We talk about intensity like it is a bad thing. But what does it mean to have an intense personality – and how do you know if you have one?

What Is an Intense Personality? The Definition

The Psychotherapist Imi Lo defines emotional intensity as ‘a form of neurodiversity that is most often misunderstood by our culture.’ It means feeling things deeply, ricocheting between highs and lows, and experiencing emotions in profoundly intense ways that other people cannot feel.

What Does It Feel Like to Be an Intense Person?

Intense people are often compelled to act on these emotions and may lose control over their common sense. It can be extremely challenging to break away from this cycle of ups and downs and have a serious impact on the person’s social experiences and personal relationships.

They may feel a combination of extreme feelings, to a higher degree than other people, and often fluctuating between them quickly. These include being excited, feeling fearful, being happy, and experiencing despair – all in quick succession.

Given this lack of emotional stability, an intense person is more likely to have sudden outbursts, find it hard to break out of a mood, and feel compelled to share and act upon their feelings even if they know it sounds irrational.

Is Being Intense Good or Bad?

The reality is that we all have unique characteristics, and none are solely positive or negative.

Positives around experiencing intense emotions are that you can feel great empathy towards others, be truly in touch with your feelings, and be a sensitive and caring partner.

Negative impacts for those with intense personalities include depression, being unable to cope with anxiety and sadness, and obsessive behaviors.

What Are the Signs You Have an Intense Personality?

1. You think deeply

People with intense emotions are often referred to as ‘old souls’. This is because they can find it hard to engage in trivial pastimes and joviality, being all too aware of the weight of feelings around them. Being a deep thinker doesn’t necessarily make you an intense person, but is a sign that you might be one.

2. You are highly perceptive of others emotions

Being intense means a greater depth of feeling, and intense people are highly empathetic. If you feel extreme sadness when relating to somebody else’s loss, or experience true jubilation at somebody else’s triumph, you are experiencing their feelings for them, which is often a sign of a great empath and an intense thinker.

3. Your imagination runs wild

In a world where emotions run high and feelings run deep, it can be difficult to focus on the here and now and engage fully in your everyday world. If your imagination tends to go off on a tangent and take you with it, it is a sign of intense thought distracting you from real life.

4. You often experience anxiety

Many of us experience anxiety in one form or another, but being an intense character makes you more prone to it than most. Overthinking and a tacit sensitivity to emotional overload makes more intense people more exposed to feelings of anxiety.

5. You can’t stop asking questions

Being intense isn’t just about how you feel – it is also about needing to fulfill a burning desire to keep moving and progressing. Intense relationships can often develop at lightning speed; or can drive a more reserved person away under the barrage of scrutiny an intense partner will subject them to.

6. You cannot stand fake people

Intense personalities have no time for trivial relationships, and thrive on full throttle romance and finding someone they connect with on a deeper level. An intense single person will not be looking for a casual lover and will be seeking their soul mate who understands them.

7. You are purposeful

Most intense people are driven by a need to find their purpose, and to achieve the goals they set out to. They apply the same intensity of emotions to their aspirations, and won’t let anything meaningless get in their way.

8. You are private

Being an intense person can be a challenge for friends and partners to understand, and as such intense people usually have a very small social circle of friends they truly trust. They do not value short-term connections and apply this same logic to choosing their friends, who they are likely to keep around forever.

People with an Intense Personality Are Not for Everyone

If you have a naturally intense personality, it is up to you how to use this character trait to your advantage. Whilst some people can be turned off by continuous eye contact, discussions about the future, or forming a deep emotional bond, the people who are meant to be in your life will recognize the authenticity that a more focused friend brings to the table.

Try to take it easy when you can, and give your headspace a rest from the overthinking and perpetual analysis.

Don’t subject yourself to the same self-study that you feel driven to undertake and try to practice mindfulness when you can, to engage with the world around you peacefully and thoughtfully.

Your intense personality might make you appear to be standoffish, or a little full-on for some people. Don’t worry, those people don’t live on the same wavelength as you do – find your tribe, know your worth, and dial it back when you can to find a little peace in your every day.


  1. Psychology Today
  2. Harvard Business Review

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This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Roland

    This post is a 100% christal clear mirror to me. Thank you so much. I am now in my 70ties and my experince is that with age, switching, stepping out of it, becomes easier. What took me a week when I was younger, now takes 50 m at the most. Guess that ‘muscle’ became stronger because of practice ;). And yes, being in the present helps a lot. My practice as a hatha yoga teacher helped me with that and so much more. Namaste

  2. Paul Narlock

    Thanks. That’s it but I still don’t fully understand. I believe I have managed this to a degree but still have a ways to go. this helps a lot and I’m 69. It has been tough at times but learning to be in the moment has helped but it isn’t that easy since the mind is going full bore all the time.

  3. Leslie

    The Intense personality sounds very similar to Highly Sensitive Person.

  4. Robert H. Stiver (United States)

    This overview has been extremely, extremely, *intensely* of great value to me. Thank you so much…at 77 yo, I have entered the final “stage” of my life and am having seriously conflicting thoughts on whether (i) my lifelong introversion and low self-esteem, (ii) loyalty to my now-passed Japanese wife of 49 years (she was my first and only sexual and life partner) — necessarily accompanied by a lack of “experience” that many people encounter along their life paths — and (iii) now an “intense” loneliness that collectively (plus) are causing waves of angst and even self-disappointment/disapproval have diminished the worth of the overall parameters of my life.

    1. Ed Hester

      I’m like you, Robert. and I can only say I empathize. There are lots of us older men struggling with these issues, without help or mentors when we were younger. God bless! Ed

      1. Robert H Stiver

        Thank you so much, sir! — and God bless you in turn!

  5. Dan Cleary

    This article could have the alternative title “8 signs you’re Dan Cleary”.

    10 points

  6. Ed Hester

    Great article and so simply presented. This is art. Wish I’d had this list, which describes me to a T, 25 years ago. I’ve just spent 25 years of this life learning these principles and accepting them.

  7. Tally Copper

    wow. i’m 31, female, and only recently i started to notice that my behavior is being perceived as intense.
    this article explains a lot. it feels weird. like, i never really thought about myself this way.
    where is my tribe? where are other intense people? what are we good at?

  8. Mazi

    Hi, My nickname is Mazi, and I’m 18 years old, I often feel like I don’t belong, criticized for being ‘too this’ and ‘not enough’, and seen as fragile or vulnerable by others and the world. Other people criticize and misunderstand even those close to me, which leads me to doubt myself, or question if there’s something wrong with me. And now I tried to search for why I’m like this and why I feel too much. This post really helped me feel ‘seen’ and ‘understood’. 😀

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