8 Characteristics Of A Private Person

The concept of privacy in our interconnected – or should that be ‘overconnected’ – world may seem somewhat outdated.

Our growing cultural obsession with showcasing every aspect of our lives from dawn till dusk and beyond on a whole array of different social media platforms is clearly the antithesis of privacy.

But, for all that, there are many who would choose to define themselves as ‘private’ people.

So, what does that mean exactly?

A private person, as you’d expect, prefers to keep things on the down-low and doesn’t find it easy to open up to other people.

The majority of people for whom privacy is a default setting have a tendency towards introversion; they could never be described as social butterflies and don’t generally give much away about their day-to-day existence.

Broadcasting the twists and turns of their lives on social media is not for them. The private person’s main aim is to stay under the radar, being hyper-aware that, once you enter the social orbit, it can be difficult to retreat back into the comfortably anonymous existence where they are happiest.

Private people can be misunderstood.

So far, so good, for the person who chooses to keep their private life private.

The unfortunate fact is that other more outgoing folk – yes, the ones who consider themselves to be ‘normal’ – may have a problem with that choice.

The habitually secretive behavior, which seems so unnatural to others, can cause misunderstandings, and be mistaken for arrogance or even malevolence.

Reluctance to spill the beans about your life story, or refusing to engage socially with neighbors can lead to the assumption that something is being hidden, which in turn arouses suspicion and mistrust.

This has been a rich seam for fiction writers down the decades; Boo Radley in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is a classic, if somewhat extreme, case.

So, it’s not easy to be a private person where the cultural norm is the diametric opposite.

Does a private person have something to hide?

Well, although this may be the wider assumption, it is rarely the case.

A person who chooses to keep their private life private may seem aloof and antisocial to others, but the reasons behind their choice to stay under the radar are unlikely to be because they are trying to hide something.

More likely they have issues with trust, often due to being let down or betrayed in the past; they are natural loners; they regard their home as a peaceful sanctuary; and they feel they have a right to enjoy their quiet existence.

And there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of those reasons.

But, with those points in mind, maybe it is possible to say that private people do have something to hide after all: their personality.

And this is because their inner peace is sacrosanct and they have realized that only a few people are worthy of their trust. Their true self remains carefully hidden from all but those precious few trusted individuals.

Private people have changed the world.

Interestingly, some of the world’s greatest thinkers, who have made huge contributions to human existence, were intensely private people.

Albert Einstein is a case in point, who is quoted as saying: “The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.”

Likewise, physics genius, Sir Isaac Newton, was famous for being fiercely protective of his privacy, in spite of being one of the most celebrated scientists of all time. Shying away from the limelight gave him the space and time he needed to focus on his research.

It is, after all, difficult to be productive when you are surrounded by the ceaseless clamor typically created by humans going about their business.

Shutting out the hubbub, and having time to reflect and to think undisturbed, is maybe what helped the world’s deepest thinkers to change the world.

Perhaps this gives private people the edge?

8 Characteristics Of Private People

So, if you are someone who considers themselves as private, what characteristics do you have?

1. You shun the limelight.

The very concept of being the focus of attention is anathema to someone with a private personality.

This may be the opposite to today’s norm, where everyone is trumpeting their successes loudly on social media and sharing the minutiae of their existence with the world, seeking attention and approval as a form of self-validation.

But, if you are a private person, it’s not hard to swim against the oversharing tide, with the aim of minimizing your public persona. This is natural enough behavior for someone who is reserved and prefers a discreet existence.

Where others thrive on the praise of colleagues, receiving ‘attaboys’ with great pride and amid cheers of admiration, a private person shrinks from such public adulation.

For you it is enough to know that you have performed well and your efforts have been recognized, without feeling any need to shout of your successes from the rooftops or to receive mass approval.

2. You think before you speak.

Others may feel that the only way to have a ‘presence’ in a competitive world, and to validate their own existence, is to share every waking thought, pouring forth a torrent of information about themselves, whether it is relevant or not, just to be heard.

A private person like yourself, on the other hand, weighs their words very carefully and gives nothing away except the most basic details.

It is only when trust has been established that you will reveal any more about your private life, and then only to a precious few.

3. You cultivate a boring persona.

You have worked out that the best way to shut down people’s interest in your personal, and therefore private, life is to project such a dull image of yourself that they are simply bored to death.

If their intrusive questions about your life in general, and even more so about specific details, are met with monosyllabic or ambiguous responses, they’ll pretty soon stop asking because you are just not worthy of their time.

The very same tactic is used to great effect by celebrities who value their privacy: a few rounds of ‘no comment’ or ‘I don’t know’ shuts the inquisitive questioning down in double quick time.

While your life may be far from boring, the fact is that if your family and friends don’t get the information they want, they soon stop asking questions and leave you to get on with your preferred private existence.

4. You trust only a few people.

No man (or woman) is an island, as the old saying goes, and even the most private person normally has a very small number of dependable individuals whom they trust implicitly.

This trust doesn’t come easily, since it’s more often than not cases of past betrayals which have which have led you to guard private information about your own life so closely.

5. You avoid answering prying questions.

In fact, you have turned this into an art. So adept are you at deflecting intrusive questions, that the person you are talking to doesn’t even notice you have failed to answer their query satisfactorily.

You know from bitter experience that revealing too much about your life often ends up with people criticizing your decisions.

Worse still, even if you have specifically asked for some detail to be kept confidential, you know that there’s a good chance that this person will share your secret with others.

You have learnt that it’s better to keep your own counsel to avoid being disappointed or let down by untrustworthy people.

6. People’s secrets are safe with you.

Not only are you an expert at keeping your own innermost secrets safe, but you also use this well-honed skill to keep privileged information about others under wraps.

This makes you a loyal and trusted friend because you will never betray someone’s trust or start gossiping about them behind their back.

You respect other people’s privacy and in return you expect them to treat yours with the same consideration.

7. Your personal boundaries are strong.

There are few things that make you feel more vulnerable than having people snooping into your life.

When you feel under attack in this way, you will go to great lengths to protect your personal boundaries.

Nosy people and intrusive questions may be intolerable to you but, by the same token, you will never pry into other people’s business either. You, above all, understand other people’s right to keep their privacy.

You have certain elements of your life that you may be willing to share with others but a whole lot more that you prefer to keep private.

By setting your own boundaries in this way, you won’t find yourself tricked into accidentally giving out more information about yourself than you originally planned to, whether to a friend, family member, co-worker, or anyone else you come into contact with.

You are in control of the topics you’re comfortable speaking about and are a master of choosing carefully both the words you use and to whom you speak.

8. You unplug yourself from social media.

This is not to say that you don’t use social media at all, but you are not going to succumb to the oversharing epidemic.

Constant personal status updates and posting hundreds of selfies showcasing your whole life on Insta, Twitter, or Facebook are not for you.

Any online presence you do have is likely to have been carefully curated, ensuring that you reveal the minimum about your private life.

If your profession requires online interaction – and there are precious few that don’t in this digitally interconnected world – then you keep careful control over what you reveal about yourself on a need-to-know basis only. It is strictly business, after all.

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About Author

Working as a freelance copywriter, Juliana is following a path well-trodden by her family, who seem to have 'wordsmithing' in their DNA. She'll turn her quill to anything from lifestyle and wellness articles to blog posts and SEO articles. All this is underpinned by a lifetime of travel, cultural exchange and her love of the richly expressive medium of the English language.