Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Care and Feeding of Your Extrovert


Over the last few years, I've seen a lot of "How to Understand an Introvert," and "Things You Need To Know about Introverts" essays, but I find that I don’t see similar ones talking about what it's *really* like to be an extrovert.  People assume that because extroverts appear to be the dominant paradigm, everyone knows what we want and how to deal with us.  They roll their eyes when we suggest that maybe, possibly, "You all just want to be worshiped and adored and listened to as you talk CONSTANTLY about NOTHING," is not actually what is going on inside the mind of the extrovert.  An ex once sent me a 'care and feeding of introverts' explanation that included things like, "you need to understand that unlike extroverts, we're not yappy dogs just spewing whatever trivial thoughts happen through our shallow brains.  We're usually thinking about what we say before we say it."  He genuinely did not understand why that was hurtful.

So, without further ado, for those of you frustrated or fascinated by the extroverts in your lives, I present my own guide to the care and feeding of your extrovert.

1.  Human contact is a need for us.  It's not as intense as food or water; it's more like the need for sleep.  We won't necessarily die outright if we don't get it on a regular basis, but we'll be unfocused, unhappy, and emotionally unstable.  If I go too long without substantive human contact, without touch or conversation or genuine interaction, I get listless, then depressed.  If it goes on even longer, my form of depression can turn suicidal.

Other possibilities are the development of severe social anxiety because we are so dependent on being welcome in a social group, and a whole range of socially inappropriate acting out.  Years ago another extrovert friend suggested going to the mall when it started to get bad, and that works somewhat because it's a lot of low-stakes interactions in a short time.  It's like eating fast food when you really want a home-grilled steak, but it keeps the worst of it at bay.

2.  There are fewer of us than you think there are.  Most people are neither clearly extroverted nor introverted, though society works pretty hard to make everyone feel like they're at one extreme or the other.  There's a huge middle range of "I like people pretty well in medium-sized doses," but because the world is hell-bent on quantifying and classifying everyone to make sure they feel as unwelcome as possible, most of those folks in the middle get shoved to one side or the other instead of being allowed to just go on enjoying occasional moderately-sized parties and spending occasional afternoons reading alone in the library.  Just like getting overwhelmed by the holiday shopping crowds doesn't necessarily make you a true introvert, enjoying a large party once in a while doesn't make you a true extrovert.
3.  We need alone time, just much less of it than other people.  Every so often, I need to spend a day without talking to anyone.  As an extrovert, you're constantly taking in data from interactions, and sometimes all that input hits a critical mass and you're overwhelmed by it.  Two or three times a year, I take a day at home, relax, stay off IM and social media, and watch movies in my fuzzy polar bear jammies.  Every few years, I like to do something big by myself, to have a set of experiences and time to think that I don't have to share with anyone else.

4.  Because we need alone time, we actually do understand and respect introverts when they tell us they need to be alone.  By the time an extrovert with any sort of self-awareness reaches adulthood, she understands that 'Social Butterfly' is not a lifestyle for everyone, and that other people do not feel the same way about human contact.  As noted above, people seem to assume that the world is divided into only introverts and extroverts, and what springs from that is an expectation that people who talk to people -- and especially the people who urge others to talk more -- are all extroverts bent on making everyone else conform to their behaviour.  This isn't true, and the same Aunt Whoever that tells an introverted niece, "You shouldn't be so quiet all the time.  No one will notice you.  You need to be outgoing," tells her extroverted niece, "You talk too much, monopolize people's attention.  You should learn to be quieter, more modest, not so outgoing."

To an introvert, Aunt Whoever looks like the tyranny of extroverts as the dominant social paradigm, but she's actually just a nosy, bullying busybody who likes to tell other people what's wrong with them.  The dark secret of Aunt Whoever?  She's not an extrovert at all.  She doesn't like people or enjoy social interaction; she just considers it a necessary and unpleasant duty she should make sure everyone is equally miserable performing.  She doesn't respect your need to refrain, any more than she respects my need to participate, because she simply can't fathom a world that isn't full of miserable people faking sincerity in social situations they resent with people they don't really like.

5.  Contrary to popular belief, it's not an extrovert-friendly world, and it's becoming less so.  When I am among people, I make eye contact, smile, maybe chat if there's an opportunity (like being stuck in a long grocery store line).  As an extrovert, that's a small 'ping' of energy, a little positive moment in the day.  Now, though, more often than not people don't meet one another's eyes, they don't smile or shake hands, they keep iPod ear buds or Bluetooth headsets in their ears at all times, eschewing human contact.  Sometimes I look around, and I'm in a wasteland of empty stares and deaf ears.  Even surrounded by people, I can't make any sort of contact or connection, and that's like a constant diet of fast food for an extrovert.

As Americans become less and less inclined to have real interactions with one another, more inclined to interact online, extroverts have fewer opportunities for the social interactions they need.  We need our friends and family to understand us more than ever now, as the world gets more hostile.  I'm terrified of the way the world is going.  Most people don't know their neighbors, more and more shopping is done online without human interaction, and an increasing number of people are working jobs where they never have to interact with another person.  The rise of social media *seems* like it would be a blessing to extroverts, except that it only mimics genuine interaction; it doesn't provide it.


6.  Many people think it’s easier professionally to be an extrovert, but it comes with its own pitfalls.  People often assume that an extrovert’s career advancement is more due to ‘politicking and sucking up’ than to competence or skill, and we’re often frustrated by resentment directed at what others perceive as un-earned rewards or promotions.  The other big problem is that because we have those social tendencies, we tend to be the people co-workers stop to chat with.  It’s nice to have the social contact, but it can make it hard to do complex work, and if you’re chatting every time the boss walks by, you can kiss your promotion good-bye, earned or not.

I was the receptionist at a former workplace, and was terribly embarrassed when an e-mail went out to the entire office admonishing everyone for ‘stopping to talk to Rowan, because it distracts her from her duties and interrupts the flow of work in the office’.  I hadn’t complained, and it wasn’t affecting my ability to do my job, but it cooled several friendships with co-workers who were justifiably upset by the thought that I’d gone to management instead of telling them when I didn’t have time to talk.  The manager, an introvert, was genuinely surprised that I didn’t consider it a favor for her to cut down on what she considered unwelcome and useless distractions.  She couldn’t fathom that I actually wanted to hear how people’s days were going.

7.  We may make this look easy, but it's not.  Many extroverts suffer from various forms of social anxiety, compounded by the knowledge that if we do or say the wrong things, if we are perceived to be thoughtless or undesirable in a social setting, we'll be unwelcome in the group.  If that happens often enough, a necessary part of our psyche will starve and fail.  When I walk into a roomful of people, the stakes are higher for me than they are for non-extroverts, because I *need* to be welcome there.  When I walk out of a roomful of people, you can rest assured that I am rehashing every single conversation I had, going over everything I said, second-guessing every word and gesture.  I am acutely aware of every mistake I made, even the ones I only imagine to have occurred.  I still remember the dumb things I said or did long after everyone else has forgotten them.  I can recall social faux pas as far back as middle school, and though by and large I've stopped beating myself up for things, the ghosts still paralyse me sometimes.

8.  We’re not shallow, and we’re not empty-headed.  We don’t just ‘say everything that goes through our heads’.  I’d love it if every conversation I have could be a deep, nourishing, interesting interaction instead of light small talk, but the world doesn’t work that way.  Many people recoil from you when you attempt to engage them on any level but the superficial, and because we are creatures of social necessity, we learn early on to master the expected patter about weather and jobs and how are the kids – not because that’s all we can come up with, but because initiating real conversations is a pretty big risk to take, and it usually pays off in awkward silence.  When your emotional health depends on social interaction, you can’t afford to be the weird girl in the corner everyone avoids because she’s talking about gender theory and social engineering at happy hour.  If you think we’re shallow, challenge us.  You’ll find out that a lifetime of taking in other people’s data combined with the analytical skills necessary to navigate social minefields usually leaves us with some pretty interesting perspectives.

9.  When you see us moving through a crowd at a party, talking to fifteen or twenty people in the span of your one conversation, don’t assume we’re being insincere or flighty.  It’s likely we are quite interested in every one of those people and every one of those conversations.  But most of us, in addition to needing human contact, have very vibrant and outgoing personalities.  Years of interaction have taught us that in a social setting, our intensity can start to wear on people after too long, so (especially when first arriving at a gathering) we tend to float from group to group, in order to not burn out any one person’s tolerance.

10.  We know what we are and we know it’s not going to change.  We’re aware, for the most part, that everyone is not like us, and we’re trying to get essential needs met in the way that is least intrusive and invasive to people we recognize as very different from ourselves.  As confident or self-assured as we may seem, most of us are laboring under a constant worry that we’re annoying everyone around us, that we’re wearing on everyone’s last nerve, and that we’ll be sent away to wither alone.  We depend on you, our friends and loved ones, for something we know we can’t do without.  Your extrovert will understand if you come home from a long day at work and say, “Hey, hon, I need a little down time before dinner,” but if you just shut the door to your office or workshop without communicating the all-important “this is not about YOU and it is only for a couple of hours,” it can be a deeper rejection than you could possibly imagine.  Some people will find that request for reassurance completely unreasonable.  Those people are probably not well-suited to being closely involved (either as friends or romantic partners) with extroverts, which is a loss on their part because we’re a lot of fun to know, and we tend to be genuinely warm, loving, loyal and compassionate people.

212 comments:

  1. Aaah! So much win! Thank you! I'll be sharing widely.

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  2. Thank you! I'm glad it was helpful!

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  3. My god... this is me me me. Every single bit of it. I need to send this to everyone that knows me. So few understand. Thank you *so much* for taking the time to write this out.

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  4. I'm glad you liked it. You're welcome!

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  5. one of the best write-ups i've seen of the extrovert :)

    I am one to go to the mall if necessary, even the slow hum of crap TV in the background when I am alone can push back the tipping point.

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  6. It can indeed. I realised a couple years ago that one of the reasons I like to watch long-running series in order is that the 'relationships' that develop with the characters as they change and grow can provide a minimal substitute source of human interaction when I'm close to the tipping point.

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    1. Thanks, Rowan. That's true for me, too. I hadn't realized it was my extroversion. I find it hard to critique series because I develop a fondness, affection, connection with characters and actors. Whereas my three introverted friends can readily critique.

      I especially agreed with 1, 3, 7, and bigtime 5 on your list above

      Of the three introverts I know very well personally, two are very talkative to me most of the time-- almost a steady stream about what they experienced and did and what they are experiencing and doing now. I keep mistaking it as a need for social interaction, and mistakenly expect it to get into interaction about our insights, feelings, and deep thoughts (they are both very intelligent and can be quite insightful and creative). Nope, they just want me to be an audience, preferably appreciative and agreeable, listening to their experiences and doings. Sometimes, it's really quite trivial, and trivially detailed, stuff... and yet extroverts get accused of chattering about shallow stuff. It's been going on for decades now and I still keep mistaking and wrongly expecting. They don't care-- if I'm not being an audience, they just go away. I care-- I need interaction. Oy such differences. And yet we remain good friends.

      The difference between E and I-- it's a biggie. I haven't even tried tackling the rest of Myers-Briggs personality qualities.

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    2. Hey Silwit, that's a really good observation about the introverts! I have one introverted friend in particular who I am really starting to struggle with. She will talk about what she's doing, moan about her marriage, talk about her hobies bla bla but as soon as I take it deeper (thinking maybe I pegged her wrong and she is extrovert!) she shuts right down. All she wants is an audience. She lacks empathy, finds it very hard to understand what others may be feeling and doesn't seem to know how to offer them support. And ultimately isn't really interested in others. Know another a bit like it too. And of course I then feel I have caused her to become disinterested by yet again opening my mouth and asking questions (I used to ask questions a lot, it's how I learn). I have started to avoid her as I usually end up feeling wrong in some way during or after our interactions. E and I?

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    3. As an introvert who spent many years not answering questions, I'd like to try to address this. I am not the people you're having troubles with, but I might be able to give you some insight into why they seem so disinterested.

      For a very long time the idea that someone wanted to get to know me, to understand me, to ask me deeper questions about myself, was a scary idea for me to wrap my head around. I was sure that if I opened up too much I'd get hurt, no matter how close my friend was. I can't explain why - I was just sure it would happen. It wasn't that I had no interest in those conversations, in fact I craved them. I just didn't know how to be comfortable with them.

      Shutting down when asked questions is generally an introvert's defense mechanism, not disinterest. Be encouraging and gentle with your questions so your friend doesn't go into defense mode - maybe just one question instead of five. Show your curiosity without overwhelming them, be patient, and they'll be more likely to open up to you.

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    4. To be fair, I know one or two extroverts who are "flighty" and lack empathy because they are so hyperactive they don't notice the details of those around them. They shrug when asked questions about how someone else may think or feel, and are no uncomfortable admitting they don't really care about details. Not because they are mean or cruel, but because they float over the top of life...but definitely extrovert.

