Understanding the Lone Wolf: Confident Individualist Social Habits

Kyle’s avatar

What Is a Personality Type “Strategy”?

A Strategy is a way of grouping the personality types according to the Mind and Identity traits, which strongly relate to certain aspects of social behavior, among other things. (To learn about personality traits and types, check out our framework.)

The focus of this article is the often misunderstood social preferences of the Confident Individualism Strategy group: Introverted personality types with an Assertive Identity. They’re not quite like other Introverts and often face distinct social challenges.

We’ll explore this issue and offer some insights to help Confident Individualists – and the rest of us – better understand and appreciate each other.

An Interesting Strategy

A happy social life is a common goal, but Introverts of all types often become overwhelmed when they enter life’s faster, louder, more energetic social currents. This can leave some of them socially disadvantaged or unfulfilled, wishing they could improve things. This drives many toward conscious social development (which we support with resources like the Social Life section of our NERIS Type Explorer® Level 2 tool in our Academy).

But what about Introverts who simply say “no thanks” and go their own, solitary way? We’re not talking about the ones who’ve given up on achieving their social desires, but rather those who remain genuinely happy with relatively little social interaction.

Enter the Confident Individualists: the “lone wolves” of the personality type spectrum.

Much like a lone wolf in the wild, Confident Individualists are born of a social species, yet are much more self-sufficient than most of their kind. These types value their independence in ways that can be difficult for other personality types to fully understand – or accept.

Lone Wolves amid a Herd Mentality

Most of the world sees frequent, energetic social interaction as a normal and correct ideal – the term “loner” has become negatively charged. Social integration has major advantages and isn’t a bad goal, but neither is it a universal fit. Many Introverts’ natural preferences make it a tough objective – and painful when forced upon them.

A perfectly functional private lifestyle can turn into personal misgivings simply because others find fault with it. But the personality types within the Confident Individualism Strategy tend to respond a little differently than other Introverts.

Where some might feel deficient, ashamed, or helpless in the face of mainstream social expectations, Confident Individualists are better at maintaining their self-confidence and happiness. Despite societal pressure or criticism, they’re more likely than other personality types to unapologetically enjoy a relatively solitary life.

Anyone whose approach to life seems to contradict a popular ideal may find themselves regarded with confusion, pity, suspicion, or even resentment. Our goal herein is to positively evolve such perceptions about these “lone wolf” personality types with data and insightful consideration. We’ll also offer some advice for Confident Individualists to smooth their social interactions.

Because this Strategy group is partly defined by Introversion, much of what we’re discussing may be relevant to Introverts with a Turbulent or marginally differentiated Identity trait as well. For example, consider each Introverted Strategy’s responses to the survey question, “Do you typically prefer to perform everyday activities alone or with others?”

85% of Confident Individualists and 81% of Constant Improvers say they prefer to perform everyday activities alone.

All Introverted personality types are likely to value privacy and solitude. However, we’ll attempt to focus as much as possible on aspects that are statistically more relevant to Assertive Introverts: the Confident Individualists.

The Pack View of Lone Wolves

The typical characteristics of those in the Confident Individualism Strategy may result in some negative perceptions among other types who encounter them. This can happen subtly or unconsciously – it’s not always easy to recognize the ways we judge people.

With that in mind, let’s honestly consider some unfortunate ways that socially detached types are often perceived. As you read this list, you may catch yourself nodding. Maybe you’ve been on the giving (or receiving) end of such thoughts.

They’re Stuck Up

When a Confident Individualist chooses to be separate from a group, some people (especially the ones in the group) may think it’s due to disdain or a sense of superiority. But consider the responses below to the research statement, “You want to distinguish yourself from other people in some way.”

Agreement by Strategy: Social Engagement 92%, People Mastery 87%, Constant Improvement 86%, Confident Individualism 80%.

