Dealing with introverts

Image credits: Aaron Burden / Unsplash

There she was, chatting amicably with people. She seemed at ease, relaxed, bubbly some would say. The truth was far from that. He knew her well by now. She wasn’t having fun. She was exhausted.

How different their lives were. For him chatting came naturally. He could do it for hours. For her, it was a gruesome effort. He felt at home chit-chatting with strangers. He could go deep or shallow. The interaction was fun.

Not for her. She needed quiet. She needed time to think, to find her words, her feelings. It was like the world was going too fast for her. She could sprint for a while, but eventually, she needed a break.

Then she would escape to a lonely place. No people, no conversations. Just her, sitting on a chair, breathing.

He stared at her, and their eyes met. She needed a break. They both sat down in silence. There was nothing to say, nothing to talk about. They sat there, looking into each other’s eyes. He could see her relaxing, bringing down her “social” mask. It was an eerie feeling. She looked the same, but it wasn’t the same. He felt special. It was such an intimate moment.

Of course, that’s not what she saw. For her, it was a refugee. Finally, someone, she could be herself with. No pretending, no smiling all the time, no need to be happy for the sake of others. She was safe with him. It was awkward, but she felt she wasn’t judged by him. That made her feel at home there, which also terrified her. Was that ok? Was she leading him to think something that wasn’t?

People came around, and he could see how she brought back her mask. Back to work. Back to the social world around her. He could see how each time it was harder for her. She needed a break.

“Let’s go,” she said to him.

He knew she just needed out. She needed quiet. He was more than happy to oblige. He was surprised though. Being with her was always an enigma. While he could see right through her, her volatile feelings were too wild to predict. Who was he dealing with? The emotional side or the rational side? The vulnerable little girl or the social warrior in disguise? He knew he would pay dearly for getting so close to her.

Morning came, and like a clock, reality reset. She walked into the room, and he immediately knew something was wrong.

There he was. She wanted to see him, but it was wrong. What was she thinking? She shouldn’t have allowed him to touch her last night. She didn’t want anything with him, didn’t she? She was confused and tired.

“I can’t deal with him now,” she told herself.

She felt bad. Why was she here looking for him? Would people think she wasn’t professional by being there? What would others think? She needed to do something useful, not stand there doing nothing. But still, she didn’t want to leave.

He stared at her. There it was, the guilt, the need to run away. That was his curse, seeing too much in others. He could see her wrestling with her feelings. On one side her need for warmth, on the other, her call for duty. He knew. Deep down he knew duty would always win. She won’t let her feelings bring down her social self. She ran.

There he was again. Don’t look at him. Walk somewhere else. If he sees you, you’ll need to talk to him. He knows you, he’ll ask about what’s going on. You don’t need that distraction. Why did he have to come? This was too complicated for her. She just wanted to do her job. Looking at him brought all these feelings and complex thoughts. No time. Too much hassle.

He could see her at a distance. He knew she had seen him, but still, walked passed him. Was she the same person? He was aware that she was in there somewhere. He knew a part of her understood what she was doing, avoiding him, running away. But that didn’t make it better. On the contrary.

She saw his face. She knew he was hurting, but she couldn’t help herself. Duty was first. She needed to get through this night, and everything would be ok. She couldn’t let him distract her. Not tonight. She pushed her guilt down and moved on. She would deal with him later, he would understand. She hoped.

There was no later.

— —

Dealings between introverts and extroverts are hard. They both overlap on their extreme emotional side, but their approach to life is very different.

For introverts, being with an extrovert is hell. They keep being pulled into awkward situations, exposed to social interactions they don’t enjoy. They feel blind and confuse navigating through the social world.

For extroverts, treating introverts is tough. Every typical situation must be measured and balanced. Too much “noise” will spook them and the recovery could be nearly impossible. Also, their languages are very different, and what’s obvious for an extrovert, it’s nothing but obvious for an introvert.

Nevertheless, it seems that the combination of both sides makes for great couples. It’s reaching the ideal equilibrium for both sides that takes time, effort and many tears, but when done right, it’s a powerful combination.