Why introverts just can’t handle you… sometimes

Posted on May 14th, 2014

My post last week touched on being an introvert. It brought a lot of my introverted friends out from their inner reverie to share a few thoughts they’d developed on their internal brainstorming-for-one white board.

Image via Going Home To Roost

Image via Going Home To Roost

The common thread of our chats: the challenges we face dealing with (read: living with) extroverted friends and loved ones. In these extrovert-happy times where group exercises and brainstorms and Fun! Parties! Are What We Do, introverts can feel deficient. Thus, as Susan Cain explains in her TED talk, introverts wind up apologising for themselves a lot.

For this is the thing: introverts constantly feel like they’re letting people down.

This pains me. And confounds me. But I have a few thoughts on the matter that have helped me find a little peace.

To be clear an introvert isn’t someone who’s shy and plays Dungeons and Dragons in a dark room. The official definition of an introvert is someone who turns inward.  An introvert can stand on stage and be as erudite and bold and entertaining as an extrovert. It’s just that they’ll go back to their hotel room straight after, skipping the post-event drinks.

Indeed, Lady Gaga, Christina Aguilera and Emma Watson are classified as introverts. And  Forty percent of CEOs are introverts.

This is the other thing, which often doesn’t come up in a world where extraverts design the party, send out the invite and keep the drinks flowing: introverts can find extroverts hard work.

I’d go as far as saying that I can sometimes find extroverts – not show-offs and bombastic arm-wavers necessarily, but those who draw their energy from other humans –  to be energy vampires. These people are positive, kind, abundant and generous (far more so than me). This, as I discussed with fellow introverts this past week or so, is what makes the whole issue so difficult and upsetting. I’ve really struggled to figure out why I become so exhausted in these lovely people’s company, why I become impatient and, in fact, avoid them. I feel like a bitch. It confounds me. It kills me.

It upsets them, too. I can see it in their crushed faces when I dash home from somewhere or decline an invite to hang out because I need to go bushwalking on my own.

These folk are doing nothing other than… wanting my energy and for me to be on the same plane as them.

They’ll look at me when they crack a joke, awaiting my laugh, they’ll want to have a drink with me after an event at which I’ve been showy and energetic (thinking this is what would help me wind down), they want to do group holidays with me and say things like, “Hey, next time you go for an ocean swim, let me know and I’ll come, too”. As an introvert I like to crack a joke and leave others to their reaction, I want to go home early (from everything) and travel and exercise is a time to go into my own realm. Gosh, my tricks for avoiding communal exercise are comedic!

And here’s the final thing that really makes me a bit of a nightmare: I’m not like this all of the time. Sometimes I’m really quite cool to hang back and hang out. I don’t find parties or concerts energising, but I can find them bearable sometimes and I can look like I’m having Capital F Fun! (Apparently introverts like to explore phenomena…this makes sense in this context. I’ll find the phenomenon of the event fascinating to observe. This is fun; the event, inherently, is not.)

Which can make it confusing for all. It’s certainly confused me. But a bit of reading and chatting cleared things up a bit. According to Dr. Marti Olsen Laney, author of “The Introvert Advantage”, introverts can move around their introverted “set point” (how much solitude versus social activity they need). But have to keep it balanced. They can do “fun” and social and be as ra-ra-ra as the next extravert…but if they push too far, they freak out and withdraw. To recharge.

So I share all this in response to a request to discuss introversion a little more on this site. I share it just to get a bit of a conversation going and because I know that I’ve – until very recently – been very confused by my own behaviour and deeply upset by the way it impacts on others. I figure others out there are, too.

Before I sign off…two other fascinating things I found out during my digging around:

Introverts hate small talk. But not because they hate people or interaction. “We hate small talk because we hate the barrier it creates between people,” says Laurie Helgoe in “Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength.”

Also, a 2006 Japanese study found introverts tend to have lower blood pressure than their extroverted counterparts.

Well, there you go…your inner thoughts?

 

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  • Yep. This.
    I was just on a week long chaperone trip with my high school kids, and pretty much had to be on 24/7. Sleeping in quarters with other chaperones, eating meals with everyone, handling broken hearts and hurt friendships. The only time I was alone was when I was on the can.
    By Day 2, I was burnnnnt outttt. And I love my job. It wasn’t until a couple days after, when someone said “I wonder how all the introverted kids in our mix are doing” that my brain snapped to and stammered “Wait a sec. I’M an introvert!”and I realized just how drained and tired I was. That night, I popped out to sleep in a hotel room by myself and the next day I was myself again. Actually smiling.

    Hating small talk? Check.
    Low blood pressure? Check.

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  • Jane

    The idea of extra/introversion originated with Carl Jung and I remember he said something that resonated with me – if you are an introvert then those times when you are forced to be extraverted, e.g. public speaking, you find it physically exhausting! Same with small talk, it is excruciating for me, but once you get me talking about life I can go on forever. Thanks for posting.

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  • Aimee

    I really related to this, especially the part about extroverts being energy vampires. I experience this so much – sometimes I feel drained after I spend time with certain people. So drained that I need to spend lengthy periods of time by myself afterwards. I recently had my aura cleansed and the psychic commented that my energy is healing and that these energy vampires just suck it up and it heals them so to speak. When this is happening she said in my head to need to affirm “I am reserving this energy for me, I am not allowing you to take my energy” and just affirming to yourself means you’re not letting your energy and your power drain away. Food for thought there…introverts are potential energy healers!

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    Carla Reply:

    I agree with you.. and it is so important to protect your own energy. .. thank you for the setence “i am reserving this energy for me, i am not allowing you to take my energy”. But there is always a problem for me when i am with people, friends that i care about.. i really want to “be there” with them, but on the other hand they seem to read my soul, them want to know what i am thinking, doing.. and i just want to talk about other things, no ME as a theme… does it sounds to you? in addiction i also think that probably is my fear to be found by others or read by others… sometimes just be with your own you is the best thing in the moment.. they don’t understand that… they need or want your energy or just be with you friendly? ..

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    San Reply:

    I am an introvert and have needed a lot of self-care recently. One change I noticed is that I refuse to laugh or to respond enthusiastically when I don’t feel like it. Sometimes the whole interaction with other people calms down and I don’t find it as exhausting. I still learn to find out what does me good, such as sitting calmly in a bar with friends and giving my attention to the person I want to, not the loudest.

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    KC Reply:

    Like

    Vesta Flowers Reply:

    I think it’s a combination of both. They are being friendly, but also feel good after being around you. They don’t realize that they feel good because they have just sucked you dry.

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    Isabelle Baumann Reply:

    That’s a great tip I will give this a try. You can also place yourself into a ball of protection.. I can’t even handle shopping for too long anymore..

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    Vesta Flowers Reply:

    That could explain why I’ve done most of my shopping online for the past 10 years or so.

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    Isabelle Baumann Reply:

    scratch that, pyramid instead of ball!

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  • AMCS

    so much of this rings true for me: energy sapping people, small talk, needing time to myself, low blood pressure. but I never really consider myself an introvert as it sounds like someone that never talks or interacts with others. I guess there are varying degrees as well.

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  • I’m SO glad you posted this Sarah! I’m drafting a post about ‘the life introvert’ at the moment, too.
    I cracked up at least three times reading through this post as I could relate to everything you said. I’m the same, in that until recently when I looked into personality testing, I had no idea why I hate small talk, why I hate loud stimuli, events, going out late and need alone time, all the time (or so it seems).
    In a world where extraverts are the happy, bubbly, (even popular?) types, I spent a lot of time feeling displaced and confused in social scenes, somewhat guilty and like I should apologise for being me.

    Now that I actually understand why, I feel more confident in setting boundaries around ‘Hayley time’ and less apologetic (though still working on it) about doing so.

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    Isabelle Baumann Reply:

    Hahaa I am exactly the same!.. wanna hang out ? Only kidding 😉 lol

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    Vesta Flowers Reply:

    Once I reached the point where I didn’t care so much about the opinions of others and decided to put my needs ahead of their wants, I felt a lot better.

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  • Michelle

    The whole extrovert/introvert label has always confused me. Personally I find it impossible to place myself in one category or the other. I seem to be a blend depending on where I am in life and also specific situations. I am what you would call an “energy vampire” (hehe). I most defiantly feed off the energy of others. I love being around people, love an after event drink or three and love a good party. However, when it comes to certain situations or life stages I also withdraw. Enjoy my own time, definitely hate small talk (I always hate small talk no matter what “mode” I’m in!), avoid group situations etc etc. So am I an introvert sometimes extrovert or an extrovert sometimes introvert or none of those? As human beings the way we make sense of things seems be by placing labels on them. I however feel that each individual personality is so unique, with so many layers and complexities it’s hard to place everyone into one category or the other. Sure there are some that are stereotypically one way or the other but this is not the case for everyone. I liken it to sexuality. To me it is a fluid concept that is dynamic in nature, always shifting depending on life stage and situation.

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    Hayley Richardson Reply:

    I love what you say Michelle and agree that we seem to make sense of things by ascribing meaning to them.

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    Kelly Exeter Reply:

    Michelle introversion and extroversion exists on a spectrum … it’s not an all or nothing thing – and there are certainly people who sit right in the middle of the spectrum (so called ambiverts).

    Ultimately EVERYONE needs to spend time alone away from people, but the key difference between introverts and extroverts is that:

    Introverts just get tired being around other people. It’s not that they don’t enjoy being with other people, but at the end of all the interacting, they will feel exhausted and need some quiet, alone time to recharge.

    Extroverts on the other hand will come home from seeing people and be buzzing with energy.

    This is of course not true 100% of the time (because nothing is, is it?). For example, if introverts chat with someone they have great conversational chemistry with, they will come away from that conversation feeling energised.

    While I agree that we can often live up to the labels ascribed to us, I have found that knowing I am an introvert, knowing what it really means, and working with it rather than against it (ie trying to be an extrovert when I am not) has been lifechanging for me 🙂

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    Michelle Reply:

    Hi Kelly,
    That is amazing for you and I definitely understand how incredible it would feel to understand your actions and feelings better and feel supported and justified in them. My husband for example is classic introvert. Everything discussed in this article is him to a T! I know he will get a lot of comfort out of reading this, understand himself much better and feel less guilty for his actions.
    I guess my point is that being in the middle is often a lot more confusing than being at one end of the extreme or the other. It’s nearly impossible to justify your actions when you are everything but also nothing… if you get what I mean.
    I guess I equate it to somewhat to sexuality. Some people are straight, some gay and some bi but some are none of those things and all of those things at the same time.
    I guess you could say there is something liberating about being in this middle state but in a world where labels help you to feel justified and supported in your actions it sort of means that none of your actions are supported or justified. An example is that because I am an ambivert I feel guilty either way! I feel guilty if I am my energy vampire self but at the same time I also have the guilt that introverts feel when I am in introvert mode.
    I suppose I just raised it as I thought it was important to highlight that there are people like me out there too (I hope!) who struggle with being in the middle of the spectrum and feeling the guilt associated with both sides.

