Schizoid Personality Disorder, Introvert, or Homebody?
If given the choice between attending a party or staying home alone and reading, I would pick the latter every single time. For most of my life, I’ve preferred to be solitary. This isn’t because I don’t enjoy other people, but because I don’t like loud and boisterous occasions. I love relaxing on the couch with a good book and the window open providing a gentle breeze. It’s calms me.
But when I told my boyfriend this, he looked at me like I was crazy. I shouldn’t have been surprised by this reaction; he is a veritable social butterfly and loves nothing more than spending time with friends. He also spends considerable time on Facebook and is very well-known in our hometown.
Nonetheless, his response stung. “Why would you prefer to be alone?" he asked, "You should enjoy being with others, exchanging thoughts and expressing ideas. Just think: If everybody was like you, we’d still live like cavemen because progress would have halted long ago.”
I tried to explain that I do enjoy conversing with others and the exchange of ideas. Those are intimate scenarios in which you can really get to know the person in front of you. What I don’t enjoy are parties and similar social gatherings that feel forced. Those occasions stress me out; I feel like I’m on display and have to be “on” for the entire duration. By the time I arrive home, I'm mentally and physically spent.
Is Something Wrong with Me?
Even knowing the truth about how I feel and understanding that my boyfriend would never willingly sit alone, by the end of our conversation, I felt that something was severely wrong with me. So I made the mistake of researching “preferring to be alone versus in large company.” Now I'm wondering if I suffer from schizoid personality disorder (SPD).
“Schizoid personality disorder is a condition in which affected people avoid social activities and consistently shy away from interaction with others,” according to Mayo Clinic. Symptoms include preferring to be alone, having few close relationships, and feeling confused about how to respond to normal social cues. Causes are unknown, although events in childhood may contribute to the development of the condition.
When I read this information, I felt slightly ill. I have only a few close relationships and usually feel confused during social interactions. Take, for instance, the conversation I had with my neighbor not too long ago. He informed me that because he lives directly beside the laundry center, he charges people $1 when they knock on his door and ask to borrow his detergent or fabric softener. I laughed at this, because I thought he meant it as a joke, but he was dead serious. The encounter turned uncomfortable when he stared at me as I laughed; his odd stare made me wonder if I had suddenly grown six heads. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my laughter was really inappropriate. Since then, I’ve tried to avoid further conversations with this particular neighbor.
This is just one instance of a social faux pas, but I do this sort of thing a lot. I don’t know how to react, so I laugh or smile. And I would rather read than talk on the phone. Does this mean I have SPD?
I don’t know the answer to this. Maybe I do have a personality disorder, or maybe I am merely an introvert, defined by Psychology Today as one who is “drained by social encounters and energized by solitary, often creative pursuits.” This sounds much less threatening, so I’ll stick with this more positive definition than the other.
And, for the record, I do socialize, I just prefer to avoid parties and large gatherings.