Introverts just need their world a little quieter and a little less crowded.
Do you have a friend or family member who always begs off when it comes to social gatherings? Do they duck out early at a party? Do they seem to be “not feeling well” or have a headache, again, when they’re asked to join in “the fun”?
Your loved one might be an introvert.
We all fall somewhere on the spectrum between introversion and extroversion. We’re not completely one extreme or the other but a mix of both. However, if your friend or loved one leans toward the introverted side, here are three things you should understand about them.
(Check out our complete definition and guide to what it means to be an introvert.)
What You Should Understand About Introverts
1. Introverts need time to mentally prepare for socializing.
An introvert deals with socializing very differently than an extrovert. Most of us can socialize with people in small or large crowds, but it comes at a cost to our mental and physical energy. Rather, we prefer smaller, more intimate settings. Or better yet, quiet evenings at home with just one other person as opposed to those spent out.
Even though I’m an introvert, I can “play the extrovert” when needed. I can put on the perfect smile and don my best dress, and I will be that perfect lady on your arm. I’ll be charming, witty, and entertaining. I can host a family feast during the holidays or attend that lavish event you’ve been looking forward to all year.
If I am to play hostess, the house will be spotless. Every detail will be attended to, because I will have started preparations well in advance. I will probably make you crazy, fussing over every little thing. Not every introvert will fuss like I do, but me — I will make sure no detail is overlooked. Fussing helps me feel prepared for socializing, which, speaking of mental preparation, is crucial for any introverted mind.
That’s why it’s so important that an Event is not spur-of-the-moment. An Event can be defined as anything from lunch with one friend to a huge party with all the neighbors. I will react to either of them the same way, fussing over every last detail, trying to get myself in the right headspace.
It may seem like I’m stressed, but I actually love this. I love to spend time with my close friends or family — in a meaningful way — but it needs to be on my terms in order for it to be comfortable for me. So let me prepare and fuss. And don’t expect me to be that charming lady on your arm if the party is suddenly thrown in my lap.
2. Alone time is how we recharge.
Speaking of parties, can an introvert go out and party? Sure! But we will probably be the first one to leave and go home. The crowd of people and the noise — while energizing to extroverts — is utterly draining to us.
After an Event with people (and not even necessarily a lot of people) is when an introvert needs their alone time the most. I want nothing more than to go home, possibly take a long bubble bath and spend a day at home in my pajamas. Downtime is how introverts recharge their energy, both mental and physical.
On vacation, I’ve spent days doing nothing more than staying home and speaking to no one. This is fine with me; like most introverts, I don’t have to travel anywhere or make big plans to have fun. Unlike extroverts, introverts are generally not bothered by being alone. In fact, we quite enjoy being alone — and we absolutely need it to function at our best.
One of the nicest vacations I’ve had in years was one where I spent three days in a secluded cabin, overlooking a small lake. There was hardly another soul around. It was blissful. I spent a good deal of my time sitting in a swing under a tree with a book watching the ducks out on the lake. Introvert heaven.
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3. Introverts need their world a little quieter and less crowded.
Even though we love spending time alone, you have to understand that introverts still want to be included. We want to be asked. If we turn down your invitation to dinner or a night out, we might tell you that we’re busy or we have other plans. Those plans could very well involve spending the day reading, writing, or binge watching TV. Nevertheless, it feels nice to be asked. No one likes to be purposely excluded.
Do introverts get lonely? If I really think about what’s involved in interacting with other people, this is often enough of a deterrent for me to avoid getting involved with anyone.
But yes, sometimes I get lonely — everyone does, even introverts, when they lack connection. However, my loneliness doesn’t usually last long. I almost always find a way to enjoy my time alone. Plus, I have a few close friends, a terrific job, and a family that loves me. I have a lot in my life to be thankful for, and my life is quite full, by this introvert’s standards.
Remember, if your friend or loved one has turned down your lunch invitation six times, they may accept the seventh time. But they may not. Don’t give up completely — just give the introverts in your life some space.
And if your loved one needs a lot of alone time, don’t take this to mean they don’t love you. They might be an introvert. An introvert just needs their world to be a little quieter and a little less crowded.