If you're going to date an introvert and stay in a happy relationship, there are some things you must know. Because introverts are woefully misunderstood creatures. If I had a dollar for every time I had to say, "That's just how my face looks," or, "Actually, I'm perfectly happy over here, just chilling," then I'd have enough money to build my invisible log cabin in the woods behind the world's biggest library.
It's so hard for extroverts to grasp that introverts can be totally content on the sidelines that they often think we're stand-offish, rude, and bored. So often they try to "bring us out of our shells." They have good intentions. They're just wrong. So if your partner is one of those introverts and you're one of those extroverts, you're going to need a crash course in Introvert 101.
Luckily, I'm here to give it to you. And not only am I a well-trained relationship expert (re: my time as a Domestic Violence Victim Advocate and Planned Parenthood Responsible Sexuality Educator) but I'm also a full-blown introvert who is married to a full-blown extrovert. Let my experience in this matter rain down on your extrovert heart and hopefully prevent some uncomfortable moments for you both.
1. They're Not Bored Or Boring
Socialization is happening! And everything is lively and fun! But over in the margins sits your precious introvert, just kind of hanging back and watching. Maybe they look disinterested or bored. Maybe they haven't said a single thing to a single person all night. What's the deal? Do they hate you and everyone you love? Are you doomed to a life of painful joint socialization? Well, if they're among friends, odds are, they're having a great time, just taking it all in and enjoying be present. Introverts are great people watchers and intent listeners. So that's probably where those serious faces come from. Make the occasional effort to include them, because they probably have something awesome to add, (or don't, if they hate that) and just trust that they'd tell you if they weren't OK.
2. They Love Being Social
You can be an introvert party animal. For realz. It's a myth that introverts hate socialization. Human beings are social creatures. We can't live on desert islands or we start talking to soccer balls. There are plenty of introverts who would jump at the chance to do something fun and social. But it's still going to tire them out, and they're still going to need to recharge. So if something fun comes up, don't automatically assume your introvert partner already has plans with footy pajamas and Netflix. Heck, sometimes we even throw the parties ourselves.
3. They Need Solitude
Introverts need solitude like Rory Gilmore needs books. Or like I need nail polish and dogs. The idea of not having them makes me start to panic. So sometimes, you're going to need to just get out of their faces, to be blunt. Think of your introvert partner like your smartphone (in a totally metaphorical and non-dehumanizing nor objectifying way). Once that battery is dead, that thing's shutting off and you're not taking it anywhere except to the charger and it's not texting anyone until it gets the juice it needs. In this scenario, the juice is alone time, obvi. And you're the partner who is leaving the immediate area.
4. They Prefer "Go Small & Go Home"
If you're wondering what to plan for your introvert's birthday, for the perfect date, or for that long-overdue lover's vacation, take the popular phrase, "Go big or go home" and twist it into, "Go small and then go home." That generally (but not for all introverts) means small gatherings with close friends instead of giant surprise parties, romantic dinner for two instead of nights at the club, or going to museums and cute flea markets instead of crowded malls and hot spots. And, of course, if you can build in breaks, moments of alone time, and plenty of after-event down time, you'll get major points.
5. They Hate Small Talk
Introverts like to be social on their own terms. Some of them need to conserve their social energy at all costs, including avoiding small talk. If you're taking your introvert partner to meet some awesome strangers, or if some random in the drug store comes up and starts talking to you, take the wheel and do the small talking. They'll thank you later.
6. They Enjoy Weird Dates
Don't be surprised (or offended) if your introvert partner invites you over to sit on the couch and not talk. Or to lay in bed together and read books. Or to play video games in separate rooms. It probably means your introvert is comfortable with you, and wants to be near you, but maybe doesn't have a ton of social energy. Be flattered. It's an honor to be ignored in this way.
7. They Need To Sleep It Off
Saturday is for socializing. Sunday is for sleeping. Get that tattooed somewhere on your body. Many introverts start to get itchy (and by itchy, I mean cranky and occasionally homicidal) when they have too much socializing to do for too many days in a row. They need rest. They need alone time, sure, but they also need sleep. Socializing takes a lot out of an introvert. Never stand between an introvert and their naps.
8. They Can Be The Life Of The Party
I get, "I thought you were an introvert," or, "you're not an introvert, you're so funny and loud" all the time. But being an introvert doesn't necessarily mean you prefer to live your life like a monk on a vow of silence. They can be the belle of the ball, the one telling the funniest stories, and the one dancing the hardest. Then, the next day, they can be the one in the corner, talking to the resident cats.
9. They're Selective
Since introverts only have so much only have so much social energy to expend before they need to recharge, many tend to like to save it for a small group of close friends who they really like. So if they're already having dinner with their bestie one night, they may honestly not be up for dinner with yours the next day. Remember, turning you down is not rude or personal. It's just a matter of survival and good self care.
10. They May Have Different Ideas Of Fun
Wander into tangent land for me, if you will. Last summer, my wife and I took a cross-country road trip. She did not understand why I was not excited to meet a new stranger from her circle of family and friends each day, and crash on their stranger couches. To me, spending two weeks with people I don't know sounds like whichever level of hell is the worst. I just wanted to explore and camp and see things together. But she loves people. And has friends under every rock in America. So if this is you, don't be surprised if your partner goes to bed after dinner while you catch up with your people. Hiding alone in that doily-covered spare bedroom might be their highlight of the day, trust me. No matter what magnificent place you're visiting.
11. They Don't Need You To Make Excuses For Them
But you can if you feel like you need to. I've overheard my wife having about a million different versions of the, "she's not a bitch, she's not miserable, she doesn't hate you" conversation when I excuse myself after a long day of being social. I (and maybe your partner, too) appreciate it, but just remember, it's not your job or responsibility to make everyone happy. Don't make that a burden you carry with you.
Like all things, the true key to understanding your introvert partner is tons of communication. But not too much. At least, not without some breaks.
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