Introvert needs are positive and healthy

54

Funny, when we talk about holidays or social events or many other topics, we introverts agree on a lot of things that we definitely need. We need time to recharge, or process all the stimulation we’ve had, or whatever it is that happens that makes us feel good, like we’re supposed to again. We find ways to manage to enjoy family, friends, and hobbies while being comfortable and happy too, and sometimes that takes a little planning. One way some of us can visit people out of town and enjoy it is by staying in a hotel. Others of us go to parties but make it brief or even entirely avoid events we don’t care for. So why isn’t that all right with the rest of the world? Seems to me I’m often hearing things like, “My sister’s husband is strange. He stays in a hotel when we have a family reunion and the rest of us stay with Mom and Dad,” or, “She always leaves parties so early!” or even, “I’ll bet you won’t show up!” The implication or comment is meant to convey that introverts are abnormal or at least stubborn, eccentric, or unfriendly. Instead of understanding that we need certain positive things, the idea is that we “don’t like” being with people and we want to “get away” from others or other negative ways of saying we need time inside our own heads.

No one would dispute it if we say that a fine sports car “needs” a certain fuel. No one would scoff at it and say, “It just needs to come out of its shell!” No one has a derogatory comment if a race horse needs a certain mix of grains and other nutrients in order to feel and run his/her best. It’s not all in the horse’s imagination – he needs what he needs! I’m still trying to find a way to convey my own introvert needs to others without the negative connotation other people take from what I say. “I need some alone time” sounds like, “You annoy me,” to my sweet relative, and I really don’t want to hurt her so I avoid saying it at all. That puts me at risk of a meltdown if I have constant companionship for several days, so we both would be better off if I could manage to say, “I need some fuel.” ;) I know some introverts have explained to their family that they are introverts and their families even understand that, or try to. I’m bringing up the subject more and more with coworkers, friends, and family, but somehow when I retreat to my delicious book or moment alone I still feel as if I’m leaving misunderstanding and hurt feelings in my wake.

Do you have a positive way of explaining what you need so that your partner or mother or friends don’t think you’re aloof or even tired of them? I’ve found myself making excuses sometimes, just to give myself a break, because I couldn’t think of a way to explain in a positive sounding way that I needed alone time. After one long meeting at work, I claimed I needed to run home before dinner to do something. I dashed home and definitely felt much better when I arrived at dinner than I would have if I’d gone straight from the meeting. But then while we were having drinks someone asked, “Where’s Robert?” and another of my coworkers said, “Oh he went to the hotel for a while…he needs some time alone before dinner.” Oh. :) Maybe I should give the people around me a little more credit!

Photo credit: chego101

Share.

54 Comments

  1. We all need ‘friendly’ excuses from time to time to avoid misunderstandings. :-) But it’s true we do need to treat ourselves better by doing what we think is right for own needs, for a positive result. I will explain myself if needed when others think wrongfully about why I was absent etc, but if they continue to misjudge me then perhaps I need to rest myself from feeling stress over that since what can be done, is done. ^^ Just live the way we are comfortable with and not according what others think we ‘supposed to’, if it’s not harming anyone or own self in anyways. You think?

    @wchingya
    Social/Blogging Tracker
    .-= Ching Ya´s last blog ..How To Autopost from Multiple Blogs To Your Facebook Fan Page =-.

    • Very true – I’m still on a quest to just live the way I’m comfortable with and stop worrying so much about being thought a “nerd,” or “unsociable” or whatever.

    • :) I often finally do get to the point that I don’t want to be asked one more time and can’t stand to repeat myself one more time so I try to say in advance, “I’m not going out this week at ALL,” or similar. Of course then I worry later about what they think.

  2. I wish I could say I had a positive explanation that works every time, but I do not. If I did I would be a very happy, and probably more relaxed, introvert. When you have explained for the nth time in a nice and diplomatic manner that you just need some times alone, you sadly start to lose patience. Well, at least I do; as I hate repeating myself.

    My wife knows I am an extreme introvert and that I need time for myself now and then; but sadly when I do mention it she almost looks at me as I am growing tired of her. I am also that type of person who can be very honest if I have to. Being rude to get some time for myself is not a tactic I enjoy, but when you are tired and need a break you do not always make the best decisions.

    My glass is always half full, so I do have hope she will eventually stop being confused or insulted when I ask for some me-time. :)
    .-= xen´s last blog ..Cool it down under. =-.

