You’re driving me crazy. When are you coming home? ~ Laid, by James
I always loved the above lyric. It tickled me how the singer was so tired of his girlfriend’s constant presence but in the end wanted to make sure he’d see her later. Something about that spoke to me.
I often find myself needing space from the people in my life, even the magnificent ones, but then later, maybe the next day, wishing I could hold them and whisper sweet nurturing thoughts in their ear.
I am an emotional or spiritual intimacy junkie. I am on a constant hunt to be transformed or transcended. I adore meaningful conversation that oozes vulnerability, sensitivity, authenticity and creativity. Nothing gets me more excited than eyes sparkling at each other and that euphoric feeling of, they get me. If I feel that, the gates swing open, energy floods my body and neurotransmitters flood my brain. And I want more.
But then… reality
Transcendent conversation is not an everyday, all day occurrence. There are kids to raise, taxes to pay, emails to return and irritating people stating the obvious. All of these are draining. Interactions drain introverts. Constant doing drains everyone.
Your partner becomes either another tug at your energy skirt or a blessing there to share the shitload of work and spark your passion. Most days they’re both. The problem arises when there is an imbalance, with the energy drain dominating.
What makes an introvert crave your presence?
Time away from you makes us want you. Introverts need time alone to quiet their buzzing, ever-active minds. Stillness allows the energizing space within to expand making room for new stimulation, ideas and relationships.
A session of stillness makes me remember what I love about people. It allows the connection craving to surface. Alone time connects me with myself on a very specific yet universal level. I see my values and strengths and how they serve a purpose in the world — big picture time. In the end I feel a desire to share all of this goodness with someone else.
Oh great, another cycle to endure
It’s a never-ending circle, kind of like the menstrual cycle, with PMS edginess when we don’t get our alone time and the blissful estrogen spike when we are full of stillness and ready to connect intimately.
Extroverts want to engage with us continuously but they don’t get the stillness — energy from the ether— part. I’m not saying their minds don’t benefit from quiet time. Much innovation and clarity comes from silencing the noise of the outside world, but those more towards the extrovert end of the spectrum gain pizzaz from being with others. It’s their stillness.
Space –> Sex, Intimacy, Security–> Space
Durex Condom’s study confirmed that the best sex happens when three elements are present: 1. Physical attraction 2. Emotional intimacy and 3. A feeling of being loved or security. I would venture to say that these are key elements of healthy relationships in general. As an introvert, providing #3 can be daunting. It takes constant assurance and that takes energy.
Having someone wonder where you are when you don’t come home at night is a very old human need.
— Margaret Mead
I am always grateful for my time alone during the day. My kids are in school and my friends and significant other are at work. I need that time. I gather my thoughts and restock my willingness to give to others. If I don’t get that space I am cloudy headed and irritable; I hoard my energy.
If I am full from nourishing quiet time, I want to give. Genuine love and affection rise from inside and spill onto others.
There is a rise and fall of energy and giving as an introvert’s space is filled or depleted. More unplanned space in her day means more full spiritually. More packed schedules and interactions means depleted energy stores.
I want someone to share with at the end of the day. Share decision-making, household tasks, private jokes, faceted ideas, a warm smile and a warm bed. The spiritual intimacy and feelings of security are what pull me out of the solitude realm. The desire to love is as innate as the introvert’s need for solitude. I deeply want intimacy but not at the expense of my own sanity.
Do others feel you are crazy because you flip back and forth between wanting company and wanting time to yourself? Is it hard to maintain a relationship because of your space/intimacy dichotomy?
Are you an introvert trying to explain to your partner what you need? Or are you more of an extrovert trying to understand your introverted partner? Either way, I can help guide you to greater understanding in your relationship. Please contact me to set up a coaching session. I’d love to help enhance your loving relationship.
If you prefer to learn on your own, check out my online courses on introversion, insecure attachment and building connection in relationships at brendaknowles.teachable.com or click the image below.
