He taught me to ask questions and aim high, even if it feels scary. You never know, it might turn out great.
Growing up, I was the textbook definition of an introvert. I had no more than two or three close friends. Beyond them, I did not truly make space for anyone else in my life in a meaningful way.
While I did try to make more friends in school and as I started working, being part of big friend groups did not come naturally to me. It always felt exhausting, tedious, and simply not fun.
I wondered how so many of my acquaintances thrived in large groups, regularly hanging out together. They’d often go out to breakfast and take trips together. Was something wrong with me? Was I missing out?
The older I got, I realized there was nothing wrong with me. What was enjoyable to extroverts didn’t have to be the blueprint to a life well-lived for an introvert like me. With time, I got comfortable with my life and my introverted ways as a homebody. I found self-acceptance and was content living in the cocoon I had built for myself.
However, when I started dating my extroverted partner, I was able to see myself — and my introverted ways — from a different perspective. Although dating can be a struggle, in my case, it led to a series of gradual self-discoveries.
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5 Things I Learned From My Extroverted Boyfriend
1. Set aside time to get in touch with your friends.
It can be difficult for introverts to take the initiative to plan outings with friends, no matter how much you may love them. The relationship with my partner could best be described as semi-long distance.
As our relationship progressed, I noticed how much effort he put into his relationships, not just in reaching out and making plans with me, but also with his friends, in spite of being the busier one of us. It made me reflect on how often I reach out to my friends… and I realized it was not often.
I would also make excuses to not participate in plans if it involved leaving the house. At the time, I thought these were genuine reasons. But in retrospect, I could have made more of an effort.
The issue wasn’t that I was a homebody or bad at taking initiative. The problem was that I genuinely was unaware of how little I was reaching out to my friends. This gave me an unrealistic expectation of what I was expecting from my friendships compared to the effort I was putting into them. For example, I would feel left out when a group of friends went to a certain event — even though I would have never agreed to attend the specific event had they invited me. (Yes, the Fear Of Missing Out is real!)
My advice to introverts is to be mindful of how often you contact your friends and show them that you want to spend time together. Once in a while, set aside a day to hang out with them. After all, there are plenty of introvert-friendly activities you can do together, from going for a walk to meeting up at a low-key café.
The intention is truly what counts. If it helps you feel more prepared, put a reminder in your calendar to reach out to friends — it helped me.
If doing these things aren’t possible for you, try scheduling a weekly or monthly video call to let them know you want to be there for them even if you cannot meet them in person.
And if you aren’t able to join the plans they invite you to, don’t just leave it at, “I’m sorry, I can’t.” Rather, offer an alternative time and place to meet that’s better-suited to your schedule and take it from there.
2. Thinking about going out scares me more than actually going out.
I prefer solitude and staying home as opposed to going out. This may not be true for every introvert, but over time, I built an inner resistance toward facing social situations. The prospect of going out made me anxious. The more I avoided social situations, the less I’d want to do them.
My partner enjoyed being out, whether it was eating in a restaurant or meeting friends and family. He also had to attend work events regularly and liked attending them as a couple. I must admit — going to them with a person who I felt comfortable with put me at ease, and I became more open to going to them. Soon, I realized social events weren’t as intimidating as I had led myself to believe.
3. Ask questions and aim high, because it might turn out great.
Hockey great Wayne Gretzky is famous for saying, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” In other words, sometimes all it takes to get something done is to try it — no matter how intimidating it may be.
Watching my partner do certain things with ease inspired me. Things like:
- Successfully negotiating a higher charge for his work services than was initially offered.
- Asking for upgrades or discounts in hotels or airports.
- Having the courage to call in favors in seemingly impossible situations and making it work (because he excels at networking).
Doing these things may not seem like a big deal, but they were to me. I hesitated when it came to having to ask for something, especially if the person I was asking wasn’t a close friend. I was too worried about asking for too much or coming off as entitled.
Yet extroverts are often naturally more vocal about their needs. Watching my socially confident partner take steps I didn’t think were likely to work was eye-opening for me. Taking the extra initiative, and asking for opportunities and solutions, opened more doors and solved more problems than I would have expected.
My advice to other introverts is to do the scary thing — ask that question and increase your expectations (no matter how silly or bold you think you may come across). You never know how well things might turn out for you.
Do you ever struggle to know what to say?
As an introvert, you actually have the ability to be an amazing conversationalist — even if you’re quiet and hate small talk. To learn how, we recommend this online course from our partner Michaela Chung. Click here to check out the Introvert Conversation Genius course.
4. Appreciate the little things, like visiting new places more often.
Before I met my boyfriend, I enjoyed returning to my favorite cafe or restaurant. I was not into the idea of exploring new places, even in my own city. My partner, on the other hand, has a passion for trying new places. He’s spontaneous, but he also purposely chooses certain places, either for their most popular food items or their significant history or location.
He started taking me to his favorite places, enthusiastically hyping up their most sought-after dishes. I’ve always enjoyed food, but this gave me a new appreciation for experiences that previously seemed insignificant to me. I started enjoying these outings more than I thought I would.
As introverts, sometimes we become content in what we’ve found comfort in for so long. Although familiarity is wonderful, it can stop us from finding joy in the small things… especially if it means we have to leave our comfort zone and explore the world around us.
5. I’m better at networking than I thought.
Extroverts aren’t inherently better at networking than introverts. However, since extroverts are more outgoing and enjoy socializing more, networking seems to happen more naturally for them. As a result, it can be easier for them to build more connections over time due to their innate tendency to approach people with ease. Plus, let’s not forget that they also seem to actually enjoy small talk.
I knew networking was important for my professional and personal life. But being a homebody often prevented me from taking steps toward improving this aspect of my life. So, with time, I started underestimating its importance and overestimating its degree of difficulty. I also rationalized it, thinking I could make up for not being great at networking by improving other skills of mine.
I decided to start observing my partner’s willingness to attend social events and the way he managed them. Sometimes, even if his schedule was packed, instead of not going, he would still attend — even for a short period of time. His effortless confidence in introducing himself to people, making conversation, and the habit of simply making an effort, led to great outcomes for him over time. I’d see him turn his networking into stable friendships or business relationships.
Watching him succeed gave me a more realistic understanding of the importance of networking — and it was more educational than what I’d learned in business school or by watching life coaches’ YouTube videos.
Gradually, I started taking small networking steps and gave myself permission to try a little harder when I came across networking opportunities. I took a proactive approach to meeting more people. (I know, my fellow introverts — I see you cringing at the mere idea of networking! But I promise you, it does get easier with practice! Here’s how to network when you absolutely have to.)
Simply being able to put myself out there more has given me more confidence than I ever anticipated. I discovered that I’m actually great at building connections with people I never thought I’d have much in common with. I also used my introvert strengths — like my listening ability and deep processing skills — to my advantage.
You might like:
- How to Network (When You Absolutely Have To)
- 5 Tips for Dating an Extrovert (as an Introvert)
- Will I Be Single Forever? 6 Introvert Dating Struggles
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