If I want to stay in on a Friday night, it’s literally not you, it’s me.
As an introvert, I’d love for my extrovert friends to understand me better — why I value alone time or why I prefer to stay in on a Friday night versus go to a party with them.
In her book Quiet, Susan Cain pointed out that introversion is perceived as a second-class personality trait. In a world where gregariousness is well-regarded, quietness is often frowned upon.
As a “quiet one” myself, I can relate: I have been called out for being reserved, unfriendly, or even boring. This makes me feel like I don’t belong to this world, but to an imaginary one that I’ve created inside my head.
But before introverts like me think we’re a rare breed, we should remember that we make up 30-50 percent of the population — that’s about half! So if you’re not an introvert, someone you know probably is.
When it comes to socializing, introverts tend to maintain connections with a few trusted people. So if you are in their inner circle, then let this be a warm reminder that your introverted loved ones hold you in high esteem; you are the peanut butter to their jelly.
However, I think introversion is still widely misunderstood among both introverts and their non-introvert friends. For instance, I sometimes find myself wondering: Is it “normal” for me to prefer doing things a certain way (like my alone-time example above)?
Another example is how an extroverted friend of mine can’t understand how I’m fine with staying home because of the COVID-19 lockdown — she feels restless staying in. For a brief moment, this friend unintentionally made me doubt how I feel: Is it “normal” for me to be comfortable in quarantine?
Well, as someone who has finally embraced her introversion, my answer is yes — and I’d love for my extrovert friends to understand me better. Here’s how.
Things Your Introvert Friends Want You to Understand
1. “I’m sorry, but I’m not going to that party Friday night; I’d prefer to stay in and read.”
Often, introverts like me would prefer to skip social events and parties in lieu of staying home alone — with a good book, bath, or movie instead. You know, anything quiet and opposite of socializing and making small talk, since introverts tend to feel drained very quickly in loud, crowded places.
If we don’t want to go out, please don’t take it personally. Sometimes people think introversion is synonymous with being unsociable, so instead of telling the truth — that we just prefer to hang out with ourselves — we make up random excuses for why we can’t go out.
And if we force ourselves to go out, eventually the noisy environment will overstimulate us and we’ll likely end up in a corner of the room, feeling tense and anxious and wishing we won’t ever have to attend a social event again.
So whenever we turn down your invitations to hang out, just remember that it is not a reflection on you if we decide not to go.
Plus, by the end of the week, we’re probably already drained from school or work, so by having alone time, we can recharge our social batteries.
All that said, if you ask us to hang out one-on-one or in a small group of people, we’ll likely say yes. This fosters a more intimate environment, which can lead to deep and serious conversations, which many of us introverts crave.
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2. “I’ll be more comfortable if you let me know the plans in advance.”
Most of your introvert friends usually want to know plans in advance, because many of us don’t do well with spontaneity — we need time to process information.
For example, my extroverted boyfriend randomly asked me to meet his friend — unplanned — and didn’t understand why that bothered me. Instead of understanding that it was due to my being an introvert and needing to make plans in advance, he thought I didn’t want to get to know the people in his life (which was not the case).
For me, it’s nerve-racking when I am not mentally prepared to socialize with people; I really need advanced warning for those kinds of things.
Similarly, something as simple as an unexpected phone call could be very disruptive to my momentum. Introverts tend to do one task at once, versus multi-tasking, so unexpected phone calls are intrusive and interrupt our train of thought.
Specifically, unplanned situations take away our biggest weapon — preparedness. Introverts usually like to be prepared because it allows them to think things through in advance.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that introverts are never adventurous or spontaneous. We are — but we tend to explore new situations on our own (planned) terms.
3. “I’d love to talk to you … but one-on-one or in a small group.”
Often labeled as “quiet” types, introverts usually live inside their heads. We tend to hate meaningless socializing; that’s why we usually dodge small talk. However, when we’re comfortable with one person — or a prized few — we enjoy talking to them.
Yes, it may seem out of character for an introvert to enjoying talking, but this is another big misconception, I think. Many introverts enjoy talking … but about things that they’re truly interested in, and more than on a surface level.
Basically, the more comfortable we get, the deeper the topic we choose to delve into. However, that’s when awkwardness often kicks in: Our serious conversational style could diffuse the initial lighthearted atmosphere, but please remember, this is when we are sharing our truest selves.
Although some extroverts may be surprised at how talkative we can be, introverts like me tend to not like when people point out how “quiet” we were before. That may be true, but it usually takes time for us to warm up to people.
So the next time you’re going to see an introverted friend, remember that “it’s (literally) not you, it’s me” if I prefer to stay home alone this weekend; I’d love if we made plans in advance; and we may love having a conversation as much as you do (but generally not in a roomful of people).
You might like:
- 13 ‘Rules’ for Being Friends With an Introvert
- The Introvert’s Complete Guide to Making Friends Who ‘Get’ You
- Why Do Introverts Love Being Alone? Here’s the Science
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