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    Kelly Exeter Reply:

    Oh gosh – I definitely see what you are saying there! That WOULD be hard. I see my husband and brother struggle with this a little as they are both very close to the centre of the spectrum.

    But the more conversations we all have about the different types … and understand each other better, the more forgiving we all are of each other’s ‘quirks’ (quirks being the things that make us ‘us’ … but that people who don’t understand us can see as ‘annoying’).

    I think if you have people around you who understand you and understand that your energy needs are a moving feast, hopefully that will help in relieving the guilt a little?!

    Michelle Reply:

    Phew I’m glad you understand! It was really hard to try and explain that which I guess is reflective of how confusing it is emotionally!
    Anyway, you are right… the more we talk about it the more supported everyone on the spectrum should feel.
    And like you said, the people who love you should accept you for whoever you are anyway! I’m sure a lot of the guilt we feel is self inflicted and unjustified!

    Kelly Exeter Reply:

    Yes it is!!

    Leigh Reply:

    Wow Michelle, thanks for sharing. I completely relate. As I read the article I was feeling frustrated not knowing who I am anymore. While I agree it is important to be aware that extroverts exhaust introverts, I was always an extrovert (or thought I was) but as I hit my 30’s, had kids, had hurts etc, I thought I became an introvert. And yet I still feel energised by going out to a party or having dinner with fun/interesting friends – sometimes but not all the time. But then I prefer to go running by myself as its my ‘time out’ just for me and that re-energises me too.

    I also get what you say about sexuality as I have often said, why this immense societal pressure to be on a side (gay or straight). While I am all for gay rights etc, I feel like there is another pressure from the gay community that you must be one or the other and yet it is actually really common for people to be attracted to both sometimes and often. But then again, why do they have to be labelled Bi? Sometimes I wonder if labels can do more harm than good. we just are who we are and we’re all unique. Even personality profiling I am never completely one I am often a mix and it leaves me feeling that I dont know myself. And yet I do. They just havn’t profiled me yet.

    But so thankful for this conversation – I now know I am an ambivert! 🙂

    rachel Reply:

    The most helpful description I found was the Introvert/ Extravert isn’t an either/or – more of a sliding scale. Being in the middle is balanced and not a bad thing… Plus you can move either way on the scale but you tend to get more balanced as you get older. It is useful to know where your baseline is – one mode will tend to be more dominant.
    (I also know some very extravert people who also need their own time).

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  • JT

    Thanks for posting this…makes me feel less horrible about not wanting to always be around people. And, don’t even get me started on the small talk….what a waste of time!

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  • Nic

    I’ve recognised these introvert traits in myself for a long time but have only recently taken the time to find how I can value and look after myself and my own needs, without feeling that I’m ‘boring’ or have nothing to contribute. If only these talkers knew what was happening in my head and what I’m observing! I like to think of introverts as the black night sky, we’re so important because if we weren’t there, the extraverts would not be shining half as brightly 🙂

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  • Kay

    Great post – Thank you!

    As an introvert, I’ve always struggled with “brainstorming sessions” and being forced to work as part of a team throughout school and in certain jobs as I got older.

    I do enjoy working around people and am a good “team player” in terms of helping people out and pulling my weight, but if I’m forced to complete a project together, as part of a team, I don’t get the same satisfaction as I do working alone and don’t feel like it’s my best work. I also feel like it stifles my creativity, I guess.

    The other thing I’ve struggled with as an introvert is having 3 young children. While I love them to bits, my energy gets completely drained if I don’t take time out for myself on a regular basis.

    My partner is very much an extrovert, and doesn’t understand why I NEED time alone to recharge, particularly after a big event (he could be around people 24/7 and never need space!). I remember when we first got together, he always asked if something was wrong whenever I wanted to go for a walk alone.

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    MJM Reply:

    I totally agree about struggling with introversion with small kids. I think this has been the most draining thing for me as a mum and also the thing that caused me the most guilt. My kids have never been in day care so I have had other people with me constantly for almost 7 years and there is no retreating with small children in the house.
    Now that my youngest has started kindy and I have a few hours a week without anyone but me at home I have found a new calm that was lacking when they were both with me all the time. It was never that I didn’t want the children to be there, just that there was never the alone time I craved. I’ve struggled to not feel guilty about that as a mother.

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    Jac Reply:

    Totally agree with both the above. I am sure that I have found motherhood challenging due mostly to the need for alone time to recharge, quiet thinking time, peaceful surrounds. I haven’t improved since my 2 kids have gone to school; now after a weekend of running around, 4 people in the house, a loud extroverted husband who is larger (and noisier!) than life… I am ready to collapse on Monday.

    My son is an introvert and my daughter an extrovert. I can spend limitless time in my son’s company: we get each other, no need for chit chat, can be quiet & talk when we have something to say. My daughter on the other hand… Exhausts me often: constant chatting, commenting, questions. Always needs someone with her, doing things with her, entertaining her. She doesn’t like to be alone. Ever!

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    Deb H Reply:

    I hear you Kay, MJM and Jac! I’m so glad it’s not just me! I too find my children physically and mentally exhausting… (I have 4! How nuts is that!). The first and third are total extroverts – they are constantly chatting, asking questions, singing, needing to be near me and generally being noisy – it drives me up the wall if they are with me all day. My second and youngest seem to be more introverted like me – quieter, gentler and more relaxed, happy to be in their own company. The extroverted two are always seeking company. My eldest has even gone so far as to say “Mummy, when I’m alone, I feel so awful and lonely and sad!”

    Alone time in our home is very difficult to find and I am often exhausted. My husband is an extrovert and loves having people around and going out to parties – he’s also great at chit-chat/small talk and makes friends easily. On the down side he often asks if I’m OK or if I’m angry with him – generally, that’s not the case at all – I just don’t have much to say, or am in my own head thinking things through!

    I can’t stand crowds and don’t like social gatherings. I’m not good with meeting new people or attending a gathering where I don’t know anyone. It actually makes me feel anxious and sometimes physically ill to go into a crowded space like a concert. I’d much rather stay at home with a good book! 🙂

  • Gerard

    I’m a massive introvert and can relate so much with this!
    Two minor exceptions though – I love events such as concerts (no after parties though), and I frequently engage in small talk with people I don’t know too well, so my energy isn’t drained too much. I do hate the feeling of selfishness that comes with being introverted, and I am aware the result of my actions equals not having many friends.

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    Narelle Warren Reply:

    Quality not quantity

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  • Ian

    I found reading Susan Cain’s book – “Quiet” (Sarah refers to Susan’s TedTalk) tremendously informative and reassuring. It provided a lot of answers to questions that I had struggled with for most of my life. I think everyone should read it, both introverts & extroverts. It’s also helped me tremendously in being a dad to an extroverted son.

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  • Sarah N

    Oh this is an amazing post! My whole life I have been like this and my whole life I have beaten myself up for not being able to be normal! I crave alone time and the need to unwind alone yet social pressures mean I never really get it… It’s good to see I am not alone in my feelings

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  • Discovering the true meaning of ‘introvert’ as being someone who gets energy from being by themselves (and not someone who is shy and awkward in social situations) was a pretty big deal for me. I really encourage all introverts to read Susan Cain’s book – it’s incredibly affirming and will make you feel less of a loser (us introverts tend to feel like losers right?!)

    Another interesting thing I found out the other day is that my INFJ personality type is full of contradictions. The ‘I’ part of me craves alone time, but the ‘F’ part of me needs to feel connected to people. The ‘N’ part of me hates details while the ‘J’ part of me needs to be organised and live an ordered life!

    Are you an ‘F’ Sarah? Maybe the tension between your I and F is also contributing to the tension you mention above 🙂

    And if there are any other INFJs out there – hopefully the above helps explain why you sometimes feel like a walking contradiction xx

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    narelle Reply:

    INTJ or INFJ here….the result depends on the quiz. Although I feel more like an ambivert depending on life circumstances.

    Very much feel like a contradiction

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    Mel H Reply:

    Reading your comment prompted me to take the test, as your description of your INFJ personality type felt really true for me. Bingo! No wonder I’ve felt so conflicted. Very interesting.

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    Kelly Exeter Reply:

    It was a bit of a revelation for me last week!

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    Lori A. Sutherland Reply:

    Fellow INFJ here, and yes, I often feel conflicted as my letters battle out which one gets to be dominant at that time. Right now my I and F are pulling me in very different directions, and my I is losing.

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    Sophia Reply:

    INFJ here!! Thanks for posting this comment Kelly. I TOTALLY related to your paragraph on being a walking contradiction.

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    Megan Reply:

    Kelly, I haven’t taken that test, but from what you describe INFJ sounds fairly accurate. Glad I’m not the only one 🙂

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    Chrisibelle Reply:

    Another INFJ here! Doing the Myers-Briggs personality type tests was a huge eye-opener for me, however there was one point that seemed to not quite fit – until I took the secondary (Part II) test, which showed my sub-type preferences. (I went to a workshop on communication, don’t think Part II testing is freely or commonly available online). While I well and truly have a strong introvert preference, I am great in social situations and will merrily go around introducing people so that everyone knows each other by the end of the night (and then I leave without saying goodbye…). A key concept of the workshop was that these are just preferences – as we experience new situations and phases of life, our internal balance point can shift. Through practice we can also become comfortable with (and/or fake) personality aspects on the other end of our preference spectrum, which explains why introverts can learn to chit-chat and extroverts can learn to meditate!

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  • Kes

    This is a really important issue actually. Our world is heavily biased towards extroversion. Team planning, group assignments, showmanship=leadership. At work I used to think I was deficient in something – why couldn’t I get into the team-brainstorming/meetings/ talking EVERYTHING out with colleagues? I’d much rather take a task, sit down myself and have a good think about it. Realising I was an introvert (and, that this is not a negative label) was absolutely liberating. We just work differently. Since then, I don’t hesitate (nor feel guilty) to do things the way that works for me- and I perform much better. (As a side note research shows that in team-brainstorming its just the loudest voice that becomes the groupthink- there’s very little value-adding).

    The more we talk about introversion the better. I’m totally open about it now- many have been surprised, and many, many more people give a relieved ‘oh, me too!’. Its also helped a lot of my relationships with friends. Relating your personality to a level of introversion-extroversion brings honesty to your relationships – much less guilt, and much less offence about ‘going home early’ type of things!

    By the way, for those who don’t like the label, know that it is actually more of a sliding scale from introversion to extroversion, with the dead centre being ‘ambiverts’- a bit of both.

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  • Brooke

    Thanks Sarah for yet another great post… and very well timed. this makes so much sense to me now as I sometimes feel like the bitch or party pooper in certain situations and why after crazy social weekends or events all I want to do is spend time with me …. and maybe read a book – just so exhausted.