Ugh been reading up on introversion Bc my partner describes themselves as such — although that was never apparat initially — everything I read seems so out of touch with te reality of life and seems like a manifesto of selfishness — a defense of autonomy when in reality the world doesn’t function one bit on autonomy of any sort — like where does that exist on earth as a productive idea? I think this is complete Western psychological bs most honestly — everyone needs time to recharge alone but the world requires participation also and so do relationships. Being inept at participating Bc you are too sensitive and get overloaded should not be made into a positive that it’s not — bc it always requires others to pick up the slack. ALWAYS and not to acknowledge that is a form of dishonesty. That’s why people are searching for sites and articles like this in the first place!
I agree. There needs to be a level of responsiveness in a relationship. Needing abundant alone time or evading work in the name of introversion does not go over well and shouldn’t, but taking space to rest and regroup can be helpful to the relationship. It can give someone with a more sensitive nervous system, time to energize and ultimately return to their partner ready to connect and engage. I advise couples to aim for interdependence — having activities and identities separate from our loved ones and also together with them.
Hi my name is Jessica and I just want to say thank you! I’m 25 years old and experienced these feelings EXACTLY though I was often told this was my bipolar and anxiety but it never explained how some days I wanted to hide from the world and other days I just craved his presence and/or wanted to see friends and family…. I’m in awe…. He often called me a liar on days I felt like seeing others because “obviously I didn’t have anxiety and needed to grow up” I’m seriously in tears here I finally don’t feel AS crazy…
You are not crazy! It all depends on how calm your nervous system is. Pushing ourselves all the time, drains us. If we don’t feel especially emotionally safe in interactions it can be even more taxing. So glad you found space2live. Thanks for your comment.
Jessica, perhaps he’s not a good man for you. I’m not in favor of people who call people names, under any circumstance. And especially the ones we have closest to us. To call you a liar is brutal. Tell you that you ‘need to grow up’ is cruel, as well. My take, anyway.
I’ve had similar kinds of experiences. People like this don’t understand our makeup, and can cause quite a bit of harm.
Protect yourself. A quote I love and now live by is, ‘Surround yourself with people who lift you up.’ As for those who don’t know how to, or who put us down? Keep looking for the ones who lift you up.
I’m extremely conflict-averse. I hate it. When someone is used to conflict — and some people are; they thrive on it, or are very comfortable with it — they can act in ways, and say things, that might ‘work’ somehow in other relationships. For people who are very sensitive, it can be crushing. And hard to escape. We can tend to believe those people who criticize us, who tell us ‘we need to grow up.’ Maybe we just need to be with people who see us, believe in us, and lift us up, always. Those people are out there … 🙂
it is nice, and very interesting, to read so many comments on this article, and your responses, Brenda. so much to think about. I think it was Jasmine who wrote about her introverted boyfriend feeling at his breaking point. and interesting to read how there are many extroverts who take it personally, and really don’t understand — reasonably enough — the need for a lot of quiet. you said in one article, that her boyfriends needs time alone at home, not away for a few hours. that is true. home is a sanctuary, and that space feels sacred.
funny, too, how years of not really having that solitude, takes a toll that we are only dimly aware of, if at all. until one day, we simply cannot go on. and we may not even realize why.
the need for time varies a lot among introverts, of course. some are intense introverts, some a mix of introvert and extrovert. there are infinite variations of everything, including introverts and extroverts. to say someone is an introvert, only begins the discussion, doesn’t end it.
extroverts get lonely. introverts can feel suffocated. in many ways, it’s a sad thing to read about (and experience) the struggles between two people who, it seems, very clearly love each other intensely. i very much could relate to the woman who wrote how her boyfriend was very clear that he loved her very much, and needed space. another wrote how that need is, in fact, a need, not a choice. it is like air.
it’s funny how we take things so personally, when someone is just being herself, or himself. and the truth is, sometimes two people can love each other intensely, and will forever … and the needs can be too different, too difficult to give to each other.
