How to care for your introvert: a helpful guide

mr fox

Classic introvert behavior: talking with the animals at a party. (Me and Mr. Fox)

Does the photo above look familiar to you? If so – congratulations! You’re in a relationship with an introvert!

This introvert might be your romantic partner, friend, child, parent or even yourself. No two introverts are exactly alike – some are more introverted than others, some are outgoing introverts, some are shy introverts – but these simple care tips will help you to have a long, enjoyable relationship with your introvert.

  • Give your introvert a minute. We are not always fast on our feet and sometimes we need a while to adjust to a new situation. We need to quiet the voices in our head and figure out what we really think. We’ll get back to you as soon as we can get the words together in a succinct way.
  • Understand that if we never call you, it’s because we have a deep and eternal hatred of talking on the phone. Texts or emails are how we connect.
  • Please don’t tell us to not be shy. Shy is different from introverted, anyway, and it’s pretty much like telling someone not to be tall. It also insinuates that there is something wrong with us. Not everyone needs to be extroverted.
  • Last minute invites are often challenging for introverts. Dinner with just one close friend usually takes several days to gear up for. Large gatherings (more than three people) need even more emotional prep. Sometimes, we just can’t manage it. No offense. But please keep inviting us to things, with as much notice as possible, because we have a wonderful time when we’re psyched up for it.
  • New people can be intimidating, but we’ll warm up. Introverts don’t need an army of friends, but we have a tight inner circle of people who we love wholeheartedly.
  • If we leave early, it’s not because we are having a bad time. It means we are leaving before we get overwhelmed. We probably had an absolutely lovely time.
  • We love the environment but we’re not carpooling because we need to have our own get-away car, in case we need to leave early. (See above.)
  • We are not judging you, we’re just good listeners. We are not bored or annoyed or zoning out. We like observing. We’re just taking it all in and we’ll share our thoughts when it feels appropriate.
  • Small talk will make us want to peel off our fingernails, but engage us in a conversation about the deeper things in life and we’ll talk for hours.

Trouble shooting

  • “My introvert is being quiet. Sitting on the couch, reading a book and looking serious. Is there something wrong with my introvert?”
    • There is nothing wrong with your introvert. This is her natural state. Allow her to recharge. Maybe bring her more tea.
  • “My introvert said she didn’t want to come out with me to a concert with all of my friends. Does she hate me?”
    • No. Your introvert still loves you. In fact, she loves you so much that a quiet dinner and a Netflix binge sounds much better to her.
  • “My introvert invited me to go to a loud concert with all of her friends/is talking in front of a large group/seems to be enjoying the company of others. I feel like I don’t know her anymore. Is my introvert still an introvert?”
    • Yes! But sometimes even introverts enjoy extroverted activities. Some introverts are great at public speaking and performance. Just be aware that she will likely need lots of downtime afterwards to recover.
  • “Only, like, two of these things apply to my introvert.”
    • People are different. We are not actually like plants. This is just the guide I wish I could hand out to everyone in my life.

(For a great read on introversion – check out Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking by Susan Cain.)

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45 thoughts on “How to care for your introvert: a helpful guide

  1. An “outgoing introvert”…………

    I think that I finally figured out who I am. Great blog post–thank you!

  2. Yep … a lot of your points are right there for me. I think the one about being an introvert and being shy aren’t the same thing. I think that’s where a lot of people get confused.

      • This is a constant battle in my life … as you describe it in your post, I want to sit with one or two people and have a fascinating, deep conversation about everything. While those around me want to go to parties and get-togethers and sit in rooms full of people — where I just want to sit in a corner and be alone with my thoughts. Or not go at all. Or leave early. 😉 And that I don’t enjoy sitting there for hours talking about the same mundane things means there is something wrong with me.

  3. This is so me… especially the reading a book with a serious face part. Please don’t mistake my serious face for anger/annoyance. Chances are I’m not, and if I am I will let you know when I’m ready. ❤

    • Yes! One of my dearest friends thought I hated her when we first met. Apparently I was making a “face.” I was actually just intimidated by her and was trying to figure out how to be friends with her because I thought she was spectacular.

  4. The small talk comment…perfection. I think I might be overwhelming to others that don’t expresses themselves the same way, but it’s painful to have surface-level conversations.

    And yes to preparing for large gatherings…and being able to exit when needed. Those are both very real needs! 🙂

    • I’ve launched into deep “meaning of life” discussions with someone within the first three minutes and they have kinda freaked out on me – so I get it! And yes, painful is the perfect word for those surface conversations. Just…ouch.

  5. This is definitely me, especially the get-away car for social events. I never like to carpool; suppose you get stuck at an event and you’re trapped there making small talk and knowing no one? Ye gods.

  6. This is amazing!! I particularly relate to the ‘get-away car’ point! Simply knowing I have my Mini as my noble stead for an escape route is a big comforter hehe 🙂 Excellent piece! Love the pic too!