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  • Chris Meredith

    Thank you for this article! for many years now I have always thought my behaviour strange! and so did other people!….so many times have people close to me said they didn’t understand me!.. and most have walked away because of it!….too much exhibitionism and showiness leave me completely fatigued and feeling like I just have to get away!…and feeling awful because I don’t know how I am going to say no!….no more stop it for awhile !.. let me get my head together! until now I thought an introvert was just someone who was anti social and boring!.. thank you!!!!!

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  • Jessica

    Thanks for writing this! I am going into party season at work with farewell parties and retirement parties and birthday parties. My social calendar is full and it depresses me. And yes– it makes me feel like a bitch. I’m happy to know that I’m not alone in feeling that way and maybe one day my lovely extrovert friends will understand that my wanting to be alone isn’t to be taken personally.

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  • little bird

    The thing that gets me is the constant criticism from others when I say no to doing something. Why can’t people just accept that I’m happy to be involved at times but also really need my quiet time? I’ve tried to explain it as “not being all that social” but given the fact that I can be quite outgoing at times, people just don’t accept that. I just don’t accept that it should be up for discussion. I don’t judge others if they choose to not be involved in everything going, why must they judge me? And don’t get me started on small talk!

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  • Shirley

    Omg so true Sarah! This is why I have been so confused! I know that introverts get energy from themselves. Have you ever been with other people (even other introverts) and just spent time observing things around you or else asking them questions to find out how they are feeling or why they do things? And then a few hours later hit a wall and need to retreat and sleep?
    Your paragraph about fun to observe but not fun to partake hit the nail on the head. I love to study people and situations, but parties can leave me drained. I love new experiences (only to file them away in my info bank) and seek them out sometimes but only on my terms. I can get a lot of energy from talking to people. But I think that is rather energy that is generated from the two of us talking about a topic that we are passionate about. I thought that maybe I might have been an extrovert. I was so confused.
    I can do small talk, but most of the time I dislike it. It’s meaningless.
    Thank you for helping me understand myself 🙂

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  • Amy

    Thanks for bringing introversion to the table, Sarah. I too am an introvert, but most people around me don’t realise it. I grew up in a big family, have always played team sports and have always enjoyed the company of others. I just don’t draw my energy from being around people though, and after a few days of not having me time, I withdraw, become stressed, and the anxiety that is forever hanging over my shoulders becomes a monster tightening its grip on my back. Being around others non-stop burns me out. I need time to recharge, to feel like I’m in control and a quality ‘Amy day’ every week is the only way I know to keep myself under control and calm.

    The hardest thing about being an introvert is that I still get lonely – sometimes perfectly lonely and I produce my best work and am my best self, other times devastatingly lonely when no one understands how I am feeling and why. After being ‘on’ at work for a few days, I am exhausted – we don’t deal well with shallow interaction. I prefer going to the cinema alone, I don’t like shopping with other people, and I don’t like exercising with other people unless it’s a team sport. (Actually, going to the cinema is a great way to get in some me time – you’re guaranteed at least two hours where you can sit in a dark room and not have to speak to anyone – I find this an effective way to recharge and recentre myself without being completely anti-social). Introverts like us need to introduce these conversations and keep them going – and extroverts need to be able to step back and listen.

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    Mary Reply:

    Absolutely Amy. That could have been me writing your post

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    Amy Reply:

    Solidarity for the introverts, Mary. Glad you could relate.

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  • renee

    Thankyou thankyou thus sums me up exactly. ..I am often confused why I fel tired from energy vampires when they are so lovely, yet sometimes I crave social interaction…I shall be investigating further into introvert behaviour, as until now ive felt quite bad about my preferences

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    Sarah Wilson Reply:

    all of this is a recent discovery for me….I was relieved to work it out!

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  • Pinky

    Hey Sarah. Love this post and i can totally related. People are surprised when i tell them i’m introverted, as i can be so ‘friendly and bubbly’; the truth is i can only be bubbly with others for for so long before i start dreaming about alone time…. My kinesiologist said that she she could feel my energetic field was really pulled out from my body, a result from giving my energy away to everyone i came in contact with. So i’m doing some work on keeping my energy within (meditation) and doing things that energise me baths, walks, solo trips to the movies or galleries etc.

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  • Mel H

    Thank you so much! Yet another well articulated article that perfectly sums me up! I love tuning in and having yet another ah-ha! moment.
    I’ve often been with inner conflict as to how I can be an introvert, yet sometimes love being around people, going to festivals and shows, etc, etc. The line spectrum really makes sense.
    This gives me inspiration to persevere with Susan’s “Quiet”.

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  • Bridget

    I always love the way you put things – “I’ve really struggled to figure out why I become so exhausted in these lovely people’s company, why I become impatient and, in fact, avoid them. I feel like a bitch. It confounds me. It kills me.” – I have just been grappling with this, as I am a introvert, sometimes I have to drag myself out of the house because I worry I’ll turn into a recluse – but just this week I had really been missing my pals, so spent a couple of days catching up with them all, only to come home exhausted, drained, and bored (!!) and almost upset about the whole social interaction thing! Perfectly timed article to help make it all better 🙂 Thank you.

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    Sarah Wilson Reply:

    That’s the aim (to make you feel better!) x

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  • Most comprehensive article on introversion that I have read. This described me to a T, can’t wait to share. Thanks so much.

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  • I had always been 100% extroverted, while still loving my own time, but since developing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome I find that my need to recharge on my own has increased drastically. I also find I get exhausted more quickly being around others. Did you find you became more introverted after getting sick?

    Thanks for sharing your views, it certainly got me thinking about how different we all are. Lucky we all engage in the world differently, makes life more interesting…more shades of grey are always welcome 🙂

    Jess xxx

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    Sarah Wilson Reply:

    or perhaps you were always an introvert whose set point was not in balance?

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    Jessica Stead Reply:

    Hmm. Interesting thought. Possibly. Were you an introvert before you became unwell?

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  • Cheryl

    Massive Ditto to all that you have cited in the article Sarah !! ( as usual).

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  • Lisa L.

    I too am an introvert. I am a teacher which is a very extroverted job. I make it work by using quiet hours afterschool to recharge and plan. I was thinking just this week about how draining afterschool meetings have become. If I have time to recharge before the meeting I am fine but I don’t always get that opportunity. Also, I am drawn to nature and spend time in prayer alone. These help to keep my sanity in this crazy world!

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  • ihavetwofeet

    Thats me to a ‘T’!
    Sometimes after being out socialising for hours, i feel drained and just go home to re energize. I would like to think I am the master of the stealth exit! Other times, I take an extended loo break for 15 mins, just to recoup and be by myself, and then Im good to go for the next 2 hours. Yes this is little odd, but a cubicle can be quite the relaxing place for an intovert!

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  • Sarah

    Please remember Extroverts are human too. Please remember that. And choose to be kind. Please remember reading that we are “energy vampires” or “show offs” is deeply hurtful. Please remember we get our energy from outside so if you walk away we will likely ask you back. And that energy could be good or bad. Please remember we are humans too. Please remember that we haven’t spent many long years oppressing introverts, mainlining your energy, showing off, and just making your life hell. We’re just being ourselves. Trying our best. Please remember if we also have the NFP as well as the E we are highly highly sensitive and need to recharge in a similar way. Please remember we have feelings. Every bit as important, delicate and easy to hurt as yours.

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    EKougi Reply:

    I don’t see extroverts as “energy vampires”. As introverts we give our energy to others and then recharge on our own. I’ve encountered people who’ve come into my world and taken my energy without permission – they’re not extroverts, they’re jerks.

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    Narelle Warren Reply:

    They have an MBTI too regardless

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    Renee Reply:

    Yay ~ I can’t believe people are claiming extroverts drain energy from introverts ~ what the ?!? The energy vampire stuff is fru-fru guggfrom the 90s and more about nasty people who take, take, take and don’t give. Extroverts on the other hand are usually bubbly people who love to share, talk, gather, encourage and are actually interested in people. Yegads. Nothing wrong with that !! I adore happy bubbly extroverts. What a bizarre way of putting people down just because some might like their quiet time. Everyone likes quiet time. NFP or ABC. Let’s all just stick our heads outside and inhale …

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    Narelle Warren Reply:

    Some are energy vampires who either consciously or unconsciously need the energy from others to keep going. Hence being energized by the exchange
    I suggest reading about the qualities of energy vampires. Many are traits of ‘narcissistic’ people of a mix of MBTI types

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    Narelle Warren Reply:

    The simple fact us that some are. Introverts generally cop more hell than an extrovert which is why ‘Quiet’ was written. ‘Quiet’ can be a insult in my experience too

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    skyvalley87 . Reply:

    Boo hoo

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  • Ros

    Brilliant. Want all my friends / colleagues / bosses / family to read this and understand it!

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  • Jemma

    I am as introverted as they come, I find energy inwards and do feel my energy being zapped by some people. My partner, whom I love deeply is an extrovert, and I can totally resonate with the feelings of guilt when I need to retreat to myself and that hurt look on his face, how can you look the person you love in the eyes and tell them that they zapp the life out of you! haha. I am doing some serious inner soul work to help protect my energy, and it is getting easier 🙂

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  • steph

    Before reading Susan Cain’s book I would have said ‘Yes, unfortunately this is me’. However after reading Quiet, I am beginning to feel more confident with my way of being. Yes, I very much dislike small talk so much so that I avoid it as much as possible. It takes me a while to warm up to a situation or other people. Sometimes I may come across as rude but actually I am furiously worrying about how I will come across to the other person. I guess thats more social anxiety rather than introversion. I replay situations in my head and am admittedly still quite harsh on myself for not being as generous towards others as I would have liked to be. Being in my early 20s I guess I’m still figuring out my place in this world and the best way to take part in it!

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    Sarah Wilson Reply:

    it’s great you’re doing it so young! impressed x

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  • zoe

    I have never read such an accurate description of this aspect of myself before– I knew it was me being introverted but you explained it, captured it so well. Thank you. I have worked hard most of my adult life to process pain, individuate, integrate my authentic self– mind/body/spirit (and will continue to do so for the rest of my life) and yet I feel this pull of disappointing people/constantly apologizing to people or avoiding people and I never quite felt okay about it or understood what *that* was until now. Also, there has always been this idea in the back of my mind that once I “have my sh*t together”, or once I can wrestle myself into my “best” self and stay living there I’ll never feel energy drained by people ever again. And now I can loosen my grip on one more complex, because I see more clearly what I need and how it’s a-okay 🙂 Once again– your insight resonates with me to my core, helping me to stand up into myself without apology, and ENJOY myself, too. xx

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  • Audrey Olsen

    Thanks for that very insightful post Sarah. I’m definitely an introvert and have often struggled with the whole feeling guilty thing and like you’re letting others down because of needing so much time on my own, feeling exhausted by others, hardly ever enjoying small talk and wanting to refuse invitations to do things with others. Like you say, it’s not that you don’t like those people, it’s just exhausting and you just need time to yourself to do your own thing and to recharge. But then confusingly I’m not always like this. Thanks for sharing – it’s good to know I’m definitely not the only one who feels that way 😀

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  • Amy

    This is definitely me…and when I am stressed at work or home, I am even less likely to want to be social. I am an extroverted introvert though! And my husband is an introverted extrovert. He loves being around people and having people over, but people think he is quiet and calm. I am chatty and smiley but I crave ‘me’ time and am always the first to want to go home.
    I struggle the most with my sister though – she lives around the corner from me and is a fully-fledged extrovert and always bored and always lovely and wanting someone to play with or do things with. I love her to bits, but I really need a lot of energy ready to go before I do anything with her. And I know it hurts her that we don’t always spend lots of time together, which upsets me too.
    Like another poster mentioned, having kids was the hardest thing I ever did. They are awesome, but when they are little you get zero time to yourself, which is sort of hell for an introvert. I still have a lot of friends who think I am ‘weird’ to want to be on my own a lot, but they are getting used to it. Maybe I need to send them this link!!!

