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I love meeting people. Getting to know someone new is a great way to make friends, exchange ideas, and broaden your horizons, but not all people share this idea.
Sadly, I recently met my match when I tried to draw the new girl at the salon into a discussion on “life and everything else.”
It can be really frustrating to ask questions only to get non-committal answers or highly diplomatic and reserved replies in return. While I thought she might be shy, it’s been a few weeks of running into her at the salon, and she hasn’t “warmed up” to me yet.
My sister is a talented people-reader and psychologist, and she advised me that I should just give this new girl space as she’s likely a reserved personality type of person.
Far from being shy, it hints at this girl’s highly private way of being, and also warns me not to try and force a conversation as I’d likely run into a brick wall built around her very private self.
Have you met someone like this, who never shares, doesn’t volunteer information, and floats above any efforts to include them? You may have a reserved person on your radar.
What Is a Reserved Personality Type?
We all have personality types. How we act in life is determined by our temperament and how we have experienced life in interaction with others.
A reserved personality type is someone who plays their cards close to the chest. They don’t open, share, or trust easily.
Instead of sharing what they think, a reserved person will keep quiet, never really letting you see into their mind or reasoning.
They keep themselves isolated, avoiding contact, and preferring to think before speaking. A reserved person is self-aware, and they practice iron self-control, only adding to discussions when they feel it necessary.
Several factors contribute to a reserved personality:
- Choosing to deal with their negative feelings alone.
- Having an inherently introverted personality.
- Having experienced trauma.
- Being conditioned toward an advanced internal locus of control.
Benefits of Being Reserved
If you are reserved, there are benefits to this personality type. A reserved person:
- Is really good at listening and making others feel heard and understood
- Is an excellent friend who can be trusted with your secrets and they’ll give you unbiased advice when needed
- Is considerate
- Don’t act impulsively; they like to think through their options, weigh up the risks, and carefully examine the situation before deciding
- Is independent
- Is more likely to be hired since they focus on their work and not waste time chatting by the water cooler
- Is calm and cool-headed in conflict situations, though they try their utmost to avoid these
Cons of Being Reserved
Every personality type comes with cons. Here are the downsides to being reserved in life.
A reserved person:
- May seem to be aloof
- Doesn’t open up easily to others so they don’t have a ton of friends
- May feel like an outsider because a reserved personality type is a rare one
- May not thrive in group settings and extroverted environments
- May be overlooked for promotions because they don’t always or easily speak up (or get noticed)
What’s it like being in a Relationship or Friendship with Someone Who’s Reserved?
Relationships are about sharing and connection, so it can be difficult for a reserved person to really open up and enter a friendship or relationship with people.
When your partner is reserved, it can become challenging to foster closeness, intimacy, and connection. Some may believe that a reserved person doesn’t offer warmth or closeness. This isn’t true.
Instead, reserved people keep their affection, effort, and investment (emotionally, physically, and intellectually) limited to the few who have proven themselves safe and worthy to be that close and open with.
It can be difficult to get to know someone who is reserved as they don’t make information readily available about themselves, but they are people with deep integrity, self-awareness, and warmth once you do get into their inner circle.
Other Personality Types
In psychology, there are various psychological classifications of personality types. For example there’s the Myers and Briggs 16 personality types, the Five Factor Model of Personality, and the newer Four Personalities model (which is based on the Five Factor model of openness, agreeableness, extroversion, neuroticism, and contentiousness).
In the Four Personalities model, you can fall into one of these categories:
- Average, where an individual scores high extroversion and neuroticism and low in openness.
- Reserved, where a person is more conscientious, agreeable, and introverted.
- Self-centered, where the person scores below average in conscientiousness, openness, and agreeableness and high in extroversion.
- Role models, where an individual scores low in neuroticism and high in the other four categories.
Being Reserved vs Being Introverted
“Reserved” and “introverted” are two terms that are often confused with each other. While a reserved person may be introverted, an introverted person isn’t always reserved.
Someone who has a reserved personality may also be an extrovert or ambivert, where they enjoy company and socializing but they prefer to also focus on their inner world.
An introvert doesn't ever really say they like to hang out with friends, especially if it’s a large gathering, since these leave them exhausted and they need a lot of me-time to recuperate and recharge their social batteries.