The majority of all personality types apparently want to feel special, but Confident Individualists (80% agreeing) technically trail the pack. Instead of seeing their individualism as an affront, consider that these types may be sincerely following their own path – just like anyone.

Responses to the research statement, “Staying unique in society is very important to you,” seem to support that possibility.

Agreement by Strategy: Social Engagement 80%, People Mastery 74%, Constant Improvement 68%, Confident Individualism 62%.

Again, we see overall majority agreement – but with Confident Individualists (62%) less likely than other types to agree. Some of these individuals may simply want to be who they are and don’t really care how it compares to others. While it might be true that they often stay apart from a group, they’re not more likely than other types to think they’re above it.

They’re Lazy – They Never Want to Go Out, Hang Out, or Do Stuff

Confident Individualists have finite social energy and prioritize socializing less than other personality types. Their Assertive Identity makes them less vulnerable to peer pressure, too, so they’re often more comfortable than Turbulent Introverts with declining invitations. This has nothing to do with being lazy, but it may seem this way to friends and family who want them to join in social fun.

Consider how each Strategy reports spending their time.

50% of Confident Individualists say they spend 10 or more hours per week doing things purely for fun, compared to 48% of People Masters, 46% of Constant Improvers, and 46% of Social Engagers.

The differences among the Strategies are minimal – Confident Individualists are just slightly in the lead. However, they may not have the same idea of fun as more social types. Their “fun time” might be working on a solo project – hardly lazy, but others who aren’t around to witness their activity may mistakenly see them as apathetic.

They Don’t Like Me

To people who are more socially inclined, Confident Individualists’ reserve and independence can come off as some kind of personal rejection. Confident Individualists may be shy, self-focused, private, or even low on social awareness, but these qualities do not equate to or amount to a habit of judging other people negatively. Their behavior is more likely akin to neutrality – a lack of active interest.

Check out the responses to the research question, “You are not interested in other people’s feelings, especially if you do not know them very well.”

Agreement by Strategy: Confident Individualism 50%, Constant Improvement 36%, People Mastery 30%, Social Engagement 26%.

While not specifically about socializing, this chart illustrates how these types can be socially disinterested (at least, relative to the other Strategies). But, having said that, Confident Individualists were evenly split on this topic – meaning that half of them are interested in the feelings of people they don’t know well. It’s also worth noting that these personalities usually take longer to get to know and like someone.

Think of it this way: highly sociable people are naturally sensitive to, and quick to act on, social opportunities. For them, it’s an inherent drive, a positive bias. Confident Individualists aren’t as similarly attuned or inclined, but that isn’t necessarily a negative bias. It’s just a lack of positive bias – indifference.

However, in many cases, people’s assumptions, expectations, or insecurities may negatively color their perception of such cool reserve – and that can be a mistake. Anyone offended by Confident Individualists’ initially neutral stance may miss out on getting to know a slow-to-warm, yet genuinely caring person.

Let’s look at the responses to the research statement, “You usually feel comfortable just sitting in silence with other people.”

Agreement by Strategy: Confident Individualism 82%, Constant Improvement 76%, People Mastery 60%, Social Engagement 56%.

Confident Individualists agreed at a rate of 82%, reinforcing the idea that these personalities may not always give off the obvious social or emotional affirmations that many people want or expect. Still, this doesn’t mean that they don’t enjoy company – including yours.

They Always Want to Be Alone

It’s true that, as a group, Confident Individualists generally prefer lower levels of social interaction than other types. We see a solid example of this in the way that each Strategy evaluates the time they spend alone.

84% of Confident Individualists agree that the time they spend by themselves often ends up being more interesting and satisfying than the time they spend with other people, compared to 78% of Constant Improvers, 32% of People Masters, and 26% of Social Engagers.

Confident Individualists may have agreed in a strong majority, but that doesn’t mean that all of these personalities always want to be alone. For every majority, there is a minority – and for every individual preference, there are circumstantial exceptions. Consider the responses to the research statement, “You prefer exploring unfamiliar places alone.”

