Are you a social introvert? Maybe you enjoy going to parties, but you get tired midway through and fantasize about your bed and a good book. Or, perhaps, you have terrific social skills in certain contexts, like at a dinner party with friends and acquaintances, but feel awkward and inhibited around strangers. These aren’t the only challenges you face as a social introvert.
People think you’re an extrovert
As a social introvert, you face struggles most extroverts just don’t get. In fact, one of the biggest conundrums you encounter is that people assume you are an extrovert. When you tell them you’re a card-carrying introvert, they say, “no way, you’re so friendly and sociable.”
You want to tell them that not all introverts are anti-social hermits, and introversion has more to do with where you get your energy than how much you like people….
But they’ve already hopped along to a new topic, which brings me to my next point.
Talking to extroverts gives you a headache
Although you may blend in with the extroverts, you still have the brain wiring of an introvert. This means that you tend to process information more deeply and slowly. You prefer slower paced conversations on interesting topics. Socializing with fast-talking extroverts can be a real headache—literally.
When I spend too much time with people who rush through superficial conversation topics without ever truly listening, my brain begins to protest. It warns: INFORMATION OVERLOAD. ENTERING BATTERY SAVING MODE. And that’s when I start to shut down and tune out what the person is saying.
After all, no matter how social an introvert may be, we still have our limits. And conversing with loudmouths who don’t listen is a surefire way to deplete ourselves FAST.
You push yourself until you crash
We social introverts wonder how to find a balance between our need to connect with others and our need for sweet solitude. It’s all too easy to push ourselves so hard that we crash. And you can’t blame us.
Our social side is the aspect of our personality that people encourage the most. When we are at our social peak, mixing and mingling and putting a friendly face forward, they cheer us on. But when we start to withdraw, they chastise us.
They assume the sudden change in our vibe is due to anger, depression, or possibly constipation. It’s hard for them to accept that we can be social much of the time, but also need our space. So they pressure us to keep putting on a jovial front long after our social batteries have expired. Guess what.
This is a recipe for burnout and depression. Social introverts need to honour our innie needs, too.
That’s why I’ve put together 3 ways to stay sane and happy as a social introvert:
1. Know your limits.
Until I started writing about introversion five years ago, I never took the time to examine my social limits. When I got tired and irritable after several hours of socializing I took it as a sign of my own inadequacy. It made me feel really bad about myself.
Nowadays, I just accept that I have limited social batteries. When I start to feel the warning signs that I’m pressing up against my social limits —irritability, zoning out, difficulty concentrating, a general malaise—I give myself permission to make a B-line for the exit.
2. Practice the fine art of saying no.
A lot of introverts, especially social introverts, have great difficulty saying no. We don’t want to be mean, or disappoint others. So we say yes, yes, and yes, with a side of yes, even though it’s killing us inside. Little do we know that a simple one syllable word can offer us quick salvation.
Saying no to an invitation or request for help can mean the difference between spiralling into a pit of anxiety and exhaustion, versus actually enjoying life. The trick is to get clear on your boundaries ahead of time, so that you don’t waiver and second guess yourself.
3. Choose the right activities.
Not all social activities are created equally. Some will sap every drop of your energy at alarming speed (think crowded conferences, drinks at a loud bar with even louder extroverts, going on group tours while on vacation).
But other activities have the power to energize you. Or at least deplete you at a far slower rate. For example, I always feel rejuvenated and happy when I have my best friends over for dinner. I can spend hours on end with my besties and never feel drained. Meanwhile, spending time with strangers exhausts me.
Over the years, I’ve created a lot of resources to help introverts stay sane while socializing and actually make meaningful connections:
- The Introvert Party Survival Guide
- The Introvert Connection Guide
- The Irresistible Introvert: Harness the Power of Quiet Charisma in a Loud World
- The Introvert Charisma Assessment
I also have a brand NEW book called The Year of The Introvert: A Journal of Daily Inspiration for the Inwardly Inclined. It contains nuggets of innie wisdom for every day of the year. It officially comes out May 15th and it’s now available for pre-order most places books are sold.
Are you a social introvert?
What about you, dear? Do you consider yourself a social introvert? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!
I feel that I am a social intovert, to a point. When I go out to meet friends or just to socialize, I’m more withdrawn, for the most part. I’ll occasionally strike up a conversation but mainly stay to myself.
However, when I have a couple of drinks, it pushes me to more like an extrovert. My creative side of my brain kicks in and I’m more sociable.
I do get some grief when I revert back to a more introvert state.
Great article overall, and this line in particular is so true for me:
“Saying no to an invitation or request for help can mean the difference between spiralling into a pit of anxiety and exhaustion, versus actually enjoying life.” The more I say no to things I don’t enjoy and/or sap all of my energy, the happier I am. Trying to please everyone else will not make you happy, just exhausted and miserable.