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    5. Catherine, I don't think that's an E/I difference -- or at least, if your friend is an introvert, that's not the heart of the problem. If you want to discuss it in terms of Myers-Briggs types, I think it could also have to do with not having developed F (feeling) and N (iNtuition), through which one contemplates how oneself/others are feeling and deduces what they might be thinking without being expressly told.

      Lacking empathy is definitely not something that has to do with introversion, any more than being empty-headed has to do with extraversion. There are empty-headed introverts and there are and extraverts who completely disregard how others feel, and many (I'd say it's a good 50-50 split) of the most empathetic people I know are highly introverted.



      Rowan and Silwit, that's interesting that you would tie forming relationships with characters to extraversion. I am a solid introvert and I do that as well, and would have called it a good introverted way of "interacting" with people when one is otherwise drained. But some of these things don't break down to E vs. I so easily or obviously.

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    6. Honestly, I kind of feel like some of you devolved into whining about introverts instead of giving us thoughts on how YOU work. The truth is, generally, I've been a better listener than the extroverts that I know. A couple of extroverted friends, I listen to for hours and hours about things, then when I have one problem.....it's like they're GONE. So....saying introverts aren't conscientious....it makes me wonder if you're actually capable of observing us or not. One of my best friends, an extrovert, comes to me when she needs someone to listen. Actually, several of my best extroverted friends come to me for that.

      I'm sorry the introverted post compared you to yappy dogs, that was rude, wrong, and cruel. I personally wish that these posts on Extroverts and Introverts would stop subtly ripping on the other kind of person. Self-deprecation in them? Fine. But whining about the other kind in general? Not cool.

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    7. And yeah, the best extroverted friend is a a great listener to. I'm very grateful she's in my life and can understand and show me the other side of things.

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  7. THIS IS ME! Thank you so much for writing this! I wrote a blog post about being an extrovert, but I'm going to have to link to your post, because you do such an excellent job of really explaining things.

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  8. Mind. Blown.

    For a few ugly reasons, I was a "shy" child. Terrified of strangers, very few friends. I read a lot and enjoy video games. So I was naturally labeled an introvert, and assumed I was. And I've built my life around that assumption. And I have been very, very depressed, and feeling crazy because the introvert-y self-care things I keep doing aren't making it any better.

    This post led me to wonder... "What if I'm not an introvert? What if -- MAYBE -- I'm an extrovert with social anxiety?"

    Bells went off. Hundreds of puzzle pieces tumbled into place. I'm doing a little experimentation with this idea, and it is already drastically changing my life for the better. This... changes the whole game!

    Thank you SO MUCH for writing this. I think it has literally saved my sanity.

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    1. I meant to reply when you wrote this, but I think I posted on your FB instead? In case I didn't, thank you and I'm glad it resonated for you. *hugs*

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    2. Exact same experience reading this. I thought I used to be an introvert and only became an extrovert recently, but reading this I just realized that even as a child I was an extrovert-- with extreme social anxiety. I was just SO sensitive to social data that I would become overwhelmed. Some kid would say "hi" in an insincere tone of voice and I would freeze up wondering if I did something wrong or if there was something on my face or if I wore the right clothes or if that kid was just an asshole, and then my mom would tug me firmly by the hand and say reproving, "Say 'hello' back!" and after that of course my mind was racing even harder and the social situation had become an apocalyptic disaster and... yeah, you get the point. Anyway

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    3. Lots of people thought I was an introvert in junior high, too, but no, most of them were just jerks, & I knew I wouldn't be allowed to respond to them the way I wanted to (heh heh), & the others who thought so just didn't know me. So I totally understand how an extrovert can be accidentally labelled an introvert.

      As for the article - BRILLIANT. & I bet the "ex" who didn't understand how hurtful his article was didn't understand how he got to be an "ex", either!

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  9. Speaking as an introvert, thanks very much for the insight. :)

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    1. You're welcome! I hope that it helps you in dealing with your extroverts!

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  10. This. is so awesome. as an extravert with social anxiety who constantly craves real connections with people, this is SUCH a good description of the steps I go through and risks I take to try to get what I need. Thank you.

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    1. I'm so glad it resonated with you.

      *hugs*

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  11. This Describes me too, except for 7, which I think is not related to extroversion.

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    1. It's not caused by being an extrovert, but from the number of extroverts I've spoken to about it, I've learned that it's a pretty common problem for us, often a likely consequence of our dependence on social interaction.

      I'd love it if there were more scholarly study of extroversion and social anxiety; people always seem to assume social anxiety is a function of introversion.

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    3. It's possible this might come partly because on top of everything else I have slight anxiety, but my thought to reading this one was "other people do that too? Oh thank god!" It resonated with me just as much if not more than the rest of it, and explained it better than I've read before. Considering how the rest of them describe me so well, it's never been a question with me as to whether I was an extrovert, unlike many of the other people who have written here.

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    4. It amazes and humbles me how many people have said to me, "I never knew I wasn't alone in feeling like this." If I never did anything else in my life, I'd be glad I did this, because I feel like I've helped some people like me feel better and safer about who they are.

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    5. Rowan, seriously. You have pinpointed some thought processes and actions I have done all my life which puzzled the introverts in my life. I had no idea it was an extrovert's "way", if you will. So many lightbulb moments reading this. Thank you.

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    6. Shay, I wish there were more voices out there talking about the extrovert's 'way' because the sheer number of people who show up in this space and say "I thought it was just me..." or "I never knew that was what others experienced..." is staggering.

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    7. As a life-long extroverted, "social butterfly" - number 7 fit me the best, and is the part I quoted when I shared this on my Facebook. Antonio, you may not have it, and that's awesome, and a lot of other extroverts may not, and that's cool, too, but for me... it gave me a warm fuzzy, knowing I wasn't alone. Thank you for writing it, Rowan.

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    8. I am a solid introvert and I always remember all details of social interactions and analyze them to pieces in a way similar to what you describe, so I'd have to agree with Antonio that it's not tied to extraversion.

      It might be that extraverts can't recover from perceived traumatic social situations as easily by hiding out on their own, though, so I can see how this would be hard on an extravert in a way it's not on an introvert. But the experience of hyper-awareness and analysis of social situations itself is definitely not limited to extraversion. I think it probably is tied to the F/T spectrum in the MBTI even more so, or even more likely, not neatly correlated with any of those types (even as much as the MBTI types very useful in understanding people!)

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    9. This comment is interesting because I am very extroverted and #7 was the one that most resonated with me! It really was great to read this and made me realize that I'm not alone!!!! THANK YOU. I do know that introverts mull over the details of the conversation, but as extroverts we are often kicking ourselves for what we said, who we interrupted, or what we didn't say rather than just replaying the conversation and pondering what was said. At least for me, I am constantly very hard on myself. I also know I think out loud (and find it very difficult to make decisions until at least one person has weighed in with their opinion) and I KNOW I annoy my introverted colleagues and husband because I do talk in circles. I hate it, I really do- but I can't change it :(

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    10. Still doesn't seem like it's a completely extroverted trait. I've done this before too. And I am definitely an introvert.

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  12. thank you so very much for me. as with all the other comments this is me

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  13. You make many points worth thinking about here. Thank you.

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  14. As a textbook introvert, I need to say thank you for this. It's important to understand how the other half lives. The little tips here about dealing with extroverts are simple, and make so much sense once they have been elaborated on.

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    1. I'm so glad to hear that. This is exactly why I wrote it, because the tips *are* simple once you understand what lies behind them. But without that understanding, you're sort of left confused and frustrated by this other person's incomprehensible behaviour. I figured that if I could demystify some of it a little, we all (introverts, extroverts, and those who are neither) can maybe get our needs met better and be a little kinder to one another.

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  15. You have no idea how accurately this resonates with me. Some of the "social interaction" faux pas and self criticism have landed me into a psychiatrists office. I had to develop a "STFU meter" that was ultra-sensitive that would go off frequently telling me "You're talking too much, STFU!!!". Even when I would obey it's demands, the next several minutes/hours/days/years I would be haunted by the "mistakes" I thought I had made in some social situation. I have several that still haunt me from childhood.

    Thank you so much for this!

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    1. My STFU meter is still on a delay, lol, although it's getting better...and I feel you on the 'mistakes,' too; I still cringe after conversations, going "Crap, did I cross the line? God, I wish I could just *see* the line!"

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    2. I have a STFU meter, too, and it hurts as much as it helps. It yells at me, "Shut up, you've talked too much!" before I have, so that I'm left stressed out over my imagined faux pas and my friend is thinking, "Well, that conversation died weirdly."

      Most of my friends have figured this out and will *ask* me to finish my thought or what I was saying, if in fact I wasn't talking too much. If I was, they just accept the silence and most of them make sure to say something like "I had a great time hanging out" later so I know I didn't tank a friendship.

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    3. Oh gosh, me too. I think mine is getting better about tapering off instead of just breaking off the convo awkwardly, but ditto the haunting... I can do a lightening fast change of subjects, too. :) That helps.

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    4. OH MY GOD I THOUGHT I WAS THE ONLY PERSON THAT DID THIS! I also thought it meant that I was a closet introvert because obviously extroverts would not have this problem and would not be concerned AT ALL about things they said because they would naturally know what to say! I thankfully have one or two friends who I can message and be like OMG I SAID THIS SHE SAID THAT is that ridiculous? who are usually very good at calming me down, but... yes.

      *deep breath*

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    5. Ha ha ha!! I love this, me too!! Oh yeah, the lightening fast change of subject! Do any of you lovely folk think it has anything to do with learning styles also?
      I LOVE to learn and almost every interaction is just that for me, I am learning about others, their feelings, how to treat them, how to become more considerate, increase compassion etc. People fascinate me. I am a very factual reader too, not many novels any more. I am wondering how much of a part extroversion plays in speed of, need for and desire to - learn?

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  16. Rowan, this is *incredible,* thank you! It's so nice to see someone else put into words that which I've been struggling with for years...I'm not just a chatterboxy know-it-all who doesn't have a shut-up switch or a verbal filter, I'm this, I'm everything you said here...this should be required reading for everyone who's ever met me. THANK YOU!

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    1. You're very welcome. It amazes me how many people have come and told me "this really resonates with me!"

      I guess I knew there were a lot of anxious and frustrated extroverts out there, but maybe didn't know they all knew where to find me on the internet! *grin*

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  17. Very interesting. As an introvert who prefers to date extroverts, I have to admit that I'm surprised to hear how others treat them. Pretty much all the myths that you explained here I always took as a given (i.e. extroverts are not empty-headed; everyone needs some amount of alone time/social time but it varies for everyone, etc.)

    I am often trying to explain to people who get hurt or offended because of something I did or need done as an introvert how to best treat me if they want to contribute to my happiness or what it REALLY means when I do X. But I very rarely find myself explaining the same things about extroverts because I so rarely come into contact with people who have those kinds of misconceptions about them.

    So I thank you for the heads-up and the next time I hear someone spouting off something stupid or misinformed about extroverts, I'll know have a bit of background on what they're saying & what the correction is.

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    1. I run into everything on this list fairly frequently, especially on those "How to care for your introvert" lists. Some of the lists are great and helpful, but a lot of them set up false dichotomies between the two and say things like "You may not understand our need for quiet because you never need it yourself..." or "Introverts are the deep thinkers, the people who are focused on things that really matter..."

      I think they genuinely don't realize that when they set up that diametric opposition, and then claim all the peace, solace, and introspection for themselves, it implies that the other end of the spectrum is incapable of those things.

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  18. Interesting perspective. I'm a hardcore introvert, to the point where my utimate goal is to build a house in Montana, as far from people as humanly possible. My girlfriend, however, displays many of the symptoms that you have described. To complicate matters, I work frequently overseas, for relatively long periods. Any tips?

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    1. Hrm. If you're genuinely working towards that dream (like actively seeking job opportunities or saving for that house) then it's possible your dream and your relationship are incompatible. If your girlfriend really is an extrovert, someone who requires human interaction for sanity (as opposed to just a 'people person', someone who's good at and enjoys social interaction but doesn't *need* it at any sort of elevated level), that house in Montana would be hell for her. If she knows that's your dream, and she says things like, "Oh, I'd like that too!" then she's probably not an obligate extrovert and there shouldn't be a problem. For me, that idea sounds frankly terrifying.

      I don't know you so I can't give detailed advice or anything, but I do know that in introvert/extrovert pairings there has to be a lot of trust and very little jealousy. The extroverted partner has needs the relationship can't meet, and has to get them met elsewhere or put a lot of pressure on the introverted partner. It's possible to set up effective boundaries for doing this in a safe and healthy manner, but the introvert has to be OK with the idea that the extrovert is getting emotional support from friends as well (polyamory is also an option, but poly/monogamous is a very personal choice based on a lot of factors, so I'm reluctant to hail it as the answer for even most people in that situation, let alone all of them. It can be very helpful, though).