    • Yes, for someone who’s close to you, especially an extrovert, you know they’re thinking, “I can understand why you don’t want to be with others right now, but you don’t want to be with ME??” It’s hard to sneak in some me-time!

  3. I think I’ve gotten to the point that I’m not worried what others will think. My husband understands my introverted nature, so it isn’t that big of a deal with him. As for anyone else, if I have to do something for myself, I’m learning to just do it. It’s my energy that I need to get things done, and if someone thinks it’s weird the way I get it, then that is ok with me. I have to do what is right for myself first. :)
    .-= Kristi´s last blog ..Who You Are Meant To Be =-.

  4. It is hard to get others to understand you and where you are coming from. I think that is why communication is so important in all relationships. And the people in our lives need to accept us for being introverted so we don’t have to lie to them or worry about hurting their feelings.

    • Yes – that’s the key – if others can somehow understand, then I can simply say I’m going to spend some time alone now… and they would accept that just like if I said I was going to go get something to eat.

  5. My husband and I are both stark introverts, so I really lucked out in the relationship department. Actually, where we might fall short is in that we’re both so content to just stay in our apartment for a week or so at a time (AKA- being hermits apparently). But as for going out and balancing my socializing time, I find it’s easiest for me to just tell myself, “These are the relationships worth working on, everyone else can be business.” Because it really is like business- keeping up appearances, reputation, how ‘emotionally available’ are you… Which sometimes I don’t want to be (Okay okay, most of the time, I’m just not an uber-emoter). I think of mandatory social gestures and interactions as something that can be handled by autopilot, just look for the first transition toward ‘goodbye’ and focus on the positive connection that extrovert probably feels like you just made, just by smiling or saying hello. And if people want to get on my case about not trying hard enough or whatever it is, I generally find I’m better off without those people in my life. Introverts seemingly have built in not-worth-my-time-people-weeder-outers. ;D

    • We really do, don’t we! :D I also sometimes have to consciously tell myself to make the effort when it comes to relationships that are worth it, because I’m almost never bored or lonely but really do want those people in my life.

  6. Seriously I am not going to waste my breath on explaining why I am anymore. People are still going to look at me like I have 2 heads anyways. I come to a point where I am content with myself and people can either appreciate me or they don’t. I give a lot of myself to people already so when I need my time I just tell them I have to be off and leave. Honestly, there is no nice way of telling ppl you need your space b/c people are gonna take it the wrong way anyways.

    • I hope people do appreciate you. I think it has taken a long time for my family to see my strong empathy and quiet ways I’ve helped and cared over the years. Often the verbal focus was more on how I kept to myself or didn’t call very often!

  7. I guess I’m really lucky in that my family is small, and my blood relatives are all introverts, so we all understand each other. My biggest problem is with work relationships when people want more of my attention, professionally and personally, than I’m able to give. The pushier and more insistent a person gets, the more withdrawn and hostile I get. It’s a vicious circle and I haven’t figured out how to manage it yet, other than by withdrawing from pushy people as much as I can. I’ve found that for me, the only really safe and nurturing relationship I can have is with another introvert. The older I get, the more I simply want to be left alone! And I think that might be because I’ve discovered that there seems to be no good way to tell a determined extrovert that I need my alone time, my quiet time, my space. Even the ones who really do try to understand end up taking it personally and getting upset with me. I hate repeating myself, and they hate being pushed away, as they see it. So I end up just walking away – I cannot sink tons and tons of energy into difficult friendships. People either “get me” or they don’t, and if they don’t, there’s just no way for a friendship to succeed. After years of feeling like there was something wrong with me, I finally know that my need for alone time is legitimate and real and valid, and I refuse to apologize for it, feel bad about it, or waste energy trying to explain it over and over and over to someone who doesn’t understand it!
    .-= hermit loner´s last blog ..Energy =-.

    • More and more I think you and I have almost identical personalities! :) When someone decides to focus on me and push or nag or argue in their friendly way, I find myself getting hostile all out of proportion to the situation like a cornered animal. :D I finally have to totally avoid some people who seem to draw their energy from draining mine away!