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  • KT

    I am a true introvert, but I’m also a person who loves to host parties and organise groups to go out, etc. I enjoy group exercise but I love going to the movies or beach by myself. I have to do presentations to large and small groups as part of my job, and I haaaaaate it.

    Susan Cain’s book, “Quiet”, is so wonderful. When I read the manifesto inside the front cover (particularly number 9: “It’s OK to cross the street to avoid making small talk” – YES!), I knew I’d love the book.

    Possibly not a good idea to rave about the book on a date though? Didn’t make it past the third date. Oh well, his loss.

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  • So well said! I am with you here (of course), and I guess it helps to return back to that ‘looking after yourself’ thing again? – because the reason for the behaviour that you might feel you need to apologise for is actually because you ARE looking after yourself, and you aren’t being a bitch or rude. I bet you make it work like I try to, giving out when you can and retreating when you need to.
    I’m sure so many people resonate with this post because a lot of people don’t realise they are introverts and think that they have something wrong with them! when in fact it’s just a preferred way of being comfortable (or uncomfortable). I remember only realising It about me not that long ago and going YAHOO, this is just me, and I’m happy to just be. Your heart is full of love and that is what people see. x

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  • Amber Tate

    I’d love to hear about your comedic avoidance of communal exercise! I’m a personal trainer and the thought of going for a run with someone terrifies me. I’m also making my way through Marti Olsen Laney’s book and it’s great to learn that the way I sometimes (often) feel around groups of people and the overwhelming desire I have to escape is completely normal for an introvert. I actually like the fact that I feel energised by being alone and don’t have rely on others to get my energy fix. Introverts rock!

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  • Marie

    Interesting! What I find really hard is maintaining friendships with extraverts. They want to be around me a lot more than I want to be around them. Not because I don’t like them but because I need a lot of “me time”. I find it difficult to explain this to them without offending.

    I also find myself really drawn to social media as it makes it easy to chat when I feel social and turn it off when I don’t.

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  • Theresa

    I like to give chatty chatty energy zappers a wide berth. It’s takes me a while to get used to certain people before I can feel comfortable engaging in conversation with them. God I DETEST small talk or idle chatter as I call it!! I can talk for hours about a subject I’m interested in with a like minded person. I LOVE public speaking, getting up in front of a crowd of complete strangers and making a speech and I ALWAYS come off stage on a HIGH!!! Nothing fazes me only certain people and things irritate.

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  • You are so right about small talk, ugh!! I don’t feel like I’m letting people down by being myself. The people who know me, know I’m an introvert.

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  • Jennifer Pillsbury Wheat

    I’m an extrovert. I live with an introvert. You want to know how well that works? It’s definitely…a challenge. But he brings stability to my inner world. I hope I bring him some laughter.

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  • alison

    I’M AN INTROVERT!!!!! and Im so damn glad there’s others like me out there. When I’ve made up mind and I’m over being at the party, I’m going home!!! That’s even if I made it to the party.

    Does anybody else hate and feel so uncomfortable being in large parties or gatherings? I prefer small intimate dinner parties with close friends, I would rather eat my toe nails than go to a big stand around, small talk party with finger food and over drunk people.

    Ill keep a look out for all my introvert friends next time.

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  • Michelle

    I completely relate to this also and can see my 6 year old is also an introvert. At her birthday recently, which was held at a play centre with 20 other children, I asked one of her friends where she was. She said Isabella is at the top of the jungle gym reading a book. Most other parents wouldn’t get it but I did – she needed her time to recharge in all the mayhem and chaos of the day. Once she had recharged, she was back playing with her friends again.

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  • Laurie

    The more I read, the more I make sense to myself.

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  • Rej

    Great one on one, hate groups! I feel uncomfortable, and false like I am putting on an act. I feel unconnected from people in large groups, and the multiple people participating in a conversation exhausting.. I am a teacher, students suck my energy all day despite my chilled classrooms. I will forever be more tired after being around groups of people, give me a cup of tea and a real authentic one on one conversation any day.

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  • morgan

    Sarah, I did wonder about your claim to introversion. Along with a few of my post-graduate psychology educated friends, each of us has oft proclaimed ourselves as introverts with the others responding with scoffs of “NO you’re not”. Like introversion was a badge of honour.

    I’ve come to the conclusion I’m in the mid range of the introversion-extroversion spectrum and it has changed as I’ve aged, shifting closer to the middle from the introversion end.

    As I’ve done with my friends, I scoffed at your claim to introversion. After all, you put yourself out into the world so much. And introverts prefer turning inward. But I thought more about it, and I realised I love putting myself out there (writing, doing presos) but it’s not necessarily to evoke interaction, rather it’s to make all this stuff flying around in my busy mind tangible. It’s a download of sorts. Also I know I love getting ‘my stuff’ acknowledged, validated, whatever – some kind of feedback about all this intensive cogitation that goes on feels good. Maybe it stops me disappearing to far into it. And I like getting a pat.

    Keep putting it out there Sarah.

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    Sarah Wilson Reply:

    I like that – rather it’s to make all this stuff flying around in my busy mind tangible. It’s a download of sorts.

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    Narelle Warren Reply:

    A majority of performers are introverts.

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  • Marisa

    this rings so true for me as I my friend used pulled me up on the fact that I withdrew from going out all the time and doing the same thing every weekend. She thought took it personally but she is an extrovert.

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  • Danielle

    Discussing introverts, especially introverted entrepreneurs, is a big part of my blog. It’s such an interesting topic! And I definitely agree.. some days I really want to be around people. Other days I might want to, but just don’t have the energy reserve to deal with it.

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  • Amy

    I sometimes am so completely down on myself when I compare the social interaction of other people with my own. I like my downtime, my regular ‘at home’ normal time so much I very rarely agree to anything more than one night out a week. Any more than that and the pure effort and energy expended leaves me feeling like I’ve spread myself way too thin. My other half scoffs at me when I say I’m an introvert, he sees me walk into a situation, turn on a smile, find something to talk about and says I’m really outgoing – but then I really don’t think he understands the true nature of the introvert. Straight after I need real downtime. Real time by myself, to create something, or read.
    I spend little if any time on the phone – preferring real encounters – I have many good friends but not a close knit group of confidantes – I’m always conscious of the groups of girls who’ve known one another since school and live in each other’s pockets – I feel almost alien in comparison.

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  • Nicole

    Totally relate to this – I only realised recently (at age 31) that I am in fact an introvert! I guess I always thought that because I was outgoing and confident I was an extrovert, but I realised how exhausted I am after large gatherings, forced socialising or small talk that the penny dropped! Still figuring out my balance between alone time and socialising – I often dread going to large events but once I am there have a blast and come away feeling energised. Other times, all I want to do is hang out in my flat in my underwear and dance to 90’s music.

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  • April F

    Lightbulb moment! I often find myself ‘trapped’ at a table full of people having conversations around me and I switch in and out of those conversations. I always thought it was odd that I inevitably find myself on the outside in group situations, but your paragraph about observing rather than participating helps put it into perspective for me. Thank you!

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  • Stine

    Oh man. I’ve always felt the need to apologize for wanting to leave parties early (usually having an excuse ready before even going), not feeling the urge to drink more than one glas of wine, hating small talk and sucking at ‘networking’ (even though I really wish I was good at it!). Then I read somewhere (I think it was Gala Darling), that one should never apologize for who you are! That gave me some peace. This post gave me a little more. I will definitely want to look into this whole being introvert some more and maybe find ways to work with it instead of trying to fight it.

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  • Beth.Louise

    Totally spot on.. When I’ve said how I’m introverted to others like my family, they don’t think I am because I can be so talkative at times, but it’s so true! I hate small talk, I don’t enjoy it, I just find it hard to think of what they want me to say/how they want me to react.
    And it’s hard being in a job where you are expected/even demanded to be an extrovert. It’s exhausting.

    Thanks for the post, it made me have a bit of an ‘ahhhh so that’s why’ moment 🙂

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  • John

    I have found small talk difficult, draining and just plain boring. In social situations I would tend to either opt out or hide in a corner with one outer introvert and discuss things at more depth.

    I recently came across the work of Robert Dilts a NLP guru. The “Logical Levels” are usually drawn as a hierarchy starting at environment, behaviour, capabilities, beliefs, identity and spirituality at the top. (Somewhat like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs). However I find it more useful to think of it as concentric circles; with environment at the outside and spirituality at the centre.

    I now find, if I can get one on one with an introvert, that it is possible to have a meaningful conversation. However, it seems to need to be a process of working through layers of small talk to get to bigger talk. A lot of people are not skilled at looking inwards. So there is a need to go slowly. Talking about the weather, then jobs, then what we are good at doing starts to lead to more juicy stuff.

    I now find these situations less tiring. Perhaps my closet extrovert is coming out to play…

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  • I found this to be a very interesting read but I found the part you wrote about extraverts being ‘energy vampires’ to be upsetting.

    I’m an extravert. I always have been. I’m that person that asks other people to do group exercise, asks them to hang around for a wine after an event and talks to the person sitting alone in the corner and tries to get them to join in.

    I don’t do this because I get my energy from other people. I do this because I hate seeing people alone and I want to offer them the option of not being alone. I’m also persistant because I know how difficult some people find it to open up to people. So if I ask a person at a party who is sitting alone to join me and they refuse, I’ll ask a few more times just to be sure because I don’t like anyone feeling uncomfortable or lonely. I’d hate for someone to have a miserable time at a party or an event because no one talked to them or invited them to sit with them. How awful.

    I think it’s a nice thing to try include people and I will continue to do it. It’s the other person’s choice whether or not they accept my invitations, regardless of whether they an introvert or an extravert.