      Make sure your girlfriend has an emotionally close support group and a broad base of friends she can hang with when you're out of the country, and *CHECK IN REGULARLY* Even a daily e-mail that says, "Tuesday was a good day, lots of funny work stories, can't wait to tell you about it," will help keep that particular plate spinning.

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    2. Rowan,

      Thank you for taking the time to reply. I realized that as people age, they give up their dreams a little bit at a time. That, or life simply takes them from you. The house in Montana is the only one that I have left, and for once I am making progress towards achieving it. No matter that I've never been there, or that at this pace it will take me another 8 years. It's mine, and I'm not letting go of it.

      I believe that my girlfriend understands how important this is to me; I'm not forcing her hand, or trying to impose a way of life that she is not comfortable with. Hell, I'm not even sure if it will work for me, but I'm going to try.

      As far as keeping in contact while overseas, I do what I can, through skype and chat programs. I'm limited by the internet connection, but she has a strong friend base back in the States.

      Ok, my thoughts are wandering. Again, thank you for the reply :)

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  19. Sorry for the delayed response on comments, all! I stopped getting notifications at some point, but I seem to be getting them again!

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  20. I am moved by the eloquence and insight of your article. It's important for us all to be aware that extroverts like yourself are human and have needs. You require regular social interaction, but too many people either take advantage of this and assume you're on call 24/7 or consider you to be an attention-seeker. I've seen this happen to extroverts I know and it saddens me. However, there are plenty of individuals out there who value you as a person and consider you a blessing in their lives. Don't ever forget that!

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    1. That is a very true statement, and so lovely. Blessings to you, may your friends shine as brightly for you as you do for them.

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  21. My favorite introvert asked, in some frustration, for tips on how to deal with /me/. Glad I found this to send him - thanks!

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  22. Being fairly far along the spectrum toward introversion myself, this article was quite an interesting and useful insight for me into the mind of an extrovert.

    Number 7 particularly struck me. I have known several people who would pick apart the minutiae of how others might be perceiving and judging them in every social situation, and let it stress them out to the point they felt the need to vent it on me. All of them were definite extroverts, but I never made the connection before that this came from a fear of losing the interaction they needed to feel normal, because of their extraversion.

    With number 8, this seems to be a bit of a mistranslation. I don't think that extroverts are shallow or "empty-headed" as you put it, and I don't think any reasonable introvert would claim that. The issue here, that is a perennial frustration for introverts, is that we generally cannot "think by speaking" whereas extroverts can. I know for myself, it is very much a separate stepwise process of first thinking about the content of my speech, then thinking about what words will express those ideas, then actually starting to speak. It seems that this is extremely difficult for extroverts to understand, since everything but the last step is hidden and internal. Introverts have an easier time imagining that others could work through their thoughts by the process of speaking (even though we can't ourselves), because we can listen to it as it happens.

    Finally, I do take issue with an idea that you imply throughout: that not getting interaction when you need it is just as bad as receiving unwanted interaction. This is a false equivalence. The right to not have your person infringed upon supercedes the right to receive things you want because they make you feel good. For instance, it is obvious to most (unfortunately not all) people that receiving unwanted sexual attention is fundamentally different from not getting sexual attention when you "need" it.

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    2. That last paragraph made me have all sorts of issues with you. I'm glad you were able to make connections with your extrovert friends, and while you sound exceptionally condescending talking about the 'talking it out', I would have no problems letting it pass as an attempt to explain and do your own 'thinking out loud'. But that last bit- you really sound like a jerk.

      First off, let's talk about false equivalences. Sexual imposition is not the same as social imposition. Mostly because social imposition rarely involves physical violence, and while there is mental disruption if it is unwanted, it is NOTHING like the trauma of sexual imposition. For you to equate them is both insulting and insensitive. Also, unless your partner is a little nutty, it is perfectly acceptable to have multiple outlets for social needs.
      Secondly- It really feels like you stopped reading part way through. Please refer to the party description (#9). "Years of interaction have taught us that in a social setting, our intensity can start to wear on people after too long..." In other words, THEY KNOW not everyone is up for their level of interaction, and they do their best to respect it while still fulfilling their needs. In fact, they do some damage to themselves trying to accommodate their less social brethren ("When your emotional health depends on social interaction, you can’t afford to be the weird girl in the corner everyone avoids...").
      Third, if that final paragraph is TRULY an accurate description of your need and feeling as an introvert, I would strongly recommend against forming deep relationships with 'true' extroverts as she describes. When a person feels that 'MY (introspection based) emotional well-being is more important than YOUR (socially based) emotional well-being' with the type of narcissistic conviction your statements imply, they will do irreparable damage to any deep positive relationship that might have been previously enjoyed. If that is how you interact with your extrovert friends..... Don't be surprised if they start pulling away even when you ARE willing to talk.

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    3. Becca, thank you very much for this reply. As I noted below, I've been struggling with a way to respond to this that did not feel defensive or angry. The comparison to sexual intrusiveness particularly upset me, because "I need a partner's supportive attention on reasonably-negotiated terms" is exactly the opposite of "I expect to have my sexual wants gratified at the expense of others' autonomy."

      *hugs*

      Rowan

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    4. Interesting, I think you are being hard on Ian?
      I found his comments thought provoking and a reminder to consider others. Ints and Exts will look at things quite differently, also affected by their life experiences so far. My Mum is more introverted and I am licky that it is something we can discuss. She says how sometimes others feel she doesn't care because she hasn't answered, but it all goes on inside for introverts, same for my Husband. And if we over pressure them (as we can do) it just pushes them further in . . .

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    5. Yeah, you guys are kind of missing the point. The point here is that nobody has a god-given right to engage in social interactions with another person, and personal sovereignty is more important than someone else's need to force their attentions on you, regardless of situation. You're acting like you *deserve* to have social interactions with any person you wish, which is frankly pretty creepy.

      The reason why "sexual attention" is being used as an example here (which Becca for some reason presumes to mean "rape"), is because unsolicited comments about how attractive or sexy someone is are a kind of unwanted social interaction that many people can understand. Introverts feel similarly uncomfortable when people try to initiate unwanted conversations with them. Another experience that might be a reasonable comparison is that of being chatted up by a panhandler.

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    6. llxx, I feel it is you who missed the point.

      Of course no one has a gods-given right to engage in social interactions with another person, WHICH IS WHY NO ONE HERE IS CLAIMING WE DO.

      This is not an advocacy of running up to strangers on the street, or showing up at friends' houses uninvited, or cornering people in the grocery store and demanding interaction and validation. This isn't us walking into another's space and saying, "I DEMAND you interact with me on MY terms RIGHT NOW."

      This is me, saying "Hey, friends who love and care about me and want me to be happy, please understand that my emotional health requires active socialization and interaction, and I would really appreciate it if you would recognise and acknowledge that need as a *need* and work with me within the parameters of our relationship to help me stay emotionally healthy and get that need met in ways that don't invade *your* space."

      If you really must insist on the sexual metaphor (though it's insulting and not really a good equivalent), this is equivalent to me saying to a partner, "hey, beloved, we haven't been intimate very much lately, and I'm feeling that lack. I would like for us to be more sexually active. The lack of interaction is affecting my own feelings of desirability. I think it would be healthy for our relationship for us to work on this, to communicate attraction and desire more openly, to make time for sexual and physical intimacy, because that's a necessary part of a relationship for me and it directly affects how fulfilled I am in this relationship."

      You seem to think that "I need interaction" means "I demand your attention on my terms" and it DOES NOT. It means, though, that when an introvert says, "I need my friends to respect that I spend time alone to recharge," we understand that, and we reply with "I spend time with people to recharge." Both means of recharge are valid and neither is abusive or invasive. I would, for example, be really angry at an introvert partner or roommate who said to me, "Yeah, I need to be alone so you have to get out of the house for a couple of days."

      And THAT is the equivalent behaviour when you start talking about one person's need for a level of interaction trumping another's, not some bogus argument about sexual attention and panhandling.

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    7. Yeah, it does seem you're talking about something entirely different. In terms of personal interactions among friends or lovers, *of course* that kind of negotiation is appropriate. You seriously think that's what's being referred to by "unwanted interaction"? A sulking "just leave me alone" among friends?

      Your post isn't just about established interpersonal relationships - it mentions many others like grocery lines, where such negotiation is not possible. As such, I think it's reasonable to point out that in a public situation, among strangers, your right to be left alone most certainly should trump someone else's right to interact with you. It's really a much more simple and fundamental point, and the fact that so many people seem not to respect it can really wear an introvert down. Many of us feel like we've been constantly intruded on during the course of a day, and it can get exhausting. You can take that or leave it, but I think being aware of that sentiment is a good thing.

      I'm not agreeing with Ian about the tone of your post. What I object to is the tone of the replies, particularly Becca's, in jumping down Ian's throat - for me, those put a sour taste on an otherwise useful article. Neither of you are responding to any point that appears to have actually been made, and I think you might be missing a point that could be useful to understanding introverts.

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    8. Please understand that this is meant in the nicest way possible:

      I have no trouble and no lack of resources for understanding introverts, because they have aggressively demanded that understanding from me for years. I have consistently had it patiently and condescendingly explained to me all that I am doing 'wrong' in our interactions, in not understanding and empathizing and having it assumed that I am unable or unwilling to consider it from their point of view, for nigh on a decade now, and frankly the last thing I find useful when I try to explain my own perspective, is to tell me, again, that the problem is my lack of consideration for the *introverts*.

      I will try to explain more clearly what you seem to be missing, and I will continue with your flawed 'sexual attention' analogy for shorthand's sake.

      Imagine you are in a bar, out with friends. A person approaches you and says, "You're very attractive, may I buy you a drink?" You're not interested, so you say, "No, thank you." The person says, "OK, you have a great night," and WALKS AWAY. This is, by all accounts, a successful interaction, because the other person communicated an interest, you explained you did not reciprocate, and the interest was not pressed or pushed. You should both feel good about the interaction, though the other person might feel *better* if you'd said yes, because it was a successful negotiation of human interaction between respectful adults.

      The extrovert equivalent is this: I am standing in line at the grocery store. I make eye contact with the person standing behind me, and smile. That person does not return my smile or hold the eye contact. So I do not initiate conversation because that person has not indicated to me that an interaction, beyond what we've already had, is welcome. That is a successful negotiation of interaction between adults.

      And if you are so sensitive to interaction that simple eye contact in a public place is threateningly invasive, then I'm going to have to suggest that there are much deeper issues at play here, because looking someone in the eye falls absolutely within the scope of normal interactions you should expect to have when you leave your house; if you can't handle that you probably need to talk to someone.

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    9. "I have no trouble and no lack of resources for understanding introverts, because they have aggressively demanded that understanding from me for years."

      If you'd like the commentary on this article to be entirely from and about extroverts, then righty-o. I can understand wanting a forum to be devoted to like minds (I am not being sarcastic). I appreciate your perspective of finding a perceived culture of introversion frustrating, and it's interesting, but lashing out against someone who says "hey, your article is interesting but I disagree with this one thing I'm inferring from it" quite frankly reinforces negative perceptions of extroverts that might have been dispelled due to this post.

      "Imagine you are in a bar, out with friends. A person approaches you and says, "You're very attractive, may I buy you a drink?" You're not interested, so you say, "No, thank you." The person says, "OK, you have a great night," and WALKS AWAY. This is, by all accounts, a successful interaction, because the other person communicated an interest, you explained you did not reciprocate, and the interest was not pressed or pushed."

      (*imagines*) Nope. I'm not saying that interaction is inherently offensive or invalid, but attractive women get told *over and over* that they're attractive and offered drinks, and for many, it's unwelcome and frustrating. It requires significant social aptitude to gauge whether someone is receptive to this - someone who says "hey, it's my prerogative to hit on women, and they should just politely decline if they're not interested" would be an entitled jerk. Just as in the grocery line, this should have been "negotiated" non-verbally, without being verbally intrusive and requesting someone else's conversational attention.

      So yeah, if your goal was solidarity with extroverts, you win. Otherwise...not so much.

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    10. I'm pretty sure at this point you're being deliberately obtuse, and I'd like you to stop that. Saying "Don't take my space and my conversation, and turn it around to try and tell me why my expression of my experience is offensive and should be framed according to your expectations," is not 'only soliciting commentary from like minds'. You're doing the same thing many people do when they come from a position of privilege into the space being held by someone without it: making another person's experience entirely about yourself and why you find their need for respect inconvenient to your status quo. See also: "But what about the MEN??!?!" in feminist blogspaces.

      Yes, women (not just 'pretty' women, but thanks for the adherence to the normalization of mainstream beauty standards!) do get approached often, and if you ask us, you'll find that it's not the *approach*, it's the reaction to the rejection that really bothers us. If I tell a man, "No, I'm not interested," and he says, "OK" and walks away, then it's barely a blip for me. If it happened that way every time one person approached another, the world would be a much better place. But that's not usually the way it happens, and if I say, "No, thanks," and he says, "It's just a drink, why do you have to be so stuck up?" then we have a problem.

