Even Extroverts Need a Break

Those of us who are introverts can get annoyed with extroverts sometimes. Even those extroverts that we count among our friends can get to us. Their need to always be talking. Always moving. Their seeming inability to understand our needs and desires. A frequent lack of empathy for our way of processing the world. Their attempts to bring us out of a shell that is in most cases non-existent in the first place.

Yes, extroverts can be tiring to us.
However, we must be careful not to do to them what we don’t want them doing to us.  We must not assume what we can and cannot do around, with or to them simply because they are extroverts. It may sound unlikely, but think about it.
Have you ever needed to rant, and without question called an extrovert? Have you enlisted the help of one of your extroverted friends to be a wing man at a party, assuming they’ll love to help out? Do you avoid deep conversations with them because you know they haven’t been introspective enough to consider such things? How about calling them at two in the morning when you can’t stand the silence of your own home any longer? Or maybe you buy them rock concert tickets for their birthday every single year, because, “they are really into that kind of noise. They are extroverted.”
Yet hold on a moment. Remember what has often been mentioned in this blog, and by psychologists all over the world. That introversion and extroversion are spectrums. And that nobody is 100% one or the other.
You, my fellow introvert, are certainly not. Sometimes you actually want to be at a big party, because you don’t want to be alone. In the right situation you even enjoy meeting the right kinds of new people. You may even want to be the center of attention sometimes, and work the room. These are infrequent but nonetheless very real moments of extroversion.
It’s just as natural then that your extroverted friends will have moments of introversion. Irony alert: as an introvert you may have to work extra hard to respect those moments for them than you do for fellow introverts. You expect it from others of “your kind”, but you may find yourself getting comfortable with the extroversion of certain good friends of yours, and come to expect it from them, whenever and wherever they happen to be. It makes it easier to overlook their need to be introverted at times, and leads to an assumption that whenever you happen to need a shot of extrovert, you can tap them for it, without question.
“Hey, they get their energy from people doing that kind of stuff to them all the time, right?”

Well, once in a while, wrong. Quite wrong.
I have an extroverted friend who posted on Facebook recently mentioning that her extroversion didn’t mean she was emotionally available all the time to everyone around her whenever it was they wanted her. That she was feeling crowded and wanted a bit more space in her life in the coming months. Another wrote of how he wanted to take a break from “new people” for a few weeks. Some of them that felt like this wondered if it meant they were sick, or becoming depressed. The answer of course is no. They were just coming into contact with the introvert that is inside all of them. Just as even I at times explore the world with the extrovert inside of me.
Remember how you feel, introverts, when you are deprived of the things you need to recharge, or stay calm? How frustrating it can be when those things are not respected by those with whom you work or live? Believe it or not, the extroverts you know and love can feel that way too. It is the minority report within their consciousness, and they may not always recognize it for what it is when it comes round, so they may not express those needs and frustrations as well as those of us who live that way almost all of the time. Yet it remains just as vital to acknowledge those times in their lives as it is for introverts.
You have to remember to consider the person when you are dealing with anyone, and not the extrovert. Their level of extroversion is merely an aspect of their temperament. It does not define the totality of who they are, anymore than preferring sometimes to be left alone for a few hours defines all of what an introvert is.
In short, assume nothing just because a friend of yours is always at a party, is not often alone, and gets antsy when she is at home for too long. This gives you no right to assume what will and will not be acceptable behavior with them in any circumstance. They are a person, not a type. Just like you.
The good news is your beloved extrovert will recover more quickly in most cases than you will. They will not require as much of that time alone, and will not want the excitement to stay away for an extended period of time. In short order after needing to be left alone in the quiet of their room, they will probably be right back out in the living room asking you if you are okay, and wondering why you don’t want to dance. It may in some case be so fast that you don’t even realize that their inner introvert has come to call. (We are the ones more likely to brood over these things for nine hours at a time, remember.) Yet those moments are still there, and extroverts are entitled to them.
Yin and Yang for everyone, my friends. A little of the opposite in everyone. Respect that dash of the opposite in those you know, and I think you will get further with them.

1 Comment

  1. An excellent reminder that we are all on a scale, and that we move along that scale quite often.

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