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    Narelle Warren Reply:

    Introverts can feel invaded by this because they want space for a reason. Sitting alone isn’t necessarily because we can’t interact. Empathy is what an introvert can find hard to get from extroverts for this reason

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  • Rachel

    I hate small talk AND I have low blood pressure…and I come from a big family of two parents and six kids and ALL of us are introverts. Makes for some very interesting (basically non-existent) family get togethers!!! And there are all very extremes of introverts in our family too. I feel like I identify with this article a lot and to most family members, I appear to be not an introvert because I don’t mind going to an event (so long as I get there after it starts and leave just as its done to avoid the social time!). I also dont mind having people around in small groups with meaningful, quality conversation. But I’m a stay at home mum with two littles — some days that’s quite enough interaction for me and others, I absolutely need a friend or two! Thanks for debunking some ‘introvert’ myths Sarah! I do often feel like extroverts just don’t understand what to do with those of us who teeter in the middle of being an introvert!

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  • Ariane Khachatourians

    Oh yes… I don’t think I allowed myself to give into my introverted nature until my health crash a couple years ago (it was bad before that, but then it became REALLY BAD), and now I truly realize the extent of how much energy I give up to do those brief extroverted things. I’ve got adrenal issues on top of everything, and have really learned my limits and how much I pay for overdoing it.

    Worse than small talk? Small talk with people who I’ve got unresolved issues with – it’s unbearable. And my BP is so low doctors often think they botched the test and redo it to be sure! 😉

    Thanks for reinforcing how important it is to accept ourselves as we are, and try not to feel like horrible bitchy people for not being built to be around those who are constantly ON. I think one of the most tiring parts of socializing with extroverts is (like you give the example of laughing at their jokes) that there is always this pressure, for lack of a better word, to respond to or acknowledge everything they do or say. I find it completely overstimulating and exhausting. But people who don’t require that feedback I can handle a lot better.

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    Ugg Bugger Reply:

    Your name is unacceptable. Call yourself Jones!

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  • Anna

    I think there’s a distinction between how introverts and extraverts socially interact. As an introvert I seek the person beneath the conversation where as I find that extraverts tend to stay with ideas or maybe what’s happening on the surface. When I seek time away from others, I am seeking my self.

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  • Nads

    I completely agree with Michelle’s point of view. It’s not as simple as being in one category or the other. Identifying with labels can be self-limiting too. I definitely flip between the ‘verts’ depending on many factors!

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  • Poppy

    Hi there, I’m new to your blog and having just read this post I feel like you’ve described me to a T! My partner is an extrovert through and though and this definitely causes us some issues as he sometimes doesn’t understand my introverted quirks. Thankfully he totally understands that I sometimes need time to myself and will push him out of the door on time when he has planned to go somewhere!

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  • Maria M

    I am an introvert and I guess many of my friendships have faded-out or become somewhat forgotten, because I personally need to recharge after spending time with extroverted friends and family.. I am also not a big fan of hang-outs, small-talk and other social activities, because I get the feeling that I am telling to much about myself or asking to much of others if joining in on a conversation. In a re-cap, it all sounds like bla-bla to me. One Christmas Eve, when everyone in the family had gone to bed, my dad woke up and discovered me sitting in the dark with no tv or radio on and said: Sometimes one needs to close the door to all the noise, and just sit within oneself and find peace – as to much thoughts and stress can create havoc inside. He is also an introvert.

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  • Renee Symons

    Wow. I opened this tab the other day and hadn’t gotten back to it until now. I took a myers-brigg personality test years ago and came out as an extrovert, not sure how, I probably made it up, I was a teenager after all. I was bored one day a few months ago and resat the mini version online and came up as an introvert and didn’t quite get it. Now that I’ve read your take on this, I totally get it!! People exhaust me. I lived alone for 3 years and while it was lonely sometimes, I loved it. I loved the space and the ability to recharge at my own pace. I struggle living even with my fiancee now. Its not about him or anything that he does, sometimes I just need to the house to myself for a few days to hide out. I often find myself (a shift worker) with a long weekend and the first two days I always need to spend just waking when I want to wake and pottering around to ‘defrag’ I suppose, the last thing I want to do is hang out with people when I see them all day at work, they’re exhausting. Here I was thinking I was becoming a depressive! After reading this, the light bulb has switched on and it all makes sense now. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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  • Anne

    Sarah, an insightful read and one that boosts my elf esteem! It infuriates me that western society values extraverted behaviour above introverted tendencies; or should I say it for what it is; extraverted people above introverted ones. You see it everywhere and this attitude informs aspects of sexism and ageism too. I wonder how many introverted folk bypass opportunities throughout their lives due to feeling deficient! Well at least we might just get the chance to live longer 🙂

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  • Nat

    Are introverts more moody than extroverts? Or is that just a stereotype?

    Discuss.

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  • Lise

    Oh yes! Small talk, tiring. An evening of small talk with acquaintances makes me want to scream inside. Happily talk about the meaning of life all night.

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    Jane79 Reply:

    How do you know that starting a ‘small talk’ conversation won’t lead to a conversation about the meaning of life?! How do you know your acquaintances aren’t trying to engage you in this conversation if you just avoid it?!

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    Narelle Warren Reply:

    So talk about the meaning of life instead of the weather. We know about the weather outside. It’s banal and a script

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  • Peta

    mmm I have always considered myself an extrovert.. I have enormous energy & I am always hyper. I talk a lot (although I do bluster to overcome shyness) however I am happiest in my own company. I often feel like people are sucking my energy, & I have been known to avoid group situations like the plague though like Sarah I have my moments where I enjoy group activities…. On the other hand I am an attention seeker & I know full well I am perceived as hard work… I struggle to create conversation about other people but can talk about myself for hours but not because I am not interested in others but because I am not great at making conversation….. sometimes it is easier to be on my own than come across as self absorbed… So am I an extrovert or an introvert??? I am a loud happy bubby person who hates small talk and likes being on my own…. It seems like I have characteristics of both? But at the end of the day what does being either of them mean in terms of living? And more importantly how do you work with the qualities you do have to ensure that you have a balance of being kind to yourself and giving yourself to the world? food for thought?

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  • Sandra Osorio

    I’m still in the process of accepting and welcoming my introversion!

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  • Daphne

    I hadn’t really thought about it like that before -but I definitely fit the profile you created and my husband is the extrovert. Luckily he is happy to go and entertain himself while I chill out on my own. Just this week we talked about his love for team sports (he took up rugby at 47) and I flatly said I hated them – happy to watch team sports but never would join a team!! He was rather surprised- I guess that’s not bad after 25 years of marriage!.

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  • KatieH

    You might also learn a lot from Elaine Aaron’s “Highly Sensitive People”. Susan talks about Elaine’s work in “Quiet”. Higher sensitivity to noise and other stimuli is a reason many ‘introverts’ are exhausted by noisy parties etc. The highly sensitive also tend to pick up more on subtleties and to process things deeply. High sensitivity is great but can make life difficult in an often over stimulating world.

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    Sarah Wilson Reply:

    Yep, have come across her work via this work previously

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  • Sanya

    Having only found out about my introversion a few years ago and indeed about the introvert/extrovert separation, your post has really resonated with me, in particular the part about thinking or feeling bad for avoiding social activities. For a very long time I thought there was something so wrong with me. I hate answering my phone and hate answering my door, and will often avoid doing both. I avoid socialising often and the bigger the group of people the less I want to be in it. I hate small talk and am, myself, very down to the point. For a while I hated myself for it as I am definitely not the one to warm up the conversation. I am not rude but just love to know where I stand with people and equally that is how I act. As you can imagine, it is not for faint hearted 😉 Mind games, social games, dating games – no time for it.
    My husband is a true extrovert and after 13 years of being together we couldn’t make it anymore. In comparison to him, I always felt less adequate and less loving, like I was the bad one at all times. Our different needs have finally made our relationship break down. I used to follow him in his social endeavors all the time, even when I really didn’t feel like it. Due to being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s a year ago I have decided to be more true to my introverted self and sure enough it didn’t work out.
    I am slowly learning to love myself for who I am and for my introversion and I am thankful that people are more aware of it and although I still feel that I have to “fight” for my right to be alone it is less that way and more ok. Or at least I am more ok with it and feel less need to apologise for who I am. The ones that bother to know me and the ones I bother to know (because I do not have a desire for surface, meaningless human contact nor for a huge number of friends, but instead crave deep connection and am incredibly happy to just have a handful of good quality friends) will know that I am a loyal, giving and loving human being if you just let me be. I will come back to you, always. Sending big comforting hugs to all the lovely introverts out there. You are definitely not alone.

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  • amyjayess

    I am an extrovert… I am about to marry an Introvert. So i decided to buy Susan’s book so that I could make sure I empower his as an introvert and not get impatient.

    In the process I am actually bringing some checks into my life, about how I can become a better communicator by learning from introversion.

    I am looking forward to the growing phase as I put it into practice!

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    Sarah Wilson Reply:

    good on you!!!

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  • Ebs

    To be honest I think there’s healthy introversion and then there’s being an avoidant personality. I have to be careful, in my efforts to recover from the latter, that I don’t hide behind the fact that I’m an introvert.

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  • Bell

    Blacht. I’ve always been an introvert and everyone (ie family, friends, work colleagues) always comment on how I go quiet amongst big group chatter or that I’m such a piker for leaving social functions early to go home to enjoy my own company. A lot of people just don’t get that.
    And also I agree with the small talk – it’s often very guarded. And I can’t stand text friendships – very invasive of quiet time and unproductively annoying. Ouch, I know – but I much prefer to speak in person, face to face or on the phone vs through it !
    And I lurve alternative music festivals – the energy is amazing to watch and be present in, but I don’t have to speak to anyone and just dance the time away.
    I wonder that being introverted has actually meant a loss of many friends for me as they misinterpret the time away to re-energise as rejection.

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  • Carolyn Franzke

    You are so, so, so spot on Sarah. I struggle with this everyday. I love that you’ve come out and discussed this. It’s made my day better for sure xx

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  • Dee Tas

    Oh gosh, I know what you mean about feeling the need to apologizing for yourself. I’m forever trying to offer excuses for not being the life of the party or for wanting to go home and read a book instead of being in the thick of it at the pub. Have you read the book “Quiet”? It talks about the power of being an introvert.

