“How long has it been since your last relationship?”
“Well, about six months. But, actually, it’s been a few years since I’ve had a real relationship – something that lasted more than a couple of months,” I reply coolly.
He raises his eyebrows and chuckles, as he says “I can tell!”
My immediate reaction is to tense up, but I try to laugh it off. “What do you mean,” I say with a forced smile, “why can you tell?”
He doesn’t offer any sort of concrete answer, just reiterates that it’s blatantly obvious that I’ve been on my own a long time.
My heart sinks down into my stomach. My spine curls. I can’t know for certain, but I’m sure my skin has taken on a greenish hue. I’m becoming some hideous, despicable creature who no one could ever love.
What does he mean he can tell? Can other people tell, too? Do I give off some sort of repellant Forever Alone vibe to everyone I meet? Does he think that I don’t know how to be intimate with people? Well, of course it would seem that way to him since I’ve only just met him. What does he know? I can be intimate with people once I’ve gotten to know them better … can’t I?
Suddenly, I’m not so sure.
The introverted freak
All the emotions I felt as an awkward introverted teen come flooding back. I’m no longer Michaela Chung, the self-assured, (mostly) emotionally stable 29-year old woman who generally has a positive outlook on life.
I am a greasy, grimy little weirdo who doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere. This version of me feels wounded, misunderstood, inferior.
Worse still, she knows what people think of her. She can read people’s thoughts and emotions well. She knows exactly what it would take to fit in. To impress people. To be ‘normal’.
There was a time when comments like the ones that just came from her new acquaintance would send her into a fury of action.
She would join a bunch of clubs to prove that she can interact with other humans; she would give herself a makeover and use her beauty as a shield from hurtful comments; she would go on a dizzying number of dates to show how desirable she is; she would win some trophies, and drape herself in achievement.
The secret of true connection
Yes, I’ve done a lot of things to prove that I’m a real person. And then I realized something.
The people I was trying to prove myself to don’t matter. I didn’t even like most of them. And the ones I did genuinely love and respect weren’t so interested in my frenzied efforts to feel okay. To feel like I am enough. They saw something worthwhile in the freakish little weirdo, who may or may not have an invisible Forever Alone sign planted squarely on her forehead.
And that, my Internet friend, is what real connection is all about.
It’s not about mastering the art of socializing, or discovering the best small talk hacks. And it’s certainly not about hiding behind a mask of accomplishment. Because nothing you can do or say makes you worthy of love.
YOU are worthy.
Just as you are.
Just as you’ve always been.
You ARE worthy.
Today, yesterday and tomorrow.
You are WORTHY.
Michaela, here I’m again. 🙂 – Surprisingly (or luckily?) I find thoughts on your Blog, which are bothering me for years. – Better don’t ask me how long it has been since my last “real” relationship. It seems so, as if it were in another life! 🙂 – I absolutely avoid “noisy” and “always being on the go” partners, I can’t handle with them and the “quiet” ones are rare. So I have to be patient and to wait for the “Oh Happy Day”, when I hopefully will meet the silent “Mrs. Right” 🙂 – My very best sides I can only show to “quiet fellows”. – Matthias
Hi Matthias! Good to hear from you again. I hope you meet the quiet Mrs. Right, too. Maybe at a bookstore? Or in a silent santuary? 😉
Michaela, “Mrs. Right” hasn’t to be “too” quiet…;) I’m definitively NOT thinking to meet her in a church :), but surely also NOT among crazy, noisy crowds. – An interesting fact is, that persons sometimes even don’t know, that they’re “introvert”. Last weekend a good longtime pal calmed down, as I explained her for the first time, that I’m “introvert” and that this would be “normal” for me! . –
She told me, that she always thought, she would be crazy, arrogant or anti-social, because she avoid crowds and don’t like small talks. – I understand her, in the past I was ashamed, because I’m introvert…. 🙁
Thank you…I really needed this!
You’re welcome, TC. Glad to hear it was timely. xo
I often get similar comments and it’s taken me a while to be able to just let them go. Similar to the post about turning from your turtle shell to a porcupine, sometimes these comments just bother me. However, through more learning and reading on sites such as this I’m finding that I don’t have anything to apologize for, or try to change. I am who I am, and I like that.
Thanks for this site. It’s great reading about this from someone close to my age and seeing that it’s not just me.
You’re welcome, Josh. It’s amazing how just knowing that you’re not the only one who feels this way makes such a difference. I’m glad that my site has helped with that. xo
I get this all the time.
The one that REALLY gets under my skin is, “Oh man, you need to get laid!”. As if some meaningless one night stand is going to somehow change my “attitude” for the better. Truth is that it would most likely have the opposite effect.
