Go Away; I’m Introverting
Learning to respect both styles.
If you’re partnered with an introvert, when they take the solitude time that they need, it can be challenging. You don’t find two introverts paired up as frequently as you find an introvert-extrovert pair. The extrovert is all about connecting, communicating, and sharing. To the extrovert, the quiet and solitude that the introvert needs to take can be experienced as rejection.
Many conversations will be necessary to smooth out the difference to move toward understanding. The extravert, who thrives on connection and conversation, needs reassurance that the separate time isn’t anything personal. They need to know that they are not being rejected when the introvert takes their alone time. The extravert wants reassurance that they are wanted, desired, cared for, loved, that the partner finds them interesting and that they enhance their partner’s life.
The introvert wants to hear from their partner, that their style of being in the world is respected, and their desire for solitude is just part of their personality. They want to be accepted, and to be understood that it’s not because they are cold, uncaring, or unloving that they draw boundaries. They are just taking care of themselves to do what is necessary for their well-being. The introvert needs to be reassured that their extroverted partner will get together with friends, have an active social life, and is free to follow their strong desire for interactions, connections, and conversations to their heart’s content so that they don’t feel deprived.
Their extroverted partner is free to take care of themselves with the personality style that comes naturally to them, but the introverted partner will not accompany them on all of these adventures. It is a wise couple that negotiates which activities and social occasions are most important to attend together. Even an extreme introvert paired up with an extreme extrovert can work out their difference with a spirit of goodwill to guide their conversations. Consider this couple who worked it out well.
Angie: “Someone once called me a flaming extravert, so I know that I can be extreme. Once I understood how much my husband loved me, and that he took care of himself with quiet, meditative time, I could become the support he needed. I no longer felt hurt and rejected. In fact, I now regularly encourage him to take the quiet time he needs to thrive. Once he has filled up on a plentiful helping of introverted time, he is available to me for conversations and to participate in some social life with me and our friends.”
Marshall: “I realize now that I was not very subtle when I needed time for myself. I didn’t ask for it with tact. I would get grumpy and irritable to push Angie away in order to get time alone. I never have to say ‘go away’ in a harsh way anymore. Nowadays, the phrase ‘I’m introverting’ has become a way we both tease about it to bring some humor to a situation that used to cause tension. I respectfully let her know that I need some time to myself and that I’ll be back as soon as I can.”
Angie: “I’ve learned to read the signs. He used to walk around as if he had a glass bell jar over his entire body. It was as if I could see through the glass to see that Marshall was standing there, but the rest of him had fled the premises. He just was not available. He wouldn’t be aware of not being present, but I sure was. Now, he’s in touch with himself enough to know when he needs to sequester himself away. When he tells me the truth about it, I go to my women friends to get my connection needs met. Marshall especially likes to be alone in the house. When I go out of town for the weekend to visit my best friend Sophia for a weekend, he loves having all that time to himself. And when I return, he’s got a full soul tank, and is especially sweet to be with.”
Marshall: “I have a lot of gratitude to Angie for letting me be who I am and how I am. That’s a huge plus for me. I am so grateful that it makes me want to show my love to her in the ways that have special meaning for her.”
Angie: “It’s taken a while to work it out, but I’ve learned that there is a lot in it for me to let go and to help him get what he needs. After he has the time alone that he needs, all he wants to do is to give back to me in as many possible ways that he can think of. Then all I have to do is to be a gracious receiver.”