1. It’s (almost) never about you.
Sure, just like everyone else we need some space after a fight, but in general our disposition has nothing to do with you (so please, don’t take it personally). Sometimes it feels rude to be the kind of person who needs to “recharge” after hanging out with people, but fighting it only makes it worse. It’s just the way some people are. I recently read something great about working with your own unique personality instead of wishing it could be different, “Even if we try to conform to ideals and strive for perfection, we will always be pulled back to our core identity because it’s the path of least resistance for our souls – an energy force that wants nothing more than for us to honor and accept who we are and discover what we’re meant to do in the world.”
People who like to be alone can’t magically change just because they really like a friend or the person they are dating. They’ll always need a refuge inside themselves — but they’ll always come back to you when they’re ready.
2. Alone time doesn’t count if we’re not actually alone.
Texting and social media are great, but they can interrupt the limited alone time we have on a daily basis. If we’re texting others and in constant communication, when do we get the time we need to be quiet, to rest, to let our minds wander? Be aware of how often you check in.
3. We’re not bummed out if we aren’t making small talk, don’t tell us we need to cheer up.
Parties can be intimidating activities, we’re happy to come sometimes but we need to go at our own pace. This means we aren’t likely to jump in with both feet and be laughing and talking like the life of the party right away. We warm up person by person, that doesn’t mean we aren’t having a good time. In general, don’t worry about us, we know how to be responsible for our own feelings, we’ll figure out how to have a good time whether it’s having a nice, long conversation with one person in the corner, or dutifully making the rounds before escaping to something more our speed.
4. We aren’t awkward.
People who like to be alone are not inherently awkward. That is a different category of people and they can be social butterflies or more on our side of the spectrum. It’s unrelated. Because of my preferences I try to be extra aware of being respectful towards people. I get annoyed at self-identifying “awkward” people because sometimes it’s just an excuse to not learn social cues and put all the onus of social interaction on the other person. Which is just rude.
5. We think silence is A-OK.
Some people feel awkward with silence or they think it means your social interaction is going badly. Not true at all — only a good interaction can handle a long silence! You have to be comfortable with the other person to not nervously fill the silence with chatter you don’t really care about. It’s a compliment. Silence is better than insincerity.
6. We’re not that weird, really.
A lot of people like to be around others constantly. Some people don’t. Who cares? Let’s just all be comfortable being who we are and appreciating how we compliment each other.
7. You could try hanging out with us on our terms and see if you like it.
We introverts bend ourselves in all sorts of silly ways to fit into social norms. If you want, you could tell us you want to do whatever we feel like for a night, just to try it and see if you like it. My favorite way to hang out with someone is to make them something really good, with lots of cooked veggies that tastes like a more nutritious thing your mom made for you growing up. Then we drink wine and sit at the table eating for a very long time, relaxing. Then we can take our pants off (because, fuck pants) and grab down comforters and watch a movie. If it is truly a perfect night we can also sit outside somewhere beautiful after it gets dark. This changes from person to person but too often we get stuck in typical hanging out patterns simply because they are “typical.” Try out something new and see if you like it.
8. We love hosting you.
For someone who loves to be alone, hosting one or a few people at their home is ideal. This is because we feel so comfortable there. Plus, we likely have all the ingredients necessary to make the night cozy for everyone — good food, candles, wine — and we know how to make it a fun, intimate night for all involved.
9. It’s okay not to have an agenda with us.
Don’t feel like you need to invite us to plans. We can just do whatever. While catching up with an old friend this summer we weren’t sure what to do so we just walked to a nearby lake and put our feet in the water and chilled. We didn’t even talk that much since neither of us are big on small talk, but what we did share was meaningful. But it was such a nice, memorable afternoon spent enjoying life with someone I care about. If we had tried to organize an activity for the sake of it, we might not have slowed down to really enjoy each other’s company.
10. People who like to be alone are almost always creative people.
Even if we’re stuck in a boring desk job, at heart we are expressive people. We might have a hobby you don’t even know about — one that allows us to be creative (even if it’s just doodling for fun or writing poetry no one else will ever see). We like to interpret the world around us, it’s calming. Bring some magazines over, we’ll decoupage something.
11. Our love/like for you is just as strong as if we wanted to be around you ALL the time.
Seriously. Wanting to be around you less and by ourselves more is just the way we are. We still have the same capacity to love and lust and have a BFF and a soulmate that everyone else on the planet does — we just do it in our own way.