How to love an Introvert (by an Extrovert)

I’ve got one word for you: ice-cream

By:Rezzan Hussey
Can I read what you’re reading, pleassseee? Photo credit: Pixabay

How do you properly love an introvert, as an extrovert? Serious question.

I love an introvert so in theory, I should be able to answer.

I feel almost bad saying it but to be honest, loving my introvert is easy. We enjoy a lot of compatibility. Plus I just really like looking at him.

My introvert isn’t the first introvert I have ever loved. The other time was a lot harder. We did not enjoy a lot of compatibility. Plus I was younger then, and love is a learned skill, not an innate one.

How do you know if you’re an extrovert?

First, this. Trust me, it’s not as simple as it sounds.

I finally categorized myself as an extrovert after I learned about what it actually meant to be one. And it ain’t having loads of friends.

For me and similarly-inclined extroverts (the category is quite wide), reality is “out there” in the realm of people and things. I tend to be more aware of how others feel than how I feel — which sounds better than it actually is — and sensation is energizing.

I’m biased towards action generally, and the time lag between having an idea and acting on it can be, like, small (too small sometimes). If I was a different sort of extrovert, I’d see the possibilities and connections in the external world. I know other extroverts who exist to organize the structures around them, and maximize efficiency wherever they go.

These are (vaguely passable) characteristics of extrovert-flavored humans.

How do you know if you’re an introvert?

We’ll use my own introvert to illustrate the kinds of differences you see (we’ll call him A).

A — who for the record, is more sociable than me — likes to be in his head. For him, this is where life happens.

There is an independence and self-referential quality to his way of operating. His intuits come through reflection, rather than external stimulus.

It’s awfully subtle — and you’d never know from his LBC radio habit — but A doesn’t go to the outer world for his sense of what is real: he asks himself. Compared to me, he has a little less energy to go around. He is not quick to translate ideas into plans.

A is introvert-flavored.

Why am I comparing people to ice-cream?

It’s a fair question.

I suppose I’m hoping to preempt the arguments of any moderately informed personality psychology junkies reading this, who raise the very valid point that when it comes to introversion and extroversion, everyone is some and some.

Yes, I agree; nobody seems to fit neatly into either category. We are all part introvert and extrovert.

But it is not 50:50. It. Is. Not.

How do you love an introvert, as an extrovert?

Finally, I’ll give you my best answer.

I’m not going to suggest that you “should go check with your introvert before you make social plans involving both of you”. This advice is so painfully obvious, I can’t even imagine why a person would need to be told that.

If you have the kind of personality, job or life which makes having your partner tag along to events significant, your world would be probably be simpler with a fellow extrovert. One who enjoys people and doing things, as not all extroverts do. If it’s too late and you already love an introvert, then stop caring so much about the socials. There, simple.

It’s obvious but I’ll say it anyway: being with anyone successfully takes respecting each other’s needs. I need to go feel my body in space at yoga, the opportunity to express my thoughts and feelings, sometimes very animatedly, about trivial things, and to turn A’s kitchen into an episode of Masterchef most days of the week. That’s me extrovertin’.

A’s favorite thing about these things is probably that I like them. He doesn’t need them. He needs to take long showers whilst listening to electronic music. To clean and tidy up, and to watch the football. To organize his thoughts and recharge, in privacy and in stillness. To stare at art, and wander aimlessly around charity shops.

Possibly the most challenging thing about loving an introvert as an extrovert is not taking their need for quiet time personally. It can be a blow to realise your partner, even though they won’t admit it, occasionally doesn’t want you around, because they don’t want anybody around: they are perfectly content.

Aside from that, how to love an introvert as an extrovert is the same question as how do you love a boy, as a girl? Or how does a boy love a boy? Or how does a girl love a girl? Or…you get the drift.

You love them by choosing to foster the same feelings you felt in the beginning when you fell in love, basically. You love them by constantly turning your focus away from their slightly troubling, but not actually mentally-ill behavior, to how awesome their introspective, private and difficult-to-read little bottoms can be.

And if you really wanted to do an A+ plus job of loving them, you could learn about them. And the simplest way to do that is to listen to them non-judgmentally, and actually shut up when they do share their thoughts and feelings with you. (Note to self: Don’t butt in, extrovert! Let them talk!!)

Finally, you could try stepping up to the plate over things you know are hard for them and easy for you, although not all of the time. Things like executing plans.

Offset their weaknesses with your strengths.

And let them return the favor.