7 Things That Just Don’t Make Sense to Introverts

These “extroverted” behaviors are foreign, uncomfortable, and downright annoying to introverts.

Introverts are pretty used to feeling like the odd ones out. It’s a sad but true fact that when you’re an introvert living in a world made for extroverts, people are going to misunderstand you.

Just like some aspects of introverted behavior don’t make sense to extroverts (for one, our strong need for alone time), many “extroverted” behaviors are foreign, uncomfortable, and even downright annoying to introverts.

Not all introverts will agree — we are individuals, after all — but here are seven things that just don’t make sense to many of us “quiet ones.” If you relate to my points, know that you’re not alone.

Things That Don’t Make Sense to Introverts

1. When someone thinks being alone is boring

To be clear, I love my extroverted friends. I love how they get me out of my shell, and I’ve made more fun memories with them than with anybody else. I love them even when they don’t make sense to me. The most confusing thing they do is quickly growing bored when they find themselves alone.

They can’t be alone for even a few minutes. For example, one of my most extroverted friends calls me whenever she’s driving alone in her car, like commuting to work or running a quick errand. If her husband and kids leave for the afternoon, I get another phone call — and usually a last-minute invite to hang out. Once, when she bought her own house and was planning to live alone, she broke down after just one week and got a roommate. The empty house was just too lonely.

For me as an introvert, it’s the complete opposite. I relish my alone time. I (secretly) cheer when my family leaves for the afternoon! Being around people all the time is the ultimate torture for introverts, who need solitude just as much as food and water. There’s just no way we can remain happy and sane without it.

For extroverts, being alone isn’t just boring; it can feel like the ultimate punishment. And that just doesn’t make sense to introverts.

2. Marathon talkers

Your shift has finally ended and you dash off to the break room for some microwave popcorn and a breather. That’s when Sheryl from Accounting walks in. Uh oh. Here it comes. She corners you at the microwave, and you wish your Orville Redenbacher’s would hurry up.

Sheryl is an extrovert who never seems to stop talking. And, between us, it’s never about anything terribly interesting, either. You’d gladly listen to a lecture on, say, the theoretical origins of black holes or the historical factors that led to our current divisive political climate. But when it comes to extroverts like Sheryl, it’s all just empty small talk. Sheryl unpacks her weekend’s events, play by boring play.

Sure, we’ve all been guilty of marathon talking at times — even introverts have their favorite subjects and get excited too. But for introverts, that’s a pretty rare occurrence. We tend to be word minimalists, and speak only when we have something of real value to say.

So us “quiet ones” have a hard time wrapping our heads around people who have words in great abundance. Who can muster that much verbal energy on a daily basis? Oh, right. Sheryl.

3. Popularity

Just because you’re an introvert doesn’t mean you can’t have friends or be well-liked. It also doesn’t mean you can’t have strong social skills. When I say “popularity,” I’m not talking about that.

Growing up, I noticed a difference between my extroverted friends and me — they all seemed very concerned about how other people perceived them. We spent late nights in sleeping bags talking about who in school was “cool,” who wasn’t, what jeans to buy, and what bands to listen to. All because these factors supposedly gave you something very special: popularity.

Their obsession with popularity just didn’t make sense to me as an introvert. Sure, I wanted friends, too, and I certainly wanted that cute boy who complimented my writing in English class to notice me. I just didn’t crave social status in the same way that they did.

Looking back, this makes sense, because introverts tend to have small social circles — and we’re perfectly okay with that. We’d rather invest our limited social energy into a few meaningful relationships than chase popularity. In fact, for many introverts, “popularity” isn’t even on their radar.

4. Calling instead of texting

Sometimes a phone call is the fastest or best way to communicate with someone. (Can you imagine trying to text 911? Be still, my shaking hands!) And there’s something reassuring about hearing a loved one’s voice, especially after a bad day. But for many introverts, phone calls are pure torture, especially those unexpected “just calling to catch up!” ones.

Not only do phone calls require small talk (without those helpful visual cues, either), but they’re also extremely intrusive. When someone rings out of the blue, you get no time to mentally prepare, something crucial for introverts. At any given point in the day, the introverted brain is lost in a daydream, immersed in a deep state of flow, or frolicking through just one of our inner landscapes. It takes a purposeful effort to switch gears and be “on” socially.

A text, on the other hand, waits politely for a response. Plus, introverts tend to feel more comfortable expressing themselves in writing, due to the way our brains are wired.

5. Large parties, networking events, and loud restaurants/bars/clubs

To extroverts, these environments are “fun” and “exciting,” even “energizing.” I’ve never known an extrovert to turn down a party.

But not so for introverts — and not because we’re party poopers (okay, maybe a little). Because introverts’ brains are wired differently than those of extroverts, loud and crazy parties are not just annoying, they’re also exhausting. Cue the infamous introvert hangover.

I need to be in just the right mood to go dance in a club — which probably happens once every decade.

6. Reveling in the spotlight

Some people love to be the center of attention. They have no problem standing in front of a room full of people and giving a presentation or talk. They naturally make jokes or move, talk, or dress in ways that draw attention to themselves. They can’t wait for their turn in a conversation to speak. These people are probably not introverts.

Introverts tend to feel more comfortable in the background, listening rather than speaking. This isn’t to say that introverts can’t be awesome actors, speakers, and leaders too; it’s that we probably are doing it for different reasons, and attention is merely a byproduct.

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7. Socializing just to pass the time

My extroverted friend once remarked, “Of course I’m going to the party! What else would I do tonight?” To introverts, this line of thinking is bizarre. There are so many other things we could fill our night with: movies, video games, a new recipe we discovered on Pinterest.

To be clear, introverts can and do socialize. We need strong relationships and deep connections, too, otherwise we’ll feel lonely, just like anyone else. It’s human nature, after all, to want to feel connected to others. But if the choice is between socializing just to pass the time or staying home with a good book, introverts will usually choose the latter.

When introverts do hang out, we do it with a purpose. We want to make a friend, make a business connection, or meet our future soul mate. At the very least, we’re looking for authentic human moments and meaningful conversation.

Anything less just doesn’t make sense.

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Image credit: @stefiakti via Twenty20

Jenn Granneman is the founder of IntrovertDear.com and the author of The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World. Jenn is a contributor to Psychology Today, HuffPost, Susan Cain’s Quiet Revolution, Upworthy, The Mighty, The Muse, Motherly, and a number of other outlets. She has appeared on the BBC and in Buzzfeed and Glamour magazine. Jenn started Introvert, Dear because she wanted to write about what it was like being an introvert living in an extrovert's world. Now she's on a mission: to let introverts everywhere know it's okay to be who they are.