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  • Helen

    Thank you SO much for posting this, Sarah. I too always feel like I’m letting people down, and not just in person, but via email as well. Because my family is in Australia and I’m abroad, I have to nurture my family relationships online and on the phone, with the result that my other far-flung (and less far-flung) friends are always owed emails I should have sent months ago. Whether it’s giving out energy to loved ones in person or in a disembodied way, I find I can only do so much – I need to create space electronically, too, and there’s constant guilt about that. Also, I think there’s something to be explored around being a single extrovert; particularly, a single, childless introvert, post-35. We live in a world that’s extroverted and based on human units of two or more (the couple, the nuclear family). I think extroverted women who reach this age and are still single and haven’t had (or don’t wish to have) children have a very, very different experience from us introverts. If you’re extroverted and feeling isolated or like your life is a little empty, you can negotiate that to some extent through extroverted behaviours with groups of friends (and going out to meet new people), creating a quasi-family of peers. If you’re introverted, that’s harder – hanging out with people more is precisely what DOESN’T nourish you in a profound way. For me, the isolation gets deeper and more heart-rending with every year that passes, because I crave a deep connection that can’t be assuaged or approximated by friends, no matter how wonderful they are: a picnic with a bunch of mates can feel me feeling more tired and alone, not less. Anyone else feeling like that? It’s something I’m really drawn to explore – often I see articles about single, childless/free women of my age, and how they make the most of their freedom to spend more time with others, going out, etc, and I think ‘Wow, that’s not my experience. I have absolutely nothing in common with that particular archetype of the older singleton.’ Would be interested to hear if others feel that way, too!

    [Reply]

    Bell Reply:

    Hi Helen
    I hear exactly what you’re saying about being introverted, single & no kids – I’m in my early 40’s and knew from a young age I didn’t want to have children but happy to connect into a partner’s little family unit.
    Speaking of connection – I seem to be finding it increasingly challenging to have meaningful connections with new people (given an interstate move 4 years ago by choice). I still have my old, besties back home but have no good ties in my current location. Of the acquaintenances I have made – they are so superficial like oil floating on top of the water. I always like to ask, “hey how are things with you ?” as well as light-hearted stuff too. I honestly can’t recall the last time someone genuinely asked me, “Bell, how is everything with you ?”.
    I very much feel alone the older I get in that there’s lack of depth with personal connections, that said, I spend far too much time alone, more than what I need to in order to re-fuel. I make lots of effort to get out and be involved in social activities ie running groups, community volunteering, social dinners etc.
    Ho-hum.

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    Julie P Reply:

    Hi ladies me too, I’m single in early 40’s , interstate and away from my family and old friends too, trying yet again to establish new meaningful friendships at an age when so many have their quota of friends thank-you-very-much and their nuclear families. Its not easy to fossick out those special like-minded introverted friends each time you move to a new place. Being an introvert it takes huge energy levels putting yourself out there in a new place establishing a new network, yet again. This last move has been exceptionally taxing and I have semi given up. I have contact with a couple of people i have met and i am leaving it at that for the meantime. Learning to enjoy my own company a lot more, taking myself places when energy levels allow and becoming my own trusted companion has really been the ultimate life lesson i have learnt from all this

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  • JimD

    This is excellent. I’d like to hear more!

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  • Yogikat

    Thank you – I can relate completely to this as I am often confused by my behaviour and think there must be something ‘wrong’ with me. Off to seek out the books you mention in this post…and, of course, enjoy them in solitude!

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  • Emma R

    Funny how when you start finding out about something that resonates, it crops up in so many places. I also have hashimoto’s and adrenal issues, and I’ve just lately started reading more about introverts, and been reassured and comforted by the positives I can take from what I have read. It’s so, so lovely to read this post and all the comments because they really help me to understand why I am the way I am – Sarah you have really hit the nail on the head with your descriptions and frustrations.
    When I was in my teens and twenties I was pretty hedonistic, hiding my introvert nature behind alcohol and drugs but I think I always knew I was going against my real nature but as almost all of my friends were extroverts, I didn’t have the confidence to just be myself. These days, as Sarah says, I can sometimes enjoy social stuff, be chatty and confident, enjoy big gatherings – but then, it’s like I have a limit and once I’ve reached it I just wanted to get out of there and retreat -and I literally crave time to myself, where it’s quiet and calm and peaceful. Sometimes I just don’t want to be around extroverts, or really anyone at all and actively avoid them – the school pickups and social stuff that goes on there can be a challenge – lots of small talk, maddening chit chat, and super-confident, noisy alpha mums everywhere (lovely as they are I’m sure!)
    I also agree with other posters about being an introvert and finding my young children massively draining, no matter how much I love them – the lack of quiet time and head space is tough.
    Understanding more about my needs, about self care and not feeling I have to apologise for being introvert is a real blessing and I am definitely on the path to self-acceptance and feeling much more light-hearted about life in general.

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  • Esther

    I’ve never thought of my introverted ways to be normal yet when I try to join in social activities it just doesn’t make me as happy as I thought I would be. Susan Cain’s book and your article has allowed me to understand it is okay to be who I am.

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  • Kate

    Hi Sarah,
    I don’t often comment on your articles, despite always enjoying reading them (perhaps my introverted side?) but I felt that I had to this time as your words resounded so strongly with me. I am definitely the sort of person who will go home by myself, or not stay at a party for long, and as a musician, being introverted is hard work. As I am so shy and quiet I find I need to create a separate ‘me’, a performer who is extroverted and confident. I totally agree with you on needing my own space and time, and what I had taken before as me just being a bit of a loner now makes sense as I know there are others out there just like me; people who are happy to go home and have a cup of tea by themselves, not having to be emotionally and physically present in every minute of the day for everyone!
    Thanks for your lovely article, it was a pleasure (and a relief) to read!

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  • rachel

    I went to a Myers/Briggs study to find out I’m on the introvert spectrum – what a relief. I thought there was something wrong with me! Up till then I pushed myself to go to parties/social events because I thought not going was anti-social/ rude/ unfriendly etc. It was so nice to finally understand that I need solitude to recharge and be happy. My current problem is planning a few social events in; as total solitude is not good for me either…..

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  • Bel

    Too right Sarah! I am an introvert, with an introverted partner and two high energy sons – I need my time out to energise otherwise I feel like I’m literally going insane. Unfortunately this doesn’t happen often with small children to look after. And small talk – EEK! I have to endure it at school drop off/pick up and it gives me anxiety just thinking about it… so I end up being late so that I can avoid it, which ends up making me feel guilty for not socialising. Arrghh!

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  • Julie P

    Now THAT explains a few things! Some time ago i was looking for a few people to go bushwalking with in my local rural area so i put up flyers and formed a bushwalking group. It proved very popular as there was many other women after someone to go walking with as they didnt want to go out in the bush on their own. I ended up with around 20 names. So when i went walking i had up to 4-5 people walking with me at any one time and i hated it! I couldnt hear the birds, the trees moving in the breeze, the sound of my foot fall on the earth nor, most importantly my own constant ream of thoughts – all i could hear was the thumping of others crashing through the bush and mostly terribly all i could hear was the constant banter and squawking of 3 or more excitable women filling in each other about their latest life drama or laughing about some other story, totally oblivious to the natural world around them and it was all i could do to walk fast enough to try and leave them behind! From then on when i was wanting to go walking i grew sneaky, only letting those know who i knew i could walk companionably in silence with for at least some of the walk and who were also seeking contemplation silence when walking. I was horrified, on the one hand it was fantastic as we were connecting, sharing stories as women and supporting each other etc – but that could be done in a coffee shop or around kitchen table – even walking around suburban block! But on the other hand it was defeating the purpose as I was not relaxing i was become increasingly tense and unhappy on the walks. It was a real light bulb moment as i learnt a heck of a lot about myself – that walking in the bush is so much more for me than exercise for my legs – its a real recharge/reflect time. I found that i just had to be selfish, let the group do their own thing and take myself out for my own weekend walks to “navel gaze” and it was great, my imagination was discovered again and i was returning home feeling the “ah, that’s better” vibes.

    I have since moved to a built up coastal area for work and now I have to contend with all these “people” swarming around me, out walking,running, driving past me constantly and i now find myself avoiding the beach in fine weather and head inland to find an out of the way patch of low key bush that i know i can escape to; to walk, to ponder and reflect on life,without worry of having to interact with anyone and I can recharge my now proud to be introvert self.

    I’m not anti social either, i enjoy social interaction and stimulation. But there is a time and a place. I love living on my own with the cat; the tv barely goes on and i forget to play music both at home and in the car. I certainly notice the difference when i come back from a solo walk in the bush/outdoors to when I’ve been swarmed by people/traffic/civilization and how i feel. Its good to have it recognised than to feel like a freak! 🙂

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  • Julie Sherlock

    I can relate to this totally! I love quietness and space to let my thoughts wander and look and see the beauty of the world. Guess that is why I love my gardening. I can’t relate to why a lot of people need constant stimulation and conversation and always take refuge at ‘events’ behind my camera! Thanks Sarah for helping me to deal with my Hashimotos I don’t feel so ‘crazy’ now – Drs’ used to tell me “just take thyroxin and it will all be fixed”. but there is more to it than that.

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  • Megan

    The realisation that I’m an introvert and gaining an understanding of what that actually meant was a revelation for me! I can be very social at times, I just have to make sure to schedule in some alone time as well, to balance it all out.

    Where it was an issue was when I was working in a corporate environment……people just CANNOT leave you alone. In the end you can no longer think straight and the walls start closing in, almost like a panic attack that subsides when you’re out of the building and away from everybody. I originally thought I was going mad!

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  • Wendy Oppermann

    The Myers-Briggs books, Gifts Differing and Please Understand Me are helpful in explaining this, too (and easy to read). They helped me to understand the extroverts (and feel sorry for them!) and learn how to deal with them. Now when I’m invited to a party (ugh, groan!), I accept with a smile (which is what they want to hear – and I am, after all, appreciative of not being left out), and only make up my mind if I’ve the energy to deal with the throng just before the event. I figure it might be a little bit rude to phone my apology at the last minute (if I need to), but figure that there’ll be enough happy and willing extroverts there to hardly notice my absence! It certainly takes the pressure off!

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  • agryao

    ” I’ve really struggled to figure out why I become so exhausted in these
    lovely people’s company, why I become impatient and, in fact, avoid
    them. I feel like a bitch. It confounds me. It kills me.”

    Why do you feel like a bitch for being who you are? Shouldn’t you feel like *they* are the annoying ones from draining you from your energy? Think about the things you say.

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  • KB

    I relate to so much of what everyone has written. It helps to know I’m not just rude or anti-social! I am married to an extravert, which makes for an interesting and exhausting life – for both of us! I constantly feel the guilt of not meeting my spouse’s needs. My spouse has a hard time understanding me, and struggles to give me what I need – mostly space and quiet.

    Does anyone have suggestions for how to strike the right balance to meet both spouses’ needs, when one is an extravert and the other is and introvert?

    Thanks!

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  • Bobby Stranger

    Am I the only male here? If so, why?

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  • Everything you just said describes me almost perfectly. I always feel so ashamed when I refuse to go places. Especially when I’m asked to have dinner with my dad’s side of the family. Nearly all of my dad’s family have pretty much given up and me and it really breaks my heart. I actually somewhat enjoy going to see my mom’s side because some of them are introverts too so it’s not as stressful for me. Plus they don’t just *sit and chat* like my other family members do. They always have fun things going on that I can get into to take my mind off of my social situation. After a few days of constant interaction I tend to kind of *freak out* as you stated. My mom was around me constantly for about 4-5 days so yesterday I couldn’t take it anymore and locked myself in my room and kindly requested she leave me alone for a while. I love her to death and I always feel bad when it’s like this. If only I could convey my feelings in a more understandable way so that all my extroverted loved ones and friends could understand why I am this way. I always have trouble explaining things as it is.

