Extrovert understands introverted ex now – is it too late?

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Dear IntrovertZone,

1 month ago, my introverted Girlfriend broke up with me. We were drawn to each other really fast and became a couple on the first date. At that time, neither of us knew we were an introvert and extrovert couple. Fast forward to a few months of dating, she decides to break up with me. She says she has been observing our relationship since it was unnaturally fast, and she felt I was not giving her enough space. She said that is was for the best as she didn’t want to get hurt in the long run. Basically, our relationship didn’t work out because I didn’t know how to communicate with her as an introvert back then.

It was only recently that I discovered about introverts and extroverts. I believe that I am labeled as an EsFJ while she is an IsFP. When we were dating I felt that she was always distant, and I thought that we needed more time together in order to stabilize our relationship, which only pushed her away more. Now that I know what I did wrong, I was hoping to start a fresh page with her. Yet she has not contacted me ever since, which I also understand as her needing this time to herself.

How can I convey these thoughts to her without pushing her further away or her thinking that we’re just not meant to be?

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34 Comments

  1. I agree with Sonya, but I’d add one more line, something along the lines of how she should be the pace-setter in the relationship.

    You’ve seen a part of what I can see to be potential issues (disclaimer: I’m INTP), the introvert/extrovert “needing more time” conflict, and that’s good. The other aspect I’m seeing lies in your words: “I thought that we needed more time together in order to stabilize our relationship.” I’m feeling hemmed in by them, and I don’t actually know you 😉

    In general, dominant introverted judgers (ISTP, ISFP, INFP, INTP) need possibility and flexibility in their exterior world so they don’t feel hemmed in and caged as they make sense of changes in the sea of reality. Processing takes time, whether to reconcile your inner values (INFP, ISFP) with the outward change, or your internal mental model (ISTP, INTP). To be “stabilized” too early can feel really confining, especially when the introverted judger is still trying to make internal sense of things.

    You obviously value her a great deal, and I might add a line or two about the wonderful things you see in her to your email. And then I’d give her all the time she needs to respond.

    I have my fingers crossed for you!

  2. lizzy and Sonya both gave wonderful advice! 🙂

    Yes, email her and express everything you just said here, but don’t panic if she doesn’t reply right away. And be sure to make that clear: that you’re not waiting for a quick a reply.

    One question though… Does she know she’s an introvert? (It sounds like you’re the only one in the loop!) Because if she doesn’t, maybe that article from The Atlantic can help explain everything… or any other site with introvert info. Just don;t sound too authoritative when you present the info though… 🙂

    Good luck!
    Glori´s last post ..Introvert Myth Debunked: Introverts are NOT Self-Absorbed

  3. Hi, I’m the extrovert in this article.

    First of all, I would like to say thank you for all the advice. She does not know she is an introvert herself, and she hates her own personality. She is very conflicted and at a paradox with what she says she wants and what she might really need. For example, “We need to know each other better” then “I know that you are different that I thought” Based on one of the articles here, I was going to write a hand written letter instead. So I can’t link her to an website or such.

    Only problem is, I acted too soon before I knew about the introvert/extrovert problem. I tried to call her and also tried to talk to her friends. It may be unfixable now even with the letter.

    • Oh man, am I ever sorry to hear that! Is she young? I dated a man when I was in my 20’s who, in retrospect, I think was an ISFP, and he suffered from a lot of self-hate. It was a hard relationship, and I couldn’t give him the proper kind of reassurance that he needed.

      Society seems to be a lot harder on ISxPs than it is for other introverts, especially the feelers. The whole emphasis on conformity, scheduling, and nonstop socialization can be brutal, especially in the early childhood and high school years. INxPs get a big break in college, when longer-range and wide-view abstract thinking is rewarded, but IxSPs don’t. They’re never given the skills or the tools anywhere in school or society at large to help them appreciate their true intelligence and value.

      My ISTP husband has given me a lot of insight into the problems introverted SPs face, and he still vastly undervalues himself, unfortunately. He doesn’t see his full intelligence or understand just how grounded and competent he is at anything he tackles. He’s able to perceive things that completely escape me, and he’s taught me how to better immerse myself in reality. It was hard to cope with the occasional bouts of, “I’m not sure if this relationship is what I want” stuff, even as a wishy-washy INTP, but we’ve been married now for 8 1/2 years.

