Introverts: an Extrovert’s Guide

How many introverts does it take to satisfy an extrovert?

I suspect the answer is the same as to that riddle about angels dancing on the tip of a pin – as many as can see the point! We get a reputation for being somewhere on the hungry side of insatiable when it comes to having people in our lives, and here’s the thing – in some ways we’re not particularly picky. People can be fairly shitty, but at the end, they’re better than no company at all.

Introverts an extroverts guide

Here’s another thing: the world is built for extroverts, and we all know it. There is an uprising of pro-introvert pieces, declaiming the needs of introverts and how space and peace and isolation are air and water to them; how socialisation can frazzle, fray, and wear them beyond tolerance. I am absolutely on board with this, and agree it’s totally necessary – introverts have struggled for too long misunderstood.

They have a horrendous reputation for being anti-social, stand-offish, or austere. They can appear skittish, impenetrable, and cold. They seem, sometimes, to have no capacity for connection. To me, this seems an utterly inconceivable manner of existing, but I suppose to introverts, if others do not want to form connections, it’s more a matter of peace and quiet going blissfully uninterrupted by the overtures of friendship.

I have to say, though, personal experience suggests there’s an outer layer which doesn’t necessarily belie the state of the person underneath. The introverts I know are social (within reason and context), warm, open, and lovely. They share deep thoughts and feelings, they love abundantly and willingly, once they make up their mind to. They have huge capacity for meaningful connection, but a very low tolerance for the superficial, which can initially seem off-putting (for, how on earth do you get to know someone, except in a low-key, hesitant kind of blasé way at first?)

The introverts I know and love go one step further, and have even managed to (mostly) get beyond the idea of me as a sort of human-shaped golden retriever, who bounces around a lot after clouds and butterflies, interrupts incessantly with exciting new thoughts, showers people with unwarranted kisses, and all but smothers with love and enthusiasm*. It’s very sweet of them, and I am endlessly grateful for their indulgence.

I’m also endlessly grateful for how many of them have come to hold me in their hearts as a friend. I think I’ve (mostly) got to the point where I manage not to be too draining to them, and this delights me, as it means they can tolerate me for longer, which is always a plus.

Here’s yet another thing: friendship is very different for my introverts and me. Like, worlds apart.

I get the impression that for them, it’s a beautiful shiny thing which flourishes and grows with time and input, and is glorious…but also sits quite contentedly on a shelf in their hearts while we’re out of contact. They might look at it and marvel at its loveliness, but don’t need to pick it up or touch it to know it’s there. A glance once in a while is enough. They have me in their heart, they know they have a place in mine, and it’s sufficient.

Maybe opposites attract, but in this case, opposite is something I find incredibly challenging.

I thrive on connection, and I do very badly at sitting on shelves. Friendship for me is more akin to a fire; if someone removes the oxygen and warmth of their connection from my fuel, everything starts to flicker, dies back, starts to go cold and ashy at the edges. If I go too long without contact**, I find myself staring into the freezing, blackened space in my heart where I once had a glowing friendship, and I die a little. Or a lot.

Good thing is, bring back the oxygen and warmth, and immediately, things spark back into wonderous life.

In the meantime, though, I get lonely. So lonely.

I have developed a set of very reasonable statements to tell myself in these times. Things like ‘It’s not about me, not my fault – this is about them living their lives too’, and ‘They still care, just because they’re not in touch doesn’t mean they don’t care’. Sometimes I even try the ‘We’re all different and busy and they’re busy, and not taking a few moments to say “Hi” doesn’t mean I no longer matter.’

The feelings creep, wickedly, though. They start to suggest I mightn’t be worth keeping, that my people have found better prospects elsewhere, that their time is far better spent on others. They draw a dark veil across the sun and burst all my bubbles. They make me feel like a terrible friend, because if I was a good one, I’d be bothered with and prioritised. They (probably) lie.

Another thing – I don’t leave people, but am very easily left. A toxic but consistent person is (in some ways) preferable to someone I love very dearly going quiet and disappearing. I stay hooked in as long as I possibly can bear. I try not to chase after people who leave me, because I’ve learned that a) it’s undignified, and b) it makes no difference, if someone has decided to be shot of me, but you bet your bottom dollar I’ll sit in the cold ashes and cry.

