What’s the Difference Between Being Introverted & Being Anti-Social?

Let’s have some real talk here.

Introverts are misunderstood in so many ways. An introvert is often confused with someone who is shy or has social anxiety. That’s not the case folks.

Actually, a lot of introverts can appear fairly extroverted. Many of the introverts I know (including myself) are pretty outspoken and appear very confident.

An introvert has very specific attributes that may look antisocial at times. It has nothing to do with anxieties or the avoidance of crowds.


There are two definitions of anti-social. The clinical definition is in being devoid of the social and moral values of a culture. An anti-social person has the inability to discern social queues. They can’t adopt empathy or typical social behaviors. Another less intense definition is being reserved, withdrawn, and not wanting the company of others.

Clinical antisocial behavior isn’t simply wanting alone time. It’s a lack of key concepts or social standards such as empathy or a sense of right and wrong. Clinical antisocial behavior is where the term sociopath comes from.


An introvert is someone who needs to disconnect from others in order to regain their energy. Introverts gather their energy alone and expel their energy in group settings. By contrast, an extrovert charges their energy from being in a group and drains their energy when they are alone.

Some attribute shyness to introversion. But this is not correct. An introvert can be shy, but that isn’t a given. Introverts can be very outgoing and engaging when they are in groups, but they thoroughly enjoy their own company and require significant time alone between social interactions.

Here are some things to consider if you’re an introvert:

As an introvert you may worry that you are suffering from social anxiety when being in crowds or being “on” goes on for too long. Many times symptoms similar to those of social anxiety can appear to introverts who have exceeded their limits in social situations. Feeling anxious, wanting to disengage, feeling overstimulated, and other symptoms are normal in these cases. It simply is a signal from your body to get alone and recharge.

Introverts tend to be very socially aware. Because of this, they can experience overwhelm and over-stimulation. Be intentional about which social situations to be in and for how long. This will be the key to managing burn out. Be willing to set boundaries and pick and choose which events to engage in. Have a plan for alone time built into each day to recharge and refresh. Make extra time when being social is unavoidable.

You may have linked introversion with social anxiety. That’s a common misconception. If you are one of the millions of introverts in social situations, there are steps you can take to manage the quantity of time you are social and reduce the anxieties that come from too much company. Build more of the balance you need and see if that helps alleviate these symptoms.

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