      I think a handwritten letter is perfect. It has that extra *meaning* to it, or is “significance” a better word? I hope you can re-establish at least a friendship with her. It sounds like she needs a lot of support, steadiness and reassurance. If you can somehow couple that with patience, you might be exactly what she needs, even if you don’t end up in a formal relationship.

  4. Update: Thank you all for the comments. I just wanted to tell you all that it has been a bumpy ride of a relationship. Soon afterwards she found out about the letter which I wanted to give 2 weeks from now and demanded to see it. As a result, she thinks that I am only seeing things from my perspective, even my own apology, attacking the honesty of it and such. She doesn’t want to admit she is an introverted person and has turned all her friends against me. I would like to fend for myself and explain everything level-headed, but seeing as I would infuriate her even more, I’ve decided to let things go.
    Nor do I think we can become friends, as she still can’t understand that sometimes people think differently than others.
    It is just really hard to accept that she doesn’t want to understand, nor think. She is so fixated on her own reality that she can’t accept anything, turning it into anger.
    I guess this is a lesson well learned.
    Thank you all, introverts. It has been an eye opening experience.

    • I’m really sorry it came to this for you! I hope your experience doesn’t alienate you from introverts too much; we’re not all so closed off from life.

      A couple of things you said she did are sticking in my craw pretty hard, and I can see why you’re having trouble accepting them. I’m kind of gnashing my teeth at the way she turned her friends against you (say what? why?), and the way that she claims you’re only seeing it from your perspective. Of course you are! You’re reaching out and trying to understand her based on some new insight you’ve gained, and she’s not telling you what her actual perspective *is!* How are you supposed to see said perspective if she won’t communicate it?

      I’m not sure if this will help anything in the future, but I’m wondering if she’s reacting so violently to the “introvert” label, even if it is accurate. There’s so much stigma associated with the word that it might be hard for her to separate the negative connotations from the factual accuracy of the label. We’re supposed to be self-absorbed, antisocial and what-all that generations of humanity have heaped upon the orientation, and if she didn’t understand that the word itself isn’t negative, and the overall inward orientation isn’t either, she might really overreact when she hears or reads it.

      I’m sorry I have no insight for you on ISFPs beyond my one relationship. To be honest, a lot of aspects of that relationship are enigmas to me still. We only really connected when I was in pain, and since that was a really emotionally turbulent time in my life, I think that’s why we lasted 4 1/2 years. I still don’t totally grok his points of view, and I never really got down his internal logic. There seemed to be a lot of internal assumptions he made about how I was supposed to act, and what he needed from me, but I really think he hated telling me. I’m pretty open: if I need something and I’m not getting it, I’ll gently tell you, then get more strident if it’s not being met. I’m pretty basic and low-maintenance, though: time and listening to me ramble are pretty much it, with some cuddling interspersed with reasonable regularity. He was a lot more complex. My husband, the ISTP, is a lot more complex too, but he’s way more communicative and easy-going.

      Good luck to you! May you find the love you’ve always wanted!

  5. Thanks for sharing this personal experience James, I really wished you had got the girl in the end.

    If you allow me to be blunt for a second I think the one fatal mistake you made is speak to whoever you spoke to about the relationship who then leaked it to your ex. I really don’t know if this is an Introvert/Extrovert issue or just a general life issue but for me the nitty gritty details of any relationship should only be discussed with those few good friends who you can trust 100% not to overshare. While I don’t think you meant it this way but from your ex’s point of view this was probably quite a bad betrayal of trust. /end bluntness

    I wish you all the best for future relationships!

  6. Jessica Reise on

    I know you are both in different sides, but if you truly love your ex and you still care for her, I think there’s no sense you wouldn’t go back with her and tell her about how you feel.
    Jessica Reise´s last post ..california acupuncture

  7. If you really love her you must not give up. In every relationship, there is always second chance and it is sweeter on the second time. You must strive hard to show her how much you love her and you must find ways that she could still breathe on your relationship. So, wish you luck.
    Annica Bulse´s last post ..Hair Removal Cream that works

  8. I think a handwritten letter is perfect. It has that extra *meaning* to it, or is “significance” a better word? I hope you can re-establish at least a friendship with her. It sounds like she needs a lot of support, steadiness and reassurance.