For introverts, the above is probably melodramatic and utterly inconceivable.

Remember, though, the manner in which socialisation and people and conversation and connection will rapidly drain an introvert and leave them empty? The total opposite is true for me. People, en masse, are a delight. Conversation (deep thoughts, shallow ones, passing ones, the banal, the arcane, the weather, anything) is restorative. Connection charges me.

Peace and aloneness and isolation are my very worst. Darkness falls as I get empty and I start to think I’m never going to manage a connection with anyone else ever again, and should just be alone for all my days, then the world begins to crumble under my feet.

Not that sometimes it isn’t pleasant (in a sort of experimental way) to kick back with a book in a quiet room, or go for a walk by myself in a place away from other people, but it doesn’t last for more than a couple of hours before I need to find another person. Thank goodness I live with Mum and WonderAunty, and there’s usually someone around!

I suppose the main thing I want to achieve is a sort of apologetic explanation, slightly sheepishly, for why I’m so annoying and sleeve-tuggy at times. I also hope my introverts will absorb this information (at their own paces) and tuck the knowledge away with the shiny thing of our friendship, and know it works differently for me; that I’m not trying to frustrate – just trying to keep the embers of love alive.

And thanks, too, all my introverts who have let me become a friend. I’m so very thankful for each of you, and for the ways and times we do connect. Know this, if nothing else – it matters. HUGE. As do you ❤


*I managed to rein the description in just shy of suggesting I all but go around sticking my head into people’s crotches, happily wagging my tail…but then having related the description to a(n introverted) friend, and appreciated her burst of laughter (ALL CAPS), I decided to pop it in as a flourish at the end, just to maybe make you laugh, too.

**The timing of the ‘without contact’ can vary for different people, and different natures of relationship. I can manage well hearing from some people every few weeks, or even less frequently. For others, I start to see the ash and darkness creeping in after a day or two…which I understand must be very irritating for the people on the receiving end of my pestering attention, so I try to keep it dialled down (they may or may not believe this). For me, friendship cannot take place inside someone else’s head. I need more, which isn’t always ideal.

40 thoughts on “Introverts: an Extrovert’s Guide

  1. Psssst! Let me let you in on a little introvert secret. I love my friends dearly. But because I don’t have this need to be constantly in touch, I tend to get caught up in, well, life and stuff, trying to keep my life in order and do everything I need to do. So I forget to reach out to my friends. It’s not that I don’t care, really it’s not, I just don’t have that need for constant connection. So every now and then, a little reminder to keep up my end of the relationship is not a bad thing! I don’t mind if my friends message me frequently, and I don’t see it as them being needy. In fact, it gives me a much needed twinge of guilt so I will try and be better about responding and even messaging them of my own accord. Basically, as much as I need alone time, I also need to go out and be social, it’s good for me. I just don’t usually realize that I do. So yeah, you can pester your introvert friends a bit to try and get them out of the house. Even if you think they might say no, it never hurts to ask. Just remember to respect their wishes if they do say no; nothing is more stressful to me than having somebody try to pressure me into something after I’ve said no. But yeah, I think that introverts need extroverts, to get them out and remind them to be social. Because believe it or not, we get lonely too sometimes, we just often don’t realize it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this post, especially when you explain distance in friendships from both sides. I’m an introvert, but some of my oldest friends are extroverts. I do most certainly put our friendship on a shelf and gaze at its beauty. Your blog helped me see what it’s like from their perspective… which feels like mine when I see them with other friends. I tend to get jealous because I have such a small network of friends. But I guess I should be considerate that my golden retriever friends crave that interaction. Gah. I do love my extrovert friends, and its always good to remember where they’re coming from. Thanks for the awesome post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re so welcome. It’s a tricky old business, having friends, and it’s taken me a lot to understand some of them, and more to understand my own reactions to their behaviour. I think the learning can only help 😊


  3. I don’t know about “in” and “ex”, as Kristi beat me to the punch in saying. I figured I always had trouble being super social because of all the non verbal cues I miss, but who knows who or what I’d be if that were different. I live by myself now and the peace is nice, whenever the loneliness isn’t nagging at me. I just always saw myself as more of the introvert, but I can relate horribly to what you say of friendships. I fear I am not enough for most people, those I admitted to myself had been friends at one time even. I don’t let go of any of them easily. I don’t know why, because I worry I won’t meet any others maybe, which sounds “yuck” to me. I just don’t know.