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  • Nate Doherty

    im an introvert that has been mistaken for an extrovert. which is ironic and a goal i didn’t know i had succeeded at. extroverts need to read articles about being alone. being alone has ideas associated with it that an extrovert or people in general may want to attain for many reasons and the same goes for extroverted qualities. its about obtaining certain social or intellectual payoffs via lack off or interaction with …. people. i used to be an introvert ten years ago and thus over time still considered myself one, but that ship probably left awhile ago… which is why people say I’m an extrovert now. its like being thin years after you lost the weight and still thinking your fat…

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    Nate Doherty Reply:

    good topic of discussion by the way

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  • Nate Doherty

    a large centered and driven focus on being extroverted has led me…. to a complete overkill… spending years on this goal. lol to the point where being introverted has become a thing i wish to obtain. a introvert becomes a extrovert and then comes back to previous thing. but this is my thoughts on it and not the “hows” of being extroverted

    1. drink a lot at bars, socially not excepted but therapy is expensive and this can supplement for now… your socializing

    2. know one person just one, but become agreeable and join them in there lifestyle and get to know all there friends.

    3. associating is 75 % going out and being there.

    4. failure is a must. it has to happen.

    5. becoming an extrovert is hard and can’t sugar coat it..its hard as balls

    6. haven’t figured out if I’m reaching goal yet.

    7. show interest in stupid shit people like. its really the only way to succeed. its dumb to introverts but, its the only way to be more social. there needs to be a baseline of a conversation to start with that is non offensive and broad

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  • ToStand

    Nice article 🙂

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  • The Arbiter

    Check the cognitive functions (per Carl Jung). The type of introversion / extroversion will vary depending on the lead function for extraverts and the auxiliary function for introverts. Some types of extroverts (those who look to the external world to find connections to meaning) will have a vastly different experience than those who are more focused on the sensory details of the moment.. One will drain the other’s energy more quickly, depending on which one that particular environment favors.

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  • AW

    It might be helpful to some to know that, while everyone has a core degree of extroversion or introversion, those two qualities can be conditioned as well. For example a woman who was verbally abused as a child may find social situations challenging and therefore tiring. I think a good hint would be whether there is fear involved. If there is, consider getting help to decondition yourself and bring you back to your core state.

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  • I’m late on this discussion as I am just NOW finding this website. I came across the last part of the article:

    “Also, a 2006 Japanese study found introverts tend to have lower blood pressure than their extroverted counterparts.”

    I’m like………. what? Because for the past 2-3 years I have noticed that no matter how high my stress level has ever been, or how many ups and downs I’ve gone through. My blood pressure has ALWAYS remained steady and healthy. I could NEVER figure this out. Not that I was complaining, but just puzzled and grateful at the same time.

    Now after seeing that quote, things are starting to make sense, because introverts resort to a place to help them find that place of serenity and sanity to where they can recover!

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  • Introvert Under Assault

    I just stumbled across this post and it really resonated with me. I’ve been trying to read more about “introverts” because my introversion and my husband’s extroversion are causing problems and I’m trying to get him to understand my behaviour. We’ve been together a lonnng time and he understands me, but now that we live in a country town I am really struggling to cope with the friends that we have made (or that he has made.)
    I have no problem with catching up with friends occasionally, but there are people who need to see my husband EVERY DAY. It’s got to the point we can’t even drive home and get out of the car without being stopped. People come to the front door and open it. As an introvert I feel like I’m under assault. The problem is, my husband thinks it’s great to have people drop over all the time. I think it’s a gross invasion of privacy. I broke down the other day and pleaded for him to understand that it’s not OK for me. I told him that I’m the type of person who feels extremely uncomfortable. We were finally able to acknowledge that we are different personality types and he agreed to help me come up with a plan to get people to back off a bit.
    I feel angry that I have to describe myself an introvert, or that I have to feel like some sort of freak, when I believe that being an introvert is only PART of the problem. The rest of the problem is with other people who don’t understand boundaries, who don’t respect your privacy or space. It’s fairly easy to pick up on cues that tell you whether you need to back off. My hint is to uninvited guests is that I will tersely say hello and storm off into another room. As introverts, it’s not our fault that some people are so thick that they simply don’t pick up on cues. They don’t have enough consideration for others – it’s all about them and their needs. At least introverts aren’t actually harming others. If we want to sit alone then who are we actually harming?
    P.S. Something to look forward to is our house extension which will be totally introvert safe! It doesn’t help at the moment being in a tiny open plan house without a garage to hide our cars from the neighbours!

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  • WhatMoreCanISay

    I found this article after Googling “being an introvert makes relationships impossible”. That’s pretty much where I am right now. It’s so hard that I want to cry. My fiance & I have been together for 4 1/2 years, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. In the beginning it wasn’t an issue because when everything is new the conversations are interesting, the time spent is meaningful, and it’s just more of a draw and incentive to it. It doesn’t feel draining. I think that’s why it never came up. There really weren’t signs of my introversion. Maybe a couple years in when we began living together it became an issue. It started with me wanting to stay up some nights after he and our two kids are in bed. I really valued that alone time at night with the house quiet. I’d pretty much just be on one of my random Google sprees, or researching something of interest, nothing major. He’d ask me to go to bed when he was ready to go, and I’d tell him I was just going to stay up. He would take this as a way of me not feeling lovingly towards him or something. As if it meant that I just couldn’t stand the thought of lying in bed with him. I’m not sure, but that’s how it seemed. It wasn’t a problem of me not wanting to have sex either. However, there were nights where I would go to bed when he wanted to…give him great sex…and then want to crawl out of bed and go be alone, and let him go to sleep. I thought this would be okay, but that was a problem as well. I think it made him feel insecure. So, eventually I started to conform I guess you could say. I’d spent my entire days and nights with co-workers, my children, him, then sleep..and repeat. Eventually I felt like I wanted to crawl out of my skin. I really only needed about three nights a week alone, but I limited it to one if any at all. Only it felt like my battery was completely dead and charging to about 12% to go on. It started to affect our entire relationship. I became irritable, stand-offish, etc. It seemed like I started to unknowingly compensate for the time I needed by going inward even when he was around. I didn’t even realize it was happening until he confronted me. We would be in the house on a Saturday, and I was basically a zombie walking around doing my tasks as if he weren’t even there. I can get so lost in my thoughts. Thinking is definitely my favorite thing to do, and I can become entrenched without realizing it. I came to a point where I went into survival mode and chose my children, myself, then him…in that order. I give myself wholeheartedly to them during the day, and just figure out when I will get to recharge later. I’ll never not give them all of me. However, I came to a point where I decided to tell him, and show him so that I could get what I needed. I talked to him, sent him about 3 or 4 articles that pretty much described me exactly and waited for his reaction. It wasn’t what I hoped for. He felt like I was making excuses, and by this point I think he’d decided I didn’t love him. Nothing was getting better, and eventually we broke up…twice. Each time I made sure to express to him how important this was. I apologized and tried to explain. I wished it wasn’t this way. He assured me that if I just took him back that he wouldn’t care how much time I needed…blah, blah, blah. We always ended up back there again. We’re together now, but living separately temporarily which should be great, except he wants to talk on the phone all the time, even when he’s at work. I HATE TALKING ON THE PHONE. I actually first found out I was an introvert about 8 years ago when I Googled “why do I hate talking on the phone”. I can bear it when we’re actually having a conversation, but most of the time I feel like he’s calling me just to see if I’ll sound like I want to talk to him, and it’s something I can’t fake. When he calls I’m instantly listening for what he wants. When I don’t hear what he wants I get irritated. He doesn’t want anything. He has nothing to say….insert small talk, and it’s like nails on a chalkboard. I really feel like all I hear from him lately is how I don’t miss him, or how it makes him feel that I don’t want to be on the phone with him, that he feels single, that I don’t love him like I used to. It’s constant criticism, and when I try to explain to him what I’ve explained numerous times it’s like talking to a brick wall. He’s decided that I can change if I love him, but I can’t. He also complains that I’m not affectionate enough, which I don’t think is related to being an Introvert, but I know that it’s true as well. I feel like there are many types of affection however. He knows that I love him. He says he feels like we’re more like friends that sleep together than an engaged couple. I know that women may typically be more affectionate, so I feel bad that I am, but then everything is getting to me so much that sometimes I just feel like he wants me to freaking pet and curl up under him like a kitten whenever I’m around him, and that’s just not going to happen. I find myself fantasizing about living with just my children, and being a happy old maid without a man around nagging me to babysit and entertain him constantly. I have my children to do that for. Maybe it’s my frustration talking, but even though I love him I honestly feel like life would be more bearable alone. This is driving me insane. What brought me here tonight is that my mom and stepdad have been staying with me since a couple days before Xmas and left today. So, for the past 5 days I’ve pretty much been tense inside. Now that they’ve left I feel like I need a couple days to just be in my house without guests, get everything back in order, and then have him come over, but he wants to come tomorrow. It’s going to feel like absolutely no break to me, I’m going to be tense around him which he will be looking for in order to gripe about already, and the whole experience is just going to be stressful. I want to be able to just tell him that I need a couple days after my parents left to unwind, but he will get upset and start talking about how all of this makes him feel. I know that he’s probably right. Idk how other people do things, but I’m sure he wouldn’t have to deal with this with everyone else. So, I feel bad, but I’m coming to the point where I can’t deal with the guilt trips, and constant criticisms. I feel like he’s constantly evaluating my tone of voice, mood, actions toward him, etc. It’s starting to affect our relationship again, and I feel guilty for feeling miserable with him when it’s my fault. I’m just tired. I don’t think any relationship will ever work for me, because I feel like I am an extreme introvert. It’s like all I have energy for are my kids, and my work, and I want the rest of my time to myself. I’m not a recluse. I definitely prioritize and do the things I must like visiting my parents, but my mom was really hurt when I chose to spend xmas at home with my children instead of our traditional huge family xmas party with all of my aunts, uncles, cousins, grandma, etc. It just felt so good to be home playing with my children, and creating our own traditions. I’m starting to ramble, but basically I don’t see a way for my relationship to work, because it’s making me unhappy, and my fiance unhappy as well. I also don’t see myself in a relationship ever unless with another introvert…living separately….maybe. Any response from anyone will be appreciate. Thanks.

