If an introvert says they “don’t think of you as people,” what do they mean? You might think that not being considered people is an insult somewhere along the lines of calling you sub-human. However, that’s far from the case when this phrase is coming from an introvert. We actually mean it as a compliment.
Being an introvert does not mean you hate people. Even so, for many introverts, “people” aren’t a group that they trust or feel particularly comfortable around. To quote Agent K from Men in Black, “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.” That pretty much sums-things up. An individual might be okay but as a group people aren’t necessarily all that great.
If you “don’t count as people” for an introvert, that means you’ve gotten past our lines of defense guarding us from the world at large. You’re in the inner circle of human beings who aren’t part of that big, scary mass of people.
Mapped to the Inner World
Introverts are people for whom the inner world is more “real” to them than the outer world. They live life from the inside first, and take that focus into their outer world interactions. As a general rule, people are part of the outer world. But it is possible for introverts to “map” the people they’re closest to into their inner world.
I think it was a Personality Hacker podcast where I heard this concept explained this way, but I don’t remember which episode so I had to put it in my own words instead of tracking down the exact quote. Once you’re “mapped” into an introvert’s inner world, you don’t count as people. For example, you’ve probably heard that people drain an introvert’s energy. That’s true, but for people who are part of our inner world it’s not nearly as much of an issue. There are a few people that I can relax around so much that it’s almost like recharging alone. In some cases, it’s even better to be with them than to be by myself.
Now, this doesn’t mean that if you’ve been mapped to an introvert’s inner world that they’ll never need any alone time. We still need space to be alone with our thoughts and recharge. But we’ll be able to spend a lot more time with you and still feel comfortable and energized if you “don’t count as people.”
Levels of Friendship
Not counting as people can also refer to how close you are in an introvert’s levels of friendship. Everyone sorts people they know into categories, at least to a certain extent. You have acquaintances, work buddies, closer friends, etc. I wrote an article a while back about INFJ levels of friendship, and you can click here to read it for one example of how this works for a specific personality type.
In that article, I called the different levels “acquaintance,” “casual friend,” “friend,” and “soul friend.” The acquaintance and casual friend levels are considered people. We might like them, we might enjoy hanging out with them, but they still feel like part of the outside world A true friend is someone who an introvert might tell “you don’t count as people.” They’re the people we care deeply about and feel that we can relax around and be ourselves (at least to a certain extent). What I call the “soul friend” category takes that a step further and we’ll trust them with anything. They’re firmly mapped to our inner worlds and certainly don’t count as “people.”
So the next time an introvert tells you they don’t think of you as people, feel flattered! It’s one of the highest compliments that we can give you.
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