17 Traits and Characteristics of a Reserved Personality
Here are the best traits that characterize a reserved personality:
1. They Are Deep Thinkers
If you are reserved or know of someone who is, it is very likely that they (or you) are a deep thinker. This speaks to their ability to think beyond the obvious, delve deeply into topics, and practice self-awareness in different situations.
Part of being self-aware is also their desire to avoid drama and complications, which they side-step by thinking beyond surface level.
Reserved people can think about a single topic for hours and days, discovering new insights and identifying patterns that keep their curious minds occupied.
2. They Are Calm and Collected
The calm one in a group is usually the reserved one.
They automatically throttle their emotions, reserving how they really feel for later when they can process or if they are with someone who they feel safe with. It’s their nature to deal with things carefully and analytically.
Reserved people make good negotiators as they bring a sense of calm and don’t get worked up.
3. They Are Self-Sufficient
Because they think inward, reserved people don’t need others to help them survive in daily life. They are strong enough and confident in their abilities to handle daily challenges and rely on themselves for the support they need.
They have a quiet strength because they don’t have to ask for help.
4. They May Be Shy
Being shy need not be a reserved personality trait, but reserved people may be shy. They are cerebral people who prefer to dwell in their own mind and inner world, so they naturally come across as being shy (even if they’re not).
By keeping to themselves a lot, reserved people tend to avoid socializing, which also makes them seem like they struggle with shyness – but really, they just don’t want to socialize with anyone not in their inner sphere (because it’s such a fun place to be).
5. They Are Compassionate
Despite avoiding drama and people, reserved people are innately empathetic and compassionate. They naturally see to the heart of things and they will turn a situation over in their mind before making up their thoughts about what’s going on.
As a result, they can see even more clearly that someone is upset, even before that person is aware of their own feelings.
6. They Are Non-Reactive (and Passive)
A reserved person doesn’t get rattled easily. They aren’t the type to easily take offense or become worked up. They are non-reactive, and the way of a reserved person is to be passive.
Irrational anger, thoughtless actions, and dramatic reactions aren’t natural to a reserved person, and they’re more likely to think their way out of a situation before they are actually in it. Being cautious by nature, they bring stability to the people and activities around them, making them excellent leaders.
Reserved people are easy to work with as they are always the same, with no need to engage in histrionics, seek attention, or cause a fuss. Whatever happens, they are prepared to deal with it, as long as they have some time to think their way through it.
With self-control, they can carve out the time they need to think before they take action, avoiding reacting and having an emotional explosion.
7. They Like to Spend Time by Themselves
Socializing isn’t a reserved person’s ideal, so they prefer to spend time alone, engaging in private or solo hobbies, activities, and deep thoughts. They are completely comfortable spending hours or days alone, with no need for conversation or company.
The unpredictable nature of socializing is what puts reserved people off from hanging out with people or going to new places. When they can control the world around them, they feel most at ease. Like introverts, a reserved person uses time alone to recharge and engage in introspection.
8. They Are Easy-Going
Despite not wanting to be surrounded by people, a reserved person is easy-going. They seem to float above their environment, easily moving above chaos, and gliding through life. You’ll find them to be agreeable, likable, and very relaxed.
Because they’re not overly emotionally invested in the things of daily life, they don’t get their feathers ruffled or feel like they should prove themselves – they already know who they are and what they are capable of.
While the new girl at the salon wasn’t very interested in getting chatty, she was still very easy-going and friendly. However, I felt an instant wall that prevented me from finding out more about her – she was aloof, but super nice.
9. They Are Emotionally Stable
Due to introspection, emotional awareness, and greater self-control, a reserved person is capable of not airing dirty laundry in public or seeking emotional validation from others.
Instead, they know they are at the wheel of their feelings, so they can choose to step on the gas or just cruise along.
It’s a no-brainer that they choose to remain stable, contentedly floating above drama. They are level-headed, approachable, and have a stable energy level that’s soothing to those around them.
If they had a motto, it would be to think before feeling and before showing their feelings.
10. They Are Comfortable with Silence
Many of us constantly live with noise around us – either the phones are ringing, we have neighbors shouting, colleagues texting, or a radio filling in the void too. Silence scares us.
But a reserved person thrives on silence.
