Ten Ways to Ignite a Relationship With a Sensitive Introvert

couple holding hands in sunshine

I consider myself a long-term case study in intimacy. I’ve put myself out there and experienced the world of dating and relationships first hand as an introvert. My own trials and errors along with the countless comments, stories and wise words from the space2live community have provided a rich and deep understanding of what introvert’s want in a relationship. Along with that knowledge came faceted input and requests from their partners (both introverts and extroverts). I’ve synthesized the love data and come up with ten simple ways to create a satisfying and sensual relationship with a soulful introvert.

10 Ways to a Blissful Relationship with an Introvert

1.  Appreciate and honor temperament differences. Merely tolerating each other’s differences is not enough. Resentment or even contempt could build. Truly see the value in the way each person is wired. Examples: Admire your partner’s depth in concentration rather than resenting their need for solitude. The introvert can consider their partner’s request for time together as a genuine desire to connect rather than a need for attention.

2.  Indulge in meaningful and deep conversations. Most introverts lust after expansive connections. Exquisite discussions and wisdom light us up.They feed our brains and spirits and give us energy. Example: Discussing personal evolution or epiphanies gained from recent reading will score bigger points than describing what you checked off your to do list today.

3.  Establish communication about boundaries. Early on, the need for space or need for connection should be discussed. Examples: It is the introvert’s responsibility to communicate when they need space and when they will be available to be fully present for their partner. It is the extrovert’s job to NOT take the request for time away personally and to let us know when they need connection.

4.  Protect and respect our solitude. Introverts get energy from within. We fully participate in the world but then need quiet time to assimilate our thoughts about what we experienced. This synthesizing creates space and energy within us which allows us to venture out and give/participate again. Example: We may spend a weekend with our lover laughing, talking and taking in an activity or two. After that, we may want time alone to take on personal projects and to simply re-live the weekend in our heads. Introverts can fall in love all over again through our memories. If you protect our solitude we may return to you even more enchanted with the relationship.

5. Make our lives easier. Do this and we will have more energy to give to you. We will shower you with listening and love. Examples: Do the planning for the date. Offer us a ride to the airport. Simplify a household task for us. Free our mind of extraneous details. Keep the kids out of our hair.

6.  Introduce laughter and playfulness. Introverts can get lost in our piggyback ridethoughts and seriousness. Levity and humor can surprise us and shift our focus out of intense gear. Examples: Pick us up and throw us over your shoulder when we are stewing in our own ruminations. Tickle us. Quote or act like a character from a clever but stupid movie like Napoleon Dynamite.

7.  Read space2live or other introvert-rich sites for understanding and awareness. The more you understand introversion the easier the communication and the less chance of feeling rejected. Examples of introvert websites: Sheep Dressed Like Wolves, Introvert, Dear, Sacred Introvert, Create Beyond Limits or Introvert Spring

8.  Come to us as a whole person. Please don’t come to us needing entertainment or completion. That’s too much pressure. It takes too much energy to be your happiness. We want to share experiences and give to you but not be your everything. Example: It’s a positive sign when you have friends and outside interests. Bonus points if you have passionate endeavors that give you purpose.

9.  Be a steadfast companion. Make it clear you will be there for us. This will make us feel OK about requesting solitude because we know you’ll be there when we return. Let us press up against you with our ideas and emotions while you hold steady. This will alleviate our worry that you can’t handle our sensitivity and it will give us the courage and strength to be steady for you. Trust sets our hearts free. Example: Listen deeply as we describe a stressful situation with a co-worker or one of the kids and then hug us and say you will help us work it out.

10.  Stimulate our brain for ultimate sensuality. The brain is the couple in lightlargest sex organ. Introverts get that. Emotional, intellectual and spiritual intimacy are big turn ons. Introverts are romantic and sexual beings. Ignite our minds and we’ll respond with passion and sensuality. Example: Prime our bodies with a little verbal sexual flirtation or personal vulnerability. Both will spark physical attraction and desire. 

