My boyfriend, Will, and I have been dating for almost two years. We’re both introverts, but we make it work. We openly communicate with each other, yet make the time we need for our own alone time. There are many misconceptions and misunderstandings about introversion. These can put a lot of strain on relationships in which one person is introverted and the other is not. If you’re the extrovert in the relationship, below is a list of things that you should know.
1. They have to recharge after being in public.
Unlike extroverts, introverts don’t thrive on being out and about for long periods of time. No matter how well-loved the people, every person in the introvert’s life takes a toll on their energy, even if the interactions are casual. Meeting a lot of new people at once can be very overwhelming.
If you take your introvert out and they start to withdraw, it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with braving their way through conversations. If you can get a few minutes of breathing room, I guarantee your introvert will be grateful for it.
2. Introverted is not the same as shy.
For those of you just beginning to date an introvert, you might still be confusing your introvert for someone who is shy. There’s no shame in that— it’s a common misconception, and some introverts are indeed a little shy. We’re not big talkers and we don’t seek out social interaction. We’re flustered when people initiate conversation with us because they probably jolted us out of whatever daydream we were having.
Assuming your introvert is shy simply because they’re quiet is going to hurt more than help in the long run. “Shy” implies sweetness and innocence—things that most introverts are not on account of their sharp minds, practicality, and distaste for social conventions.
3. Introverts are confident in their own way.
Most people don’t equal introversion with confidence because they’re not confident in the traditional sense. You won’t see an introvert walking up to someone they like with a pickup line or eagerly taking control of a room with jokes.
But while most extroverts are busy being social creatures, introverts are honing their hobbies and skills they’re interested in, their minds, and their sense of self, making them confident in who they are and what they can accomplish. If you take time to draw an introvert’s thought process out, you’ll be rewarded with an intelligent and mature confidence that’s different from social expertise.
4. They do enjoy talking (about meaningful things!)
It’s a common misconception that the very nature of introversion demands silence. Although this is correct to some degree, it’s clear that things are different when we’re around our closest friend or significant other. The difference here is that the introvert has accepted this person into their life, loves them unconditionally, and can talk about any crazy hobby, theory, or convoluted thought process that goes through their mind. If you be that person for an introvert, you’ll be rewarded with the talkative side they don’t show to everyone.
5. Don’t expect them to be extroverted
This should be a basic rule for any relationship—don’t try to change the person you’re with. Some extroverts think that bringing an introvert “out of their shell” will mean showing them how to have fun (as if they’ve never had any fun before?) and teaching them to talk to new people.
News flash: if we wanted to talk to people or to go to parties, we would. But most introverts don’t enjoy that sort of thing and will quickly lose touch with someone who spends all their energy trying to fix them. Respect who the person you’re dating is.