How Being Less-Naturally Social Can Affect Your Interpersonal Success

In other articles I talk about how there's nothing wrong with being less-naturally social, and go over some ways less-sociable people can get away with doing their own thing.

This article comes from a more practical perspective. It's written from the view of someone who is less-naturally social, but who wants to work on their people skills and make friends. The points below will cover some ways having a less-social nature can get in the way of those goals.

Issues that come from having a lower drive to socialize

Lack of motivation to improve your people skills or social life

If you're less-social you enjoy your own company and are usually able to fulfil yourself through any number of solo hobbies. The problem is this can get you stuck in annoying middle ground where you wish your social life had more going on, but it doesn't cause enough pain to really push you to make changes. You could finally drop in on that bridge club... but if you stayed in and watched a documentary you'd have a perfectly pleasant evening too. Your overall progress can be inconsistent and drawn-out. If you've got some insecurities or anxiety holding you back as well, things can really stall.

Lack of motivation to grow new friendships

New friendships take some energy to get off the ground. When you meet a prospective friend often there's an element of having to strike when the iron is hot; at least at first, you have to hang out with the them fairly frequently to 'lock in' the budding relationship. The motivation of less-social people to make friends may wax and wane. They may meet someone they get along with, but then when it's time to stay in touch and organize those first few get togethers they're no longer as driven, and they neglect the lead and let it go cold.

Lack of motivation to maintain existing friendships

Once a friendship is established the people in it reach an often-unspoken understanding on how often they'll keep in touch and hang out. Some friends see each other nearly every day, and constantly text back and forth. Others work fine getting together every three weeks, and only text to arrange the next plan. Whatever the amount required, a less-social person may not meet it, because they don't need to talk or hang out that often. A friendship may survive for a while this way, but eventually slip away because the other person isn't getting what they need from it.

Falling behind socially due to an accumulated lack of practice and experience

In the long term being less-social affects your interpersonal success by influencing how much social experience and practice you get. A more solitary person is going to grow up having putting in a lot fewer hours with their peers. Theirsocial skills can lag behind. They may struggle with things that other people don't even have to think about anymore. In time a vicious circle can start where the less you socialize, the less rewarding and more discouraging it becomes, which can cause you to devote an even lower amount of time to it.

Overall, I think less-social people sometimes see socializing as something to do when everything else is in order: when they're in the right mood, when they have enough energy, when they have enough free time, when they're have something fun enough planned, when they're not too stressed or preoccupied. In contrast, I think many people are always ready to socialize and are much less likely to put conditions on it. They see being around people as something they can always do, not just when the stars are aligned.

On the whole I don't think there's an easy answer for these motivational issues. One thing that may help is to look at your goals and check if they're something you really want for yourself or if they're more externally imposed. Do you really need a ton more friends, or do you feel that's what you 'should' want? If it's the latter, no wonder you're not fired up to go after it. If you really do want to pursue your goals, but your less-social personality interferes, it may just be a matter of having the self-discipline to do the things you trust will work out best for you in the long run. This article may give you a few more ideas:

Overcoming Laziness Toward Working On Your Social Problems

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Having a low tolerance for socializing

A big cliche about less-social types is that they get worn out more quickly when they have to be around people. I think this is due to a combination of inborn and learned factors. They may have a naturally less-social temperament, but they may also just not be as used to socializing, and therefore get more drained and irked by it. Whatever the causes, they adds up to that well-known sensation of feeling tired and wanting to go home after a two hours.

On the whole you can accommodate this tendency by only socializing as much as you want to, and taking enough time to recharge. It can be inconvenient to get depleted too quickly though. There are times when you'll want to be able to stick around an event longer, and don't want to give into the urges to go home. I have some thoughts on dealing with this common issue in this article:

When You Easily Get Drained And Tired In Social Situations

Possibly going a bit off from spending too much time alone

I already covered how spending time on your own can lead you to miss out on social experience. It doesn't always happen, but spending too much time alone can also make you become a bit odd and out of touch with everyone else in a hundred tiny, subtle ways. It's nothing dramatic, but you're that half-beat behind the rest of the world, and your social interactions can suffer as a result. I find that if you've already developed decent social skills you can spend time alone without them degrading too much. However, if you're more on the awkward side then isolation may push you even further in that direction.

I find the rest of humanity as a whole serves as a check for people's odder traits. Everyone develops their own strange little habits and opinions. I don't mean legitimately unique, fun differences. More quirks anyone would automatically dismiss as weird and useless. When you spend too much time alone these little idiosyncrasies can grow and multiply unimpeded. When you're around other people, they get regularly pruned back. You make an inappropriate joke and your friends look at you funny. You share a half-baked opinion and they immediately give you a reason why it's wrong. You start acting strange and they tell you to cut it out. Everyone acts as everyone else's social "polisher."

Not liking the things most people like

This whole article has a pragmatic slant to it, but this point especially. Less-social people often have interests that differ from what more mainstream types are into. They're into esoteric, solitary, cerebral pursuits. Everyone else seems to like noisy, physical, group activities. When they find themselves in a group, more often than not everyone's doing something they aren't that good at, and which they don't particularly enjoy. Socializing with many types of people obviously becomes less fun.

If you're open to it, one thing that can help is to make an effort to get into some of the things most people enjoy. I don't mean totally changing - that's not possible or something you'd want to do - but just taking on additional skills, experiences, and knowledge here and there to make things go more smoothly: Giving that video game all your friends play a shot, getting familiar with certain popular topics, learning to dance, etc.

Being too picky about the people you hang around

Less-social people are often more selective about who they choose to spend their time with. This is understandable because they can have unique personalities which won't gel with just anyone's. Also, they usually have a "quality over quantity" mindset. They don't need to socialize for as many hours each week, and they often have a lower tolerance for its little hassles, so they'd prefer to have a few really compatible friends than a ton of so-so ones.

The problem is when you want to expand your social circle, but your pickiness kicks into too strongly and you end up turning away people who would have become good friends or acquaintances if given a chance. If you brush off too many potential friends then you'll end up with no social life at all. Especially when you're making friends earlier in life, you're not totally sure yet what you like and want in other people, so you have to give them some time to show their good qualities.

Coming across as anti-social or that you don't like people

Even though someone may just be reserved, keep to themselves, or enjoy solitary pursuits, if they give the impression that they don't like other people, and that they don't want to spend time with them, they can be viewed negatively. People don't like the idea that someone dislikes them. It's not accurate, but to many people, someone just wanting to do their own thing translates into a personal rejection. Not everyone can wrap their head around the fact that some of us just don't want to be socialble all the time.

Some less-social people accidentally give off mild aloof vibes. Like they may have a pleasant chat with someone they meet at a party, but not feel any need to follow up and try to become buddies. The other person may be hurt and think, "We have a lot in common. Why don't they want to hang out? What's their problem?" Or they may upset their friends when they skip too many parties. Of course, there are less-social people who really are misanthropic, but they're the minority.

If you unintentionally seem standoffish and want more control over the impression you make, it can help to consciously adopt some behaviors that send more of a friendly message.