What does it mean to be an introvert? You’re someone who enjoys your own company and does not always need the company of others to recharge your batteries or stimulate your mind. In other words, your inner world often outshines what’s going on in the outer world — and that can be a beautiful thing! We introverts often have a number of special talents that can help us make a big difference in our communities and the world.
Moreover, introverts are often people of great depth in their thoughts, values, and emotions (sometimes even absorbing the emotions of other people). Whether it’s cognitive or emotional, once introverts get fully immersed in something, it can be hard to really pull ourselves out.
In fact, introverts can sometimes have a difficult time getting out of their own heads. As we spend extra time contemplating, analyzing, and interpreting the things going on in our lives, we may find ourselves becoming prisoners of our own thoughts. I’ve been there personally. This can be especially true when an introvert becomes infatuated with someone else.
So should an introvert be guarded when first dating or entering a relationship? Not necessarily. First, let’s look at the meaning of infatuation, then I’ll share how you can avoid its pitfalls.
What Is Infatuation?
Infatuation is inherently based on psychological projection, which springs from a false set of beliefs one may ascribe to the object of one’s infatuation. Whereas true love is built on a complete understanding of another person (including strengths and weaknesses), infatuation comes from an idealization of that person.
In other words, both emotions involve falling for another person, but love embraces truth and reality, while infatuation only feeds on perception. You may put that person “on a pedestal” — one that may be vastly disconnected from the reality of who that person actually is.
What might be especially concerning for introverts is this tendency towards idealization. Introverts by habit often prefer to live in the world of ideas — drawing them to fields that take advantage of this unique strength (including writing).
However, in the case of infatuation, idealizing another human being can be especially disheartening for an introvert. Infatuated people already pin their wildest hopes, dreams, and fantasies on their objects of infatuation, and introverts are additionally masters of finding meaning in things. As a result, the combination of false perception and the reliance on meaning can be a double-blow to an introvert.
Once clouds begin forming over the sunny high of infatuation, the disillusionment begins to set in. In the same way that neurotransmitters flood our brain during the highs of infatuation, their departure can leave a void that gets filled by feelings of sadness or emptiness.
Fortunately, by harnessing our inner strength and critical thinking skills, it’s entirely possible for us introverts to avoid the dangers of infatuation in the first place.
How to Avoid the Infatuation Trap
You’ve just met or seen someone you think is the epitome of wonderful. You have butterflies in your stomach, your toes begin curling, and you can’t think straight whenever you see them.
Is this love? Not necessarily.
If you’ve just met someone, that’s probably not the answer you want to hear — but let me explain. Nobody has clear or perfect foresight, especially when it comes to first meeting or dating a romantic interest — even us introverts, who can excel at observing, reading, and analyzing others.
Although the above-mentioned feelings can be a part of a loving, healthy relationship, they can also perfectly describe feelings of infatuation. Perhaps you’re acting in ways that are significantly different from how you usually behave. One telltale sign of infatuation is the sense that you’re not being or feeling entirely yourself (or that you are uncomfortable being yourself).
Feelings of social discomfort or anxiety can be troublesome for introverts. As we don’t spend as much time around other people, it can be challenging for us to immediately interpret emotions or occurrences in a social setting. After all, introverts’ brains process this information in a different way than those of extroverts.
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Taking a cue from this lesson, it is therefore important for introverts to ask themselves the following questions in potential scenarios of infatuation:
1. How well do I really know this person?
Given that infatuation is based on projection, it is first essential to tap into your rational thinking. Are you sure you’re familiar with this person in their entirety? Perception is not always reality. Introverts don’t value socializing as much as extroverts do, but this is one case where it makes a lot of sense to understand the other person’s social activity, including who is part of their social network and what they do with their free time. Think of it this way: If you’re going to invest a big part of your emotions in this person, especially if you’re already dating, it only makes sense to do your homework.
Does this person enjoy some of the same activities as you? Does the social group around this person make you feel comfortable? Does interaction with this person seem sincere at all times? The answers to these questions will help you clarify your views on this person.
Also, after answering these questions, you’ll be able to answer for yourself whether your connection to this person is love or infatuation. If you want to know whether you really love this person, then it is all the more important to get to know all facets of them.
2. What sorts of feelings has this other person shown towards me?
Healthy relationships with other people, including love, are usually based on reciprocity. Using reciprocity as your yardstick, you can easily ask yourself: Has this person shown the same kind of interest in me as I have in them? Has this person reciprocated with similar signs of interest? Am I being treated with respect and sincerity?
If it’s clear that the answer to any of these questions is no, then you should strongly reconsider your involvement with this person. Introverts are usually good at self-reflecting, so this exercise requires being honest with yourself more than anything else. A large part of infatuation is usually the fantasy that some sort of perfect relationship can follow with the other person, so it’s very important to quickly get a grasp of what might actually be expected from that person.
3. Is there anything about this person that makes me feel uncomfortable or unsure?
If you’re already satisfied with your answers to the previous two questions, then you’re probably seriously considering pursuing this person further. However, a key consideration you should have is what a future with this person might hold. Remember: True love is built on a complete and absolute embrace of honesty. Therefore, any potential future with another person deserves the same degree of honest consideration.
To begin answering this question, you must look within to your core values. After all, shared values are the glue that hold people together. While people may differ greatly in their personalities, opinions, culture, and choice of politics or religion, those differences often fall by the wayside when it comes to shared values among different peoples. It isn’t a coincidence that miracles of nature and global catastrophes alike draw the same kind of awe and support from people around the world.
Therefore, you should start by probing your core values for answers:
- Does this person treat other people in their life with respect and compassion?
- Are there any major incompatibilities in our values systems that might make me uncomfortable?
- Is this person consistent about the way they lead their life (from the inside-out), or is there a shadowy side to this person that doesn’t present itself as clearly?
By answering these questions, you are first and foremost affirming your own values, which is itself an act of self-respect. Once you answer these questions from a firm, well-developed, and internally-consistent position (in the way that introverts excel at), you’ll know how truly deep your connection with this other person is (or if you’re simply peering down the shallow well of infatuation).
Some Parting Words
Introverts are highly talented, intelligent, and profound people, but just like anyone else, we “quiet ones” can succumb to the throes of infatuation. In our deep desire to find meaning, we may find ourselves more vulnerable than we would like.
But the answer isn’t to shut yourself off from these feelings but rather to open yourself up. When it comes to learning about the other person, take the time to fully know them with all their pluses and minuses. Invest in them enough to be able to discern their feelings and intentions. Finally, judge for yourself whether their values are compatible with the core fundamental values that define the way you lead your life.
Introvert, if you’re currently battling infatuation, I know its pull can feel so strong that it seems like you’ll never get out. But given your capacity for deep thinking and strong resolve, know that you can find the strength to avoid or overcome infatuation — I’m (quietly) cheering you on.