      Sure, if five guys in a row push me, that sixth guy, who just might take no for an answer, is going to get a sharper response than if he'd been the first approach. And you know, that's not entirely fair of me. I know it's not fair, so I *try* to make my first 'no' a non-hostile one every time I'm approached, but even when I'm so frustrated that I can't do that, I *do* at least have the maturity to acknowledge, as he walks away from "Jesus, no, will you fuckers leave me ALONE?!" with a confused look on his face, that he got what other people earned, and that my response had nohing to do with him, and everything to do with my own frustration.

      The difference really is attempted interaction vs. assumed right of deeper interaction. If no one ever tried to connect with others, we'd kind of die out as a species, as arranged marriage fell by the wayside some time ago. The impulse to say, "Hey, there's another person, I'll initiate contact," is a basic social primate drive and it's unrealistic to try and set up a social dynamic in which one very small segment (introverts) can say to the entire rest of society, "I reserve the right to not only refuse your attempts at interaction (which is reasonable) but to demonize you and equate them with harassment as a social burden you must not impose on ANYONE because that person *might* find it more than they're ready for in that moment (which is not at all reasonable)."

      None of us has the right to completely determine the terms of our interactions with the rest of the world. Each of us has the right and responsibility to establish and communicate and *respect* boundaries. What you seem to be saying here is that it's perfectly reasonable for introverts to insist that the social paradigm be scaled to cater to them, when it's much more reasonable for us *all* to seek a middle ground of respectful interaction and communication where I can approach someone for contact, that person can refuse or accept the contact, and we can each respect what the other is doing without saying things like "your desire to chat in line is equivalent to sexual harassment."

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    11. "You're doing the same thing many people do when they come from a position of privilege into the space being held by someone without it: making another person's experience entirely about yourself and why you find their need for respect inconvenient to your status quo. See also: "But what about the MEN??!?!" in feminist blogspaces."

      It's funny, Rowan. I was just about to say your whole post is like this. Extoverts are in the societal position of power, introverts are the minority. Just because they are perhaps more prevalent and vocal on the internet does not undo that fact.

      Reading your childish responses to perfectly valid comments and criticisms has pretty much soured your whole point.

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    12. If you ignored what I had to say regarding the fallacy of the 'dominant paradigm of extroverts', I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest you were probably looking for a reason to be soured when you got here, so I'll just leave you to it. Shine on, you crazy diamond, and bless your heart. You have my full permission to get on with your bad self.

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    13. Childish response: case in point.

      Did you mean this one sentence? "People assume that because extroverts appear to be the dominant paradigm, everyone knows what we want and how to deal with us." Gosh, you certainly debunked a fallacy there. I read it, though it seemed a bit presumptive, and still took in your post with a positive outlook until your absolute refusal to listen to a word of critique made me re-assess.

      You are sounding more and more like one of those people who demand a Men's History Month for every celebration of Women's History month--but if there's a post about the care and feeding of INTROVERTS why isn't there a post about the care and feeding of EXTROVERTS???

      Overall, it has just made me certain that all of this introversion/extroversion nonsense is just that: nonsense. Assholes are still assholes.

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    14. Yes, indeed, assholes are still assholes.

      And people who come to a blogpost without commenting on its actual content, but rather jump into an existing conversation to take cheap shots and use inflammatory language in the name of 'critique' without adding anything more than nitpickery are still trolls.

      Your lack of other substantive input on anything I have to say, beyond "you don't talk to someone like I think you should have talked to him, so I'm taking that as a reason to dismiss everything you're saying. I even went back and read it WITHOUT my negative preconceived notions this time, and you're still wrong," tells me you came here looking for a fight, and I'm not really inclined to give it to you, precious. And because this is my space, wonder of wonders *I don't have to*. I'd actually suggest you go back and read the first entry I ever wrote on this blog, which I put there for very good reason. Here, I'll link it and save you some time:

      http://stripey-badger.blogspot.com/2012/02/offense-and-sensibility.html

      I subscribe to the "Do no harm, but take no shit" school of thought on interpersonal communication. You've invoked the second half of that, and my patience for you is done. If you had a relevant point, your chance to make it has passed. Run along and piss in someone else's pool now, sparky.

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    15. Hi Rowan,

      Thanks for the post. I'm an introvert pondering what an extrovert might expect to be treated by others. First of all, I’m glad to see this post on extroverts, as there are indeed very few of them. Second of all, I’m glad to see that some extroverts could respect introverts' need for space and can be interested in talks involved heavy subjects too. As an introverts, I have to notice these in order not to be regarded as abnormal in a group full of extroverts.

      On the other hand, I think highly of your politeness in response to ill will and cynical characters and your effort to make things better instead of fueling them down.

      Finally, I think I can learn how to be more extroverted. Thanks.

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  23. OH THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! I have been trying, inarticulately and unsuccessfully, to write this. exact. post. ever since that on piece on parenting introverts was trending on Facebook a while back... I am one of those rare birds-- a true extrovert-- myself and have struggled for years being compared to my introvert people (sister, husband, children, mother, friends. Whywhywhy does everyone think life (social life) is so easy breezy for extroverts?? Number 7 s my particular beast. Oh man, I'm linking to you everywhere :) THANK YOU.

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    1. You're most welcome, honey. Every time one of my fellow extroverts comes and says, "Oh, this, this helps me so much!" or one of the introverts who love us comes and says, "Now I understand things that didn't make sense!" it makes me profoundly happy.

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    2. YES. Yes. Ditto. I've got tears in my eyes because apparently there are other true extroverts out there that GET IT. So many of those introvert articles were so hurtful; the stereotypes, the "introverts' trumps extroverts' needs" reactions like the one above, and so much GUILT for annoying people.

      This is beautiful and expresses so much of what I wish I could say to people -- I try to say to people, but they probably just hear me "yap" on, as it has been so eloquently put.

      (I will say I've read studies that social media usage boosts real-world socializing, and that has certainly been true for me. But I understand the anxiety; my introvert friends don't understand how deeply I LOATHE self-check-outs at grocery stores, and fear their rise.)

      The only other decent depiction of a true extrovert psychology that I've seen in popular culture is... Pinkie Pie. Some of the episodes focusing on her are deeply painful for me to watch, honestly! Party of One, nooooooooo... but... there are others of us out there. <3

      Thank you, Rowan.

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    3. I am glad that it resonated with you. *hugs*

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  24. I love this! I am only moderately extroverted myself and appreciate that you note the shades that can exist within these "boxes"

    Your final point is my favorite because while I am only moderately extroverted my husband is a self-proclaimed EXTREME introvert. I cannot tell you how much he hurt me without realizing it early in our relationship.

    We went through a particularly trying season when both of us had jobs ill-suited to our temperaments. I was working almost exclusively from home, and he was in a field that required heavy interpersonal interaction.

    He would come home utterly drained and exhausted to find me, at my breaking point from a long day of being all alone. I would be desperately thirsty-- needing interaction, and he was equally thirsty for solitude.

    The comments made me laugh because during my three years of working from home, I watched A LOT of TV whilst working-- Often VERY poor-quality reality TV. Both because I could ignore it when I needed to, and because it offered a semblance of the interaction I so needed. I may have once passionately proclaimed, "But BABE! The Real Housewives are my FRIENDS!"...

    I am pleased to report that I have been working a new job (in an office!) for 6 months and my husband is now working from home. Understanding one another HELPED, but meeting at the end of our day with our cups more full has worked wonders! :)


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    1. I'm very glad you liked my post, and even more glad that you and your husband got your needs balanced. I've dated introverts who had 'office jobs' and the stress of "I've used up all my energy on Those People and have none left for you," was a terrible strain on our relationship. I was never able to equilibrate it correctly, so I'm really happy to hear about it when others make it work!

      Rowan

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    2. Detectives Benson and Stabler. ;)

      I never understood why I did that until reading this post! It had to be low-quality TV, because if it's actually interesting I can't work AND watch it, because I turn my full social attention to something interesting. But police procedurals, wooboy. They're my buddies!

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  25. @Ian

    I see your final point but feel it should be clear:

    Not respecting someone's NEED for space is equivalent to not respecting someone's NEED for interaction.

    That is not to say that it is okay to infringe on the space of another, but introverts do not have the sole right to have their needs respected.

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    1. Thank you for this. I'd been struggling with a way to respond without sounding defensive, and you did so perfectly.

      Rowan

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  26. Nicely spoken! I'm heavily introverted, and I have appreciated the books helping me understand by leanings in that direction--they have been helpful. Although I have never judged the extroverts as the "wrong" ones--it usually goes the other way. What's nice about what you wrote is that it helps me understand that extroversion is not necessarily the same as confidence. The fact is we all have weaknesses and insecurities on some level. Extroverts lean into interaction as their coping mechanism just the same as extroverts lean into their "alone time." We all need to be willing to try to see it from the other's perspective, and this blog really helps. Thank you!

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    1. I am glad that it helps!

      Yes, the 'extroversion =/= confidence' understanding was huge for me, and for most of the introverts I know, because once they got the "No, I only make this *look* easy" understanding, they became a lot more empathetic about why I am the way I am.

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  27. Oh my gosh, you feel my pain! I've long known that I was an extrovert in every way possible. But I really resonate with number 9, as much as I love crowds of people and feel the charge of being around them, I'm also occasionally overwhelmed with a sense of insecurity about saying the wrong thing or too much, or over-sharing and potentially being shut out from the group or the conversation. I think I'd add to that that while an introvert sometimes feels that a crowded party is overwhelming and they'd rather be alone, an extrovert can sometimes feel more alone in a crowd than ever when they can feel the energy of conversations all around them and WANT to be included but not feel welcome or included with those around them.

    Thank you so much for sharing!

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  28. Thank you for this post! I am an introvert, but some of my best friends are extroverts. Opposites attract, I guess! :) (If you are familiar with the four temperaments, I am primarily melancholic, my friends are sanguine.) They are so much fun to be around, and bring so much sunshine into my life, and expose me to experiences I wouldn't have otherwise. And you know, as an introvert, it can be nice to be around someone who keeps the conversation going easily and naturally! :)

    And because they are mature and caring people, my extrovert friends also understand when I'm having a low-energy day and just need space--or else companionship that involves just being together without too much conversation.

    I have noticed the insecurities unique to extroverts in them, but it is good and helpful to see them explicitly written like this. Thank you.

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    1. I am very glad to hear that you and your extrovert friends have been able to establish a reasonable balance. I find that I enjoy my introvert friends precisely because they're so different from me, and we have such different ways of looking at the world, that we learn a lot from one another and do tend to balance one another well.

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  29. You know, I always thought I was an introvert solely because I have been dealing with social anxiety for years. However, I recognized myself in a lot of what you said. My anxiety really is a result of me genuinely wanting to be loved by everyone I meet. That's a lot of pressure. :P

    Maybe I'm not as introverted as I thought.

    In any case, your post is refreshing. There isn't enough talk about extroverts.

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    1. I tend to agree. Even here, you'll notice that a couple of people have turned a plea for understanding extroverts into another space for explaining how the problem is that we don't understand introverts...

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  31. This post is absolutely beautiful and explains so much of the way my brain works; it's exactly the words I've wished I had to explain to my introverted family, boyfriend and roommates just how to handle me. But my very favorite part about this post is reading the comments at the bottom. Why? Because the majority are just so obviously written by extroverted people!! And we're all fun :D Go team, lol.

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  32. Please could I ask, what about extroverts like me, I no longer worry (too much) if I am unliked or unwelcome (for whatever reason). I have done a lot of self work and self acceptance and though I would never hurt another, I'm not all that bothered if someone doesn't resonate with me or I them, it just is the way it is.
    Could that be down to different types of extrovert or to the work on self?
    Just interested.
    Thanks everyone for your contributions :-)to a great post!

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    1. For me it's not about resonating with someone else or not. It's literally about whether I feel like that person wants me not to be there. If I have an interaction and it ends with "I don't like him, he doesn't like me, and that's OK," then there's not so much social anxiety. But especially in an established group of friends, like if I go to a party at a friend's house where I only know one or two people, I get a lot of anxiety and concern about "I really hope that I act in a way that won't make my friend sorry she invited me, won't make her think "Man, that Badger chick is a spaz and I'm really embarrassed at how she acted around my other friends." The stakes there are higher, because if Joe Newguy and I don't get along sitting in a coffeeshop, that doesn't affect any of my other relationships. If Joe Newguy and I don't get along, and Joe is my best friend's boyfriend's brother, then that creates a social friction that may affect my ability to get my needs met.

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  33. So, friends of mine just shared this on facebook, and I must say I wish I had seen this before now. I have never seen anyone explain my need for interaction as well. As mentioned somewhere above, I especially appreciate seeing 7, it makes me feel fantastic to know that's not just me. I'm so glad I can point to this in the future.