  8. It’s funny, I’d had a couple conversations with a coworker about being an introvert. He’d always be suggesting that I go to this art show or this other thing, and I wasn’t sure if he was trying to hit on me (which would be creepy – he has a serious girlfriend), or if he was trying to “help” me. So I explained the introvert thing, and I thought he got it. Then one day he stopped by my desk a couple times. I was deep in the zone of fussing with some code that was requiring a lot of concentration, and while I didn’t necessarily mind him stopping by to chat, I didn’t have the mental energy to carry a conversation on my own. He only said “hey, what’s up?” and didn’t try to get a conversation going with my “not much” response. He sat there for a minute, and then left when I didn’t start up a conversation. This happened twice, and I was relieved he left each time. I got an email from him later “what’s wrong? you didn’t seem like you wanted to talk.” It was hard to be diplomatic. Obviously not wanting to talk does not necessarily mean something is wrong! AND he hadn’t exactly done much for getting the conversation going either. Like I was supposed to entertain him. It really bugged me.

    For explaining to your family, maybe if you used a different phrase like “I need to recharge”. It isn’t a negative statement, but it is clear that it is about you. Maybe “needing alone time” can be misinterpreted because alone is (in a way) the rejection of (being with) others. That’s not *why* we need alone time, of course, but I can see how it would make people feel that way if they don’t really get the need for quiet time. But everyone understands rechargeable batteries, so maybe it will help them understand without feeling like it’s a reflection on them.

    • I had a stop-by-all-the-time-guy IM me asking what’s wrong, complete with using emoticons to show what he thought my expression had been when he stopped by last. I was tempted to select the angry red one and send back to him. ;) Great idea – I think the “recharge” word is the positive word I need – where yep – “alone” hurts some of their feelings. Someday the world will understand! (I hope).

  9. Saw the captioon ‘Understanding makes you tick

    I suppose I can complete the quote as
    with “Misunderstanding makes you sick”

  10. I say that it is best the we communicate what we need, clearly, and without apology, especially to more extroverted people. It’s best to do this, because I guarantee you that as much as we often struggle to communicate what we need because we think that we are going to hurt someone’s feelings, these very people that we are being so sensitive with are often the ones who won’t hesitate to vocalize their needs to us, especially if they are more extroverted. I used to use the aovidance approach and really just keep my mouth shut, hoping that those behaviors would clue the other person in on the fact that I needed my space, but that often doesn’t work and it usually only results in people becoming more pushy and more intrusive to find out what is wrong, instead of simply backing off and giving someone breathing room. So verbalizing what we need is the best solution, in my opinion.
    I think that people are very funny in a way. We see someone who seems withdrawn, so we clamor over to see what is wrong and if the person says that he or she just wants to be left alone for a little while, people start getting offended right away, instead of looking at it from that person’s perspective.
    I also think that many people are threatened by the direct approach to getting their needs met, because most people don’t use that approach, so when a person actually does it, other people are taken aback and offended by it. Even the people who tend to be more direct about their needs, tend to be offended by others who have that same style. In a way, this is also a viscious cycle, because people aren’t often aware of their own communication style and way of relating to others. I’ve seen this, many times, first hand. In the end, it’s all about being respectful of each other’s personal preferences, needs, and styles.

    • I like it….I will try to “communicate what we need, clearly, and without apology, especially to more extroverted people”. I’m not perfect and I live by the rule of “say nothing when you have nothing to polite to say” most of the time. However, I can be bluntly honest when needed to be. I just pick your battle wisely…

      • Yes, Jennie, very true. I also try to live by that rule as well, but like you said, there are times when we have to be more outspoken because it is essential.
        A few days ago, I was reading a blog entry from a lady who was relating a work experience in which she had just heard some bad news in her personal life, and she was trying not to carry her feelings over to work. But there was a coworker who was teasing her about something and wouldn’t leave her alone, even though this person wasn’t in the mood for it. So finally, she got fed up and said “Don’t talk to me” to the employee who was hassling her. Now, before this incident, the both of them got along well, but after that incident, the other employee no longer wanted to talk to this lady. The other employee actually went out of her way to avoid this lady, simply because this lady expressed her need to be alone at her work area for a little while. Now, I have been in a similar situation, once, and these used to be the kinds of situations that I would try to go out of my way to avoid in the past, but sometimes it is going to happen. The lady was wondering if she should apologize to the other employee for expressing herself that way, but if I was her, I wouldn’t apologize. She needed time alone, so in my opinion, she doesn’t need to apologize for that.

        • Isn’t it a shame when people can’t mind their own business? A few years ago my dad was in intensive care, so at lunchtime I drove to the hospital for a short visit. I came back to the office very sad, very worried, but of course I intended to work hard all afternoon. We were in cubicles at the time, and a coworker actually stood on something to look over my wall at me and demanded, “Smile!” He had no idea why I wasn’t smiling and I really didn’t think I owed it to just everyone to explain all the sad things that were going on. I ignored him the best I could and picked up the phone so he’d think I was about to make a call and leave me alone.

