Description of an intense or serious person

1. You avoid small talk, joining and mingling with large groups, and certain kinds of conventional approval-seeking behavior.

2. When you’re with one or two close friends, you’ll talk for hours in an excited and animated fashion about the topics you find compelling without always properly evaluating your listener’s interest level. Friends of mine used to say: “ One thing for sure about Mark – you never have to talk about the weather.”

3. You don’t care much about social taboos or getting “too deep, too fast” for someone else’s comfort.

4. Corollary to the previous points: Acquaintances, schoolmates, or more casual friends might occasionally find your intellect intimidating. It probably isn’t because you set out deliberately to impress or dazzle them. It’s because you read and you think about things and you develop enthusiasm for somewhat obscure topics that not everyone can relate to. Your desire to share those enthusiasms is a desire to connect in a legitimate and meaningful way, but it isn’t always interpreted that way by people who aren’t running quite at the same speed on the same topics.

5. When fully engaged in conversation, you tend to make more direct and sustained eye contact than others are comfortable with. People are greatly variable on this, but as a general rule, extroverts, minglers, and small-talk makers are minimal with direct eye contact and are often good at matching and mirroring the eye contact level that someone else seems to want… but if you’ve just gotten acquainted and your eyes are locked on them and blazing while you talk passionately about a favorite topic, they might not know how to read your intensity level. Sometimes the passion you have for a pet topic may get misread as a romantic interest, for example.

6. The good news is that you’re probably brilliant, somewhat introverted (but selectively very charged up), and the sort of person who may become a renowned novelist by middle-age. Or a filmmaker, musician, painter, or an artist in some medium. Or a genius innovator in a technology business. Selectively intense introverts do amazing things. And you can learn to mitigate the personality factors that not everyone is comfortable with and to interact more fluidly with a greater range of people.