Agreement by Strategy: Confident Individualism 54%, Constant Improvement 48%, People Mastery 39%, Social Engagement 35%.

Although Confident Individualists (54%) were more likely than other personality types to agree, they barely reached a majority. A very reasonable interpretation of this data is that many of them prefer company when exploring unfamiliar places.

We see similar results when it comes to how these personalities like to work.

If they had a choice, 50% of Confident Individualists would prefer to work alone, 48% would prefer to work in a small team, and 2% would prefer to work in a big team.

The point is that a general or majority trend isn’t an absolute rule for all individuals or circumstances. Confident Individualists are certainly more likely to favor privacy and solitude than other types, but most of them probably enjoy socializing – in some amount, in certain settings.

While they’re far from being closet Extraverts, it’s simplistic and inaccurate to see all Confident Individualists as isolationists. They just have specific – and often highly individual – limits and preferences that must be observed for them to truly enjoy social interactions.

However, since Confident Individualists and their needs may indeed be uncommon (or easily misinterpreted, as we’ve discussed), these least-social personality types may want to consider taking active steps to improve their social lives.

Say what…?

Making the Voice of the Lone Wolf Heard

Why on earth would Confident Individualists want to improve their social lives? It seems obvious that they want less social interaction than most. Not to mention their sense of self-sufficiency: when they have a dilemma, 76% of Confident Individualists prefer to think about it alone rather than ask others for advice. And 79% say their happiness does not depend on how other people feel about them.

Well, if the definition of “improve” is “to make better,” perhaps even these independent personalities might consider improving how they socialize. Not necessarily to increase their social activity, but to make it more rewarding – and suitable – for themselves.

For one thing, a very strong majority (85%) of Confident Individualists agree that it is important to them to be respected by others.

Working toward meaningful interactions with others can help Confident Individualists garner respect, rather than be judged by mistaken assumptions. And better communication can also help these personalities secure their privacy.

Furthermore, making their own needs known more clearly can prevent misunderstandings. This can be an especially valuable balance to strive for in important relationships like those with family and romantic partners. Improving relations can preserve the social boundaries that help Confident Individualists be happiest in life.

So, while these types may not want (or need) to seek more social contact, there is almost certainly progress to be made in their social lives, if only for their own sake.

Paths a Lone Wolf Can Take

If you’re a personality type in the Confident Individualist Strategy group, we invite you to consider the following approaches to improving social interactions.

Explain Your Preferences

“No thanks” is an acceptable way to decline social invitations or overtures. While you don’t necessarily owe people any explanation, you might benefit from being more specific about why you aren’t interested. Blunt honesty can cause problems, but truth shared diplomatically and warmly can help others understand your interests and limits. Ultimately, this can lead to more of what you like being offered to you.

Tip: You don’t have to deflect social pressure by saying things like, “I’m weird that way,” or joking about yourself. It’s okay to be lighthearted if you want to, but it’s equally okay to present your unique social preferences as normal and valid. It’s fair to expect respect, even if your behavior seems unusual to others. Who’s to say Extraverts aren’t the weird ones?

Express Appreciation

Especially if you don’t spend a lot of time with people, making it clear that your time with them is meaningful and valued will help you maintain good relationships. You might put a little extra complimentary energy into thanking a coworker. You might remind friends how much fun you have with them or tell a loved one how much they matter to you.

If your social life is based on a “quality over quantity” approach, it’ll benefit everyone involved for you to overtly acknowledge that quality: the depth of value you hold for people.

Tip: The most social people aren’t always the most thoughtful. But you can make an impact (even from afar) by taking the time to send thoughtful messages after any socializing. (You can even blow some minds with an old-school handwritten note.) If contact with you is delightful, then, like a rare wine, people will savor it rather than resent its scarcity.