    You made sense to me with this post. That’s all I know. I do admire/envy those, such as yourself, who attract so many souls to her. You sparkle, though I know that isn’t always what’s going on in the inside of you. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for this comment, and your thoughts, and no, as you say, I a definitely NOT sparkly a lot of the time.

      You might be and ambivert, and able to get your ‘charge’ from time alone as well as toti with people. It’s a good thing not to let go of people easily, I think. Certainly tenacity can help get past the initial bits of ‘they might not like me’ and the later ‘perhaps they’re bored of me’.

      I don’t know what it’s like to miss visual cues. That must be ever so aggravating and I can see where you think it could be limiting. I hope the internet and the expansion of online friendships has been helpful. I know it helped me with loneliness.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. *Hangs head in shame* I’m the one who holds the flame and feels it burn no matter how long it goes without communicating… You know that. And for me, I’m a complete ambivert 100%, I need both- the connection and the quiet ALONE time. I need alone time to restore, refresh, regulate, in between connections more and more, the older I get, ANd it really depends on the day, the week, the season… and mostly, the barometer of my anxiety. Because if I don’t respond to that, I fall apart. ANd unfortunately, what helps me subdue my anxiety is quiet time alone.

    And there is a HUGE piece that comes with all of this- and that is parenting. Introverts have to use SO much of their reserves for their kids- and often. And in my case, I not only have extremely active busy EXHAUSTING kids that take sooo much of me, but I have a mom who is in poor health, needing me to care for her daily. I barely have time left for my husband- another piece too. Then there are the ministries I lead, the responsibilities I manage in this home, and the attempts at contributing financially to our family. It’s all just so much. I can’t afford to maintain friendships actively and regularly- it just can’t happen during this time in my life. But I know this will change, as life shifts and seasons change.

    To me, my closest friends are those I don’t need to connect with regularly to know they are there for me and me for them and the distance and time and space between us doesn’t impair our bond.

    All that to say, it’s so hard to meet the needs of an extrovert and you so diligently captured how hard it is for an extrovert to meet the needs of an introvert. It sounds painful and so difficult to sustain oneself with the limitations an introvert presents. It’s so very difficult to navigate such extremes on both ends and yet, with patience and grace and trust- it can be done. You have proven that over and over again with SO many of us.

    I’m just sorry I can’t be a better friend right now.

    Thank you for explaining and expressing all of these layers underneath, sweetie. I’m crushed that you have to experience such awful emotions when your needs aren’t getting met. I love you so much. You are so dear to me. I’ll try to reach out more. I promise.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No shame, Kitty, ever. For real. I absolutely love you and I 100% understand what you’re saying about all the little pieces of energy and reserve that get zapped away from people who thrive on aloneness, just from managing day to day life. That’s one of the reasons I work so hard to maintain so many friendships, and to not be too zappy to a small number of people.
      My logic brain knows this, I promise. I am also in awe of all you (and others) do, because if my lot was to spend lots and lots of time alone, then friendship required more alone time, I would find it really really hard, and hope my friends understood when I couldn’t manage it as much as I might wish was possible. What drains you, drains you, however well-intended and lovingly done. ❤️❤️❤️


  5. What a great thoughtful piece! You got my attention with the that title and I think your descriptions are spot-on! —She says as she gazes lovingly on our bookshelf friendship.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I suppose it’s strange that I’m not even sure whether I’m an introvert or an extrovert or whatever that inbetween one is an amnivert maybe? But I’ll say this – you and whoever you are in all of your glorious amazement showed me a part of myself one night sitting after sunset, at the beach, just being YOU. I’m forever grateful that I know That You, and the Yous I met after that night, and also for all of the yous I met before we ever met IRL. As you know, I see much of myself in you, although I suppose I’m more introverted? I don’t even know. But I know I’m so glad for sparkly fabulous you…

    Liked by 1 person

    • You were so close. An ambivert. And you might well be if you sometimes get energy from peopleing, and sometimes from aloneness.