  9. Honestly I would like to have an EsFJ as my partner, I am an introvert and there is something certainly missing in my life I feel and I need to fill that up by having an extrovert partner. I would love to have EsFJ as they are warmly interested in others. They use their Sensing and Judging characteristics to gather specific.. This is what I seriously lack! I would say get over her, you will get much better person!
    Molly Groman´s last post ..Call me a cleaner

  10. Hi, James. I admire you because you admit to your shortcomings and you go out of your way to get your relationship back. I hope your ex realizes how lucky she is to have such a sweet and sincere man like you. You have understood your differences and you are willing to patch things up with her. Good luck and I hope things will still work out.
    Shelon@heart disease´s last post ..5 Foods that Prevent Heart Disease

  11. Good thing I read all the comments before I made mine. The truth is, you got really sound advice from fellow introverts. The problem is that the girl has a lot of issues, which I think goes deeper than her personality type.
    Aimee´s last post ..jamplay guitar lesson

  12. I think it is never too late to tell your love about your feelings. It is the same of you or the other party is introverted. Maybe your interpretation should be presented in a different and more carefully way, but I think you must tell your ex how you feel. Unless you will feel bad for a long time. Believe me, I have already got some bad experiences.
    Manuela´s last post ..Inspiration ist alles.

  13. Hi James,

    You expressed so well your understanding of the introvert/extrovert balancing act when you stated “When we were dating I felt that she was always distant, and I thought that we needed more time together in order to stabilize our relationship, which only pushed her away more.” We often appear distant when we are more connected than you realise.

    It’s unfortunate that it didn’t work out. One trick to understanding the introvert or coexisting with us is that we need/prefer to work things on out on our own. The mature introvert will learn to do this with the help of insights from others.

    If you really think your connection with her is worth it, then don’t give up, but don’t push either. As an INTP this works best with me. I emotionally withdraw while I’m sorting things out. I rationalise the way I’m feeling, for example “I only feel this way because… and when time has passed this feeling will go away. Don’t be hasty to respond, wait for it to subside before taking action.”

    Forcing an emotional bond with her can act as a repellent, even if she enjoys spending time with you as she learns about herself.

    Unfortunately, patience is a virtue with some of us, but rewards are great!

  14. I have just found this site, I came here from a forum, but I think I have just found what I want. I don’t have enough time to check all the content of this blog, but could anyone help me, if there is a post about medical treatment for introverts? I have been suffering from this since I moved to Hungary, I don’t speak their language and honestly I don’t have any friends here.
    Karola@Karola bloggt´s last post ..Baden im See

    • Hi there. I don’t think this is the correct place to be looking for that sort of advice. It sounds like you are suffering from loneliness which is not the same as being an introvert – sure introverts can get lonely but the main thing that makes an introvert is that they are happy with being alone with themselves and have an introspective look on things (they internalise more than they externalise) anyway these are all broad strokes I’m using I was just trying to illustrate that perhaps you are just feeling lonely and not in fact an introvert. (actually I don’t think there is medical treatment available except perhaps medication for the after effects of loneliness such as sadness or depression, in which case I would probably recommend you visit a doctor).

  15. I can relate with your problem though i am introvert, I guess introverts take time to make relationships. Opening up slowly and giving space and respect is important to win the heart of introverts. Also from my personal experience i can say introverts do not like people who want to move too fast in relationship.
    singh@projects in noida extension´s last post ..Hello world!

    • Dear C.Black,
      I am an introverted woman that works in the field of psychology, so I’m going to give you some hard things to think about (though they may not apply to you upon an honest introspection – so other Readers be so advised – , which is something you are required to do in this instance, no matter how much you won’t like it). All the posts here have been supportive, and that’s fine for the self-esteem, but not as helpful to understand what went awry – and to aid any self-improvement that may be required so it won’t continue to be as much of a problem in the future. If you find you are heavily attracted to this type of person, you may end up seeking only types like her in the future – only to experience the same kinds of troubles, leading to pain for all involved, but for only you, pain heaping up on pain as you go from one potential mate to the next. If you can’t find another like her, you may, even to your horror, find yourself caught up in an obsession with only her. Real love isn’t obsession, because obsession here is selfish, serving only the obsessed. Figuring out what makes you cling to wanting her is important for your health and happiness. Acknowledging her limitations can be liberating for you. So write down all the pros and cons of hanging onto hope for this relationship. Then put yourself in her shoes and write out the pros and cons from her perspective as best that you can see.

