"Type A" personality often feeling lonely

Dear Alice,

Okay, I'll admit it, I'm a very Type A personality, who's committed to the bottom line. Very action-results oriented, with schedules, deadlines, what's-going-on out to infinity. And I've noticed it tends to drive other people crazy, since most of the world is supposedly Type B. And according to them, I can't relax. They're probably right, since I'm 28 and haven't had a boyfriend since 18, and that was for a month (forget about sex, cause it ain't happening). There really isn't anxiety, since I've done all sorts of things (skydiving, scuba diving, working in a cubicle) that others would consider frightening, but I rather enjoy. But it's just how my brain is wired. So now what? Resign myself to a life of loneliness and celibacy? (Okay, that's scary.) How does a Type A interact with a world of Type B's? It's really hard, and lonely sometimes. Please help. Thank you for your time and attention.

Terrified Type A

Dear Terrified Type A,

Some of the traits you use to describe yourself — being action-oriented, good with schedules and deadlines, and enthusiastic about adventure are ones that many people envy. You might reconsider your evaluation of those qualities — they can be strengths! Building relationships with friends or a special someone can be difficult. That being said, read on for strategies to connect with others to help you have a fulfilled life — professionally, socially, and sexually!

You mention that you’re a Type A personality, which is often described as being very structured and competitive. Type B personalities, on the other hand, are described as relaxed and easy going. While it’s tempting to categorize individuals as either Type A or Type B, it’s good to keep in mind that personalities don’t exist in a binary — they exist on a spectrum. Some people may have more Type A tendencies in some aspects of their life but more Type B tendencies in others. It’s possible you’re surrounded by a group of people who have more Type B personality tendencies. It could also be that they consider themselves to be Type A personalities but are driven by different goals or have a different approach to reaching those goals. You might try getting to know them better to see if that's the case.

It sounds like being driven and disciplined are traits that you value. Perhaps you can try meeting friends or a special someone while doing activities that require those traits. The activities you mentioned — scuba diving and skydiving — are mostly solo endeavors. Maybe you can try some group-oriented activities likely to appeal to other Type As like yourself, such as competitive team sports, political campaign work, debate team, fundraising or community service projects, to name a few. You could consider the positive aspects of your personality type, and seek out people who share and appreciate them. Forming relationships takes time so it might require patience and commitment.

It’s also good to keep an open mind because opposites sometimes do attract, and you may find that someone with Type B tendencies floats your boat. There's nothing to say it couldn't work, but it’s critical that you both articulate your respective needs for scheduling or spontaneity, and vigorous activity or relaxation, and both make compromises. This is true for friendships or romantic relationships.

Terrified Type A, you also share that your approach drives other people crazy. What makes you think that? Have those you trust shared specific behaviors that may be turning people off? Talking with someone who supports you and knows you well may help you think about ways you could adjust certain behaviors to make it easier to get along with others. Even if you like being a go-getter, you might find that you benefit from some relaxation, giving up some control, or being more spontaneous. Perhaps you can think of it as a challenge!

If after trying some of these strategies, you still feel lonely or want an outside perspective on how you interact with others, a mental health professional or support group could help. If you want to explore other ideas for meeting friends and companions, you could check out the Go Ask Alice! Relationships archives.

Last updated Feb 18, 2022
Originally published Mar 24, 2006

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