Most of the points listed are valuable for every kind of relationship. It may seem like we have demanding expectations but all of the items are stated with the intention that they will lead to reciprocal love and care from the introvert.

We want to be amazing partners.

We want strong and true relationships.

If you touch on a few or all of the items above, an introvert could make you feel more alive than you ever thought possible. You could find yourself in a deeply meaningful relationship.

What are the most important parts of a relationship for you the introvert? The extrovert? What ignited your most successful relationships? 

If this post resonated with you, you may also love:

Introverts Explained: Why We Love You But Need to Get Away From You

Introvert Relationships: Love Me or Leave Me But Please Don’t Need Me (Too Much)

Emotional Intimacy: An Introvert’s Ultimate Turn On?

Building Beautiful Introvert/Extrovert Relationships

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28 Comments

  1. Aimee
    December 27, 2015

    Dear Brenda, thank you so much for such a quick response. I hope you spent many nice moments with your loved ones. I thought a lot about it these days. He has never really been in a true relationship. He was what I would call in love before, had a girlfriend once for about three months, but she just disappeared. He has been a loner in these past years. I think a sudden relationship with a person even less demanding can be very stressful and pressuring.
    I really love his ways when we are together, he really felt like “home”, he is calm and very intelligent. I feel good with him on an intellectual level, which I never felt that much with someone before.
    I don’t really need anyone to work with on my problems, I am progressing with that on my own for almost a year already and I see results that make me very happy. I was single for a longer time now and it helped me, so the anxieties really hit me again when we started dating. His behavior triggered them much stronger, but they would have been there anyway. He made me realize that I am very afraid of losing “control” when I fall in love and I am actually very grateful for that, no matter how things will go.
    I just don’t want to lose him over that. Giving him the break he needs now is very hard, but I want to try it and accept the fear of uncertainty.

    I think a person like him is very afraid when he thinks he is being needed. He often insisted on me making my own plans so that he could eventually fit in if he felt like it. I couldn’t understand that for a few months, I was not able to deal with what I thought was rejection at that point. I understand the question about my love for “him or somebody to work on problems”, because I haven’t made him feel appreciated in any way when I complained.
    I saw only the absence, not the time he gave me (which was a lot for him). He said he had a lot to figure out by himself when we got closer, so he wasn’t really open for a relationship at that point. We liked each other so we tried, but fear of commitment and anxieties hit me just as hard. It all became more obvious very recently for me. I just don’t want to lose him, so I hope my actions show him I am working on giving myself the ground under my feet that I need so much.

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      December 29, 2015

      Sounds like you are evolving just as you should and so is your relationship. Let things unfold. Enjoy it all.:)

      Reply
  2. masobotk
    May 1, 2015

    These perspectives are so wonderful: thank you so much. I feel as though I’m in a more unique (and thus frustrating) situation, but the introvert perspective is still very much needed for me. The relationship (oh, and it’s also long-distance for 6 more weeks…it’s been almost 2 years) I have with my boyfriend *looks* pretty classic innie-outie: he is the introvert, and I the extrovert. But that’s not quite right: I’m actually a *dead center* ambivert. My brain wants to do and be everything. I need a little bit of everything, every day, and while this can be exhausting (for me and for everyone else…), I feel it’s made me incredibly adaptable, and I am very happy for that.

    But being an ambivert has its drawbacks: the major one being that I have both the intense emotionality of many introverts I’ve known, and a complete and utter inability to keep it bottled, like a lot of extroverts. I’m a loud HSP. That has historically scared my boyfriend to death, especially when he needs to ask (petition?) for space. I used to take his pulling back personally: I understood his need, but it still stung on a level. We have since worked on that together and now it is much easier for me, but the fact remains that he is still afraid of hurting me because I cannot hide how I feel, even though I recover relatively quickly. I have done my best to communicate to him that everything really will be okay with me (even if I am…expressive :/ ), and I try to check in on him every so often and ask if he needs space (he has emotional trauma in his past, so it can be hard for him to tell me on his own).

