Introverts are oftentimes a set of misunderstood human beings. They hardly socialise; they are quiet and shy; being around many people and talking for long hours tend to drain their energy; they are always self-conscious of their words and actions; they enjoy being alone and are mostly drawn to jobs that require some level of independence.
Introverts are said to make up around 40 per cent of the global population and because they can be quiet and reserved, it can be difficult to assume their next line of action. Sometimes, they may be perceived as being rude.
On the other hand, extroverts are the complete opposite of introverts. Whereas extroverts are social creatures, introverts are most certainly not. Extroverts may love small talk, but introverts hate it.
Interestingly, introverts and extroverts seem to be drawn to each other, which is why it is common to see an introvert dating or married to an extrovert.
However, because of the way introverts are wired, they can be sometimes difficult to understand, especially by extreme extroverted partners. This is why it is important to note the following tips on how to cope with them.
Accept your introvert partner for who they are
A life and relationship coach at The Relationship Firm, Texas, United States ofAmerica, Stephanie McKenzie, said the most important tip for coping with an introvert was to accept them for who they were.
“Accepting an introvert for who they are is the key to making everything work. An introvert may not be the life of the party, a social butterfly or an amazing group conversationalist.
“However, they might be extremely polite, quietly amused in social situations and very intuitive in your post-social, private time. In other words, see your introvert spouse for who he or she is and value the good,” McKenzie wrote on Glamour site.
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Acknowledge your differences from the start
Knowing key personality differences helps couples to be more aware of their partner’s feelings and expectations, psychologist Ashley Papa wrote on Business Insider.
After the acknowledgement of differences, he suggested not pushing too hard or trying to change one’s introverted partner.
“It doesn’t matter who is the introvert or extrovert in the relationship, you can’t change them,” she said, adding that balance and understanding were the most important factors to make the relationship work.
Also, a marriage counsellor based in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Mrs Ebiere Clarkson, advised introverts’ partners not to have “undue” expectations in the marriage.
She said, for instance, it would be wrong for a spouse to compare their introverted partner to a friend who has an extroverted partner.
She said, “Comparison kills marriage. A partner should not compare their introverted spouse to someone else. Accept them for who they are and seek ways to achieve their potential. Introverts have areas they excel in and they have their own ways of having fun. You must respect their boundaries and support them in their adventures. They will reciprocate your gesture.”
Let them be if they need to be left alone
A relationship coach and university administrator at the Campaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA, Alisha Kirchoff, said introverts usually wanted to be left alone sometimes and advised their spouses to let them be when they needed such moments.
“They might just need to recharge when they are socially exhausted. They will come around when they are no longer socially exhausted,” she said.
Also, a marriage and family therapist in New York, Rev Christopher Smith, advised introverts’ partners not to take it personally when their spouses wanted to be left alone.
“Understand that being an introvert is about where your loved one draws their energy and strength. They can be a real people-person and still need time to themselves to retreat and recharge,” he said.
Stay close to them at parties
Author and speaker, Bill Corbett, said, “Groups of people, especially large ones, drain the energy from an introvert. If you must attend an event with lots of people with your introverted spouse, keep it brief.
“And after the experience of the gathering or party, be ready for your date to want to end the night. If you can be together at home or in a quiet environment, your introvert will thank you.
“Hanging out and not talking is the holy grail for introverts.”
In addition, at parties, spouses are advised to be thoughtful about how they introduce their introverted spouse to friends.
A counsellor based in the US, Lindsay King-Miller, wrote in Cosmopolitan, “If you are dating (or married) someone who values deep, intimate connections but is stressed out by short, casual interactions with lots of people, don’t throw a huge party as a way of introducing your love to your work, university and club colleagues all at once.
“Your introvert partner is not going to adore every single person in your life, so prioritise. Decide who your sweetheart really needs to get along with and work to nurture the most important relationships.”
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Check in on them and encourage them
According to a marriage counsellor based in Lagos State, Mrs Bimbo Adepeju, the fact that one’s partner is an introvert does not mean they don’t appreciate affection. Like in every successful marriage, communication is very key and it isn’t something one does once in a while because one’s partner is an introvert.
Adepeju said, “Abandoning your introverted sweetie in a situation outside their comfort zone is never good. Pay attention to their needs and always check in on them. Check in often to ask how they are doing. Introverts appreciate it when you take the time to notice what they are silently communicating to you.”