Yes! Saying no is key! But also difficult.
Oh my those fast talking extroverts … Exhausting!!! Can anyone explain why 1)so many of them are also so loud too?:( and 2) they don’t come equipped with either a mute button or volume control? lol
Hahhaha! A mute button – if only!
I’m a bit sensitive and pick up others’ talking speed and volume in a conversation. I also speak quickly and loudly when stimulated/excited.
I’ve been caught off guard at least once when someone suddenly said “you’re such a social butterfly!”
…but I’m a social introvert. I can’t keep the above on for long. It’s exhausting. If I have no idea what you talked about for the past hour despite nodding and smiling, this probably explains it.
Haha yes, nodding and smiling to get through – I know what that’s like! 🙂
So recognizable! I consider myself a social introvert, as I really enjoy spending time with others, even at loud parties and big events / festivals. But after 2 or 3 hours (depending on the situation) even if I’m really enjoying myself, I inevitably need a break.
Having known I’m an introvert for about 10 years now (I’m 25 y.o.) I still struggle to accept that my ‘social battery’ lasts much, much shorter than those of my extroverted friends, whose batteries seem to get charged on the go. I simply NEED to be by myself and re-charge after socializing.
Unfortunately I find this to be very true: “When we are at our social peak, mixing and mingling and putting a friendly face forward, they cheer us on. But when we start to withdraw, they chastise us. They assume the sudden change in our vibe is due to anger, depression …”
Oh how often I have wished to be an extrovert, to GAIN energy from socializing rather than getting drained from it. Any tips on how to gain more self-acceptance in this area?
Thanks for sharing. My tips are to try as much as possible to choose friends and activities that energize you or are less draining. Look for other innies or ambiverts and hang out in quieter environments. 😉
Oh…I am a surgical nurse (which I like doing) and being locked down in a room for 10+ hours with the same people. Surgery is stressful, and like any job, has its politics, which brings out the anxiety in all of us, and many of my coworkers are non-stop bitchers (male and female), talkers and laughers (uh, screechers???) and then there’s the music and the usual O.R. chaos. I am just tapped by the end of most days. I love the peace and quiet in the rest of my life.
I completely understand. I had to go to a leadership luncheon that had 300 people at it today for lunch. It did, at times, feel totally overwhelming. While. I very much enjoyed the speakers and what they had to say, the vast number of people at the event was difficult to manage.
That does sound overwhelming, Debbie! :O
Yes my boss thinks im a social butterfly marko said you can be but you still need recharge time im an infp 2%
Yes, I read somewhere that INFPs are like lazy pandas that need lots of naps! It’s true. 🙂
I do a fair amount of socializing mainly for work and networking to build business connections. I still sparingly communicate with my parental units and siblings on an as needed basis. Most of my socializing is online, and no FB for me.
I think the biggest drain for me is negative emotions, not mine but in others. People see me as a good listener, I can be compassionate, empathetic, caring loving you name it. I’m a very capable person. I actually had to teach myself emotional intelligence, how to connect and be more affectionate, in an outwardly manner, because much of this due to a introverted feeling function was all done in my head. I spent more time in observation and learning mode and acting out every possible scenario in my head without taking the risk of action. I’m sure you can relate to that. 🙂
Even though I spend my socializing time generally with one guy mostly for business and sometimes dinner or hanging out with him his wife and family. As far as women go, it’s connection but usually sparingly too. I do dive deep with my topics of discussion and most of it revolves around people, so when women see this they tend to feel a deeper sense of connection to me, when I may just be mulling over ideas or just collecting information to see and develop new patterns. When I talk to women especially they tend to think in terms of my approach as a romantic one or ear marked with an agenda. I do openly state my intentions more now then before in my 20’s.
I know how to do small talk, I know how to keep a conversation light however at some point after, let’s say 20 minutes of that shit, I take it deeper as my batteries are getting drained and for me small talk and B.S. go nowhere fast. I want to talk about important life topics, things that have meaning on many different levels, such as ethics, morals and psychology, you know things that are actually important on a wide basis, not just an individual basis, yes of course I want to get to know someone, but how can you do that with small talk and B.S.
I’ve had people get mad at me for saying no, but oh well be mad, you’re not entitled to my time, or money, or any other resource that I earned or came with out of the womb. I don’t generally seek to take something of value from someone with out offering something of value in return. It’s the whole give and take thing. I honestly offer more in the giving then receiving, I’m not very good at receiving. Out of necessity I’ve had to do for myself on too many occasions when friends, family and love interests have let me down.
I’ve always been the loyal sort, yet I’ve learned that not everyone is like me and my dedication, responsibility and loyal to myself and others has cost me in many ways.