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    1. *hugs*

      I'm really glad this was useful to you. It is SO not just you, and I've been really helped to find that it's not just ME, either.

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  34. I know that I used to be considered very extroverted with a constant need to please and be liked by everyone and always talking to everybody. Most people who know me now consider me to be an introvert but I'm actually quite social with people I know or feel safe around. I'm not sure where to place myself but I do know that my fiance is definitely an extrovert. Sometimes alone time doesn't always match up. It is always important, no matter what "type" of personality a person has, to be sensitive to the emotional needs of the people you have relationships with. Social, work, intimate, familial relationships all require paying attention. Sometimes my fiance wants to socialize and I just want to be alone - so I tend to facilitate her getting some one-on-one time with a friend and letting her know it doesn't bother me if she has people over while I'm avoiding people. I can easily go into another room and put on headphones and be alone in my head without making others suffer for it. Really what it comes down to is being considerate and respectful towards other people. Always be careful with what words you use and be willing to communicate. Being open to having a calm conversation about what is upsetting you or the people in your life is an important thing to do no matter what personality anyone has.

    That being said, this is nicely written. I've never thought about it this way except subconsciously. A thing that has helped us a lot is that sometimes we can sit together and read favorite -often different - books, quoting at each other or discussing points about it as we please. We get the character interaction (like you mentioned with tv series) and we get alone time as well as social time all bundled up together. I find picnics also help. It involves people watching, some amount of social interaction, and quiet time. While this might not work for everyone, I do know that it is possible to have a very fulfilling relationship between an extrovert and an introvert - if you care enough to try.

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    1. I could not agree more. You absolutely HAVE to be aware that in a relationship you're not just 'getting your needs met', you're balancing the complex and shifting needs of everyone involved, and that requires open communication and a good deal of empathy. Open communication begins with "I need" but it can't end there. It sounds like you and your fiance have an excellent system, and I wish you many happy years together.

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  35. Thank you so much for writing this! I never had the words to explain myself this eloquently. You've hit the nail on the head and I feel validated, justified.

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    1. That makes me feel happy to hear, and a little validated my ownself.

      *hugs*

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  36. Thank you for writing this! I've tried to explain this to some of my friends for a long time, and this is exactly what I've been trying to say.

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  37. This is amazing and perfect. Agreed on all points.

    I have had major depression a few times, and the first sign is that I stop showing up to social events much. And when I'm there I'm quiet and withdrawn.

    When I'm doing well, socializing is extremely energizing for me, to the point where I used to worry that I was some kind of energy vampire. I asked my friends about it, and they insisted that I don't suck energy, I multiply and reflect it.

    I could go on and on about the truth of this article, but it seems others already have, so I'll just say: YES!

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    1. Thanks!

      I get the "No, you don't drain my energy, you reflect it!" too. A new romantic partner commented that he was usually the one giving all the energy to intimacy, but at the end of an evening with me he felt *more* energized by the exchange, not less. It's a feedback loop, I think. We take, and share, and share, and take, and it all balances and multiplies.

      The 'not showing up to social events' is a big one. I have a set of friends I call 'the web' who know to come dig me out of my sett if I haven't been seen for a few days without an explanation (I'm sick, I'm out of town, whatever).

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  38. I just found this (my partner sent it to me) and I wanted to say thank you, this is really well put and helpful.

    I recently wrote something myself talking about how my extroversion isn't what people might expect. Your point #7 really speaks similarly to it. Feel free to check it out: http://julianarancia.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/the-picky-extrovert/.

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  39. This is powerfully written and very much like you are in my head!!!

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  40. This was incredibly written. And yes, I was laughing while reading thinking "this IS me!" It wasn't until I reached my thirties that I really became comfortable with who I was (because of the extrovert aspects). You did an awesome job explaining what we go through and how we think. (My husband who is an introvert, was blown away with how accurate this was). Well done

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    1. Thank you. I am glad you found it useful.

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  41. Well written, and reading number seven, I kept saying "yes!". OK if I link to this?

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    1. Please do! It really does seem to be helping people. I'm glad it resonated with you.

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  42. Thank you, Rowan, for writing and responding too. I haven't seen any other author do that!
    I had a hard time dealing with my upbringing, parents-forcing us to be outgoing. I actually like interacting with strangers, but was made to feel somehow not quite friendly enough, ever.
    I once said I was raised by clowns, lol, ouch. It did actually feel like that. After marriage and helping each other work through our childhoods, we grew stronger, to be the people we were meant to be, with our own strengths. Thanks for the uplift to start my day.

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    1. Oh, ow, parents who force socialization. That does suck, right out loud. I don't know why some of them do it, whether they're worried that people will think their kids don't have manners, or they saw lots of episodes of "Leave it to Beaver," or what, but the idea that your children should *perform* as an act of social interaction is incredibly damaging. I'm sorry you went through that, and glad that you have gotten to a better space with it.

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  43. Excellent Work. I don't align with 'All' of that, but I'm obviously on the Extroverted End of the Spectrum. It's kind of interesting to see inside the thoughts of someone else on 'this' end. ;P

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    1. Thank you. There seems to be an assumption that no one needs to speak for us, but I have gotten more response on this post than anything I've ever written, and a surprising amount of it is "I really didn't know other people dealt with this. I thought I was alone," and feeling alone at the end of the social spectrum is a uniquely weird thing for people who spend so much time working on *not* being alone.

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  44. I wish I had found this a few months ago. My boyfriend and I recently broke up and a large part of it was because he had cut me out of his social interactions. I tried explaining it but failed miserably but all these points are exactly how I felt, and he was doing the opposite of what he needed to do in order for me to stop acting like a headless chook and give him his precious space.
    Now I have it as a favorite though so no loosing it now.

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    1. I am sorry that things didn't work out for you with your partner. One of the hardest things for me has been learning to negotiate interactions with introverts who are important to me, so that we're able to share our lives without hurting one another as much. *hugs*

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  45. An introvert friend - with an extrovert girlfriend - posted a link to your "care and feeding of extroverts". like you, i've seen the "introvert" versions, and have been somewhat offended by almost all of them. Your points resonate loud and clear! It must be fun to still have people wander in almost a year after you wrote this! Nicely done!

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    1. It really is! A whole bunch of people showed up in the last few days, and it's been amazing to have a fresh batch of people just grateful to find that they're not alone come here and find like minds.

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  46. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  47. My boyfriend sent me this article because he is very extroverted, and I'm rather introverted. We balance out quite well and don't seem to have much of the "I don't have the energy for you right now" issues that other people have expressed. You mentioned that not all extroverts are as confident as they seem, and I think it might be worth considering that that is sometimes fuel for extroversion. I've had a few friends over the years who needed the social energy and positive interactions as a sort of affirmation of self-worth. My biggest issue with extroverted loved ones has always been that I feel as though our connection is cheapened because it is not as unique for them as it is for me. There are so few people I am close with and I put all my time and energy into those few people, so to know that I am one of several people someone is "best friends" with is hurtful. A meaningful relationship doesn't seem as meaningful when you feel replaceable. There are so many differences in perception between extroverts and introverts, and it's really important to be able to strike a balance and compromise in relationships. Excellent article =)

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    1. I understand your feelings about uniqueness and replaceability. The only thing I can tell you is that love is not a finite resource, that while your extrovert friends may seem like they're not connecting as deeply as you, we often are. Because of the perceptions of flightiness or that very belief that our relationships are less sincere for being numerous, it can be hard for extroverts to find people willing to genuinely connect with us.

      That you do connect deeply, and sincerely, is an incredible blessing to your extrovert friends, and while I don't know them I'm willing to bet that they value you all the more for your genuine and sincere friendship.

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  48. Thank you so much for this. I *really* appreciate it.

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    1. I am glad that it helped you. *hugs*

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  49. I never knew extroverts could deal with social anxiety in this way. Thanks for that. And needing to get away by yourself several times a YEAR? Doing something by yourself every few YEARS? Holy F*ck. This actually helps me understand why I am such an enigma to my family sometimes. For me, it's every day. A few hours every day or I start to flip out! You've given me a new perspective on why my own family has always been so frustrated with this need of mine to NOT be around them non-stop. It really makes me want to punch somebody in the face when all everyone wants to do is stand around talking about nothing for days on end at the holidays just to reassure each other that we are an intact family unit. I spent most of my life trying to make myself work within their needs only to find myself repeatedly burning out. That's why it's a need, right? Because just as you need to be around people, I NEED to not be around people as much as they will let me and still be in a relationship with them. Apparently I'm lucky that any extroverts believe I love them at all. Maybe they don't.

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    1. I bet they do. Most of us are used to living in a world that's not so extrovert-friendly. When a friend lets me know that she is an introvert, often the standard extrovert response is a profound gratitude for the time of hers I *am* given. I can't speak for the extroverts in your life, but *I* know that an afternoon of hanging out represents a real and genuine gift from an introvert, a precious resource shared out of real affection. If you only have ten hours a week of 'time with people' before you start to feel overwhelmed, and you give me THREE of those hours, I'm just ecstatic that you chose to spend your limited resources on our friendship.

      Don't sell your extrovert friends short; I'm sure they know you love them. Just occasionally let them know, "Hey, introvert heading into cave now, don't take it personally. I'll be back in a bit and then we'll eat some cookies or something."

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  50. Hi Rowan, and anyone else who made it this far down into the comments!

    I think it's great that you shared your perspective. I have long had an interest in the Myers-Briggs types and I love hearing anyone talk about their experience through the lens of any of the four preferences. I love how the MBTI can help us understand how others experience the world, though the I/E dichotomy seems to get the most attention of any of the four preferences. I also have noticed the rise of "how to care for your introvert" posts. As a solid introvert, I have thought that several were severely limited, offering only one person's experience (which I would criticize only when the blogger holds herself up as defining the type instead of as one individual), and I can also see how they would be alienating to extraverts. Those posts make me cringe. MBTI types shouldn't be used to put people in narrow little boxes and start Us vs. Them battles. I doubt that was the blogger's intent, but it happens sometimes happen when people don't get the validation they're craving.

    After reading not just the original post but many comments, I find myself wanting to chime in that we should be careful not to reduce this to Misanthropes vs. Needy Whiners. Maybe it'd be helpful to think of it in terms of "extraverting" and "introverting" as verbs, since as Rowan noted, we all do both of these. It's just that some people replenish their energy by interacting with other people, and other people replenish it internally. Also, extraverts can be shy, and introverts can be socially graceful and love people.

    One thing stood out which I would question in the original post, which was when Rowan mentioned a lifetime of "taking in other people's data." I wondered if this was based on a misunderstanding of introverts; they too are taking in other people's data. (Well, obviously some aren't, but neither are some extraverts -- those who really ARE just babbling on about themselves, which we know isn't representative of extraverts!) In fact, I might have otherwise assumed introverts were more likely to be taking in other people's data, because that's what they do while they're taking a break from interacting; but this post made me rethink that flawed assumption.

    I will also trust that you didn't mean to say that vibrant personalities are exclusively an extraverted quality; introverts just don't show theirs as readily. Of course, there may be dull Is as well as dull Es. (Though very few people are really dull if you get to know them, IMHO!)

    At any rate, my rambling is just to say that labels like introvert and extravert are great if they help you understand each other, but it would be sad if anyone came away from this post and the following comments dividing people into two camps and thinking it's that simple. I--E is just one spectrum of personality. I would also encourage people who find this dichotomy useful in understanding themselves or others to also look at the other MBTI dichotomies. My personal favorite is Sensing vs. iNtution: how do you take in information? Do you prefer concrete sensory information, or do you tend to ponder inside your head a lot? (Then again, this might be my favorite because my most extreme score is toward being an extreme iNtuitive. Perhaps those of you who are the most passionate about the I/E issues are those who are extreme I's or extreme E's?) It did strike me that many things Rowan mentioned might not be due so much to extraversion as to an S/N distinction, or a strong Feeling preference (Thinking/Feeling), though of course I can only guess based on very limited information.

    But whatever the reasons, the most awesome thing about this post is that it resonated with so many people and helped them not feel alone. If people wanted to further that, I'd love to share a page I like on the subject: http://www.personalitypage.com. (It still looks the same as when I discovered it in 2000, but the info is still good!)

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    1. Thank you for this well-thought-out and well-spoken comment. I really appreciate that you have taken the time.

      I do agree that E and I aren't the only meaningful classifications in the MTBI, but they do seem to be the ones that people most use to address their mechanisms for interaction. I don't see a lot of people talking about "Well, you have to understand and be patient with your Sensing friends, because unlike the Intuitives, we actually care about reality..."

      For me, the funny thing (and I've had a couple of really heavy MTBI people tell me this can't be true, yet it is) is that the only set where I have a preference is I/E and it's usually something like a 30% gap. The others, I go back and forth based on day and mood and what I've been doing, and there's never more than about 5% difference on any given day. This suggests that for me at least, the E/I is a strong character trait but the others are functions of how I adapt to interact with disparate groups (I am a priestess, a scientist, a stage manager, and a safety coordinator, and the only hat that fits them all is the 'can function in large groups for extended periods of time' hat).