      As for seeing yourself in me (before and after the sunset beach night we met In Real) and all the ways we are and the friendship we have… I am every single bit as thankful and delighted and overjoyed to have sparkly glorious YOU in my life.
      And thanks to stepping stone theory, I am even glad for the mes you knew before, as they brought me to now-me, and All The Things that means. 💓💓💓💓💓💓💓💓💓


  7. First of all, I read the entire thing WAITING for the lap remark. I was infinitely relieved when it popped up at the end.

    And as an introvert who has experienced the “left behind” thing numerous times, I get it. In the same respect, being friends with an extrovert means we introverts are occasionally forgotten when the extrovert moves on to find those who can fulfill their needs better.

    However, as a diehard introvert, I can tell you that even though we often fail to reach out, when we love, we love deeply. We don’t always mean to not remind you the fires burn brightly. Sometimes we just lose track in our own small worlds. But we love deeply, are loyal to a fault, and never cease to be amazed by the sparkly, shiny, magical extroverts who allow us in their inner circle.

    Much love, my sparkly friend!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hehehe after you reacted so beautifully to it, I SO had to include it somehow XD ❤

      I am so glad to know you (and other wonderful introverts), as I have learned a LOT about how to understand and better care for the friends I love so much. I don't ever mean to be an irritating pain that won't go away and give space, but it's never done from a point of trying to upset or deter.

      I'm sad you got left behind. I guess those people just didn't see how wonderful you are and how VERY worthwhile keeping you are. Lucky for me, though, cos I getchu instead ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • In my thinking, being left behind by people is the universe’s way of letting me know those people shouldn’t be in my life. It took a few hard lessons to get that through my head. And as much as you fear being a pain or annoying, even introverts suffer from that. You’re so entirely and blissfully normal.

        And you are too hard on yourself. What you see as being irritating or being a pain, we are thankful because it means we know you are making sure your needs are met. Because we will forget to put ourselves in your shoes when we’re wrapped up in our bundles of introversion.

        You’re a keeper now and always, sweets. Don’t you forget it.

        P.S. The laughter was well-earned because that visual imagery was fabulous.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Awwwh this is such an encouraging setof thoughts. Thank you enormously for your wisdom ad friendship. I still don’t like being left but I am learning to see it as a winnowing factor. It just…hurts.

          I shall try to learn I am less annoying than I think I am. Probably still working off bad data feom people who are no longer in my life 😞

          Big love to you Jamie ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️


  8. I love this and thank you so much for your perspective. This will sound strange but I used to be an extrovert and over time, and accumulating a little wisdom here and there, I am now much more of an introvert. At my age, I prefer being alone over ‘just anybody’ to fill the void. I don’t feel the void any longer which is good because I spend so much time alone. Sometimes, I feel like I’m being pushy checking in on people but I, too, sometimes, feel kind of forgotten but then just try not to take it personally and usually will then send a salutation their way. It’s always met with happiness but then people tend to be nice like that and I just have to hope I’m not bugging them. I am glad you live with people and have a busy life to nurture your need for interaction and totally get not wanting to be alone alone. This is a great read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks my Lovely ❤ I'm so relieved to hear that things can change as time (and life) goes by. I really want to NOT be such an annoying pester, but at the moment I haven't learned another way. I try, sometimes, but then I get all ashy and cold.
      I would always prefer my people weren't 'just anybody' and I do try to take care to nurture friendships with people I adore. I suppose, though, a person (such as a colleague or acquaintance) as opposed to a no-one, is better.


  9. forgive me for prior inappropriate outburst. 😉 HELLLOOOO GOLDEN RETRIEVER. This is your resident cat….who adores your retriever-ness to no end. You have an in-depth and accurate understanding of introverts, which is definitely an advantage since so many people don’t. In fact, some things you’ve said and written about introvert needs have actually helped me understand myself a bit better! Truly!

    And you have described extrovert-ness in a way that helps me (and no doubt other introverts) understand those very different needs as well. That’s super helpful.

    I wish upon a star that those cats in your life – who i know value your friendship because who wouldn’t – reach out a bit more often to keep you from going all cold and ashy. *hugs* I’m sure it’s hurtful and frustrating, and I’m sure your cats don’t mean it that way. And if they do, then promptly pee on their rose bushes and leave. (figuratively, of course. Or not). 🙂
    ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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