You walk into a room and find your partner sitting on the couch by herself having a cup of tea in complete silence. For the extrovert this picture spells loneliness but for those of a more introversive nature…. that is FREEDOM.

Introverts and extroverts are often viewed in terms of two extreme opposites, but the truth is that most people lie somewhere in the middle.   This is probably because the average person reacts differently based on situations and is able to “adapt” their personality accordingly given the right circumstances, however, each person is either predominantly introvert or extrovert.

Opposites attract

Ever wonder why most of us find ourselves attracted to people unlike us?  If you’re an extrovert chances are you’re married to, dating or close friends with an introvert. And as much as opposites are naturally drawn to one another; loving and happily living together may not come as naturally. It takes work to build a successful relationship when your personalities are worlds apart.  I am an introvert, married to an extrovert. When he says braai, I say movie. But as much as our differences drive each other crazy, the balance he brings to my life keeps me sane.

The Biggest Myth…

The #1 myth of being an introvert is that we don’t like to talk.  Not true at all.  We genuinely enjoy conversation.  But we will however, refrain from voicing an opinion until we know exactly how we feel about and/or have enough knowledge or understanding regarding the topic being discussed.  Until then, we’re happy to simply listen and gather facts.

Don’t assume

Sadly, our silent nature in a social gathering is often misinterpreted as boredom, shyness, depression or some have the idea that you’re stuck up.  I’ve recently come across a few of the latter.  Random strangers whom I’ve only just met (meaning I had my first ever conversation with) saying “I actually thought you were stuck up”. Did I mention that I had just met them? Lol.  It puzzles me how the human mind finds it easy to fill in the blanks about people, their actions, intentions and the worst of all: their motives.  This “misunderstanding” is where many arguments and strive is born. Assumption often leads to misinterpretation and possibly offense.

The Beauty of Silence

Privacy is our comfort and spending some alone time is priceless.  This is when ideas are formed, creativity thrives, thoughts are put into perspective and everything comes together.  In that moment of silence in the midst of the busyness and chaos, is where life starts making sense again.  Sometimes we actually have full blown discussions in our minds jumping to and from topics that if we had to verbalize them at that point you’ll think we’re insane. I’ve tried verbalizing my thoughts while in this space a few times but I end up starting a sentence not realizing that I’ve completed it only in my head lol.  It drives my husband insane because while he’s waiting for “the rest of it” I’m already on “the next part of it” thinking: please keep up!  At this point, just gently slow him/her down and tell them where you got “lost”.

Don’t force it

Don’t put too much pressure on an introvert to share their opinion in a social setting.  You may cause them to withdraw or feel embarrassed as they gasp for words in an effort to make sense.  We make perfect sense to ourselves, in our minds, but we need time to gather our thoughts and bring it across in a manner that makes sense to everyone else.  So the best way to break us out of our shells is to let it happen naturally.  This takes time.  When it does, who knows, we may just end up taking over the conversation.

Want us to open up?

Then listen more and interrupt less.  Often times the reason “quiet people” don’t share more in a group is because they’re bound to be interrupted by an extrovert who feels that we’re not getting to the point fast enough.  Be patient, let them finish.  Trust me: 80% of the time you try to complete his/her sentence, you thought wrong.  If you want an introvert to continuously engage in conversation, then don’t interrupt his/her train of thought while doing so.

Say what?  A speech?

Never, under any circumstance, put an introvert on the spot by calling us to the stage to address a crowd with no prior notice and agreement. No, No, No!  There’s a big chance that it will be a disaster. Being the centre of attention can be daunting so we need a heads up please.  We can be great public speakers however we need to be given a reasonable amount of time to prepare.

A Friend for Life

Quiet, alone time is vital to our well-being but that doesn’t mean we don’t like people. An introvert only has a small circle of close friends and we truly treasure each relationship.  It’s more important to us to build lasting, meaningful relationships with a few people rather than hanging out with large groups all the time. In fact, walking into a party venue filled with 100 strangers can be quite overwhelming so as a friend or partner, please try and stay close for most of the evening.

Lastly…

Introverts are extremely loyal to the people we care about and expect the same in return.  Keeping secrets are quite easy because we tend to think before we speak (most of the time).  Going the extra mile is no train smash, whether you deserve it or not so no need to get suspicious when we’re being “nice” 🙂  We rarely talk about our problems, because it makes no sense to us logically to do so.  Also, because we’re private. We are in no rush to tell you how we’re feeling and we want you to be okay with it.  In fact, your introvert friend or spouse could be going through the biggest hardship he/she has ever faced and you won’t suspect a thing until one day, they have a reason to talk about it.  Be patient.  If you want to do something nice for your friend who’s currently in a bad space: grab her favourite snack and a movie, board game or whatever and go over there.  Unless she’s phsyco, you really don’t have to avoid her lol.  He/she will open up when they’re ready.  Just being there is enough and appreciated more than you realize.

The thing about introverts is that once they’re comfortable with you they can be the funniest, most enjoyable people to be around.  It’s like a secret they feel comfortable sharing with you except the secret is their personality. ~ unknown ~

Dont give up on someone just because they view and react to things differently. It is your differences that brings passion to your relationship, compliments the person you are and makes you a perfect match. Trying to change your partner will change the very reason you’re together in the first place.

May your love conquer all

Nadine

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