  7. Sounds similar to me however I’ve always felt somewhat insecure leaving my home base–reluctant to leave. Nevertheless, invariably I enjoy myself. Thank you for sharing, Lisa!

    NB

    • Oh yes, it’s often hard for introverts to leave the house. I’m so thankful I work from home. Once, I was able to not leave my house for 5 days. It was awesome.

  8. I can relate to so many of these! It took me a long time to realize that my behaviors happen because of my introversion. I get paranoid when someone calls me, and I don’t always answer just because I don’t like talking on the phone. It doesn’t mean I don’t like talking on the phone. It’s because I just need to emotionally prepare for it. And it’s the same way with going out and socializing. I usually need a few days to prepare, depending on my mood.

    • The sound of a phone ringing makes me break out into a sweat. I think the first time I ever picked up a ringing phone, I was almost 15, and my mom made me because it was just getting strange. I almost always need to call someone back – for exactly that reason – emotional preparation. I’m so glad others understand!

      • I’m glad there are others who feel the same way I do! I almost always have to call the person back, too. I don’t know what it is. It’s just a part of my introverted ways!

  9. Thanks for the post.
    Too much for me to process at the moment, but I appreciate the post for shining a light.

    ~jerry

  10. I have wondered before if extroverts have as much anxiety in general as introverts. It’s only in the last maybe 5 years that I’ve started seeing a lot of this introvert awareness stuff going around. Prior to that, I really thought that my introverted habits were flaws, and meant that I was shy and a loser. Especially at social gatherings, I would have so much anxiety about just trying to think of the words for small talk. It’s only that I was bored stiff by it, but I was terrified of looking “dumb” and “shy” when I couldn’t come up with things to say. Anyway, even knowing now that an aversion to small talk is a perfectly normal thing for an introvert to feel, I still can’t seem to shake that anxiety, though it doesn’t bother me as much as I used to. Several years ago, after becoming more educated on the characteristics of introverts, I completely gave up trying to force myself into social events to meet some kind of arbitrary standard I thought I should be measuring up to. I’ve been happier in general ever since. Anyway, due to the amount of anxiety my introversion has caused me over the years, I question if extroverts experience as much anxiety or if they are more able to just go with the flow and not worry about their every word.

  11. Lisa, great article! Reading this article made me see I am a true introvert and all the characteristics you highlighted were just like me. It’s amazing. Thanks for your brilliant article. Wonderful writer.

  12. How would you classify an ambivert vs. an outgoing introvert? 😉 I’m curious. I’ve been called an ambivert… It’s awful in so many ways. haha!

    • I’ve actually never heard the term ambivert before. Interesting. I’m so far along the introvert scale it’s never been a question! But my husband is an outgoing introvert, so I know a little about that. Now I’ll have to look it up…

      • Different places tell me that it’s a combo of the two depending on the situation. Which, in my opinion, makes for a terribly overwhelming personality. Yet, I’ve been classified as this. Yikes. 😛 I need to look up the outgoing introvert. I’ve also felt I lean more towards that. Any resources you recommend?

  13. Thank you for this, Lisa! It helped me understand a little more about myself, and I’m going to print it out for my extroverted boyfriend to memorize!

  14. Love that picture, and sweet canid specimen! Now that I think about it, since I started traveling across the Eastern seaboard, every time I meet someone new who is accompanied by a dog, my first impulse is to kneel down and to baby talk to said dog… Before even striking conversation with the humans. Maybe I should hide my cards better!

  15. About the phone, my mother in law will stop whatever she’s doing and go running, I mean literally running for the phone as soon as it rings where my husband and I will cringe and wait for the other to get it. And neither of us will. We have had huge arguments over whose turn it was to call someone because we both hate using the phone. “I called the cable company last time the internet was out! It’s YOUR TURN!”

  16. Exactly!!! 🙂 I recently read Quiet and I’m glad I did. Not only did I realize how normal I am, I discovered fellow introverts and I simply understand myself a whole lot more. I think my family gets me now too which makes it all a bit easier.

  17. I absolutely love this…feels like someone else out there ‘gets’ it. Wish i’d had this printed on flash cards to hand out to people i’ve known, and sadly lost, over the years

  18. Hi, Lisa! I like your post and I felt myself on those situations mentioned. Most of the people think of me as a “shy” person. It is somehow an offending notion for introverts, and introverts are undermined the other way. Hopefully I could be as I am.

  19. Thank God for this article. And thank You for sharing. I relate a lot to all of this, I saved it on my browser so I can show it to anyone who might need to understand me. It actually helped ME to understand myself better. The small talk line is SO REAL.

  20. Lisa, I just ran across this post from awhile ago. You so nailed the introvert care and feeding! I think I may have found the perfect Christmas gift for all my family and friends. This. Framed. Thank you!

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