Introverts don’t like people

introvertHatePeopleThis is the fifth in a weekly series debunking myths about introverts.  (See last week’s post.)  The basis of the 10 week series is the article written by Carl King.  I will show his thinking, add mine and then encourage all of you to contribute your thoughts on the subject.

Don’t know if you’re an introvert or an extrovert?  Take Susan Cain’s quiz.

Myth #4 – Introverts don’t like people

Carl:  On the contrary, Introverts intensely value the few friends they have. They can count their close friends on one hand. If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life. Once you have earned their respect as being a person of substance, you’re in.

Chris: For this topic, I have to quote from Shakespeare:

Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel;
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatch’d, unfledged comrade….
This above all: to thine ownself be true.

So are you done with your flashbacks of high school English class?  Good, then let’s get on with things.

The truth is that all of us, intro- and extrovert, need the company of other human beings from time to time.  None of us wants to be an island, alone and aloof, no matter how much your introvert head says it does.  We need friends.  We need partners in life.  But what kind, and how do we manage the relationships?

I don’t have many friends, although I have a lot of people in my life who would want to be a friend.  I appreciate all of them for that.  But the truth is that introverts are reluctant and slow to share themselves.  It makes us feel vulnerable, but more importantly it threatens our sense of well-being.  It brings with it two scary things:  the possible need to say no to an invitation (or scarier yet to have to say yes at the wrong time) and the need to reciprocate.soMuchTalking

We hate being locked into social obligations because we never know what our energy level will be on any given day.  If I say yes to you on Monday will I still feel like being with you on Friday?  If I cancel too many times, will you give up on me?

If I say yes, then I have an obligation to invite you in return.  Horrors!  If you’re in my house and I start to hit bottom on the energy scale, how do I get rid of you without angering you?  My safety net is gone.

But what about the fun factor in life?  We all need a little fun, right?  Don’t we all feel all stab of longing from time to time when we see a group of friends laughing with each other in the park or a restaurant?  There must be something more to life than the book club at the local library.  So what do we do for friends?

Time out for a quick poll:

So back to Shakespeare, who was obviously writing advice for introverts.  Here are some tips to try:

  1. Limit the number of friends.  Go for quality over quantity.  Find a few good ones and then work on the relationships.  That means being willing to divulge something of yourself.  Do it prudently, but sincerely.
  2. Know your limits.  Spend your energy wisely, but don’t be afraid to admit when you’ve hit your introvert limit and make a gracious departure.  Get off the phone.  Leave the restaurant.  It’s ok.
  3. Don’t pretend to be an extrovert.  A lot of us are good at faking it, but that takes your energy down twice as fast.  Find a level of being extroverted that you can be comfortable with, and stick to that.  To thine own self be true.
  4. Be honest about being an introvert.  You might have to do a little educating about the difference between introverts and extroverts, once you identify someone you’re willing to let into your world.  You never know, you might just find a closet introvert who will be overjoyed not to have to fake it with you.
  5. Learn that it’s OK to be out.  When you are out with friends, remind yourself that you are gaining new experiences and relationships.  There is a plus to this whole idea of being social.  Learn to see the experience in a positive light.  The world is an exciting place.
  6. Don’t let things build up until you explode.  We tend to internalize things, don’t we?  If you enjoy your friends except for the times they are pushing you to do karaoke, it’s better to let them know that instead of quietly going along with it until your resentment and annoyance makes you say something you will regret.

Introvert friend?  Extrovert?  Somewhere in between?

So who should you choose as a friend?  That is entirely up to you.  It will be trial and error, but start by identifying your needs.  Yes, needs.  Do you want to be part of a group that you can hang out with so you don’t feel so isolated?  Do you want someone who will give you a listening ear or be a sounding board?  Do you want someone with whom you can share a mutual interest like traveling, photography, writing or quilting?

