What’s it like being a private person?
If you identify as one, you might be inclined to weigh in on this.
Or you might just keep your thoughts to yourself and see if any part of this post makes sense.
We’ve identified nine surprising (or, at the very least, interesting) traits shared by private people everywhere.
If you’re a private person (or you know someone who is), we think you may recognize yourself in some of these behaviors and choices.
What is a Private Person Like?
Someone with a private personality is very often an introvert with a strong desire for, well, privacy. They don’t share their personal world with anyone but those who’ve earned a place in their inner circle.
With the rest of the world, they’re more likely to shield their identity and their personal business than to advertise either. You’ll soon see why as you read on.
9 Characteristics of a Private Person
If you’re a private person, the following characteristics should sound familiar. And if you have someone else in mind, ask yourself if any of these apply to them.
1. Your social media activity is sparse and impersonal — or nonexistent.
You don’t feel the need to share personal stories, nor do you need to get likes, shares, and heart emojis to feel validated by your social media connections.
You don’t hate that kind of attention — as long as it feels genuine and not forced or pitying — but “going viral” is not on your priority list.
You don’t often share pictures of yourself or people you love, because it makes you feel exposed or vulnerable to attack—or invasive questions.
While some social media channels can be useful for your professional purposes, you don’t see a benefit to getting personal on any of them.
2. You have a small but intimate circle of friends.
You don’t feel a need to be surrounded by friends. It’s enough to have just a few people you can trust with your confidence.
Close friends are there for you when you need them. You’re not just one of many to them, and vice-versa. You choose them carefully. And it hurts more when one of them betrays your trust. In fact, you might never trust them with your confidence ever again.
Much is expected of this intimate circle. But you give at least as much as you receive.
3. You’ve been called “boring” or “closed off.”
More outgoing people who share more of themselves on social media or their blogs have noticed you don’t do the same. And some of them even take issue with that.
They may feel that you judge them for “oversharing,” so they lash out with insulting or reductive assumptions. It’s not personal—in that it’s more about them than about you.
But it might get to you sometimes (if you let it).
For your part, you don’t mind if people outside your circle of friends consider you boring or closed off. That might even be part of your strategy.
Their assumptions keep them at a safe distance.
4. You tend to steer conversations away from your personal business.
When conversations get too personal, you become uncomfortable unless you trust the people around you implicitly. You’ll often answer evasively or even refuse to answer the question and steer the conversation in a different direction.
If that doesn’t work, you find a reason to leave. You won’t sacrifice your privacy to please people who aren’t in your intimate circle and who are asking personal questions out of boredom or curiosity.
So, if you can get people interested in something or someone else (without sacrificing putting anyone’s privacy in the crosshairs), you will.
5. You think before you speak.
You’ve learned to pause and consider your response before speaking. Maybe you learned this the hard way, or perhaps this is something you’ve always done (or for as long as you can remember).
As a rule, you don’t blurt things out. And because the more tired or overwhelmed you feel, the more likely you are to say something you might regret, you tend to avoid social situations when you’re feeling run down.
You like having time to reflect on a situation or on someone’s words or actions before you respond to them—partly because, if you don’t, you’re more likely to reveal too much of your private self.
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6. You have strong beliefs and boundaries.
You may not be quick to announce your beliefs to others, but that doesn’t mean they don’t go deep. When you believe something, you believe it with all your soul.
As someone who values your privacy, though, you avoid debating about your beliefs with others. That said, you do recognize that even deeply-held beliefs can be wrong.
You appreciate those who’ve challenged a belief of yours and helped you see its weaknesses. You may not have been receptive to those challenges at the moment, but when something in their argument resonated, it took root.
7. You’re careful with how you spend your time.
You don’t see a point in spending time and energy on things that don’t matter to you. And while your social-media-savvy coworkers might tease you for being all-business with your social media presence, you don’t mind.
You’re amply compensated by the things on which you do spend time and energy.
You invest both in building and strengthening relationships that are important to you. You also prioritize doing your best at everything you do. You recognize that how you do little things is how you do life.
And that’s one thing you have no intention of wasting.
8. You keep your feelings private.
You’re usually calm, collected, and non-reactive. Because people are less likely to notice someone whose quiet and whose emotions are well-controlled.
You don’t see a plus side to being completely transparent about your feelings. Maybe you’ve learned the hard way that some people are only too ready to use that against you.
Or maybe your parents were private people, and you’ve inherited that inclination. In any case, you’ve yet to experience any downsides. And, as long as you don’t take privacy to an extreme that alienates the people closest to you, private is not a bad thing to be.
9. You’re deeply compassionate toward others.
As someone in the habit of thinking before you speak or react, you’re more introspective and more likely to reflect on the world and your place in it.
So, whatever frustration you might feel toward those who insist you’re too private, you’re quick to feel compassion toward anyone in your world who’s hurting.
You’re also more likely to see yourself as responsible for the way you impact others–even if your intentions are good. You know, it’s not enough to have a general feeling of goodwill toward all. Every moment is an opportunity to be more of the person you want to be.
And that person doesn’t ignore suffering if they can do something about it.
What Does It Mean When Someone Says They Are a Private Person?
If someone you know (or have recently met) describes themselves as a private person, it’s not always clear what they mean by that. Here are a few possible interpretations:
- They don’t feel comfortable answering personal questions;
- They keep their feelings to themselves (and might prefer that you do the same);
- They understand and value your right to privacy—as well as their own;
- They don’t want the spotlight. They prefer to work behind the scenes;
- If they divulge any personal information, they’ll do so on their own terms.
Some who identify as private people do so because they have something to hide, and they don’t want anyone looking at them too closely, else they be discovered—and rejected.
As a rule, though, it’s best not to assume a private person is hiding something shameful.
Context usually offers some clue as to what someone means when they identify themselves this way. In any case, it’s not meant to be taken personally.
Why Being a Private Person is Good
Consider the following perks to being a private person:
- You don’t have to worry about the details of your personal life “going viral”;
- You’re less likely to blurt out something that hurts or offends someone else;
- The people you call your friends are more likely to keep your confidence;
- You don’t waste (much) time and energy on things that don’t matter to you;
- Secrets are safe with you. You keep others’ confidence like you keep your own.
The benefits make it well worth any grief you might get from people outside your circle. Vulnerability can be a good thing—until it’s not. And while being private can also be taken to an extreme, only you can decide what you’re willing to risk.
Now that you know the characteristics of a private person, which ones stood out for you? And who in your life fits this description?