      I absolutely agree that introverts are taking in data. We all take in some form of data. Extroverts just take in more, much more. I would estimate I meet and meaningfully interact with an order of magnitude more people than the average introvert I know. It's not a question of being more or less observant; it's just a higher volume of raw data.

      Likewise, there are plenty of charismatic and charming introverts, and plenty of boorish and awkward extroverts. The 'overwhelming' effect is, I think a function of two things. First, when a true extrovert walks into a roomful of chattering, laughing people, even if she's feeling anxious about being there, the *energy* of the room can work like a double shot of whiskey. We get a little looped, and especially if we haven't had enough socialization lately, it can take a bit to get a handle on it. Second, someone above mentioned 'reflection' of energy. That's a big thing, that when I'm taking in massive quantities of social energy, it turns almost incandescent, and until I get a handle on it I can be AGGRESSIVELY VIBRANT. So, while I'm getting a 'white balance' for the room, I flit.

      Thank you again for your thoughtful response.

      Rowan

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    2. Thanks for the response, Rowan. I see your point better now, I think. I had originally been thinking of "taking in data" in all forms, but if you're specifically talking about data about large numbers of individuals -- i.e., having a broad social network -- then yes, extraverts win that hands down. I admire and am amazed by the handful of extremely extraverted people I can think of who have those kind of networks, and they've kindly helped me out when I needed to make a connection.

      I had originally been thinking you meant introverts just don't bother to take in data about the world around them. (Now, if you want data about a certain subject of interest, you would do very well to find an introvert who's into that subject! Which isn't to say that extraverts can't also be very knowledgeable about things that interest them.)

      Moving on to your second reply to me....

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  51. Oh, one other thing I wanted to say: I really love your point about social media! I can see how it would be very stressful for extraverts. I would add that it's actually also very stressful for introverts: the reason for this is that you can never really have that real alone time to recharge, because each of us is virtually always accessible. As an introvert, I really hate a lot of things about social media!

    One thing I DO like (as an introvert as well as an intuitive!) is that blogs give me a good place to compose my thoughts and share them with total strangers who nevertheless have similar interests.

    Ah well, like so many things, it's a mixed bag. But I'm totally with you on social media causing problems, both for I's and E's.

    One last thing! Is it an extravert's world? I'd argue that American culture is (though I could be convinced that I'm wrong). The reason is that in personality tests, 75% or so of respondents turn out to be extraverts -- and while that might be wrong, it certainly says something that most people perceive the answers that score one as extraverted as being "the right answers," how healthy, well-adjusted people are supposed to behave.

    Again, I think the problem is for people who are extremes. There may be more Es than Is, but there are still very few extreme Es, and it's lonely to be an extreme anything. (As an extreme N, I once missed traffic light turning green at a pedestrian crossing because I was lost in my own thoughts. People call me "space cadet" and the like. But those pesky Sensing types, always with their down-to-earth practicality! I just don't get it! ;)

    Thanks for a lovely, thought provoking post, and please excuse the long comments. I hope they show that I found your post quite worth my time.

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    1. As I said above, I'm grateful for the long comments. I appreciate the thought and energy that you put into them.

      As to it not being an extrovert's world, I have a little experiment I like to suggest. The next time you go somewhere public that you don't know people, make eye contact and say "hello" to every single person you see. Here in the Seriously Friendly People's Republic of Austin, maybe a third of the people react with discomfort. When I lived in Kansas City, that number was close to two-thirds, and on a trip to Boston I estimate fully 90% of the people whose eyes I met and smiled (I didn't even get out 'hello' most of the time) looked frightened/uncomfortable and looked away. In a tourist town in Oregon (Mount Hood), where their business is being friendly? Maybe half the people even met my eyes, let alone smiled or returned a friendly greeting. And I'm a cheerful, friendly, nonthreatening white woman in her thirties -- about as benign a human as it's possible to be, anthropologically speaking. I can't imagine how different the numbers might be if I were a large black man, or someone people would rather ignore (mentally handicapped, in a wheelchair, infirm elderly).

      Americans talk a big game about being social and friendly and open, but in reality we're very insular, and it shows most to those of us for whom the insularity is a direct threat to happiness.

      Thank you,
      Rowan

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    2. So I may be marking myself as a bit of a nerd about this stuff, but the subject interests me enough that I posed the question to my friends on Facebook, asking people who considered themselves extraverts whether they felt as you describe regarding interaction with strangers. I got 9 responses (so obviously still not a scientific survey). One said she had problems with her *friends* telling her not to interact with strangers because it embarrassed them (or perhaps they were jealous!), but said the strangers tend to react positively. The others generally cited "social norms" (one person used this term and others implied it) and said that it wasn't connected to extraversion in their opinion, though one mentioned what I had been thinking: that maybe for a really *extreme* extravert, this could become a source of stress.

      So it occurs to me that perhaps this is like the mother of a 180 IQ child saying her daughter's so-called "gifted" class really doesn't suit the needs of gifted children at all. But of course, it DOES -- just so long as they are in the 130-150 IQ range. It still won't meet the needs of those with more profound academic gifts. The more toward an extreme one is, the more one will struggle, no matter the trait. Being smart is culturally valued, but being too smart has its problems. Being extraverted is also culturally valued, but no one should assume that means extraverts don't have their own troubles.

      Incidentally, I have been practising your experiment myself for a while now, being new to the area and therefore a bit lonely. Of course, I don't greet EVERYONE, but picking out those who seem open at the moment has gotten me some good results. Sometimes it does go less smoothly, it's true -- and in these cases I go home and beat myself up for being so awkward, and I know I'll remember these encounters for longer than I should, no matter how minor they are. So don't doubt that your Point #7 is applicable to introverts as well.

      Anyway, others' mileage will of course vary on the experiment, and yes, I'd agree it varies by town. I have a super-extravert friend who complained about Boston!

      (Also: I totally agree that blacks, people in wheelchairs, etc. suffer from people shunning them in that way, but I think that causes pain for both introverted and extraverted members of those groups, and that, moreover, extraverts are among those who discriminate. Even if one thrives on connections to people, one may still shun certain individuals one perceives as "undesirable.")

      Also, continuing my population type nerdery, I've since gone back and found some of those "how to care for your introvert" posts. Many of them really are pretty awful, and almost all of them had lines that made me cringe. ("How could you say that about them? Extraverted friends, this person doesn't speak for me!") So even though I'm not convinced that America is not an extraverted society, I think your important underlying point still holds: extraverts have struggles too and deserve understanding. While it struck me that your earlier claim to have "orders of magnitude" of data about people simultaneously may provide a certain advantage, at the same time, I don't doubt that your painful experiences are legitimate and an important part of your own story. So many of these posts are about people just wanting their struggles validated, it seems. It's sad when bitter comments about "the other" erode that message.

      Well, this introvert is wary of wearing out her welcome (being a strong IN type, I'm always worried that people who make the mistake of engaging me on a topic that greatly interests me will be sorry they did!) so I will stop rambling. Thanks again for letting me share my perspective and giving me some good food for thought.

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  52. HOW DO YOU KNOW HOW MY HEART AND BRAIN WORK????? So insightful! Thank you for this!

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    1. Because that's how MY heart and brain work!

      You're welcome.

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  53. I just found this article -- thanks for writing it. I've generally considered myself an introvert, but as I've grown older I've come to realize that I'm actually more on the extrovert side of the scale, and this explains alot about a couple traumatically formative childhood events in my life. It also explains some of why I have talents/strengths that have puzzled me.

    Thanks again!

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    1. You're most welcome!

      I find that I, and most of the other extroverts I know, have a talent for crisis management.

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  54. "As confident or self-assured as we may seem, most of us are laboring under a constant worry that we’re annoying everyone around us, that we’re wearing on everyone’s last nerve, and that we’ll be sent away to wither alone."

    This is the most profound statement in this article for me, because it is so very true.

    I like to think of myself as an Extrovert, with Introverted tendencies. I'm very friendly and bubbly and outgoing..unless I'm somewhere brand new. This is where the interpersonal gets interesting. If I am in a strange environment, where I am alone with lots of other people that I haven't met I become very introverted, quiet, guarded and quite paranoid. This only abates if I can find a 'kindred spirit' in the room which takes a lot of silent observation and listening skills. I'm still polite if others talk to me but the info I'm absorbing usually takes precedence.
    This is mostly due to the fact that I know I'm very difficult for normal people to handle and I've had people telling me that I need to "Be quiet" "Dont be so loud" "Let other people answer" "You talk too much" "You need to relax" for my *entire* life. When you have the "Aunt Whoever" types telling you things like this from 5yrs-28yrs, it can really shred your confidence. I was never good at navigating the social aspects of friends/school until I hit 15 and met a larger range of people. Even then some were put off and this was very hurtful. I really wanted to be their friend. I'm a little too proud to let them know I was hurt at all. So I sucked it up and soldiered on.

    One other thing I'd like to add to Rowan's musings (which, I love btws.) Is that some extroverts thrive on low scale conflict. I'ma use MBTI to make this more understandable. I fit well in the description of ENTP. One big marker of this MB tye is that we LOVE discourse in conversation. One of the things that really gives my brain a high is an active conversation (or arguement as most people tell me they see it as) I'm not trying to alienate people or tell them theyre wrong or stupid, I just need that back and forth interchange of ideas or I go crazy. Devil's advocate is my favorite game to play, even though some people have seen it as an offense to their personage (which is NOT the intention at all) I generally think about what I say before I say it because I've learned enough about people to not just say the random flippant things that may or may not be running about in my head.
    Ive also discovered that I'm very good at getting quiet people to open up. (I'm not sure how this relates to Myers-B but bear with me) I also find myself seeking out the people who look genuinely uncomfortable in moderately sized social groups and attempting to make them smile or laugh, because I know how it feels to be afraid to take that first conversational step.

    Again..thank you so much for writing this Rowan..it really makes me feel better to know that I'm not alone. <3

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    1. You are so not alone. I hadn't heard the low-scale conflict argument before, but it makes a certain amount of sense. I tend to thrive more on escalating goodwill. For me, if everyone's happier when I walk away from a group than they were when I walked up to it, then that's the biggest 'hit' I can get -- so I move in, put down a layer of sincere compliments around the group, then tell a few jokes or start a roll of puns. Other extrovert friends really get the charge out of creating, as you say, engaged and mildly heated passionate dialogue -- so they play Devil's Advocate to get people really thinking and interacting.

      I'm also good at getting people to open up. The explanation I use is that when I 'pull back' on the energy I usually put out in front of me, it creates a sort of lower-pressure space between me and the person I'm talking to, and they find it's easier to speak into that space. However it happens, it works and I'm able to use it to help some folks, so I'm happy.

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  55. Thank you for this Rowan. Having just come out of a relationship with an introvert who shut me out while she 'needed some space' and then decided she didn't want to be with me I was extremely hurt that we weren't able to work things out together So lots in this article resonate with me and our situation.
    I also found myself crying at number seven. I still remember the mistakes from high school that nobody else does.
    I've always considered myself an introvert (friends mock me when I say I'm shy really) but I fought to put myself out there and learnt how to deal with people. Seeing the comments from so many people about how they have suffered social anxiety I can see now that perhaps I am truly an extrovert.
    This is a beautifully written piece I am just sad that I didn't find it a month sooner. My girlfriend always complained about my intensity.
    Thank you.

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    1. I'm so sorry about your relationship. It can be very hard to be with someone who shuts you out.

      A lot of people seem to say to me "I think I might be an extrovert." One of the best tests is to think about a party with 100 people. How do you feel when you leave that party? Energized and ready to go run a mile or hit the next party or stay up all night writing or go out dancing? You're probably an extrovert. Feel pleasantly happy or maybe a little worn out? You fit into the large realm of 'average extrovert/introvert balance'. Feel so exhausted you need to go home and sit in a quiet place for a little while to recharge and relax? You're probably an introvert.

      Number seven makes me cry, too. I beat myself up more over things no one else remembers me even saying...

      *hugs*

      Rowan

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  56. Thank you so much for writing this! I have had issues because of so many of the things I do and not understanding why Ive been so hurt. This has been so meaningful to me

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    1. Also I wish so many would understand number 10...that is a devastatingly cruel thing to do to someone and we can't help but eventually crawl into ourselves, 7 and 8 too, 8 a lot...I am smart and can talk about a lot of things but like you said we've learned how to fit in and be surface but want to be challenged. It has been taken as I just wasn't smart

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    2. I am glad that this helped you. I hope you're able to use it to explain your needs to those around you.

      Hugs,
      Rowan

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  57. "Human contact is a need for us. It's not as intense as food or water; it's more like the need for sleep. We won't necessarily die outright if we don't get it on a regular basis, but we'll be unfocused, unhappy, and emotionally unstable. If I go too long without substantive human contact, without touch or conversation or genuine interaction, I get listless, then depressed. If it goes on even longer, my form of depression can turn suicidal."