Make Your Needs Known

When you do choose to spend time with people, consider continually communicating as things progress: where to go, what to do, how to do it, what to eat, etc. Apply as much effort as you’re comfortable with, but understand that the more you help guide social activities, the more likely you’ll find them enjoyable and worthwhile, and that’s the whole point.

Tip: Our research indicates that Confident Individualist personalities are likely to be somewhat direct with others and that they’re less easily upset by others. This can be a major asset in terms of helping you respectfully assert yourself with composure. We can trust you not to dominate everyone else’s wishes and ideas, right?

Take an Individual Approach

If you find larger gatherings unenjoyable, consider spending time with people individually or in pairs. You can dial down the level of social energy, have lots of fun with people you like, and avoid the ones you enjoy least. Another benefit is that it’s far easier to coordinate with just one or two people, so there’s less effort and stress in the planning.

Tip: Remember that chart we discussed earlier about Confident Individualists being comfortable sitting in silence with other people? Well, if you’re with people you enjoy, you can let them take the social lead while you engage in a quieter way. Whatever works for you!

Invest in Those Who Matter Most

Confident Individualists may be the most independent personality types, but they nonetheless care about others – deeply, in some cases. You may want to prioritize some social investment in specific people, even if it means pushing your limits. When someone really wants or needs your presence, they’ll appreciate key times you were there for them, even if they don’t see you often.

Tip: To put it bluntly, this isn’t only about those you’re connected to emotionally, like close friends and family. Social relationships can be important in other areas of your life as well. For example, professional contacts can aid your career. How others treat you often relates to the strength of your relationship with them, so giving your company to anyone important in your life can be a gift that comes back to you.

Final Thoughts: Being a Lone Wolf vs. Being Antisocial

One way to look at the critical distinction between being a lone wolf and being antisocial is that a lone wolf doesn’t much need others, and an antisocial person doesn’t much like others.

Confident Individualists are thus named not because they don’t appreciate or value others or society itself, but because independence is their paramount value. How they express their unique traits usually has little to do with being antisocial and much more to do with being happy as they are – which can be quite impressive.

Based on our extensive body of personality research, Confident Individualists stand out from the other three Strategy groups in a few more notable ways. Relative to other personality types, Confident Individualists demonstrate the following trends:

  • Their perspectives tend to diverge from the mainstream. For example, Confident Individualists have the lowest level of trust in political systems and are the least likely to believe that history is important.
  • They tend to be rational thinkers. Confident Individualists are more skeptical than other personalities toward faith, magical thinking, and the supernatural.
  • They tend to be calm and collected. These personality types are the most likely to view themselves as highly focused and the least likely to say they respond to situations emotionally.
  • They’re not as status- or attention-seeking as most. Confident Individualists are less concerned than other personalities with how they look, for instance, and they’re the least likely to think that their birthday is important.

These individuals can be strong, free-minded, and level-headed. Willful, yet relaxed. Some might argue that these are very admirable qualities. The support, friendship, or loyalty of such an individual would be a boon, indeed.

Is it possible that some Confident Individualists are antisocial? Perhaps, but not necessarily in the sense that they’re hostile toward people or society in general. If anything, they stand as intriguing examples of how to live well with minimal dependence on others.

Like a telescope or mountaintop, the most remote positions often reveal unique perspectives. The view of the lone wolf may offer valuable insight into being social. (If you’re a Confident Individualist personality type, please howl away in the comments section below!)

Those of us in the more socially inclined Strategy groups can learn much from Confident Individualists. For one thing, being social, however richly beneficial, can also bring profound stress, pressure, and risks. Learning when it’s healthy to unabashedly say “no thanks” and go our own way – as these types often do – is certainly a valuable skill to practice.

There may be moments when imitating the ways of the lone wolf can refresh our souls like nothing else. Emulating their serene solitude may be our best path to finding our true selves.

Further Reading

What Assertive Personality Types Aren’t

How Introverts Can Create More of an Impact at Work

Mr. Darcy’s Personality Type Revealed

NERIS Type Explorer® L2 Test (Social Life)