We change with the passage of time. The strange thing would be that we were still eternal teenagers afflicted by the Peter Pan Syndrome or we continued thinking as we did when we were 20 years old. The experiences of life change us and shape our personality.
However, one of the most widespread changes is the tendency to introversion as the years go by. That explains why we feel more comfortable staying at home enjoying a night of movies and blankets than partying with friends, or why we’re giving more and more importance to loneliness and silence.
In Psychology, the changes that occur with a certain independence from life experiences are known as “intrinsic maturation”. This phenomenon refers to the fact that our personality becomes more balanced as the years go by.
As a rule, as youth fall behind, people become more emotionally stable and more self-aware. They are also more calm and independent, they need less of socialization to be happy because they stop identifying so much with the group and don’t need their approval constantly.
That is why over time our social life becomes more peaceful and we enjoy more of a quiet life. The interesting thing is that this phenomenon is also seen in extroverted people, not only introverts; that is to say, each one in his own way, modulates that extraversion.
Being more introverted is good
From an evolutionary point of view the tendency to introversion makes a lot of sense, and is probably positive. When we’re young, extraversion helps us establish significant social and emotional bonds and even to find a life partner.
Later, when we already have that circle of close friends and a partner, knowing continuously new people becomes less important. In this phase we’re more dedicated to strengthening the bonds we have built.
It’s as if in the first part of life our goal was to expose ourselves to the world to discover what it has to offer, while in the second part it’s more important to find a meaning to all that and continue to nurture the established links.
The relative solitude and tranquility of that second phase also allows us to be alone with ourselves and discover the person we have become. While in adolescence and youth we try to discover who we are by opening ourselves to the world and exploring different roles, in adulthood come confidence and security, which is why we prefer introspection exercises.
On the other hand, in adulthood we understand that we not only need a break from work, but also from social life because constant commitments exhaust. In fact, a study conducted at the University of Helsinki proved that socialization exhausts. These researchers noted that being sociable, communicative and meeting many people causes exhaustion at least three hours later.
In this tendency to introversion also influences the fact that we value much more our time, which leads us to be more selective with our friendships. That means we prefer to cultivate those relationships with which we have values in common and feel contribute something to us.
Of course, all this doesn’t mean that with maturity we become hermits and don’t need social contact, but interests change and our way of relating also.
Leikas, S. & Juhani, V. (2017) Happy Now, Tired Later? Extraverted and Conscientious Behavior Are Related to Immediate Mood Gains, but to Later Fatigue. Journal of Personality; 85(5): 603-615.
Hopwood, C. J. et. Al. (2011) Genetic and environmental influences on personality trait stability and growth during the transition to adulthood: A three-wave longitudinal study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology; 100(3): 545-556.
Costa, P. T. et. Al. (2000) Personality at midlife: stability, intrinsic maturation, and response to life events. Assessment; 7(4): 365-378.