    Human contact is a big need for introverts too. We don't need as much contact sure, but still need a fair amount, and it needs to be high quality interaction too, which can be hard to get. I'm currently recovering from major surgery, and medical problems have largely obliterated my social life for the last 6 months, leading to depression, and suicidal thoughts and feelings at times. I'm very introverted though; perhaps even more so than the majority of introverts.

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    1. We all need human contact, absolutely.

      The difference is a matter of scale and opportunity. The average introvert, who's not housebound or otherwise limited, can get her needs met and exceeded just in the course of everyday human interactions. You can call a good friend once every couple of weeks for a dinner out and that will sustain you. I'm at what I consider a reasonable balance of social interaction right now and I'm socially active four out of seven days in *addition* to an office job I go to every day.

      I'm really sorry to hear about your medical issues and your depression. I understand all too well what the depression feels like that comes from being alone too much. Some of the things I've found to help in the short-term are TV series with good characterization, IM conversations with people who have some time to talk every day, and calling up a friend to chat even if the friend can't come over. I hope you're able to get some socialization soon.

      Hugs,
      Rowan

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  58. Hi Rowan,
    I'm not a regular here at your space, but in searching for a much needed explanation of who I am as a "middle ground extrovert" I found your blog.
    I just have to say, "This is brilliant!" Would you mind if I shared it on my Facebook. I'm feeling a need to have people understand me better.
    Thanks. I'll wait to hear from you before I share.
    Lynne

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    1. You are absolutely welcome to share this as much as you like. It makes me happy how many people it seems to have helped.

      Hugs,
      Rowan

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  59. (snip)
    I am acutely aware of every mistake I made, even the ones I only imagine to have occurred. I still remember the dumb things I said or did long after everyone else has forgotten them. I can recall social faux pas as far back as middle school, and though by and large I've stopped beating myself up for things, the ghosts still paralyse me sometimes.
    (/snip)
    I thought I was the only one who did ... does, this.
    Thank you.

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    1. Oh, honey, no, you are so not the only one. You are absolutely not alone. There's a lot of us out here with you.

      Hugs,
      Rowan

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  60. I just spent 3 months in therapy with my Introvert partner. I was pretty much to be made to feel guilty, like I was some steamroller just unaware of my actions. That I was the one who needed to change, because it's easier to me to hold back, than him to "venture" into the scary big world.

    The whole time, I was just saying - "WTF? Why? Sure, I need to be more sensitive, but you're asking me to cut off my arm with a dull spoon."

    Years in this relationship has made me feel like a lab monkey, who has to totally readjust to being social again. For the past 3 years I've stayed home with him, never really pushed going to any new or unknown social events, if any at all. I worked, drove kids around and went home. Everyone wanted to know why I was in a "funk", and when I did actually go out, I acted so irresponsibly - as if I was making up for lost time.

    UGH! This should be forwarded to every couple therapist ever.

    Can I make a suggestion for those who are trying to get their sea-legs again? See if there is a volunteer opportunity that will just take a little bit of time, a street clean up, soup-kitchen something to make yourself feel good and meet people. Get out there again.

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    1. Thank you for sharing this. I had a similar experience in relationship with an introvert, in that he couldn't understand "I need to see people" was just as much a facet of who I am as "I need to be alone" was of him.

      Volunteering is a good idea, because it gets you out an among people, with a dedicated task, for a defined period of time, with a certain amount of goodwill built into it.

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  61. Hey, I'm an introvert and I'm really glad to hear about what goes on in your head, because the more I've learned about myself, the more I've learned that I really don't know what you guys feel. I particularly wondered about how you feel if you're alone for too long, and whether you need some alone time the way I need some interaction with people.

    There's one thing that really worries me about being in a close relationship with an extrovert, though, and I'd really appreciate it if you could weigh in on this (if you see this comment - I know this post is old and I don't know if Blogspot sends notifications.) My biggest worry is that they'll need something that I can't give them. When I care about someone, I want to make them happy, and I'm worried that if I'm in a close relationship with an extrovert, particularly a romantic one, I won't be able to do enough social stuff with them to give them what they need. I worry about whether I can be enough for an extroverted partner, or even an extroverted friend, without pushing myself to the point where I'm unhappy. I'm afraid that what's a big effort for me will still be not enough for them.

    And while the people who tell us that our personality is a defect or sociopathy may just be jerks, please know that these jerks can be damn good at it, and some of these jerks are in positions of authority over kids, and until recently there was nothing to counter what they were saying. When I was in high school, I sassed the teachers a lot for a while. A "normal" kid would have gotten a detention, but because I sat alone at lunch, the guidance counsellor told my parents that I was a shooter risk, and while they didn't actually believe that I was capable of murdering people, they thought I must have been really terrible to give someone that impression, and so all of a sudden my desire for solitude and tendency to live in my head was this terrible, horrible sociopathy. That fucked me up for over a decade, compounded by various other situations where I was told that it wasn't OK to be how I am, and I actually started therapy last year believing that the therapist was going to teach me to be "normal". None of this is in any way your fault, and I've never approved of lashing out at every extrovert in the world - it's no different from blaming all skinny people for fat-shaming or all men for sexism - but please believe me when I say that it's not just bitter old aunts, and it can do a hell of a lot of damage.

    PS: I'm the reverse of #8. I constantly hear that introverts would rather have deep conversations, but I don't like smart-people conversations with people I've just met; they make me feel dumb. For me, talking about more general topics is something I'm less likely to fuck up. In fact, I didn't even know that liking deep conversations right off the bat was supposed to be an introvert thing until I started reading sites about introversion. I always winced when I read Cosmo and they were interviewing a guy about his perfect date and he said he wanted someone who'd converse about politics on the first date, because I can't do that.

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    1. I understand the social stigma introverts face, the negativity directed at the 'loner' image. It makes me sad for you, because there's a profound difference between "I have few friends, but close ones, and choose to spend time alone because I'm happy and comfortable with myself" and "I am a dangerous sociopath who is alone most of the time because I have serious emotional issues and friendships would let people find out just how much is wrong with me." But some people treat those as if they are the same thing.

      The point I was hoping to make is that it's not *us* telling you to be more like us. It's people with a narrow baseline for 'normal', be they bitter aunts or clumsy guidance counselors or well-meaning idiot pastors. We extroverts are far more likely to look at you introverts and say, "Yeah, we get it, and we don't fit in the box either. Stupid box." I think you'll find you get much more sympathy from this narrow other end of the spectrum than from the fat part of the bell curve on this one, because we understand, like you, what it's like to have a social need outside the comfortable 'norm'.

      As to whether you can be 'enough' for an extroverted partner or friend? I don't know, honestly. I wish I did know, because the majority of men attracted to me ARE introverts, and it's been hard for me to work around that.

      It takes a lot of negotiation, and a LOT of trust. You have to be willing to say to your extrovert, "Hey, I really don't feel up to socialising today, but have a wonderful time out with your friends," and trust your partner to have friends and interactions and relationships that don't involve you. Your extrovert has to trust that "I don't feel like being social, but have a good time" isn't code for "I feel like I can't ask you not to go out, but I wish you wouldn't."

      You need a strong base of fidelity and understanding, and an awareness that maybe "I can't get everything I need from you" doesn't have to mean "I can't be with you." I have found, in relationships with serious introverts, that some elements of polyamory have been very helpful. If I can maintain my 'home' relationship, my dedicated partnership, but still be able to go out and flirt and occasionally kiss male friends without my partner worrying that it means I'll leave him or that I'm unhappy with our relationship, that helps a lot. Being able to have a casual 'movie date buddy' I can call when I want to get out of the house and my partner doesn't have the energy to deal with it is a good compromise for me.

      For my part in that, though, I need to honor my introverted partner's needs, to hear "I need some alone time" without feeling rejected or pouting, to NOT use that 'movie date buddy' as a convenient outlet rather than building and strengthening my dedicated relationship. I should always *ask* my introvert "hey, do you want to spend some time together?" and only seek external companionship when the answer is "I would really like to be alone right now."

      "I would like to be alone with you" is a harder one for the introvert/extrovert couple. The extrovert may be feeling a need for group energy, and the introvert may be needing affection and time but not be up to the group, and then you need to have good communication and be able to negotiate things like "I will go on the movie outing with friends, but skip the planned dinner, and I'll come home and we'll have a nice dinner and I'll tell you all about the movie, and how everyone is doing, and what's going on."

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  62. This is just great. So great, in fact, that you've inspired me to write a blog post about my own experiences and observations as an extrovert in my profession. http://theuniversedisturbed.wordpress.com/2013/05/24/the-extroverted-academic/

    Not to be self-promoting, but I thought I could share it, and enter the conversation that way (and we extroverts are great at sharing, aren't we?). In all seriousness: thank you so much for writing this. Several pieces have clicked into place all at once. I am sharing this with everyone I know.

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    1. theuniversedisturbed, THANK YOU (and thank you to Rowan as well, for the reasons everyone else has already listed). I had been meaning to post here for a while about how much of an introvert's world academia is. I would classify myself as an extreme extrovert - with occasional exceptions, I cannot go very long without some kind of human interaction. In my particular field, we are often judged based on how many hours we can spend alone in a basement with our books, and I'm in constant awe and admiration of the introverts who can just DO this. I need to take breaks and see people every couple of hours or I'll go crazy. Fortunately, I have found an extroverted colleague who is as into group work and collaboration as I am, and having him around has made things much easier for me.

      One thing that you touched on, Rowan, which really resonated with me is the need to be...well, touched. So often these days, especially in communities with a focus on women's issues or social justice, we see the point made constantly that you should never touch someone else without their consent, that doing so might even be considered a form of assault by some people. And I absolutely completely agree that no one should be touched without their consent. But every so often, I find myself wanting to cry "No no no! Please, touch me! I WANT to be touched!" I love physical contact with other humans - hugging, cuddling, head-scratching, even handshakes - and I crave it as much as some extreme introverts have an aversion to it. Fortunately, I have wonderful (mostly introverted!) friends who understand my tactile needs and do their best to provide when I ask, and I also know that I need to get permission from them before I hug them. One of the keys to successful interactions that I have learned as I matured is not to be afraid to ask for things you want. It establishes you as a person who both sets and respects boundaries.

      On the other hand, I still absolutely do that thing where I hyperanalyze every interaction I've had and worry that I screwed all of them up. Thank you for reassuring me that I'm not alone in the world.

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    2. Thank you. That is a great piece, too! *hugs*

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    3. Mandy, I totally understand about the touching. I am *such* a hugger. It helps me to ask people, "Hey, are you a hug person?" That way, I'm giving them the opportunity to accept touch or refuse it without having to feel like they're rejecting me personally if they say no.

      Rowan

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  63. Hi, Rowan. Thanks for writing this.

    I could not believe how much most of this fits with who I am. I have always been extremely outgoing, to the point where parents, teachers etc. have told me to basically shut up. I have also had teachers asking me directly if I had ADHD and once also had a teacher talk about me right in front of me, saying I had too much testosterone (I was a real tomboy when I was younger, maybe I found the boys more willing to run around and easier to talk to. To some extent I still do, although now most of my friends are women and I feel like I really connect with them - guess it is a part of growing up). All of this hurts, of course, more than people realize. They think that because you are assertive and social, you handle more mockery or hurtful questions than other people. That's not necessarily true.

    There are some things on your list that don't fit with me - I genuinely enjoy social media, for instance, and can often have very meaningful conversations with people about everything from politics and relationships to inner feelings and mental health. Facebook has also made it easier to talk to introvert friends, as everyone can take their own time to answer. It makes sure I stay in touch with people I care about and can follow their everyday lives even when we haven't seen each other for a while. That is gold! I am completely dependant on it.

    Usually when I take the MBTI type test I get ENFP. That fits me a lot. E is my most extreme value, I score between 80-100% difference there every time I do the test. F and N are both solid at around 50-60 percent, while the P is more uncertain (I even got ENFJ once). I am also an extremely emotional person, it might not seem that way because my F score isn't that extreme, but it can be a real trouble sometimes. When my favourite couples (like Logan and Veronica in Veronica Mars) break up, or when someone dies in a tv show, I can get as sad as if it was in real life, cry and it can even affect my life as a whole for a couple of days at least. I have always been dragged into books, movies, tv shows, and I connect fondly with the characters. My experience is that this also goes for computer games - for instance, I get thoroughly shocked when I learn that people kill off their Sims. I love them all and feel sad when they get old and die. Yes, I know they are computer animated and I know I control them. Yes, I know that is weird. :P In the same way, I get so happy when I'm happy that it can sometimes scare people off, and I get so angry I sometimes scare both others AND myself off. I was wondering if I were bipolar for a while, but it doesn't seem to fit as I am rarely depressed (at least not for more than a day, maybe a week) and as you say, it is very often tied to the people around me. I can go completely into shock and grief if friends of my friends die, even if I didn't know them. The same goes for (inter)national tragedies like terrorist attacks, wars etc. There I also usually empathize with both sides in a conflict, and it scares me that people don't even seem to think of the "enemy" as human or even realize that for instance Al-Qaida members are also human beings who love and are loved by their families, who have a firm belief in their cause etc. even if they have been brainwashed or the hatred is so strong they lose their empathy.