How much of yourself are you willing to share in a relationship?  You have to be willing to share, but also willing to set boundaries.  So many of us are reluctant to set boundaries, aren’t we?  We’re trying so hard to fit in, and often don’t understand “the rules of social engagement” (which were written by extroverts), that we’re afraid to say when we’re uncomfortable.  Instead, we tend to shut down and put on the face the rest of the world associates with being moody or stuck up, standoffish.

Don’t be afraid to try out a relationship with an extrovert.  Just learn to be honest.  You need a friend who will respect you when you say that you’ve reached your limit for the day and need to go home and chill out.  But at the same time be willing to push a little outside your comfort zone, maybe not all the time but every now and then.  Relationships have to go both ways to be valuable.

What are your experiences with friendships?  Painful or playful?  Invigorating or intrusive?  Hit the comments and share with us.

Have a quiet day!

Join Club Introvert and share your blog with other introverts.

Hi.  I’m Chris.  I’m an introvert.  Look for my ongoing series debunking the introvert myths (Sunday) and introvert cartoons (Wednesday), plus anything else interesting that I find in the meantime.  Come and share with like-minded introverts.  I also contribute to the new food blog Three’s Cooking, learning to cook from the heart, for the soul.

39 thoughts on “Introverts don’t like people

  1. I have a few very close friends who I wouldn’t be without. I can talk to them about pretty much anything and they share my interest in all things spiritual. They are a combination of introvert/extrovert (aren’t they called ambiverts?). They are less introvert than me, more comfortable in social interaction than me but have many introvert qualities as well. I think that I need friends who are a little more extrovert than me. I also have friends/acquaintances at my workplace who are very extrovert and I love them dearly. Variety is the spice of life!

  2. I am very glad you’ve been writing these. I am an incredibly introverted introvert, and often I find that even other introverts struggle to understand me. Now, as I struggle to explain and they others struggle to understand, I can point them in the direction of this series :)

    • Thanks, Sid. I know that researching and writing about being an introvert has helped me in my life, and my desire is that I can pass that on to others. I’m so glad you find a benefit to my blog. Hugs!

  3. Spot on, as usual, Chris. Especially the paragraphs about not wanting to commit ahead of time because you don’t know how you’ll feel when the day arrives, and hating the obligation to reciprocate for ANYTHING in my home!! Thank you for helping me understand I’m not alone in those feelings, and mostly that they are valid feelings.

    • And thank you for asking the question. It was one of the myths, but your question helped me choose the one for this week.

      I have to admit that I used to think I hated people, but I finally came to realize it isn’t the people I hated, it was the demands they put on my time and energy that I couldn’t stand. As I learn to deal with that better, I’m opening up my world to more possibilities.

      I was thinking about your reciprocal dinner party thing…. one suggestion would be to team with someone who does like to entertain and strike a deal. You’ll make (or buy) a dish to contribute and come early to help set up and serve in lieu of hosting in your own home. Explain a bit about how introverts feel. Team up. If your situation is more one on one, I have some ideas for that, too. Send me a note through my contact page.

      • Thanks, Chris. That’s a good suggestion. Now that I’m clearer why I’m the way I am, it should make it easier to do something like you are suggesting. I agree – omnivert in lieu of ambivert. Isn’t that what Wikipedia is for – YOU can invent your own word?!?

  4. So nice to see these myths debunked. Introverts often run in limited social circles, but as you point out, they’re loyal to those inside, and they enjoy engaging in deeper conversations.

  5. I can’t answer that poll question! Maybe best to have more than one friend, one introvert when you are in that mood, one a bit extrovert to drag me out…
    But I’m not introvert all the time! I can be vary talkative as well, and really enjoy being with people! But not all the time.
    Tuff decision!

  6. I can count my friends on the fingers of one hand, and truthfully, I wouldn’t have it any other way. They know me, they know who I am, and they appreciate me for me. I have quite a few acquaintances who have openly told me that at first I seem stuck up, cold and distant, but once they got past my “wall of defense”, they were amazed to find out I am completely the opposite. I do however, adamantly claim that my husband is also my best friend. He is the only one who knows almost everything about me.

