On a planet populated by up to 70% of extroverts, many don’t really know how the minds of introverts work. Introverts accumulate their energies from “alone time”; time spent on their own, with their own thoughts, writing, craft making and/or entertainment. To extroverts, this may seem baffling – that sounds so boring! Why are they such loners? That’s the first misconception most have of introverts. We are not loners; we enjoy company, just in small, periodical doses. However, if that company is constantly (unnecessarily) loud and all about meaningless topics, we may find this utterly mentally/emotionally draining. Two to three hours with them is enough to make us want to run home to catch a breather. That said, the points in this article may or may not apply to all introverts, as every being is different. This article is written by a 23-year-old female who considers herself on the slightly extreme spectrum of introversion.
1. Getting to know them
Smile like you mean it – genuinely, not forcefully. Introverts have had a lifetime of experience with forced smiles and we’ll detect yours in a heartbeat. It’s practiced in every uncomfortable situation we’ve been in (large party, family gathering, new school, etc) and we’ve felt overwhelmed by all the unfamiliar faces. But we just want to blend in, so we try our best to smile, usually coming off kind of awkwardly. We want to make friends, but the process gives us anxiety. We are always grateful when the other new person strikes up a stimulating conversation first because we’re probably caught up in anxious thoughts about seeming awkward in a new setting. Just remember, we’re still human beings, just not as overtly expressive!
2. Why are they so quiet/awkward?
Unlike extroverts, we don’t have the innate need to verbalize nearly every thought that comes to mind. More often than not, we’re listening and observing, trying to internalize and analyze situations before displaying a verbal reaction. One of the introvert’s nightmares is when we are obliged to engage in a constant back-and-forth conversation about something we feel is irrelevant, tiresome or eventually meaningless. So instead of proactively approaching others, with the potential of getting stuck in tiring conversations, we wait it out to observe who might be the least energy-consuming to interact with first. Yes, we’re usually the ones in the corner of a party sipping our drinks, trying to listen to the crying drunk friend tell us about their relationship blues.
3. What delights them
We really appreciate it when someone gives us their undivided attention in a conversation. It eases our anxiety that you may not have wanted us to talk to you in the first place. We love stimulating conversation topics that gets us thinking for days after. For most of our lives, we’ve felt like we’ve taken a back seat because of our quiet nature while most of our extroverted peers received all the attention (good or bad), so it’s refreshing when someone pays attention to the things you do/say for a change. We’re the happiest when you take us out one-on-one, to nice places to relax, eat or play. Find out what your introvert enjoys in terms of ambience, sights, cuisine, style and sports. Apply accordingly. Noisy popular restaurants/cafés with blaring music and nightclubs make us search as quickly as possible for an escape because it drains our energies.
4. No spotlight, please!
Icebreakers and self-introductions are the bane of our existence. We may love you for your enthusiasm and outgoing attitude but it’s highly exhausting for us to act the same. Instantly, all eyes are on us, after we’ve been comfortably enjoying our personal bubble. Please don’t make us perform in a crowd/group, stand out or answer too many questions in front of everyone. When dating an introvert, this is not the best type of person for large surprise parties/gatherings or very public attention-grabbing activities (eg. loud, all-eyes-on-us proposals). If you look closely, anxiety will melt over us like hot butter.
5. When they meet your friends
If you managed to fall in love with us or make us fall in love with you, congratulations! If you’re an extrovert, you probably want to introduce us to your closest friends ASAP. Just keep the number of new people to two to three at one go (the less, the better) to avoid overwhelming your introvert. Try not to make us suddenly meet all six to eight of your good buddies in one meeting, that’s Hell on Earth for us. We understand. It’s natural. We expected that this day would come. No matter how many times we obsessively run the meeting through our minds beforehand, we’re still a ball of nerves (even if we hide this well).
At some point, we even wondered if it was plausible to be with someone without ever meeting their friends. We acknowledge that your friends make you who you are today, the person we love, but for selfish reasons, we would much rather postpone the meeting for as long as possible (because we like our comfort zones). But, most of the time, we’ll put ourselves through it for the sake of our partners anyway.
6. When they meet your parents
This is probably one of the most nerve-wrecking activities any human being goes through when in a relationship. Extroverts, imagine your nervousness. Now quadruple it. That’s how anxious this activity makes us feel. If we’re really into you, meeting your parents seems like a make or break event. We worry we may be too quiet or not have interesting things to say because we’re over thinking it. These two people made you and we fell in love with you. Yes, we want their approval. Yes, we want to show you that we can be ‘normal’ with your family. Just make sure the timing is right – between three and six months is just about fine.
7. Love on social media
Instagram. Facebook. Twitter. How soon and how much are you going to share about us on your social media? Whatever it is, make sure you let us know first! As far as pictures go, they do expose a part of people to a certain extent. Additionally, if it’s on the internet, countless of eyes are going to see it. Some introverts may mind this and there may be a chance your introvert isn’t going to be too thrilled. Some might feel shy or weary of judgment. All things said, it doesn’t hurt to ask.
8. Getting them to go to a gathering/party
If you’re hell-bent on including us in your family gatherings or friends’ parties, it’s not a lost cause. Just ask us – we’re probably going to ask you a ton of questions just to analyze the potential situation. Questions like: who’s going to be there? How many people? How long is this event? What will we likely be doing there? Do I have to dress up or is it casual? Simply answer accordingly in a calm manner to reassure your introvert and all should be okay. We’re only trying to see if we’ll fit in. But if your introvert declines your invitation, don’t be afraid to ask about another again as the mood for meeting new people varies constantly for introverts.