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  • Sam

    OH MY GOD THERE”S NOTHING WRONG WITH ME! Thankyou so so so much for clearing this up, thankyou! For such a long time I felt so bad because I thought I was letting all my friends and family down. I didn’t even know this was a thing. I just thought it was me. That I was wired wrong.. Thankyou so much :’)

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  • Kimathi H

    i went on this to prove to a friend hes an introvert and this whole sounds like me

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  • Rachell Briggs

    This 10000000% I have conversations on this topic with my extroverted SO all the time. He just doesn’t understand why me being around people (he comes from a huge family) and knowing that I am being judged on how many people I talk to, the quality of my small talk, and how many people (sometimes complete strangers) that I go up to, kiss and hug and ask them questions, is completely draining and taxing. It’s not that I don’t like people, it’s just hard constantly being outside of my comfort zone and still being told that I didn’t ask enough of the right questions or that so and so is under the impression that I don’t like them. I feel like I’m hurting people just by being myself and this makes me want to withdraw even further…. any tips on how to get out of this spiral?

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  • Bridgitt Lee

    I am an introvert, who can lean towards being an ambivert, I will never be extroverted, it feels too forced, and I know myself, I can not go from one thing to the next to the next without some quiet time or sleep. When I was waiting at the dmv I felt exhausted and when I went to the gym I felt better, but when I came home and was alone, reading a book, I felt a lot better. I can take a little social interaction but not a lot.

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  • jennya

    I never had a real problem with my introversion until I re-married. My first hubby was gone all of the time, so I had a lot of time alone or with my kids —- more like living life on my own terms, socially speaking. Divorced for 13 years was actually o.k., but I did want to remarry. When I did so, I married someone who is retired, and is a romantic type. I just really need my alone time and I guess I’m not so romantic BECAUSE I need to recharge with my alone time. I think he just thinks I don’t care . . ., but I seem to be physically exhausted most of the time, I think because I am not really able to recharge by being alone. Ugh.

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  • Will

    I get it! Maybe try thinking of it as just “enjoying tbe vibe”, and offering your intelligent, watchful, and considerate presence, no matter their Level
    Of… -version? Haha! There’s a ton more going on in social interaction and events than just talking. I understand the performing and showy part but you can also stay true to yourself and just know that your mind and quiet presence and style of .. Well… Being! Is good and you don’t have to compare! Peace and blessings!

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  • donalda

    I hate small talk because it is forced and awkward. It’s not even necessarily what you really want to know from a person. It’s banal, a
    waste of time, and I’d rather watch paint dry. There, I said it. As for
    extroverts, they all seem either really clingy or desperate for affirmation or like smarmy, manipulative people collectors who want to prove their social dominance. I trust very few of them for that reason no matter how pleasantly they may come across. But, I suppose I feel that way about most people initially.

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  • Anonymous

    Thank you for typing this article about introverts and against extroverts. I’ve honestly had enough of extroverts putting down introverts and making them feel inferior. You did a good job of painting introverts in a positive light.

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  • Karen Eckhoff

    Because my Mom is an extrovert (sort of- so bi-polar, she’s hard to categorize) and my dad was a severe introvert, I grew up thinking there was shy and crazy, and I would probably be one or both of those, but not normal. I’m just realizing how much extroversion there is in my brother and that’s why I feel like I’m on some kind of crazy thrill ride when I visit him. His wife and he suck each other dry for energy, then have dozens of friends over almost every day for parties to throw more energy into the maelstrom, all while having 2 young children, one of which is disabled. I am very introverted, and and am in a shell-shocked state when I leave him. He’s a great guy one on one, but I’m finding I have to maintain distance, because his self-imposed problems can easily consume me, while he just jumps from one thing to the next, easily distracting himself from issues (like infidelity) that would tear me to shreds and be my only focus 24/7. Maybe I’m giving extroversion some traits it doesn’t have, but his gregarious busy-ness sure seems like something that I don’t get that protects him and exhausts me.

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  • Amber

    Interesting redefinition of ‘introvert’. I searched web for a post to explain why I find the idea of attending a big concert exhausting.
    I always thought I was just an uncomfortable extrovert with hugely antisocial tendencies. Now I see I was an introvert all along! Thanks Sarah. Good stuff.

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  • ♡queen-zee♡

    OMG!! This lady has just prophesied my life…am an introvert and I came across this article because I thought I was alone in this and not normal but it has really helped me understand myself more….

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  • Diane Gellatly

    Thankyou for talking about this…I thought I was the only one!

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  • Amy

    Wow! Interesting read!! I just realised I am actually far more an introvert which explains so much!! Always had thought I was an extrovert cause as mentioned I can be on stage and ra ra as your typical extrovert but I def feel the need to be alone and take time out for me. I often feel exhausted after even long chats and mostly find small talk difficult. I guess personally as I get older and know myself better I see o am really more or an introvert difference is now I embrace it!

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  • Teresa

    I’m more toward the extreme end of the introvert spectrum, although I can very comfortably be “alone in a crowd” as long as I don’t have to interact directly with anyone for long. But it truly alienates me, which is not a god thing. As a result, I have no real friends, no sense of community with anyone, it’s not healthy at all. A definite down side to being an introvert.

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  • Jodie

    Such a relief to know that my retreating and needing space from the maddening crowd is due to being an introvert. What a relief. Thanks for sharing Sarah.

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  • This post is perfect. I identify with everything Sarah wrote here… thank you for voicing the feelings/experiences of complete introverts like myself!

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  • Sparksie

    As an introvert I dislike talking in groups. I hate the competition of trying to get a word in. I much prefer one on one interaction. I also find it more meaningful. My extrovert friends say I’m not participating; I’m being negative; why am so serious – they think something is wrong with me….in a bad way! I quite often feel judged and then I start thinking perhaps I AM this down in the dumps person and so start beating myself up about it.

    I can be social and put on a smiley face and sometimes I do enjoy a gathering or small party. But if I have to mingle and make small talk with 50 people that night. Get me the f*&@ out of there!!!

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  • Katie

    wow this relates to me so much. I recently stayed with my partner at his parents house for 3 nights straight, and I didn’t have a minute to myself. They are the loveliest people, really so nice, but I was so so emotionally exhausted I actually felt depressed. I felt like I didn’t have a minute alone and I couldn’t deal with it. One morning I was even just sitting on the toilet and my partners mum knocked on the door asking me how I slept, there was no escape! on day 3 I made up an excuse about going to the shops, I just pulled over my car and cried for 15 mins! I felt so petty I didn’t even have a reason.. just that I felt like I was suffocating from being around people 24/7.

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  • janene

    Thanks so much for sharing this Sarah. I’ve always been an introvert however i have been copping it hard from close friends and family recently as I am newly separated. I constantly hear – don’t forget us, don’t be by yourself, are you isolating yourself again? I’m just energy drained and I’ve been feeling guilty if I don’t make them happy. Thanks for giving me permission to look after myself.

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  • Hannii Maree Daburger

    i work in customer service, i am such an introvert, but all my customers wouldn’t no! when i get home from work i crave a glass of red n sitting in my room like a cave! its hard to explain but the next day i feel so amazing after hiding from the world to recharge. also i like to do most things alone, exercising, working, etc, i have lots of different friends, no big friend group, but that works for me. im always surrounded by extroverted people. i hate being in one spot for a long period of time, i need to keep moving!
    i understand your blog fully!!
    love your work!
    🙂

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    Hannii Maree Daburger Reply:

    ps. small talk i cant do, id rather just smile n keep walking, also public speaking has been a major issue for me, tried many courses n when i get to that point i just cant get through it

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  • Sri

    I seem to have a problem with these neatly-defined categories. I would be classified as an extrovert by people but hate small talk and don’t really enjoy “partying” when it involved big, sweaty, anonymous crowds of people but love dinner parties for instance where I can indulge in my curiosity and love for people. But at the same time, I also really cherish my alone time and time spent doing solo activities. Does that make me an introvert or extrovert or ambivert? I believe that there are directions our personalities tend to go towards of course, but the studies are focussing on the wrong thing. It’s not the outward manifestation of personality that is the ultimate barometer, but rather where the motivation of that comes from. An extrovert who loves hanging out in crowds but is totally at peace with it, the behaviour being a natural soul impulse (sorry for the woo-woo) and who is not coming from a FOMO perspective maybe far more healthy than an introvert who avoids high energy people because her self-esteem issues are triggered by them. I must hasten to add these are not blanket statements but just an indication of how introvert-extrovert is too simplistic a category for me. People who have made peace with themselves, their quirks, their eccentricities and what they enjoy, I would say, are more likely to be healthy and have low blood pressure or whatever, instead of it being an introvert-extrovert thing. End of defense. 🙂

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  • KC

    I like small talk better than in a group. I like the one on one attention.

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  • Jax

    Most of you have no idea how devastated you leave people who truly cared about you. A lot of us extroverts loved you with all our hearts, we would drop anything at any moment for you, we wanted to form a deep relationship with you. When I chose to love someone and form a friendship then I do anything in my power to uplift them, make them feel special to me, and make sure they know they’re ALWAYS wanted and welcome with open arms. The few introverts I have given my all to have left me so deeply wounded they literally changed who I am. I am guarded, feel unworthy, like a big pain in ass, refuse to show affection to my loved ones like I use to, fearful of rejection… Being close to an introvert usually means they suddenly with NO warning shut you out, ignore you, and want nothing to do with you for days and weeks-even when everything was going great. There is no explanation, no way to change it, it’s inevitable-you WILL be rejected anytime, anyplace, for no reason at all. You won’t be wanted just because they’re “introverting” you won’t be welcome to just drop by their house-EVER-, you won’t be able to tell if your text hello will piss them off and be ignored or brighten their day… Will your invite piss them off and be ignored or brighten their day… Will being in your presence piss them off or brighten their day-who knows? It changes day by day. They will never be constant in their love for you. Sure they think they are, but they will leave you feeling like you dingo now which way is up or down-you will feel like you’re going crazy because they adore you one minute and want to ignore you for days the next. The only thing that will be consistent is their need for you to get the hell away from them and leave them alone at any given moment no matter how much fun you’ve had that day, how much you’ve tried to be there for them, how much you adore them, you will be hurt… Over and over and over again. Then when you finally pull away thinking you’re doing them a favor they act like rejected victims because they “love you so much” My advice for introverts is to stay away from extroverts, you have no idea the absolute heartache, pain, and rejection you put us through. Extroverts, find people who welcome you with open arms, it’s tempting to feel bad for introverts and reach out to them but TRUST ME they don’t want you around! They’ll like the attention you give them at first but they’ll turn on you in a moments notice when they suddenly decide being around is more then they can bare. Until they get lonely then they want you to just act like nothing happen and be around them again. There’s a reason most of them are alone and lonely-they hurt almost everyone around them those who truly just wanted to live life with them apart of it. God forgive us for ever trying to get to know and love you. Won’t happen again for this wounded extrovert. I’m sure this will piss most of you off, but my God, you hurt us so deeply when all we are trying to do is put a smile on your face and make you feel loved. I will never understand how many of you so easily treat those who love you like a piece of disposable crap and you honestly think it’s totally fine, because you’re an introvert, we should all just understand be honored when you feel like being around us for the moment.

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