    Now I am babbling, sorry about that. The point is that this really resonated with me, and even though I think I might be even more "extreme" than you, I feel like you understand me. I have some really great introvert friends and some really great extrovert friends, but I can still feel like I am the only one who feels this or that even in a huge group of people.

    Anyways, thanks for your blog and let's hope it can help mend gaps between intros and extros, and shed some light on what it's like to be an extrovert for people who are introverts or in-betweens.

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    1. Oh, one thing I've noticed though - I usually don't like nightclubs, disco etc too much because I can't interact with people at all. Talking is impossible. People often tell me that as a social and outgoing person I should like those kind of places, but I would much rather spend an evening at a crowded pub vibrant with life, laughing and talking people. I know some introverts though who even though clubs exhaust them like them better than me, because they can just dance and don't have to talk to people at all. But what's the point in dancing (which I often don't like as strange people get too close - yes, even extroverts have a personal space - or even touch me against my will while dancing) if I can't talk to anyone? That really makes me feel like I'm in a room full of people but shut off from everyone. I don't know if other extroverts feel the same or if it is just me. I just can't communicate through dance. I can dance if I'm with good friends, but even then I prefer talking over dancing every time.

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    2. You just helped me realize the reasons I don't like clubs too.

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    3. Yeah, I'm the same way about hectic places like nightclubs or crowded music festivals. While I get the 'buzz' of all the people, it's like I've drunk too much coffee instead of like I've had a good night's sleep: I'm awake and full of energy, but it sure doesn't feel good.

      Rowan

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  64. I have found a great way of feeding my extrovertness... It's called Order of Eastern Star... We are, by far, the most friendly and welcoming group I have ever been a part of... You are SUPPOSE to be engaging and friendly and chat about the how you are and who is sick and who is well and what you think about the cosmos and can find people who are just as interested in talking about the big and little things.

    I am a situation specific extrovert... I flutter around my Chapter and events and have a great time that feeds my soul... but I also HAVE to have time where I don't interact as well...

    And yes... another person who burns at middle school faux pas and wonders if I spoke to loud even when other assure me I didn't... We are not alone....

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    1. No, we're definitely not alone, and I'm happy to say that this post has more views and comments than the entire rest of my blog altogether, so that I can look and see JUST HOW MANY of us there are, out there reassuring and comforting one another.

      *hugs*

      Rowan

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  65. Holy crap.

    I would tell you to get out of my head, except you did a far better job of explaining what it's like in there than I ever could, so could you stay in there a little longer and explain some other stuff too? :-)

    Seriously, thank you. Esp. for conveying the nuances of things like why an extrovert would have social anxiety (the stakes are so much higher!). I'm sending this to all my introverted friends and keeping it on hold for any future lovers

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    1. I am really glad that it was helpful and useful for you. It makes me especially happy when people tell me "I am going to use this to help find a better understanding with my introvert friends and lovers," because that was my intent in writing it. We're not 'better' or 'worse' than the introverts, we're different, and even though we're different there's so much common ground there.

      Hugs,
      Rowan

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  66. THANK YOU!

    I'm a very high extrovert who has lived the majority of my life around introverts (my mom broke the scale on introvertedness) and I've never felt that anyone understood what it's really like to have that crushing fear of not being able to interact with people. Keep up the good work!

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  67. I have never felt less alone in my entire life.

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    1. This made me happy-cry.

      You are so not alone, honey.

      Hugs,
      Rowan

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  68. Hello Badger,

    I found this post through facebook and I really identify with almost everything you're saying. There's a bookstore I like that has a printing press, and I was wondering if I could print a tiny booklet of this post and carry it around with me, because it had such a strong impact on me. I wanted to get permission before I go ahead and do it. Please let me know, ldushay@gmail.com

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  69. Really enjoyed this post...it was finally the catalyst to write one of my own that I'd been thinking of for awhile... enjoy http://sentimentsalastack.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-introverted-extroverted-scorpio.html

    Stack

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  70. Thank you thank you thank you thank you!! This is me to a "T" especially the social anxiety part. People who are not extroverts tend to assume that we have no fear of social interaction because we tend to have good verbal skills. Not the case! Just a month ago, I went to see a show at a bar where I knew several of the people. They didn't even know I was there as I hid myself well.

    Wonderful blog, Rowan! :)

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    1. Oh, I have so done that. "I need to be here, and people and stuff, but I just can't actually interact because I am having a Stupid Brain Day and will say The Dumb Thing, even if you don't notice it, so I'm just going to hang out here among all the people, quietly feeding the extrovert beast without bothering anyone."

      Hugs,
      Rowan

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  71. Thank you so much for this! All of this "right to be an introvert" is really causing me huge doubts. I so needed your words of encouragement today.

    Someone needs to write a book about us.

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    1. It's the "introverts are best because extroverts are flaky and stupid" that really gets to me. I like the "Introverts are good people too" stuff, because I know they face similar social pressures to extroverts ("Hey, you, your social needs are outside my expectations! Be different!"), but the elitism really gets me down.

      *hugs*

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  72. Thank you so so much for this!

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  73. THANK YOU for bringing the balance! And thank you for using grace and tact and not copping an attitude in the process. :)

    Also, I would add to the shallowness thing...I suspect that some introverts think the extroverts around them are shallow because the extroverts are doing their best to respect them. If I talk about anything of substance, I am quite passionate. And when I get passionate, most of the introverts in my life, if they are nearby (even if they aren't part of the conversation) will wither. It feels confrontational to them, as though I'm angry or arguing, even if no one participating in the conversation feels there's an argument in progress.

    So if others feel the same way, there's a good chance we stick to "safe" topics in your presence so we don't overwhelm you. :)

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    1. Oh, hammer, meet nail.

      That's it exactly. When I talk politics or theory or philosophy I get *animated* and when I get animated, small towns fall over in my wake. If I stick to 'safe' topics it's because I've sensed a reserve or cautiousness in the person I'm talking to, and don't want to Godzilla them.

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  74. This resonates with me, as well. Yes, human interaction is like sleep, or even air, for me. When I took the Myers Briggs personality test, I came out as an introverted extrovert: meaning I have strong traits of both. I was told that the basic rhythm, or mode, for each side is:

    * Extroverts: Talk - Think - Talk (Talk first, then think, then talk again)
    * Introverts: Think - Talk - Think (Think before talking, then talk, then be quiet and consider)

    Each side has its strengths, each its downsides.

    One of the challenges for extroverts is to something pause before talking, and listen -- not just listen, but make others feel that you are listening. Also to actively show that you have done so, even if it seems obvious.

    For introverts, the challenge can be to speak up and not lose the chance to be a participant. And also to listen. To not be wrapped up in one's own thoughts but rather tuned into others.

    It's easy to scold yourself for either. Oh, I should have been more quiet! Oh, I should have spoken up and had my voice heard! Perhaps the hardest is to be comfortable, and feel that you fit, whichever you are, and to also assume traits of the other side when appropriate to the situation.

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    1. Self-acceptance is one of the hardest journeys. The reason I'm most proud of this piece, of almost anything I've written, is because so many people have responded to it with "Thank you, you have made me love myself and appreciate myself more. I thought there was something wrong with me, but now I see I'm not alone and it's OK to be like I am."

      I think that a lot of extroverts naturally practice more active listening (the use of acknowledgement phrases or gestures, responses like "I hear you" or "Yes") and that can come off as 'waiting to talk' instead of listening. I have to remember sometimes that people may interpret some of the interjections, which I use as affirmations that I'm paying attention and invested in the conversation, as interruptions instead.

      Introverts tend to practice less active listening, and people who don't expect that may view "I am not responding" as "I am writing my grocery list in my head because you are boring." It's not unique to either side; plenty of introverts listen actively and plenty of extroverts listen more passively, but it's something I've noticed as a conversational style that can cause some friction.

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  75. Like so many of your commentors, this speaks to me on multiple levels - every single point you outline I can identify with, especially point 7. God, point 7 so much - that's why High School was as close to a working definition of hell I can think of. And also with the preamble, and the discussion with Rachel R and Rebecca Erwin - no, my dear Introvert, I'm not being superficial by talking about the weather; I'm doing my best to not eat you alive.

    10/10 would read again. Will be passing on to others. Will also be reading the articles and posts you've inspired.

    Thank you :)

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    1. Thank you, both for passing it along and for taking the time to let me know it resonated with you. There's something that makes me happy about every time someone says, "This helped me, this spoke to me, this made me feel better."

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  76. Wonderful! About time someone said this. Thank you!

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  77. I'm an introvert, and am fascinated by the different personality types. I especially had trouble understanding what goes on in an extroverts mind, and found this very helpful. There are a lot of resources for extroverts trying to learn about introverts but not introverts trying to learn about extroverts.

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    1. That last bit makes me sad, and it's why I tried very hard to write this in a way that's not anti-introvert. We face some very similar social challenges from different directions, because neither one of us is capable of being healthy and happy if we socialize as society expects us to. You'd be exhausted all the time and I'd be anxiously refusing to let the telemarketers off the phone just to get a little human contact. I think that, instead of opposing one another, we should defend one another's right to state our needs and boundaries, and respect each other.

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  78. Thank you so much for your insights - I actually cried many tears with sadness and relief when I read your blog. I am an extrovert who has been desperately trying to be an introvert to fit into everything in my life because being an extrovert is so very hard sometimes. Also I married to a pure introvert, I over analyse everything and then blame myself for not 'fitting in'. So I took the challenge on to change myself into a ‘better’ person after a few major difficulties both personally and professionally which I (wrongly) put down to my ‘personality’. I then decided that being more introverted, quieter, withdrawing from the world, seemed to be the way! This process that I engaged in over the past 8 years has nearly killed me emotionally and physically and all because I perceived myself to be the 'odd one out'. Despite all of this pain I have caused myself I really believe as Carl Jung put it, ‘difficulties are necessary for health’. I take the lessons and the blessings as they come and I am so grateful for the blessing of your writing, which only came to me at this moment in time, and to all those wonderful extroverts who responded with more insightful comments. I will celebrate with you, knowing I am not alone and take all your words with me in my heart as I set about the road to recovering myself - the extrovert.

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    1. Oh, honey, I am so very sorry you were made to feel like that. I think that many strong extroverts find that to be the case, and I'm at a loss how to change it except by talking about it.

      You are not alone, never alone, in this. I hope that you can embrace this part of you, and celebrate it, and never feel like you have to push yourself to be something you're not like that again.

      *hugs*

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  79. This article moved me to tears! You described me....exactly! And I am married to a very introverted man...it's a HUGE challenge for us to connect at all sometimes.

    I've been so frustrated lately at all the "how to take care of an introvert" talk that seems to be EVERYWHERE, which to me feels more like judgement of extroverts than actual help in understanding what's going on inside the head of my introvert.

    Thank you, for validation and such a wonderful explanation of what's *really* going on inside my head and my heart. I'm going to share this article...everywhere.

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    1. Some of the 'how to care for an introvert' things have been very helpful, the ones focused on the process of interaction for them, and not assuming that extroverts are ignorant or uncaring. Many others take the position of "you people need to understand that we're resenting all the energy we have to spend to interact with you," and I don't think that's productive at all, because my introverted friends *don't* resent that energy. They just spend it more cautiously, so I know that an afternoon or evening they spend hanging out with me is a real gift they give because they value my friendship, and I respect that.

      I am glad this made you feel better. *hugs*

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  80. OH THANK YOU for this spot on account of who I am. I keep seeing so much about introverts and how tough it is for them and easy it is for us. That is just not so! I am a full time work at home person and I have been struggling with this lately. I used to never have trouble with it until I realized one day that I have recently moved to a new town that is an inconvenient distance from my friends and became a step mom of all teenagers that don't want talk with me about anything beyond superficial topics. Couple this with an introverted husband who's work schedule is keeping him away for many extra hours lately. After reading this and thinking about all these factors combined, I now know that I am not spending enough time having meaningful conversations with people anymore and that is what has me so down. I am going to make it a point to change this so I can get my energy back! Thanks for helping me see it!!

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    1. Your comment made my heart hurt for you.

      I've been in situations where I had enforced solitude, moved away from friends, just been too much on my own, and it's awful.

      I really hope you're able to get good interactions established and make some new, closer friends to hang out with. Good luck!

      *hugs*

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  81. Very useful advice and tips for an introvert like me on how to deal with extroverts.

    It seems this world is determined to make EVERYONE feel they are weird and excluded. That is not good.

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