      Obviously, you (and she) have made some mistakes, so let’s go over some possibilities. No matter how painful, keep reading to the end, okay? You (and many of the Readers) may come to hate what I have to say, but it’s likely the best advice you’re going to get on a blog or forum, and there’s no way to say it succinctly, so here goes…

      We live in a world that believes that extroverts are perfect. The truth is, they are just as fallable as introverts. The same goes for men and women. Or logical types and creative types. One should use one’s good traits, holding the “bad” traits in check until they are necessary (and there’s always a time for that). “Evil” is consistantly succumbing to one’s bad traits for selfish reasons. You can be bad for an ultimately good, unselfish, and hence, ethical reason. At what point is good leadership corrupted into abusive control? The point is, it’s how you use your traits that make you “good” or “evil.” Use them positively for the greater good and we all win, and help will be returned to you when you need it. Use those same traits negatively for your own selfish reasons on a constant basis and you are sure, sooner or later, to be caught and punished (assuming your reasons were not for self-preservation), regardless of whether you are an extrovert or introvert, man or woman, logical or creative. Try to remember I stated this when your brain is telling you I’m prejudiced, okay? Everyone is at least somewhat biased, otherwise we’d not be able to make any decisions at all. You should consider it a rare thing to hear from one who tries to see all sides to dispense with as much bias as possible. I may be introverted, but I value my extroversion, so I am ambiverted by self-training. I may be a feeling, creative “female” by nature, but I am a thinking, logical “male” by my education. I highly value my “shadow functions” as Jung would call them – and you should all value your own shadow functions, too.

      If this girl is your diamentric opposite, you may be attracted to her to complete yourself, while she, as an introvert needs (note: not just wants) to stand autonomous. From an introverted point of view, this is you leaning on her – “not giving enough space.” If you are constantly demanding her attention or dragging her out and about to be with people, or worse – dragging people in to be in her space where she would have no refuge, then it’s a form of abuse, however unrealizing you may be of doing it. Add on top of this, your instinct as a guy to take command and the extroverted way of thinking of others as means towards social advancement and you’ve got a recipe for breakup with a girl that needs to set her own pace and limits. For extroverted men, there are lots of good fish in the sea. For introverted women, not so much – so I’ve no doubt she’s thought about the consequences of breaking up with you for some time before doing so. Further, if she’s a feeling type, she’d not be so likely to dump you – feeling types tend to forgive even those who don’t deserve it and may not be strong enough to know when someone else is toxic to them. I suspect that your ex is instead, a thinking type, with deep emotional intelligence, so also big on feeling. (And for the record, thinking and feeling are not opposites, as MBTI asserts – MBTI was conceived by educators and not psychological scientists!)

      So ask yourself what makes you so hung up on her? Is it the fact that she’s your opposite, that she seems so different that she’s mysterious, that she appears to be submissive (obviously, she’s not), or is your attraction due to the surface sexual features that sensing, feeling people naturally have for each other? Or maybe it’s a combination of these, and the allure of that can lead you to obsession, perhaps even to the point of seeming stalkerish (even if you aren’t), so watch that if you see elements in that for yourself. Did you try to control her or judge her too much from her point of view? Are you too feeling for her? If so, she simply cannot be with you, as you would prove either a source of drag or toxicity to her in the long run. If your judging ability is stronger than your feeling, you may come off as being a narcissist – a control freak. If the other way around, you may be seen as a dependant emo-dripping sap – baggage. As one who probably prides himself on logic (it’s a “male” way), did you not allow her her creative (it’s a “female” way) alternatives – another part of “not giving enough space”? The “male” instinct to protect by taking control over situations, to “put your foot down” in a world where women can protect themselves may be too much for a woman (especially a creative one) with more than half a brain; it would seem like squashing her ideas or stonewalling. Introverts enjoy others for who they ARE… not for what they DO for one, which makes FREEDOM a huge requirement if you want to have a relationship with one. The good news is that, if you can manage to respect that, you are lucky enough to have a friend for life, because that’s the introverted way: LONG term, loosely-tied but stronger relationships based on mutual regard, rather than short term ones based on looks or usury (I use the term in an overall sense rather than merely a financial sense), as is often the extroverted male way. Honesty and faithfulness are not natural traits for extroverts – they have to work at it – and these are traits that introverts value highly (and naturally excel at them). Introverts sense dishonesty easily, though they often don’t let on, preferring to give some time to see if the dishonest person will come clean (patience is an introverted strength). Betray them with disloyalty or scapegoating (extroverts have been proven to be the ones to point the finger of blame – a form of abuse and control) and you may still be forgiven if they understand your reasons, but even if forgiven, you’ll be kept at a safe distance thereafter. Fool me once, shame on you… fool me twice, shame on me!