I have been alone for nearly sixteen years, with no sign of that changing anytime soon. I understand that most people are well intentioned but all this sort of thing does is throw my isolation back in my face…..and piss me off.
That is frustrating. Luckily, as a woman, I don’t hear “you need to get laid” very much. But if I did, I would be pretty irritated.
Thank you for this lovely post! You ARE worthy and wonderful! I tromped over Ecuador -alone, for awhile last year and it was amazing. Many people are so superficial and annoying, that for me, my “safe place” is usually somewhere alone. Home, or wherever I may find myself. Don’t compromise, and don’t let anyone ever make you feel like you’re not good enough!
Blessings to you, and thanks for your website!
Thanks, Julia. I really appreciate you kind words. It’s great to hear from another solo female traveler – there aren’t that many of us. 😉
Hi all, I went on a three-month solo travel mainly through Italy, but also went to Finland and France. Overall, I enjoyed travelling solo. It was hard in the very beginning being alone, because lone women are seen as weird in Western society, but eventually came to love it. I have found that I discover so much more of a place and about myself than I would have if I travelled in a group, and I had little trouble navigating these countries. I had some knowledge of Italian, which was mainly self-taught, and that helped during my travels through Italy. People have suggested that I travel in a group, but I dread the idea of being stuck with a group of strangers for long periods and all the endless small talk that comes with it. I don’t think you can really get to know someone in that kind of environment and in that limited of time. I am planning more solo travels.
Hi Anne, good to hear from another female solo traveler. I am completely with you on group travel. It is a recipe for meltdown for me. 😉
Thank you a lot for this post
You’re very welcome! 😉
Thank you, Lori. 🙂
So sorry this stranger touched a raw nerve. He had no right being so forward. He was feeding his ego without regard for your feelings. You are someone that many people care about and respect. You have helped many fellow introverts cope and better understand themselves. And you ARE lovable and you WILL find that special person you are meant to be with. Trust in that. Be well Michaela!
Awww … thank you so much, Bob! That means a lot to me. I’m even a little misty eyed. <3
This is amazing, when I was young(er) I too felt inferior, especially with my body, and to be completely honest, I still do. I don’t see why someone would like someone like me with so many other options. I am loving, and caring, and I want to just be able to take care of and love someone, and take their problems away, but I feel like that isn’t enough sometimes, for someone to actually want to be with me. This world looks so much at the physical, but the way I see it, when we are all old, how much will the physical matter, we won’t look like we used to, but our hearts and minds, they will hopefully have matured, and not only have changed but changed for the better. I have become more okay with my body though, I don’t see myself as badly as I used too, but there are still some things I would change. Getting compliments though, over time, has erased a lot of the negativity that came along with being made fun of as a child for how I looked, and how I thought and articulated my thoughts. You mention relationships, for me, it has been 2 and a half years since I had one, and I do fall easily, because I choose to see the beauty in people, or at least I try to, especially with women as I have been raised by a single Mother. So yeah, I am waiting to fall in love, and honestly, I think I have found someone that I really like, and I want she and I to continue to develop our friendship, and I hope that it does evolve into something far greater, something forever even, marriage if we feel we work out properly. I’ve been ready to settle down since Sophomore year of high school, and here I am a Freshman in college, so I definitely break the mold a little in that train of thought, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. Anyway, thank you for posting this, I can definitely relate.
Hi Nicholas. Thank you for sharing your experience with this. I’m sure many others can relate to what you said. I’m sorry to hear that you were made fun of as a child. I often think that most of us spend the better part of our adulthood trying to undo the damage done during our childhood. Glad to hear that you’re developing a more positive self-image – and that love is on the horizon! I think it is a very innie-like thing to want to settle down early once they find the right person. For many of us, it’s so hard to find those special connections that we want to hold on for dear life once we do. xo
His remark probably says more about him than it does about you 😉
I can very much relate to your story. We introverts feel the need to defend ourselves a lot. For most of my life, I’ve felt there was something wrong with me.
I’ve stumbled onto this website looking for a way to find a “cure” for introversion actually, but found (for the first time) a community of people who are just like me!
I got a little misty-eyed myself yesterday reading your post, it is difficult to get rid of feeling inferior, when you’ve thought about yourself that way for a long time.
We are worthy of love indeed. There’s nothing we can do to prove it, we just are.
Poor fool in Thailand. If he had simply looked into your eyes he would have realized the miracle he could have been a part of.
Thanks for writing this Michaela. I can relate to this. The offhand comment about your introversion that makes you question yourself. Most people don’t realize how deeply they’re prodding at our insecurities when they say things like that.
I’m still learning to see that I am enough and that I don’t need to prove my self. Thanks for the reminder 🙂
What about people who have never been in a relationship or have never been in love like me. I’m 37 and feel like I have missed out on so much that even if I attempted to try to date or be in a relationship with someone that I would’t know what to do. From what I’ve been told, it’s usually a turn-off for most women. I don’t want to lie about or not reveal this information to someone who I may have a potential relationship with.
