To introverts, surprise visits can feel like trespassing, both physically and mentally, like someone is invading our private oasis.
One of the most popular misconceptions about introversion is that it’s a character flaw. Some people think we need to be more “outgoing” and “social” — and all these other adjectives that have no business describing an introvert.
Let me say this — introverts are not necessarily socially awkward, rude, or terrible at conversations. We are, however, super protective of our space, quiet, and privacy. The minute someone decides to waltz in as if the space belongs to them is the moment they start calling for a very silent (or sometimes loud) lash-out. It’s one of the few things that can be extremely annoying to introverts.
Have you ever been at the receiving end of a somewhat-unwelcoming introvert during a surprise visit (even though we try our best to make the most of it)? Here’s a list of possible reasons why that happened — and why you should actively avoid similar situations in the future. And if you’re an introvert reading this, I’m sure you’ll be able to relate.
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5 Reasons Why Introverts Don’t Appreciate Surprise Visitors
1. You thrive when you’re mentally prepared. A spontaneous conversation? No, thanks.
Imagine this. You’re in a room full of people brainstorming ideas for some kind of project. Everyone is throwing out the first thing that occurs to them for spitballing sake, and you’re jotting down your ideas. Amazing, right?
Now substitute each person for an introvert you know and watch the room go from quick and random ideas to slower and more detailed ideas. No group is superior to the other, but the results are almost always different.
Surprise visits are the direct opposite of a welcoming environment for introverts. If you’re lucky, you’ll be welcomed with a smiling face and a warm hug, but what comes after? Naturally, we’re not talkers, especially when put on the spot, so I wonder what exactly is supposed to happen when you don’t give me the heads-up to rehearse a befitting conversation-starter (or continuer).
You might think, “But we’re really close — there’ll always be something to talk about.” Take a moment to counter that thought and ask yourself, “What if I just ended a rather long and exhausting conversation recently?”
If that’s the case, and you’re expecting me to jump right into another one, you’re mistaken, buddy. I can’t. As much as I may want to, I just have no more social energy available.
2. Home is your safe place — unannounced visits make it feel less safe.
Some stereotypes paint introverts as socially awkward people who like to curl up in a safe corner where no one can speak to them. While that is wrong on so many levels. We introverts do consider our homes and bedrooms our havens, mostly because they work wonders for our mental and physical energy levels.
When you drop in unannounced to the place we consider safe, you unintentionally force us to start looking for other places to feel safe. Or worse, we develop a habit of intentionally ignoring the doorbell or knocking at the door!
I’ve ignored people a couple of times. I know it was probably not the nicest reaction to a visiting friend, but…
Now don’t get me wrong. As an introvert, I don’t want to be alone all the time. In fact, I enjoy the occasional rowdiness of loud friends talking on and on. But we also need space to regain the energy that we may have expended while interacting with such friends — or even from people from the previous week or hour or minute. It doesn’t matter. The approach we take to recharging our social batteries differs by individual. To each their own.
But when I’m recharging at home in my introvert sanctuary, please don’t ring the doorbell unannounced.
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. You like a semblance of control, which makes spontaneity a no-no.
A lot of introverts don’t like change and do like to maintain control — which does not go hand-in-hand with surprise guests.
When I’m expecting a visitor, here’s a brief description of what goes on in my (overthinking) head: I make a to-do list of things I will do before you even think of leaving your apartment; I have a clear picture of what I want to be doing when you knock on my door; I know how long I’m going to take before I respond; and I have an option of things ready to say when I see your face or hear your voice.
I also know what I’m going to offer you to eat and drink, and how long after you sit down before I make the offer. Also, as I mentioned earlier, there’ll be a list of possible discussion topics in my head (or written somewhere inconspicuous) — unless I’m sure you’re one of the people in my life who understands comfortable silence.
This doesn’t happen for every visit, but I like to plan and do things a certain way. If you stop to think about it, you’ll see that it’s a win-win. You won’t feel like you’re intruding, and I won’t feel the urge to lash out at a “wrong” choice of conversation topic (one I was not prepared for), or, worse, a weird attempt to be funny. (Yeah, people actually do that. Eek!)
4. Ever heard of boundaries? Surprises feel like trespassing (both physically and mentally).
I asked a close friend how he felt the last time someone surprised him at his home. He broke it down into pieces, and this stood out for me. He said, “Half the time he was around, I just wanted to go back to my room and continue the movie I was seeing before he got here.” Out of politeness, he didn’t do that or even hint at it.
The surprise visit may be coming from a hearty place, but there’s a “but.” The ultimate goal is usually to make your friend happy, lift their spirits, and create all sorts of positive vibes. In reality, what happens is, we feel cornered, overwhelmed, and sometimes uncomfortable.
The nice and strong introverts, like my friend, hold a smiling face and show a welcoming level of enthusiasm till the end of the visit. Others, like me, don’t last half an hour before we crumble under the exhaustion of trying to be nice.
5. Surprise visits make you question how well the visitor knows you.
This one is a huge turnoff. Usually, introverts are happy to listen, because that’s our role in most relationships, and we don’t mind. And if we’re being honest, you don’t drop into a friend’s house without having something to talk about. That’s very rare. There’s usually some sort of agenda.
In a society that rewards extroversion, it’s nice to know that there are people who “get” you, like really get you, even though they’re not like you. When people you consider inner circle friends make moves like this, with secret hopes that you’d be “open to change” for once, it’s tempting to feel like there’s something “wrong” with you when you don’t react as expected.
So, friends, please acknowledge that I’m an introvert and ask me when it’s a good time to talk or visit. The way we “quiet ones” need to prepare to have a conversation, some of us also need to prepare to pay attention and listen.
At the end of the day, it’s all about boundaries — and mine don’t include surprise visits. But I’d be happy to meet with you at a pre-planned day and time.
My fellow introverts, how did you react to your last surprise visit? And why? I’d love to hear in the comments below!
You might like:
- 7 Things That Are Extremely Annoying to Introverts
- 5 Things Your Introverted Friends Want You to Know
- For Introverts, Why Are Our Bedrooms Our Havens?
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