  11. Isn’t it strange that people have now accepted the ‘gay’ population and just leave them be but the introverts are still given the rising-eyebrow treatment? I think we introverts can never get that acceptance because we could never take the guts to parade out in public raising our banners like ‘freedom for introverts’ the way the gays shout ‘freedom for the gays’ or ‘equality for the gays’. We are so the ‘in the sidelines’ kind of people that others actually don’t notice us enough to take the time to ponder whether to accept and understand our kind or not. Well, the older I get, the better I become at not caring whether they understand me or not.
    .-= James M.´s last blog ..AmplusnetPrivacyTools.exe Eating Up CPU Resources =-.

    • James I can certainly see what you mean – we introverts never make people uncomfortable and visible when they discriminate against us or insult us due to our personality types. I almost imagined what if one or more of us went on the talk show circuit to educate the public a bit, then I stopped in my tracks – if a talk show host asked me something I had not prepared for, I’d be there drawing a blank while my mind processed what I wanted to say. :)

      • “if a talk show host asked me something I had not prepared for, I’d be there drawing a blank while my mind processed what I wanted to say.”

        Hahahah, cb, so funny and so true. I could see myself doing the exact same thing.

    • I am 55 and just discovered that there are other people out there just like me and they are called introverts. So we have not fared all that well in the coming out department in the past but the fact that I did find hear an interview with an author who is an introvert and writes about the subject, read some books and then found this site bodes well. From what I’ve read here, we do want to be understood and accepted, and many of us are speaking up to friends, family and coworkers. It’s always easier when you find out you are not alone and are not so different or strange. I know I am going to speak up more now that I understand what I need for myself and that there are others out there making the case as well. It is a benign form of advocacy. Now I don’t know if we’ll ever move into the logo/t-shirt/signage phase of coming out, but you never know, stranger things have happened …

  12. In my view, there is very little natural or normal about standing around with a drink in one’s hand trying to think of something that isn’t too personal to say to a fellow you don’t know, and possibly don’t care to know.

    So called socializing is often an empty ritual, one that I am good at, but one that really is very artificial.

    I often think that those who prefer to avoid all parties of that kind are the normal ones. They at least have the courage to say no.

    I do not, so there I am in the middle of a “social gathering” I just can’t wait to end.
    .-= beth charette´s last blog ..New Article: Elf Culture: One with Nature =-.

    • Beth I think there are a lot more of us than will admit – who don’t really want to go to those social gatherings. For some reason many people consider introversion a negative thing and even those who really prefer it don’t want to admit it. I’m with you though – I actually got the courage to stay home from something last night, but I worried about it all day before doing what was natural for me.

  13. I just wanted to say that I visited a message board today and was explaining to other posters about the needs of introverts, because a lot of people still do think that introversion is an “issue” that people need to learn to get over. I had to correct these posters and set them straight about that. There was one poster who said that I was “projecting my issues onto my child” because I had stated that I wanted to observe my daughter’s personality and temperament before making long term educational choices for and with her. This was an issue that pertained to me wanting to possibly homeschool my daughter and somewhere along the line, I mentioned how introverted children have some different needs than extroverted children and sometimes the needs of the introverted child is not met in a traditional classroom. So because I mentioned this, the poster felt the need to say that I was projecting my issues onto my child. I tell ya, some people really don’t want to understand that different people have different needs, temperaments, learning styles, etc.

    • Wow. Yep, I grew up hearing terms like “well-adjusted” and “outgoing” to mean pretty much the same thing. For some reason, Joe Average is suspicious of those of us who do a lot of thinking. I think your child is so lucky that you’re aware of the various styles and needs and are interested in giving her what fits her best.

  14. If I’m with family and I need some time to get it all together I normally just wander to the lounge with the kids. I don’t mind their company at all and it helps me to gather my thoughts. When I’m ready I wander back.

    Can’t do this when I’m out with others so I’ve learned to just put up with it, all the while wondering why the times seems to have stopped.
    .-= Sire´s last blog ..The Honest Truth About Blogging For Money =-.

  15. Ah! I am such an introvert and therefore appreciate your blog entry. Yeah, the holidays are really tough for me, I find myself being wicked overly-stimulated by all the hellos, goodbyes, etc…But it is indeed important to stand your ground and make sure to get that fuel you need to continue! Amen to that.