  7. I have been married to an extrovert for 15 years. She comes from a fairly introverted family, so that makes things interesting. My family? Split down the middle, pretty much.

    I think I am introverted even on the Internet– I find it easier to have close contact with a few people than have lots of acquaintances! (Note: I nuked my Facebook account and didn’t tolerate G+ either, for long.)

    • I just don’t get the Facebook thing at all. I created a G+ but never did anything with it. It looks like electronic smalltalk to me. Maybe someone can give me an example of where it does work.

      • Electronic smalltalk… bingo, that’s it! One of the primary reasons why I left both of them is once past the weather and other pleasantries, too many moved right to cantankerous opinions about politics, sex, religion, and money.

        I found even extended family members couldn’t leave well enough alone.

        This is also why I don’t think much of mobile computers as most people use them– electronic smalltalk.

      • Facebook is definitely electronic small talk. I hate it when I’m constantly being tagged in posts by extroverts. To me Facebook is plain annoying and I’m just flat out done with it. I would rather use my computers to for solitary activities such as looking looking on Amazon and looking up things that interest me than being pestered by people online.

    • Yes, you took the words right out of my mouth….I am even introverted when it comes to the Internet as well. The Facebook thing didn’t last very long for me and I Hated it when people on Facebook would Tag me in conversations because I just don’t want to be bothered. I am truly a born introvert….it is truly hard wired into me.

  8. Cheers for this post. I spent a lot of tiring years trying to live up to the extrovert mould, even using some ‘helpers’ to maintain the persona. It was only recently that I learnt it’s okay to be introvert, and am loving taking time to embrace this. Too many extroverts is annoying anyway! Cheers again, asmukti :)

  9. introvert or extrovert, friends are chemistry and character. Me I consider myself introvert, but when I played in bands, when on stage i am completely different, [extrovert] and my best friend is extrovert. Complicated really. ;)

  10. In a way it’s nice to have friends slightly more extroverted, but at same time (and for most part), I really need/prefer friends that understand my need to have alone time and don’t take personally when I become uncommunicative & MIA from the social media world….

    Ok that may be oxymoron – introvert on social media (LOL) – Did I mention I’m only part introvert :-P

  11. I don’t think I so much hate people as much as I hate dealing & interacting with them (draining mentally & physically)…. I never know how to act or what to say. Often times shy unless talking about passions & interests

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  13. Reblogged this on benzeknees and commented:
    I just had to re-blog this post by Chris Donner because all my life people have been calling me snobby because I have a hard time in social situations. I have always said I am just shy, but it’s not just a matter of being shy in my case – I am an introvert! I can no longer disguise this fact. I don’t make friends easily & I treasure the ones I do have (especially on the blogs because I get to control how much of their “noise” I allow into my space by controlling how much I contribute to their comments or decide when I will read their posts. Most people might not guess this about me, especially if they only know me from blogging, because I can interact here so much better than I can in person. But I’d like my blogging buddies to understand what it means to be an introvert & why I sometimes disappear for a while. Thanks Chris for putting this in such a way I think my buddies will understand!

  14. I was steered here by Benzeknees.

    As an extrovert married to an introvert, it is nice to be reminded that my husband is different from me, and that that is quite OK. He has many more life-long friends with whom he has kept in close contact with. I have more — many more — folks who are fun and who come and go. Both are good, both add to your life. So I highly recommend an E+I combo.

  15. Interesting perspective, here. Speaking as an extrovert, I feel I understand you just a little more. If you’ll pardon my saying so, however, I’ve noticed that more and more of these, understand an introvert articles are coming out. I can’t help but wonder if perhaps you introverts don’t clearly understand us extroverts either. I mean, the assumption is that all extroverts like people and that we all make friends easily and are very polite, etc. All I’m saying is that there’s a good chance that we aren’t as easily understood as we seem to believe you are. Perhaps, what we need is some form of exchange.

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