    I feel like it’s been slow going, and I don’t know what I can do better. We’ve been working on this stuff together, and it’s usually a wonderful learning process for both of us; but sometimes it’s three steps forward, slip in mud and roll back down the hill. He recently confessed that he’d been lying to me for a while: telling me he was okay when I asked if he needed space, when he really wasn’t okay. Because he was afraid of my reactions.

    Part of it is the distance. We recognize that it makes us neurotic sometimes. I have tried to hide my emotions, and I’m getting better at it. But even though it’s helped him a bit, it feels incredibly dishonest and it hurts. A lot. I have been working on not taking his withdrawals personally, and that is getting easier. I’ve been working on communicating less with him: also getting easier. But I feel so betrayed right now. I feel like I have to defer to his needs most of the time, and I don’t know how to communicate to him that I have them too, and as much a right to have those met as he does.

    When we’re in the same room, things are a lot easier. But distance is awful right now, and I don’t know what else I need to do for him. I’m exhausted, I miss his company, I understand his need for space because I have it too sometimes. But I can’t do all of this myself, and I don’t know what to ask for. Or if I can even ask for anything.

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      May 1, 2015

      I can understand why you feel like the one who is bending all the time. It doesn’t seem fair. It does sound like your boyfriend was silently bending by not telling you when he needed space. One thing I want you to know – You do not have to be in synch all the time. It’s OK if you want to be together and he wants time alone. It doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed. Both of you need to know how to self-soothe. What can you do to ‘fall together’ rather than fall apart when he distances himself? Can you learn to not take it personally? Can you talk to yourself like a friend and say you didn’t do anything wrong, the situation is temporary? Can you do some self-care and indulge yourself in a passion?
      I am like you, an expressive HSP. I am emotionally strung. It is hard to quell the feelings but over the years and within different relationships I’ve learned to not let them completely take over. I try to be able to move through them. It is easier if you have a steadfast partner who can handle your emotions and who you know is not going anywhere. That type of partner makes you want to be ‘together’.
      You should not have to go completely against your nature in order to be in this relationship. Every relationship involves some loss or giving in but it should feel like a gift to your partner not a way to get attention or gain self-value.
      I hope some of the above is helpful. Thank you for writing in and sharing your story.

      Reply
      • masobotk
        May 1, 2015

        It is very helpful! Thank you for giving some more light to process things by 🙂

        Reply
      • Aimee
        December 24, 2015

        It is very difficult for me to contact my boyfriend less and accept the distance he puts between us constantly. I can understand very well how hard it is. I am quite an extrovert person and due to some emotional baggage, I tend to need a lot of attention from my partner. My boyfriend of almost 6 months (if you don’t count the times he almost broke up because he couldn’t handle the pressure of thinking he cannot satisfy my needs) needed a lot of time from the very beginning. he used to leave regularly to go see his family and he completely disappeared after a day or two. he always came back ok, saying he had missed me. But the more we were dating, the less ok I felt with this distance and started questioning it. He was gone for a week and then still needed time when he was back before we could see each other.

        He started making plans with me, but many times he cancelled them last minute because he needed alone time. I started taking it personally and I let that shine through more and more as we started to know each other better. Recently, he started seeing me even less because he felt pressured when he felt he “had to” see me because I wanted it…For me, that was even worse. I couldn’t enjoy the moments together anymore as I was filled with doubt about his feelings at a certain point. Then I started discussions (or should I call it monologues) and obviously it became a vicious cycle. Now, we are apart for some time again and I try to contact him less, not pressure him to come see me…it is very hard. I really love this guy. It is the first time I am with somebody who needs alone time (that much). Being in a difficult situation right now with my life, I talked to him about my problems, but it felt like he couldn’t handle the idea that I could need him in any way.