With silence, they can hear themselves think, find calm and peace, and discover more of themselves. Silence lets them tune into their own frequency, which lets them best listen to how they are feeling and consider what they want to do.
11. They May Be More Appreciative (Than Other Personality Types)
When a reserved person thanks you, it’s sincere and from the heart. They’re not just mouthing some vestigial words.
Instead, they have thought about what you did to earn their thanks, and they have considered it before showing appreciation – it’s the highest compliment.
They don’t expect much as they don’t hold expectations of others. Instead, they deal with what is, accept and embrace it, and practice gratitude too. The result is that they enjoy little things in life, with no desire for large tokens or excessive gifts.
12. They Are Thinkers, Not Always Doers
One sad side of being a reserved person is that they’re not always efficient at doing something.
Instead, they focus on thinking about situations, imagining events, and not following through as much. The thrill for them is in the planning, while the actual doing isn’t nearly as thrilling.
With great gusto, the reserved person will start new projects and ideas, getting caught up on the planning, while not always seeing an idea through.
However, there’s nothing wrong with focusing on the journey and not the destination.
13. They Don’t Like Being Popular (or in the Spotlight)
A reserved person is quite unlikely to run for politics. While they can successfully portray other people, such as when acting in Hollywood, they don’t like the fame of being noticed.
Instead, they’d rather work in the shadows, letting others step up and take accolades and wins.
They want to plan and do the work, and so leave the reserved person to quietly work through things.
Accolades don’t mean as much to a reserved person, unless it’s something they are really proud of and presented by peers they respect. However, that’s not why they do work, and they will work diligently without the reward as long as they enjoy the work.
Don’t try to force them into the spotlight, or you may end up draining them. (If you didn’t know, they hate surprise parties).
14. They Dress Conservatively
Part of not wanting to be in the limelight is that reserved people avoid attracting attention. To blend in, they dress average, avoid bright colors, and tend to be quite reserved and conservative in their outfits.
Instead of trying to be trendy, a reserved person will treasure comfort. Most of their outfits will have a similar theme (dark jeans, a comfortable jacket, a t-shirt) and they tend to enjoy being in “a uniform” that lets them blend in.
As long as it’s convenient, comfortable, and not flamboyant, they will easily wear three sets of the same outfit.
15. They Don’t Share Their Opinion
You’d have to employ the four horsemen of the Apocalypse to get an opinion out of a reserved person if they don’t want to volunteer one.
Instead, being so diplomatic, careful, and thoughtful, the reserved person will remain quiet when they think something is wrong.
They’re not about to impose their views on others. And if someone shares a view that’s flawed, they won’t point that out either. Remember, they want to avoid drama.
16. They Are Intentional
When a reserved person acts, they mean to. They plan it, think about it, weigh up the results and consequences, and then they step into the driver’s seat.
Their actions are well-considered, have been formulated based on what has been said and how they understood the situation.
Therefore, their advice is always valuable, useful, and spoken simply. When they advise you, they don’t beat around the bush.
18. They Have Deep, Meaningful Relationships
Despite not being very social, a reserved type person is someone who has deep, long-lasting, and meaningful relationships. When you are friends with a reserved person, they will be your friend for life.
And you can expect to have fabulous conversations, debates, and deep thinking awesomeness. They will have a positive impact on your life like no other relationship or friendship will.
Final Thoughts about Having a Reserved Personality
Having a reserved personality means that you’ll likely feel like an outsider and be misunderstood because there aren’t many others who are like you. But there is so much value to being reserved (and authentically you) that you should just be you.
If you are reserved (or have a friend, colleague, or family member who is), you are a deep thinker, calm, compassionate, intentional, emotionally stable, and quite self-sufficient.
You don’t like drama, you connect on a deep level with those who are worthy, and you enjoy your thinking and me-time. If you aren’t sure what type of personality you have, use an online personality test to learn more about yourself.
And if you're looking for more resources on personality types, be sure to check out these blog posts:
- 15 Common Stoic Personality Traits & Characteristics
- 23 Magnetic Personality Traits & Characteristics That Attracts People
- 19 Signs You (or Someone Else) Has a Bubbly Personality
Finally, if you want to identify YOUR personality type, then take one of these 11 personality tests to better understand what makes you tick.