      Any male that seeks to control a thinking woman (whether by physical force or emotional force, which includes merely stonewalling) is doing her a disservice; she will not become the person she was meant to be, and her gifts to the world will be lost. Guys, reinvent yourselves to adjust to an equalitarian world. You don’t have to be boss to be male. Seriously. But you do need to continue to be as helpful as you can be to your families and communities.

      These are rhetorical questions, requiring no answer on a public forum – and I’m not accusing you of any of these – just posing possibilities for your consideration – and the consideration of any other judging male extroverts out there. Now before you go thinking my missive is offensive, know that I also know the many good values of judging male extroverts, which I haven’t stated here. (I’d also have to extol the virtues of introverts as well – and those topics are much too long for this already too long post!) So don’t shoot the messenger. Introverts have many flaws, too… it’s just that popular media doesn’t hesitate to point them all out (along with perceived myths about them) for everyone to see – something they won’t do for extroverts. (But the truth is coming out online, so extroverts, look out! and learn to get over your perception that you’re perfect and healthy merely because you are “normal.” These concepts don’t equate!)

      My constructive critical advice to you, C.Black, is an honest opinion – and nothing more (or less). You can take it or leave it, but it is meant in the spirit of giving you honest and helpful feedback. Learn from your introspection, know (and accept) your “negative tendencies” (from the point of view of an introverted woman) and keep them in check, perhaps even admitting them to your ex, give her that space and time – especially if she’s still coming to know herself (if she’s gifted, she’ll be in denial of that at first), try to stay friends. If you are patient, honest and faithful, you may win her back, but be warned: patience, honesty and faithfulness are not as associated with extroversion, so you’ll have to be willing to keep holding your instincts in check – and to constantly be vigilant for however long your relationship is to last. Only you can decide if she’s worth that effort to you. I’ve no doubt that as she is definitely worth that effort to another man, you are also worth the effort to another woman. So, see how long you can last, then give it up if you find you can’t sustain it. After all, and you must consider this too: she could be toxic to you, too. Good luck, whichever way you decide to go, but make sure it’s what BOTH of you need and want. Otherwise, you’re doing neither of you any good.

      If you and I were at a party and I saw your fly was down, I’d slip you the message quietly. Would you take offence that you were caught being slightly less than perfect, or would you be grateful that I spared you further embarrassment? So… though you may feel like railing on me, ask yourself first, why I bothered writing anything. Was it to accuse? No. Only to pose possibilities that only you can answer to yourself. Don’t I have better things to do? Or do I see these issues as important – not just for you, but for the world at large? Go on… you can put the gun down now. I truly care. Maybe I was mistaken and your fly wasn’t down at all. Better the moot and pointless warning than the real offence, right?

      Even if none of this stuff applies to you, there are many guys out there to which much of this would apply. I hope they get the message. You can help, too… by getting the message out – to both abusees and abusers (whether they are aware of what they’re doing or not). It’ll make for a better world if we can learn what is not acceptable and how to avoid hurting each other.

      • Thank you Trillian for the insights. I just recently part ways with an introvert. Your advices along with this website really helped me gain greater understandings of my ex. She is one of the few ladies I admire and respect. What I value the most that are different from other ladies are her self control, intellect, and honesty.

        While close friends and common wisdom suggest the best course of action is to let go and get on with another relationship, both my mind and heart realize she is worth the effort.

        I’ll give her the time and space and perhaps send her a letter reflecting what I learned. Hope that’s proper to regain her friendship at the very least.

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