  16. I often find it difficult to leave parties, particularly smaller groups, when I’m ready because the extroverts of the group are sad I’m leaving and try to get me to stay. It’s nice to know I’m liked, but it can be hard to stand my ground and still leave then. I usually just repeat again and again that I’m just tired and need to go to bed (I guess this only works if it’s a late evening gathering). I’m getting better at spotting fellow introverts and can sometimes use them for support as they won’t try to convince me to stay.

    • That is nice – a compliment! But it’s really no fun to have to defend our decision to leave. Since you manage to do it, and your friends still want you to be there, it sounds like you’re doing great!

      • Yeah, I suppose it is a compliment! :) Sometimes though I think that acquaintances just don’t want people to leave. I’ve noticed that as people exit parties, the fun can start to die down or even die suddenly.

  17. Pingback: 7 Quick Takes: Love Really Does Make Everything Better. : Life Untangling

  18. One surer way of ‘enabling to keep to yourself without having to be missed by others is to Learn to Be Silent’… Even while in a company if one can keep to oneself mentally
    dispassionate – not apathetic mind you – then one can enjoy the company without feeling stressed out or pressed and presurized by others.

    Self Binding and Freedom both are Me- Minding [ Not my/ mine mind you !] and
    Me-managing.

    • If only more people would learn the power of silence! ;) Often we make them uncomfortable by sitting and just listening in an easy, relaxed manner.. some people expect lots of interruptions or otherwise we’re not “contributing.”

  19. Well, I have come to the realization that I am who I am. I will always act slightly different than the others. I will think differently. But that is ok. I will always put myself with people I know I can trust to always be there for me and understand. There is nothing else you can do! We have to work on communicating our feelings so that people understand what we are thinking!

    • Yep. The thing is, we often hear all the negative things – that we can’t or don’t like. But the solitude we really seek isn’t about hiding or avoiding; it’s about doing what makes us happy, gives our brain a state of near-bliss!

  20. Eric extrovert seeking help on

    I am an extrovert, and am having trouble understanding what my introverted girlfriend means when she wants “me time”. I see all these posts by introverts, and I am finding it very hard to understand it all. My girlfriend and I are constantly getting into arguments about this “me time”. She gets agitated that I don’t understand, even though I am trying to ask questions so I CAN understand. Is there someone who can help me understand this? Because she is running out of answers, and it makes me feel stupid that I don’t understand.

    As I have said, there have been many arguments about this “me time” thing, and I just can’t seem to fully grasp the concept. Help anyone?!

    • She probably just needs some time alone, as she is saying. What she does with her “me time” you really shouldn’t be that concerned about. Introverted people in general likes to me alone doing things like reading,drawing, relaxing, listening to music, running, going for walks, writing etc, depending on their interests. The best thing you could do, I think, is to respect her need to be alone. You should no try to force her to be with you all of the time, and become pushy or angry when she doesn’t, just try to give her some space, even if she isn’t able to give you a valid answare to kny she wants to be alone. I am certain that she will appreciate it if you gave her more space and time alone.

    • Im learning about it by reading these posts too :) dont be scared youre not alone. I hope i didnt argue with her too much about it, we had 2-3 arguments so far, as she is also impossible to explain, she doesnt even try as you can see in my post below :) Im lucky i found this website or id be lost. You need to be strong and let her be, and find more interest in other things in life, and still when she is available have her by your side. Please someone correct me anytime if im wrong…

  21. One of the easiest ways to understand it would be to compare her with yourself and understand that she is exactly opposite. Extraverts physically need to be with people to gain energy. Introverts physically need time alone to gain energy. This has been scientifically documented, and it really is as simple as that. Your girlfriend needs refueling in her own way, that’s all. When you argue with her about it, it probably feels to her like you don’t care that she is completely exhausted by what gives you energy.

  22. My girlfriend is intorvert and im medium, more of an extrovert person, however i needed to get that all out of her mouth with the clams…when she had a job that allowed her a lot of free time and far away from her family, she was always on skype texting me every day, now that shes back with the family, shes got things going on and she doesnt pay much more attention on me. I was scared, and still am that im loosing her, but i concluded that she is actually an introvert(i never knew any before) and just needs time for herself as a major priority. Shes so intorvert and closed person that she never said anything, if i was to ask her whats wrong she would just say nothing, short and simple. I was very hurt for some time, but im learning to cope with that, unfortunately we are having a distance relationship and we dont get to see eachother very often so that also makes me unsettled about that whole time-alone thing…

Leave A Reply

CommentLuv badge