        Reply
        • Brenda Knowles
          December 27, 2015

          Sorry for the delayed response. I was enjoying the holiday with my family away from technology.:) It sounds to me like your man needs a lot of freedom. Has he been single a long time? I dated someone quite similar once. He may care about you but he needs to be able to detach often. It seems like you are rather attached to his presence. Do you love HIM or are you in love with having someone to work through your problems with? Are you happy with him? Are you content with someone who needs so much time away from you? I don’t see his behavior changing and he doesn’t seem to want to honor your needs. If you want to be especially attractive to him, I would work on your self-soothing skills. I wrote about that kind of work in this post http://brendaknowles.com/self-soothing-and-not-giving-a-fckmanaging-your-own-anxiety-and-emotions/. I am working on that skill as well. Hope my response gives you a different perspective to ponder. It’s hard loving someone who often leaves you. I know. I’ve been there. In the end, I really couldn’t trust the man who cancelled plans on me last minute. I hope you and your man can go head to head and heart to heart and work through this, because you’ll have to work through it. There is no avoiding it. Best of luck.

          Reply
    • Aimee
      December 4, 2016

      Hi, I just wanted to check in and ask how things went with your partner after you wrote, masobotk.
      Reading you now, a year later after we wrote here, and after getting to know my boyfriend better (who recently broke up again), I totally understand this, because we ended up going through the same thing.
      I tried to see him more (which meant usually two days on weekends due to distance) and he was, as he said, very much crippled by his issues and personal problems and very often felt like being alone. He also felt very pressured by his family, who wanted him to “do this, do that” and where he is unable to say no most of the time. He then says yes, but his behavior means no. He felt quite pressured by me and my requests for time, and also retracted completely because he became, as he told me, too afraid of my reactions (expressing disappointment and making a discussion about it). He felt like there was no way to tell me what he wanted (usually time), because to me it became weird and very hard to take that he needed more space even after the whole week apart.
      He says now that he was doing very bad already for some time and that he needs to work on his problems alone. I always thought “but if you want that much space, isn’t it obvious that you need to face the partner’s unhappy feelings and comfort them still”? I don’t really know, but I guess he felt powerless. He started canceling last minute many times again and was angry when I became upset. Endless circle. I tried not to take it personally and ended up managing most of the time, but I couldn’t understand how he told me he’ll come all week and then suddenly he’d feel so pressured and was unable to leave the house.
      When we were together it was usually easier for me to handle his “distant behavior”, because he tried to be loving and I saw he wanted to make the effort. He still says his reason to break up is not his feelings for me, but that he had a hard time committing due to his issues. You could always sense that he was very pressured. I think he often had to force himself to act “as a partner”, or to maybe even “hide” that he was in some kind of hole, because he wanted me to feel appreciated.
      Again, I don’t want to give up on him, even if I can’t but accept the breakup for now.
      All the best.

      Reply
  3. Insecurity
    November 27, 2014

    Well now I am thoroughly confused! my boyfriend took a personality test and is apparently an ENTP type,coming out as an extroverted personality! When I discovered your website, he fitted perfectly into the introverted personality, especially with his massive desire to have frequent space.
    Can you throw any light on this, as he said that in the main, the results were spookily accurate. Such a fascinating subject ……

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      November 29, 2014

      It has been my experience that those types with an NT (the temperament author David Keirsey labeled – Rational) are more serious and spend a lot of time in their head (thinking) and often need time alone. NTs like systems, technology, science. Einstein was an NT. Your boyfriend, although an extrovert, could be exhibiting characteristics of the Rational temperament. The P in ENTP could also mean he likes the freedom to follow his own impulses as well. I hope that helps a little.

      Reply
  4. Brett
    November 22, 2014

    Wow. If an extroverted gal exists that inherently “gets” all of that list, I might be perfectly happy to spend my “alone time” with her.

    Reply
    • Brett
      November 22, 2014

      (and quote Napoleon Dynamite).

      Reply
      • Brenda Knowles
        November 23, 2014

        Yes, that extroverted gal (or guy in my case) may be kind of a unicorn but then again there may be one who’s willing to work at it.:) We have to be willing to work with them too.