Hi Eric, if finding a partner is important to you, than don’t be afraid to try something new. My innie friend, Sarah Jones, has helped lots of introverted men who’ve never had girlfriends to start dating. I recommend her free ebook and confidence course, which you can sign up for here: http://introvertedalpha.com/gift/
I think some women actually like or are turned on about being a man’s first (first love, first confident, first companion, first lover). It’s not easy to find men like that. It is very especial. Some women value that.
I agree, Mercedes.
I appreciate both your help and advice Michaela and Mercedes. I needed this. Thanks.
Do women consider it a blessing, a luxury that the onus is not placed on them to be the initiators? They don’t have to approach, make the first move and do the asking out? All women have to do is say Yes or No, welcome or deny advances, they have the final say in the beginning, yes that is reality, just because it’s the way it is doesn’t mean I have to like it or enjoy it. Yes I know that when you take on the passive role it means you can’t control who comes to you, it means you are not literally going after what you want but still women have loads of options and the fact they have loads of options means a handful of those guys that approach them first are going to be guys in which there is mutual attraction involved
my gut feeling tells me there are more male late bloomers than female late bloomers in the world of dating and relationships, sex, since men are still expected to be the initiators
Thank you for this website, for this community. I often wondered if we introverts would ever have a support group, thinking… who is going to step up? Thanks for doing that!
Regarding the quest of finding a partner, I can relate with a lot of those feelings.
The good thing is, the is hope, sometimes when you least expect it. I’m the quietest girl on Earth, but because of my looks people assumed I had a dozen dates a week. Umm no.
Well, it took time and the most unexpected guy to win me over. I can’t explain it, it just happened. I was 30 when we met (we worked together – the best way to get to know someone). We’ve been married for 7 years and have 3 children. I guess he just loves me for my soul. No need to hear what I’m thinking every minute of the day. And because of that space and love I really enjoy talking to him 🙂
Thank you for sharing your inspiring innie love story, Mercedes! A couple of people that I dated I met at work and found it to be better than meeting randomly at a bar or party.
What if you are in a same sex dominated field and want to meet more of the opposite sex? I’ve tried online dating before and actually really hated it. I don’t think I make the best first impression. Maybe that is because I am an introvert. I feel like I need to “meet” a man that I could build a friendship with that would develop into more.
That is a great question. It’s important to find activities that you genuinely enjoy to meet members of the opposite sex. There are plenty of options: outdoor adventure meetups, book clubs, partner’s dance classes (I recommend salsa or swing dancing),spiritual groups, fitness classes, etc. You don’t have to wear yourself out by going out a lot. Just going to one activity a week and looking for opportunities to connect 1-on-1 is enough. 🙂
I needed to hear this so badly. Thank you.
You’re welcome, Elizabeth. xo
WHOA! 33 year old guy here. Just stumbled on this post, and had mind blown. Have had the exact same social interactions and had the exact same ‘heart sinking down into stomach’ feeling. Thanks for putting this out.
Hi Michaela! I’m new here and I’m 18 years old. I just want to say thank you for this! I love it.
You’re welcome, Diana. Glad it resonated with you. xo
I have never heard of someone saying to a young person that he can tell she has been on her own a long time–someone they barely know. Maybe he was not assuming the “issue,” for lack of a better word, is you. Maybe he just thinks you’d have high standards or would otherwise be hard to hang on to, and he thinks you dump guys. Given that you’re very pretty, many guys just seem to assume that pretty women hold the keys when it comes to relationships. I’d bet many guys don’t look at you and think “introvert” or any other word/phrase that is often inaccurately subbed for it, i.e. “shy,” “antisocial,” etc. You just don’t always know what people may or may not mean or think. Either way, it was kind of wimpy to go that far and then back out by not explaining when asked.
Thanks for that, Ren. I do think that guys are confused when a pretty girl is introverted because they assume that introversion and shyness are the same thing. And why would an attractive woman be shy?
I was just thinking about how introverted women may not be comfortable with the “How long have you been single?” and the, “OMG, you don’t have a boyfriend right now?” question. I’ve been told that it’s supposed to be a compliment, but it feels uncomfortable to me. If we introverts share a romantic connection with just a few people, you can’t expect us to be boyfriend-hopping or ALWAYS be in a relationship. If a relationship ends, I need my solitude to process. That may take awhile, until someone I click with shows up.
thanks god finally i can find this amazing website after searching for many keyword about ‘introvert’
thanks u so much Michaela, u’re my hero ! ?,, keep posting about introvert personality please ?
warm greetings from Indonesian 🙂
sorry for bad english