Colin – now Santa Colin is in town

by Kayleigh Dray
21 Sep 2017

Sabrina the Teenage Witch is conjuring up a seriously dark TV reboot

But who will play everyone’s favourite half-witch?

by Kayleigh Dray
21 Sep 2017

Elisabeth Moss isn’t done with powerful dramas about women’s rights

Call Jane is set to be as relevant for Trump's America as its 60s setting

by Amy Swales
20 Sep 2017

Why we all think we’re the least popular one in our group of friends

If you believe everyone’s hanging out without you, you’re not alone

by Moya Crockett
20 Sep 2017

Why that Doctor Foster conversation is so incredibly important

So many people missed the point of this big reveal…

by Kayleigh Dray
20 Sep 2017

What is panic disorder – and do you suffer from it?

Nadiya Hussain described it as a 'monster'

by Megan Murray
20 Sep 2017