Introverts, has this ever happened to you? Your significant other, friend, or co-worker has a problem and they need someone to talk to. Of course, you want to help, so you lend an ear. You’re a good listener, like most introverts are. You can stay focused and not interrupt, and you genuinely like trying to understand and solve others’ problems. But after ten, then fifteen, then 20 minutes, you worry that you’re too good of a listener. The other person won’t stop talking.
(If you’re on the other end of this, you may want to read these tips on dating an introvert.)
It’s one thing for us introverts to be taken advantage of for our listening skills, but it’s another thing when we slump into the mode of passive acceptance of everything. We’re hearing the other person’s needs but we’re not voicing our own, maybe because we fear how the other person will react or we just aren’t aware of what those needs are. Sophia Dembling, author of Introverts in Love: The Quiet Way to Happily Ever After, reminds us that in a relationship, our needs must be met too—and the first step is making them heard:
Introverts are great listeners and we pride ourselves on that. We also pride ourselves on choosing our words carefully and not speaking unless we have something to say. Both are fine qualities that I admire, but I’ve also found myself in relationships where I’ve done all the listening. One of my less-than-admirable qualities is that I like feeling wise. It’s my own little power trip to be the one to whom people come with their problems. But eventually I hit a listening wall and realize a relationship has become imbalanced, that I have sublimated my own need to be heard to my need for that very special type of oh-so-wise power. And then I get resentful and blame the other person. Everybody loses.
The fact is, though, that I have to force myself to speak up when it comes to my own needs. This isn’t all about introversion—it’s a mishmash of all sorts of things about my personality and past—but because my comfort zone is listening, as it is for so many introverts, I can easily sink into a sort of complacent receptor mode. This isn’t fair to me and it isn’t fair to the people in my life, including my husband, who shouldn’t be left to guess my needs. So next time you think keeping your thoughts to yourself is doing your relationship a favor, think again, to be sure.
Are you an introvert? What’s your personality type? We recommend this free, quick test from our partner Personality Hacker.
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