Also, a professor of psychology at the California State University, US, Rose Hanna, said introverts should not be left alone because they loved being alone.
“Check in on them; comment on their dressing; gift them something; they would appreciate it. Increasing your ability to be emotionally expressive will speak to the heart of an introvert,” she said.
Another relationship expert based in Lagos State, Mrs Omosolape Oladapo, said introverts were usually loveable people and should be loved.
She also advised on encouraging introverted partners to open up on issues in marriage, as sometimes introverts could be battling with issues without telling anyone about it.
She said, “Introverts are loving because I have one as a husband. They tend to keep a lot of issues secret but their partner should encourage them to always open up. They have an insane amount of energy to harbour things and solve issues on their own but they still need help.
“If as an extrovert you have an introverted spouse, which is common, you must encourage them to open up. Introverts are amazing people but they can be misunderstood if care is not taken. Some people can even tag them as being proud because of their dispositions. All it needs is to study them.”
Allow processing time
A family therapist based in the US, Mrs Joanne Jarrett, wrote on introvertdear.com that after asking one’s introverted partner how they feel or what they think, one should give them some time for internal processing.
“While you may process outwardly with words, they tend to process internally without words, and then they’ll need to translate for you, which takes time and effort. From a personal experience, this drives my husband crazy. But he knows me, so he waits, and I love him, so I work hard to produce the words he needs,” she said.
In addition, Jarrett advised allowing introverts “time in their own head.” “Introverts thrive on deep connections, so after a big party or a day of superficial interaction (like errands or meetings), introverts need a break from engagement. Give them some time without eye contact and conversation. They might not need to be alone, they just need to be disengaged,” she said.
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Do shoulder-to-shoulder activities
According to Jarrett, if you need to spend time with your introvert (your needs matter, too!) and they seem to need disengagement, do something “together” that doesn’t require face-to-face engagement, like putting together a jigsaw puzzle or cooking a meal.
“There’s no set of responses that will work for every introvert in your life. After all, people aren’t boxes. But I hope you’ve found something here that will smooth your interactions with the introverts in your life. I’d love to hear your suggestions or hear which of mine resonated most with you,” she said.
“It is normal and okay for your introvert to want to read, play solo games, take walks alone, and do other solitary activities. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are depressed or lonely. They enjoy and need solitude. And hearing things like ‘you don’t ever spend time with friends,’ can sound like criticism or disapproval instead of concern,” she added.
It’s okay to have separate social spheres
Dr Paul-Roy Taylor and Dr Trishanna Sookdeo of Choosing Therapy, a mental health-focused organisation based in New York, said having separate social spheres was generally healthy in relationships, particularly in an introvert-extrovert relationship.
They wrote, “As couples, we often have to make compromises, but I always say don’t make compromises you can’t live with and don’t make compromises you don’t even need to make. That definitely applies to your social lives. Introverts won’t like some of your friends. That’s okay. You won’t like some of theirs, either.
“Having separate social spheres is generally healthy in relationships anyway. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you and your friends doing something fun and extroverted on a Saturday night, and your partner and her friends doing something introverted – or even your partner just deciding to stay home while you go out. When relationships are solid and each partner understands the other, these types of arrangements aren’t seen as threatening or a sign that there’s a problem in the relationship.”
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Don’t try to impress them
According to Taylor and Sookdeo, introverts don’t like braggarts and showoffs, and they will spot efforts to impress them with superficiality from a mile away.
“They’ll be more interested in what makes you unique. Tell them what’s on your mind and not what’s in your summer home,” they said.
“Introverts don’t like unnecessary drama. If high dudgeon and drama were your way of showing love and investment in prior relationships, that’s just not how introverts do it. Boundaries, assertiveness, and healthy conflict resolution: These are music to an introvert’s ears. This might be one of those ways dating an introvert can help you grow,” they added.
Show you’re invested in them
Introverts have a habit of being self-sufficient in many ways. They may have developed skills to manage difficult feelings and emotions on their own, and you may wonder why they don’t immediately open up to you when they have a problem or a bad day.
“Introverts are better at asking questions rather than answering questions sometimes, so you might need to be more inquisitive at first and show them you’re invested,” Taylor and Sookdeo said.