        Reply
  5. Insecurity
    November 21, 2014

    Great post in understanding introverts better. I agree, it would be good for both personalities to learn how to get the best out of each other.
    For me, I sometimes get let down at the last minute on dates, or they are shortened, which I believe is my boyfriend’s almost sudden need for space. There is always an excuse which never quite rings true, despite the fact that I have said that I appreciate that he needs space and I hope that he feels that he can ask for it when he needs it. I actively encourage it. I cannot make it more plain and at a loss as to how I can make him see that this is fine with me. I just need an explanation which would save the stress of such situations. If I didn’t know better I would think that he is trying to back out of the relationship, let me down lightly, but that is definitely not the case. I keep my disappointed feelings to myself so he doesn’t realise the effect it has on me. So, it would help me if anyone out there has similar issues. Does the introverts need for space come on suddenly? It is so difficult to cope with sometimes.
    When we do have quality time together, our relationship is amazing. When we are apart and communication is mainly by text, I now worry, having explored this site, that my texts are too long, or too banal for the deep and meaningful needs of an introvert. How can I get a good balance with this? Any help with this would be really appreciated.

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      November 22, 2014

      It sounds like you have communicated well with your boyfriend regarding your understanding of his need for space. He still may feel guilty about needing to be away from you. We are trained to believe that being with people is normal, being alone is abnormal. If your quality time together is incredible he may feel even more confusion/shame about why he needs to get away from you sometimes.
      I would suggest keeping your texts succinct but meaningful when you two are apart. I would also keep the number to a minimum. I know if I get too many texts, even from someone I enjoy, they start to feel like interruptions. One or two a day is good.
      Your awareness and understanding will benefit the relationship. He needs to know he can trust you with his need for solitude. This may just take time. Best of luck! You are on the right path.:)

      Reply
      • Insecurity
        November 24, 2014

        Thank you for your response. I will take this on board.
        This may seem like a silly question, but how short is a “short” text? I only tend to text once a day so as not to put pressure on my boyfriend to reply twice. His are normally shorter than mine, but even he writes longer texts sometimes! Both our texts mostly are light unless either of us has something serious to say.

        Your view would be appreciated.

        Reply
        • Brenda Knowles
          November 26, 2014

          Once a day should not be bothersome. A few sentences are fine. A few paragraphs tend to appear daunting to reply to. You can’t be counting words and lines and be authentic. Express yourself but use his responses as your guide for how long your follow up texts should be. You have to be yourself in order to see if the relationship can really work. He has to honor you too.:)

          Reply
      • Brenda Knowles
        December 21, 2014

        No problem. I changed the name to your anonymous one.:)

        Reply
  6. November
    November 18, 2014

    I am really glad to see this post. My latest relationship just got put on hold because he asked for space and time to process and understand some issues going on in his life (not related to me, which gives me peace). After 6 months of daily (hourly) texting, too-short weekends together, and lots of longing–it’s been 9 days since I’ve heard from him (9 days since he asked for space). IT.SEEMS.LIKE.FOREVER.
    We parted unwillingly, tearfully. Our last words were–Me: “I want to pick up where we’re leaving off.” Him: “Absolutely. I want to fast-forward past all this.”

    He hasn’t told me he’s an introvert, but I think he is. I fully understand this need for space, and I feel that I am being offered a gift–space for myself to work on my OWN issues (unrelated to him). I don’t know how much time he needs….4 weeks….(I hope not) 4 months? I feel that the ball is in his court and I’ve come to the conclusion that if he is the consistent, quality person I knew for 6 months, I will hear from him; and if he leaves me hanging, then that tells me something different.

    But I excitedly read this post, wanting to share it with him….to discuss “Me The Introvert”, to learn more about him, to communicate better about “us”. If we meet up in the hopefully-soon future, I will definitely print out this post and share it with him. He awakened things in me I haven’t felt before. It was cut too short, too soon…..I feel I have more things to learn and more “awakenings” to have, so I hope to hear from him soon. If anything, absence is making my heart grow fonder and I can’t wait to throw my arms around him again.

