5 Truths About Introverts, According to an Extrovert

A group of friends laughs together on a picnic blanket

3. Introverts sometimes act like extroverts around certain people, like their close friends.

You have probably heard the saying that “opposites attract.”

While there’s merit in how attraction works between two people that are very far apart in their personalities, it’s no secret that disparity can also be chaotic. 

This happened between Jane and me. Jane is an extrovert, and I, an introvert

Our friendship didn’t kick off immediately though…

We met in the sixth grade. On what I assumed was a perfect first day in a new class, everything crumbled down when Jane, a new face who happened to know me, yelled my name across the classroom. 

My name resounded across the room. And what I felt were curious, yet piercing eyes all fixed on me — even before I set foot in the room.

Jane offered the seat beside her. Her attempt to make friends with me was affable, that’s for sure. But building a friendship founded on my panic from receiving unwanted attention definitely left a bad taste in my mouth.

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Introverts Aren’t Friends With Just Anybody

As the school year went by, she opened up a lot — she always had new stories, thoughts, and jokes. They happened despite my eye-rolls and grunts.

I’m picky with friends — introverts aren’t friends with just anybody — so I’d probably be the antagonist in our “sweet friendship story.”

But, fourteen years later, who would’ve thought that a loud, talkative girl would grow to be the best friend of an avoidant and easily-vexed introvert like me?

In college, our friendship deepened as we became each other’s emotional support system, despite studying at faraway universities. During those years, I believed our wavelengths resonated, our goals were similar, and our values always matched. 

But recently, in a long, deep conversation about social orientation, we realized that similarity isn’t the reason why we vibe with each other. Yes, we share common values like compassion and empathy. However, our perspectives and approaches to life are the opposite extremes.

Here’s what my extroverted best friend has noticed about me, along with our entire introvert squad. If you’re an introvert, perhaps you’ll be able to relate.

5 Truths About Introverts, According to an Extrovert

1. Introverts rarely initiate conversations — though they’ll talk a lot once they get to know you.

It’s no surprise that introverts rarely approach people. The chances that an introvert will come to you get thinner when you’re a loud, overwhelming extrovert. 

Have you ever seen an introvert waltz up to an extrovert for friendship? I never have.

But, according to Jane, extroverts want to be approached, too. How she wished that getting to know introverts wouldn’t be like a psychic trying to mind-read quiet and overthinking creatures.

Extroverts may have amassed topics and mastered the “how-to-keep-conversations-going” techniques. Jane may be well-equipped with all the knowledge and all the fun. But, sometimes, introverts are just hard nuts to crack.

Take it from me, her introverted best friend who took two years before letting her into my sacred space.

Jane initiates a lot. When she realized that conversations often start with her, she suggested that “we should take turns!” on initiating conversations. But it’s not like introverts want to talk in the first place, right? Yet, the more I’ve gotten to know her, the more I’ve talked…

2. Introverts don’t always keep a conversation going.

Next to initiating conversations, Jane has also noticed how some introverts don’t always try to keep the conversation going.

She thought that engaging in a Q&A would build trust and familiarity. So, being her usual, casual, chatty self, Jane tried to get to know her new officemate. And, yep, you guessed right: The new coworker was an introvert.

Jane found out every basic detail about the newcomer — past job, relationship status, hobbies, and on and on…

But one thing confused Jane. She thought the conversation would be a back-and-forth, but her introverted coworker wasn’t interested in having a long conversation with her, who was seemingly a stranger.

When Jane told this story to me, I let out a chuckle. While it’s not applicable to all introverts, many of us may prefer short-and-sweet conversations with people we barely know. (That way, we can think up more questions and answers once we’ve had time to later on, not on the spot.) So it may look like we’re being a rude office introvert, but this is not intentional.

If extroverts have mastered how to keep conversations going, introverts like me have mastered “solitude despite awkward silence.”

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.

3. Introverts sometimes act like extroverts around certain people, like their close friends.

In high school, our friend squad consisted of 10 introverted goofballs (including myself), and Jane was the sole extrovert.

When together, we became extroverted introverts who knew how to have fun. We let loose and were ourselves. After-school bondings were the most nostalgic, as we laughed to our heart’s content, ran around hallways, and just “got” each other with a single look.

Even today, we have a blast anytime, anywhere, except for one time — we quiet down when strangers, acquaintances, or “other people” come into the picture. My usually brief, yet strong, remarks dissolve into a whisper whenever I’m not with the friends I’m most comfortable with. What’s more, if you put me in a room with the cool kids, I would happily melt away and go straight home.

Of course, Jane notices this toned-down behavior right away. At first, she didn’t understand it, especially when I’m so competitive and loud whenever I’m with her. But after I explained to her how introverts lose energy when socializing with lots of people, she got it. Now we have this quiet understanding between us. 

4. Introverts are observant of people’s emotions and intentions.

Jane is vocal about her thoughts. But, contrary to people’s belief about extroverts, she’s not an open book. While you may admire her transparency, I also know how she keeps the deepest secrets to herself.

Like introverts, extroverts also face internal battles, such as family problems, a confusing romantic life, and health issues they’re not comfortable sharing with just anyone.

But to Jane, she found comfort in telling her secrets to me and her other introverted friends.

Introverts’ passion for keen observation makes us more understanding and empathetic. We may listen intently, instead of yearning for social attention.

Jane realizes that even if the best getaways happen with her extroverted friends, her highest trust and comfort level lie with her close introverted friends. We can provide solitude, introspection, and a safe space for all the “Janes” out there. 

5. Introverts tell stories that are primarily personal.

According to research, extroverts import more figures into a story than introverts. For example, when story-telling, they may mention distant relatives (who none of us know anything about) or an embarrassing story about a college roommate (whose name we’d never heard before). Jane ecstatically agreed with these research findings.

Finding common ground, and importing other characters into her stories, was a subconscious habit of hers. Meanwhile, she described my story-telling as focused, or shall I say “exclusive,” to the person I’m talking to.

She mentioned how I open up about my personal problems, or how I ask for updates about my friends’ lives. According to her, I’ve never told a story that didn’t relate to the both of us.

For Me, an Introvert-Extrovert Friendship Is the Perfect Balance

Having an extroverted best friend who tries to understand not only herself, but also her introverted friends, is something I value. It’s nice to see the world through both my point of view and Jane’s point of view.

Many may still misunderstand introversion, but more and more people are open to sharing their positive perceptions of us, like our sensitivity, the importance of alone time, and how we prioritize deep connections over shallow ones.

While both personalities have their strengths and weaknesses, I believe the two can work together to positively contribute to our world.

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