Do you have an introvert in your life? Are they your sibling, your best friend, or perhaps your romantic partner? Introverts can often be misunderstood and so it’s important that you know how to care for introverts. There are some special ways to let them know that you support them and most importantly, their lifestyle.
What is introversion?
The terms extrovert and introvert were coined by noted Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung in the 1920s to describe the two types of personalities. Extroverts mostly feel energized by social interactions while introverts tend to energize themselves by doing solitary activities.
In fact, introverts may feel mental, emotionally, and physically drained by socializing as crowds and loud environments are overstimulating to them.
“Extroverts have little or no grasp of introversion. They assume that a company, especially their own, is always welcome. They cannot imagine why someone would need to be alone,” adds Jonathan. And this is why extroverts often fail to properly care for them. So if you are an extrovert, it is likely that you are unable to properly care for your introvert.
Introverts are different
But why do extroverts often misunderstand introverts? Because introverts are very different from extroverts. And the reason why the two personalities are so different is due to the neurotransmitter dopamine.
According to several studies, dopamine is a chemical that is released in the brain and is linked with reward-seeking behavior. This neurotransmitter enables us to pursue external goals to accomplish external rewards. So dopamine may make you feel the rush of reward by earning more money, getting a promotion, making new friends, or attracting a mate.
Although extroverts and introverts have equal amounts of dopamine, the main difference is how these two personalities react to the dopamine reward network.
According to Scott Barry Kaufman, the Scientific Director of The Imagination Institute, extroverts have a highly active dopamine reward network. So during a social event, an extrovert feels energized, while an introvert feels drained. The reality is, the more you learn about introverts, the better you will be able to care for your introvert.
What makes introverts happy
Due to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, introverts feel energized by doing solo activities and turning inwards, according to educational psychologist Christine Fonseca, MS. This enables introverts to enjoy individual tasks and the ability to reflect. As it is easier to turn inwards with minimal distractions, introverts prefer to stay alone or in a peaceful environment.
However, that doesn’t mean introverts are aloof, rude, arrogant, or shy, says Jonathan Rauch. He explains “ Introverts are not necessarily shy. Shy people are anxious or frightened or self-excoriating in social settings; introverts generally are not. Introverts are also not misanthropic… Rather, introverts are people who find other people tiring.”
Now that you know what makes your introvert so different from you, it is crucial that you understand how to best care for your introvert.
How to care for your introvert
If you want to truly care for your introvert you have to start by understanding who they are inside and what motivates them to behave and act in the way they do. Author and senior fellow Jonathan Rauch believes there are 3 main ways to care for your introvert:
- Understand who they are and realize that they do not choose to be an introvert. He explains that introversion is “not a lifestyle. It’s an orientation.”
- Never ask an introvert if they are alright when you find them lost in their thoughts.
- Do not interrupt them in any way and just let them be. “Don’t say anything else, either,” says Jonathan concludes.
Here are some other helpful tips that will help you care for the introvert in your life and show them how much they mean to you.
1. Never call them shy
Introverts are not antisocial or shy. The more you understand an introvert, the more you realize that there are too many myths and misconceptions surrounding introverts. Introverts are good friends and excellent lovers. They enjoy the company of others but in small doses. When you label them as shy, you not only insult them but push them away as well, damaging your relationship.
2. Give them space
Make sure to respect their privacy and allow them a lot of space as introverts love to reflect and introspect. Although privacy is important for everyone, introverts NEED their alone time to recharge themselves, emotionally and mentally. Once they are reenergized they will come back to you.
3. Choose texting over calling
If you keep calling an introvert constantly, chances are your calls will not get answered. Introverts are not the biggest fans of talking on the phone. So if they don’t answer your calls, don’t take it personally. Texts and emails are a better way to communicate with your introvert.
4. Don’t put them in the spotlight
Being social is not their greatest strength. But if you truly want to care about your introvert, make sure you don’t make them the center of attention in any social gathering. Don’t joke about them, embarrass them or even praise them in public. They feel highly uncomfortable and ashamed.
5. Don’t force them to be social
As you know by now that introverts are not a fan of socializing. So when you force them to go to a party or a social event with you, you will only end up making them uncomfortable. Repeat this a few times and they will stay away from you. You can ask them to join you, but accept their decision about it.
6. Ask before making plans
It is a great idea to ask about their schedule before you plan any event with them. However, you should also mentally prepare to get rejected. It is best to ask them if they are available during the weekend or invite them to a small gathering of close friends to make sure they feel comfortable.
7. Never interrupt them
If you want truly want to care for your introvert, then make sure that you don’t interrupt them when they are contemplating or thinking about ideas. When you allow them to be in their own space, they can come up with some truly fascinating ideas and solutions.
8. Allow them to observe first
They are very observant by nature. They like to take their time to observe new surroundings, opportunities, and challenges. They act only after they have observed all aspects and are sure about their surroundings. If you want your introvert to be comfortable around you, allow them the space to observe and appreciate their thoughtfulness.
9. Give them a heads up
If you are planning to change something or surprise them, make sure to give them advance warning or hints about the upcoming changes. Introverts are excellent planners and are skilled at organizing different aspects of their lives.
Being very calculated, introverts may get stressed and anxious when faced with unexpected changes. So it’s better to let them know in advance and allow them to prepare accordingly.
10. Don’t ask for an instant response
Introverts love to take their time and think about ideas and situations. As they are very thoughtful, they are often not ready with an immediate response when asked out of nowhere. Not only will you not get any answer, you will annoy them as well. When you allow them to think and reflect, an introvert will always tell you their honest opinion.
11. Don’t try to ‘fix’ them
Respect the personality of an introvert and don’t force or manipulate them to become an extrovert. If you want to truly care for your introvert, then let them be who they are. Don’t try to control them or change them, ‘fix’ them or ‘improve’ them. There is nothing to be fixed. When you accept your introvert as their genuine self, you will be able to form a strong and lasting bond with them.
Accept your introvert unconditionally
Introverts are not complicated or difficult people. They are simply individuals who enjoy their own company as they have deep inner worlds. They love to reflect and think about thoughts and ideas and find out unique solutions to various problems in life. They are excellent listeners and are great at maintaining relationships, provided you allow them to be themselves.
Instead of trying to “fix” your introvert, allow them to grow and thrive in their own way. Accept them as they are and stop thinking there is something wrong with them. When you accept and love them unconditionally, you will realize that it’s very easy to care for your introvert.
Here is an interesting video that you may find helpful: