“He who has learned not to intrude his emotions upon his fellows has also learned not to intrude them upon himself.” (Rogue Male by G Household)
Our culture values alpha people, with “personality” who talk a lot and sometimes grandstand. Although there are as many introverts as extroverts, under cultural pressure introverts can often be hard on themselves for not fitting in. So don’t criticise or blame them for them for seeming withdrawn, even if that sometimes makes you feel frustrated.
Introverts contribute to the relationship in ways that may not come so easy to extroverts. Learn to voice frequent appreciations; “I want you to know that I am grateful that you – Work so hard for us.. Were patient when the kids were in trouble.. Spent so much time on our finances.” And “That’s something I don’t find so easy.”
Introverts work things out on their own rather than during a conversation. This does not mean they are not listening to you; they find it easier to engage when they have worked it out beforehand. That is just how they are.
Introverts can do intimacy and feel loving best when they sense that they have control of themselves and are calm. It can feel like an attack if you try to squeeze emotions out of them with lots of questions or criticisms. They need to feel in charge of the distance between you and themselves, not trapped by it.
It is easier for an introvert to learn to listen than to learn to “open up”. Listening, being empathic and imaginative about others, can lead them towards a feeling zone; it can help them with joining in on their own terms.
Introverts are vulnerable. One study showed that highly sensitive babies become introverts. If you grow up sensitive in a loud unruly world, you learn that withdrawing makes sense.
With introverts there is no pressure to be falsely upbeat. Love them for being as they are – often thoughtful, persistent, sensitive and available to be more serious.
Introverts tend to be threat-driven rather than reward-driven like extroverts. They get rewards from single-mindedly concentrating on one thing with complete involvement for some time – achieving a sense of autonomy.
Introverts tend to get stressed by the multitasking involved in talking with more than one person at once. They may need alone-time after work or social events.
In the long run, partners must talk about their joys and differences. “I realise that we are very different in the way we relate. It would be good if we could discuss how that impacts us both. We sometimes seem to fight over issues when its really about how we differ in being extrovert and introvert.”
With thanks to:
Getting the Love You Want by H Hendrix,
Men are from Mars,… by J Gray,
Quiet by S Cain,
The Neuroscience of Human Relationships by L Cozolino.
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