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Introverts and extroverts

As I’ve grown and understand more about myself these past few weeks, I’ve learnt – or rediscovered – that I’m an introvert. And that’s ok.

In this extroverted world, where extroversion is rewarded and introversion is punished or encouraged to change, introverts are misunderstood in a big way. Many introverts find that the only way to get ahead is to pretend to be extroverted, and then find themselves experiencing inner conflict as they struggle to be something they’re not.

I can imagine that those who haven’t adequately dealt with who they are end up trying to please extroverts by avoiding conflict and pretending to enjoy the things that extroverts enjoy. And yet, at the same time, they hate it. They can’t deal with it. All they want to do is sit down by themselves to ponder the mysteries of life, and instead they find themselves having to go do extroverted activities. They get angry, at themselves and those whom they feel are forcing them to be something they’re not, just so they can be accepted.

That was me.

With what I’ve been learning about passive aggression, and introversion / extroversion, I feel like I’m coming a long way towards understanding my own personality type and accepting it, as well as understanding what it is to be an extrovert and relating to them.

Extroverts and introverts often have heated debates or fullblown arguments about various things, simply because they don’t see things from each other’s point of view. The extrovert, knowing that they make up the majority of people, consider themselves ‘normal’, and therefore try to encourage the introvert to become ‘more normal’. The introvert is encouraged to become more extroverted, in order to fit in. If the introvert doesn’t want to do something that involves mixing with other people, or even just engaging in small talk with others, then the extrovert feels that the introvert is holding them back.

Things can escalate out of control if the extrovert feels that the introvert is doing it on purpose, and it can then become a personal affront against them that must be changed at all costs.

When under stress, the introvert, being an internally-focused person, seems to withdraw as they try to process whatever it is that’s stressing them. The extrovert, when stressed, instead talks more. As a result of the misunderstanding about behaviour and personality types, the extrovert, when confronted by a silent introvert, feels that they’re being ignored and unsupported. This creates more conflict as the extrovert tries to drag information out of the introvert, who only feels like withdrawing more as they try to process what’s happening.

This is a common theme between introvert / extrovert relationships. A lack of understanding on both sides often ends up destroying those relationships.

If you’re an introvert or an extrovert, there’s some guidelines below to help you understand your introverted or extroverted partner, in order to relate to them better.

How to Love an Introvert

Attention: Show an awareness and loyalty towards him and who he is.
Acceptance: Validate his need for space and time alone without taking it as rejection.
Affection: Let her give the signal for closeness of any kind.
Appreciation: Express gratitude and recognition for any kindness, and a willingness to accommodate you.
Allowing: Respect his need to be alone until he asks for time together.

How to Love an Extrovert

Attention: Take frequent notice of – and an active interest in – what she is doing.
Acceptance: Show that you are on her side and at her side.
Affection: Be frequently demonstrative–physically and verbally–of your love.
Appreciation: Make frequent mention and on special occasions a special mention of your recognition.
Allowing: Join her and share in her interests in some way as often as you can.

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