On a recent visit home, I met someone. She was soft, affectionate, and always down for a good cuddle.
She was an outdoor cat, and a green-eyed beauty. We clicked almost immediately, and whenever I returned to the house, she’d hop out of the brush or dash out from under the porch to greet me.
She’d look up at me with her gorgeous eyes as if to say, “Pet me. I love you.”
Due to a nomadic lifestyle, I haven’t been able to get a cat of my own, though I’ve always considered myself more of a cat person than a dog person.
Spending time with my new friend, I couldn’t help but draw some comparisons between myself, an introvert, and the felines who live among us.
Of course, not all introverts are the same, but for me, many of the similarities are striking. Can you relate?
1. Introverts and cats are choosy yet obsessively loyal creatures.
Both can take awhile to form a bond, and we may even appear aloof to strangers. But once someone has made us feel seen, and passed the “you’re actually kind of okay” test, they automatically level up to VIP status in our worlds.
This means we want to cuddle up on their figurative, or literal, laps and engage in hours of deep, meaningful conversation about the world’s greatest mysteries, like all the time, every day. Acquaintances and small talk be damned. We found a person who, instead of making us want to disappear inward into a daydream, or slink off and take a nap, makes us purr.
In the bloom of a new connection, whether platonic or intimate, we feel warm, fuzzy, and in a rare turn of events, understood. We want to share parts of ourselves with them and learn as much as we can about them, too.
This doesn’t happen often, and it’s a big deal.
Especially in the beginning, we don’t really feel the need to spread the love all that much. We instinctively want to nourish and fan the flames with this human we’ve discovered who provides us with an outlet to be ourselves. We want nothing more than to support and be supported in turn.
2. We communicate nonverbally.
Sometimes, in conversation, we introverts get tripped up over our own words and can’t quite express what we are trying to say. When we like someone and want them in our lives, we can become awkward trying to express our feelings verbally. (I cannot speak for all introverts here, but it’s definitely a struggle for me!) Though we might not always say it straight out, if we are making a conscious effort to spend time with you, it speaks volumes about how much we actually value you.
Because, for the most part, we are totally fine on our own. So when we leave our introvert bubble and open ourselves up to you, it means we trust you and enjoy your company in a big way. Just like a cat jumping onto your lap, rubbing their head on your leg, or circling around your feet, we’re trying to tell you that we think you’re good people and we like you. And, just like a cat, once you are in our inner circle, we’d like you to give us all the snuggles, and your undivided attention, constantly please. Okay, not really constantly. We are introverts, after all, and even though we like you, we will still need our alone time, and recognize you might, too.
3. We can be deceptively independent.
Cats are fascinating because while they unapologetically seek out affection from their humans, they also just do their own thing. Connecting to others is very important to them, but they’re capable of spending long stretches of time alone, and even relish solitude. If a cat is not in the mood for company, it will simply find a quiet, removed space to inhabit until it desires connection again.
When it comes to humans, this same type of behavior can be confusing. I often find these two facets of my personality a bit at odds with each other. On one hand, I really crave meaningful relationships and often find myself longing for them when they are proving illusive. In contrast, I need lots of alone time to replenish my energy after socializing. It’s during this time that I find my grounding and connect back to myself. That inner synergy is actually the thing that helps me find meaning in my relationships.
4. Cozy is our default mode.
Last but not least—and this is a big one—we’re creatures of comfort. We like stretching and naps. Like, a lot. Just like cats, we introverts have our favorite nooks to burrow in, and we take immense pleasure in whiling away a few hours in a state of rest. We’re often described as having a quiet and calm energy, as opposed to a go-go-go mentality.
This isn’t to say, however, that we don’t experience bursts of motivation and tear off after shiny things. We’re innately curious and motivated to investigate and find meaning and nuance in our surroundings.
But, if we’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, often our best bet is to find a comfy place to chill out, away from the hustle and bustle of the outside world. If you don’t see or hear from us for awhile, we’re probably recharging and gathering our energy in stillness, a tactic we might employ more than most.
Without fail, we’ll reappear like we never left and proposition you for some quality time once again. In fact, one of our favorite things is cultivating relationships with people who can bring out our adventurous side, but are also down to just chill with us and appreciate our slower-paced approach to life.
Perhaps these similarities are what make cats such good companions for introverts. Sadly, I’ve had to part ways with my green-eyed sweetheart for now, but I know even as we’re doing our own thing, our bond is ready for renewal when the time is right.
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Learn more: The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World, by Jenn Granneman