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      November 19, 2014

      It sounds like you have something really good. You’re doing it right. He knows you will be there for him when he’s ready. He has told you he wants to be with you in the end. He is being mature and working through things. You are being mature and understanding that need.
      I hope you do get to share this post with him. I hope it brings you even closer. Give us an update later. All the best to you. Sounds very promising.:)

      Reply
      • November
        December 20, 2014

        I did end up hearing from him again, and I thought things were back on track. A few weeks have passed and I assume that stress has gotten the better of him. He’s pulled away again, but this time, immediately after I texted him about “us”…not knowing where I stand with him, feeling confused and rejected. No response. I’ve been left hanging. I shouldn’t have done it over text, but I’ve had ZERO luck telling people when they’ve hurt me. It always backfires. And now it did again.

        I’m going over all the same responses I told myself the first time he withdrew, and they still fit, but the complete silence of this occasion is unacceptable. It hurts so much, to feel like my feelings don’t matter. But like last time, I’m trying to console myself that he will contact me again. We had such a perfect relationship, I want that back.

        I know that the timing of us meeting, is very off. We are both going through stuff in life that is stressful. I keep hanging on to all the wonderful things he said to me and hoping that we can pick back up. However the conversations that will need to take place, will involve me putting my hurts out on the table again. I don’t trust him anymore. I am more than willing to give space, but he needs to say something.

        Do you think that pulling away without contact, like this, is an introvert trait?

        Reply
        • Brenda Knowles
          December 23, 2014

          I do think pulling away without contact is an introvert thing but I also think a respectful introvert will figure out how to communicate their need for space and not leave their companion hanging. As an introvert it is OK to need downtime/ alone time but it is not OK to be thoughtless. If he is a quality person he will communicate with you. Fingers crossed he comes through. It may take some time but hopefully he will realize the effort required in a relationship worth maintaining.

          Reply
  7. shannon
    November 15, 2014

    I greatly appreciate all of your wisdom and insight into introverts. The woman that I love is one… and of course I’m an extrovert… what started off as an exciting and intimate relationship has moved into something less than that due to our differences… and we’ve discussed them and are working through things… basically what it has come down to is me giving the space that is necessary for her to be comfortable… I guess I’m just frustrated that in your articles on relationship btw introverts and extroverts, most of your focus is directed at extroverts giving what they need to help the introvert… there is so little about the introvert learning to give some back… it just can’t be all about the one… I’m pretty frustrated and can’t seem to find any material that actually helps both sides to meet part way…

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      November 17, 2014

      That’s excellent feedback for me Shannon. Thank you. I whole-heartedly agree it has to be a two-way street. I often tell my extrovert readers who send me questions about their relationships, that both temperaments need to be honored. I have actually been in a relationship where I felt like the extrovert — often wanting more time with my significant other and not getting it.
      I admit I have a bias toward giving the introvert space, perhaps because for so long it felt like introverts were the ones required to assimilate into the extroverted culture. We gave. Now it’s your turn.;) I know that is not a particularly objective or mature perspective but it’s the first reaction I have. My most practical advice for innie/outie relationships is for the introvert to make it clear they need time to themselves but also state why (it’s not because they don’t want to be around their partner necessarily, more because they need to process experiences and re-charge themselves) and let their partner know when (as specifically as possible) they will be available and fully present for them. Now, I have tried to live up to my advice in my relationships and confess there have been times when I wish I could have a little more time than what I told my partner (because the writing was flowing, my free time got interrupted by someone else needing me) but I realize how important quality time is to a relationship. I will keep pondering your request. Perhaps you could help me by telling me exactly what you would like to see/hear/feel from your introverted partner that you are not getting or even what you are getting but would like more of. Thanks again for your thoughtful feedback. My mind is working on it.:)

      Reply
  8. dwagenfeld
    November 15, 2014

    Brenda
    You totally hit the nail on the head with this one! 🙂

    Reply
  9. Stephanie
    November 14, 2014

    Love it, great list and some really resonate with me. Thank you for your research and sharing X

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      November 15, 2014

      Best writer feeling ever – when their writing resonates.:) Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Reply
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