It’s not that I didn’t self respect, it’s just that I was taught to put others before myself and I learned if I didn’t take care of me, then no one else would and also I wouldn’t have the emotional and mental resources to care for anyone else that mattered to me.
I often think of everything that’s virtuous and good about human behavior and in abundance based on one’s perspective, to be equally given and received. I’m still learning to balance that in my life. I’m still uber generous, and take very little in return. I was told that by being this way, I’m actually stealing a sense of significance away from others when they try and give to me. This hasn’t worked out too well when dealing with women for me. I think that when they try and give to me, that I’m so independent that I feel engulfed and anxious like a part of me is being trampled on. It’s hard not to be the giver and provider of abundance, it’s even harder when the return on investment is less than what I give. One of the things that really pleases me is when I give information, advice or wisdom or any resource and that person takes what I gave an betters themselves and or others, that pleases me very much.
I think being a social introvert goes much deeper than just the extroverted sense of socializing. I think that for us it’s more so about a yearning of our soul to connect genuinely and authentically.
Other people’s emotions are definitely draining!
wow i can sooo relate! just yesterday i was with one of my managers and he did exactly that…talked on and on, paused to ask me a question and interrupted as i tried to answer. it left me feeling down, dismissed and unheard. thanks for such insightful posts, it reminds me that we’re not alone. <3
You’re welcome! I’m glad it was timely for you. <3
As an introvert, I have suffered “double pain” a lot. When my husband died from cancer, and when my Down Syndrome daughter passed away, and when I recently lost my job because I broke my wrist badly, I got very little sympathy from the people around me. Instead I was bombarded with detailed stories of the other people’s traumas in their own lives. So I decided to withdraw from life!
Andalene, I am so sorry for your losses. I hope you feel as if you are heard here. (((<3))).
Thank you for the article, it makes some great points that i can relate to. It’s only been a few months ago, that I learned that I was an introvert (INFP). I always wondered why, for 65 years, I thought I was different or there was something “wrong” with me.
I now realize that I unknowingly created ways to deal with being an Innie without knowing why I did it. For me, in social situations, I find that I will either just shrink back into the the sidelines for a while or seek out my small group of comfortable friends to interact with before I jump back into the social chaos. This helps me catch my breath and recharge a little so I can become that social person again. It’s not that I don’t like to be social, I can only take so much of it before I just have find a way to avoid the bombardment it inflicts on me.
Yes, anyone who is an introvert can relate. the older i get, the more i treasure my “me” time. being an awakened Gnostic, even more so. pretty well everyone drains me. i am around people for spurts at work, but as soon as i can, i find my cocoon and get the F outta dodge. At the end of the day, I lock the door and say hello to my bud, my cat.
wish i had a job where i could be paid and stay at home alone, but unfortunately, i still have to get out and work. i get paid and for the moment can have my own office, which i love. So this place takes it away and makes me work with people, as i wait for the world to end.
what do i like most about this world and existenz? The end of it. i still have work to do, so this keeps me looking forward to a time of freedom from Evil and it is coming. a time when the vampires will finally be the victims of their own vampirism, yay!
I will keep wishing and it will happen. too many energy vampires, who are running out of juice, yay!
I look forward to the world/universe finishing itself off as it is doing quite nicely! i have zero interest in reincarnating into this mess again.
if i could spend my day with anyone in the world, my first choice is my own company, after that, the priorities narrow to who i need to see. visiting is way down, around the area of no way in…
there are “nice” people, but really, i just do not want to be around most, except for a limited time period. maybe a couple of hours, then a break, then maybe more, then break… People suck, especially energies from introverts, LOL!
i have discovered i could be listed as a-sexual and have zero interest in company. My best time is spent meditating, going for a walk or playing music, everything else is a chore and not worth the time.
My best friend is myself!
First, Michaela, I wish I would have understood myself when I was in high school and college – the absolute worst time in life to be a social introvert! And second, does anyone ever find that people who have seen you at your most energetic social self seem to say things like, “remember when you were fun?” or introduce you as the person who “used to be fun” implying you were fun but not anymore?
I have experienced most,if not all, that was discussed above. I am now 57, and just recently understood that I am an introvert. This is my first response to introvert spring
This explains a lot of my life, I think, still looking at things. I need my down time, as Ive said before ” I need to go work with my hands, before I go crazy”…
I am a 911 dispatcher, and was a Delivery Driver for 23 years….
One personality test I took said it might not be a party when you get there, but by the time you leave…:)
That is so true about me. But yet I feel alone at the same time, always helping in the background to avoid too much interaction, and misunderstood often. I have always thought it was me somehow being unintenionally a jerk, not my wiring… It gives me a little hope.