yes, sometimes the one you love so intensely, you want him or her to be very far away … but not forever! omg … be away, and sometimes for extended periods is okay. but come back. don’t leave. the need to know that he or she is there, is intense. at least it is for me. when no one is there, that feels lonely.
you quoted Margaret Mead. what she wrote is true.
through the years, as the few loves i have had, have come and gone, i’ve sought ways of looking at it all, to find the bright side. would it be nice to have someone who gets me? and loves me as I am? so I can pour out all kinds of love? sure. maybe it happens, maybe it doesn’t. i sometimes conclude that my needs for solitude and quiet can be so intense, my need for space, that there may not be a fit for me. or someone i fit with. i can’t say it’s a bitter pill to swallow, as i will never quite swallow it. hope does, after all, spring eternal.
sometimes it seems so complex. others, so simple. don’t we just want someone who loves us, thinks we’re cool and all that, just the way we are? and who expresses that to us? and we feel the same things for him or her? just (just) an excitement for each other. this seems sometimes hard to find … 🙂
perhaps one of the weaknesses, the needs, of introverts (mine, surely) is the need to visibly see and feel and hear her happiness with me. perhaps it’s due to a lack of self esteem. i am probably on the hyper end of responding to positive, and withdrawing because of negatives, complaints, unhappiness. often, to me, the negatives are akin to being hit. it can take me days to recover. it can start a vicious cycle. withdraw. more unhappiness on the other side. withdraw more. very difficult to break. all the while, seeking gentleness and safety and acceptance.
the bright side — and i think surely a truth about love — is that simply to love, is a gift. to know love for another, that is a beautiful gift. to feel love, to feel excitement about who someone is, to believe in another absolutely — my gosh, these are beautiful things. gifts in and unto themselves. i am glad for those whom I have loved, whom i believed in (and still do and always will) completely. what a gift to me, to love even a few women who, really, take my breath away with their gifts, their hearts, their genius, their intelligence, their beauty in every way.
sometimes our hearts break. and still, i am glad to have loved, and will always love, those I have loved. life is surely more beautiful when we love, than when we don’t.
i hope for all of us, that we keep choosing love. always. I think it was Vonnegut who had the quote ‘Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let the pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.’
As I have before, and will again, thank you, Brenda, for a gentle place to visit, to learn, to think, to feel, to share. Today is a bit of a lonely kind of day. Reading your words, and those of others, is a comfort. Thank you for being part of this world that truly is a magnificently beautiful place.
ps … i hope you write a book from all of these. when people share from their hearts, those are the kinds of things people love to read. and surely all that is shared here, by you and others, would be of immense help to so many. we are all confused and struggling to find our way, to find another to share happiness with. just the comments here, turned on lights for many. put us into a book, Brenda … 🙂
I love getting your perspective on my words, other’s words, living as an introvert in general Michael. Thank you. I will think about a way to put everyone’s stories into a book.:)
This absolutely took my breath away! Thank you for helping me to understand where my lover goes and appreciate even more when he comes back and is focused only on me. I will never leave him wondering how important he is to me. And when words are hard to come by, I’ll rest and be covered in love feeling at home in his eyes.
Hi Ms. Knowles. I know this was a post from last year ad I am also dating an introvert but I had to respond to Kim’s post by saying I think her response was a bit unfair to us extroverts when introverts themselves are not on the receiving end of your behavior. Meaning, when YOU need space, we are the ones that are requested to give you space; when YOU feel the need to recharge and pull away, we are the ones that are asked to be patient and understanding no matter how long it takes for your return. The relationship’s growth all depends on your behavioral pattern. When you return (all charged up and ready to go), we are expected to be there and accept you back with open arms. Now I ask, how is that fair to the person who is on the receiving end of this? It has to be 50/50 understanding because if not, then plenty of extroverts will feel as though we are being taken for granted. Also, what do we get out of it? The attention onnce your return until that time comes agin where you need space and then the cycle starts all over again. You have to understand that it is very very challenging having to deal and pretty much reconstruct our behavior in order to accommodate yours. Is that fair to ask?
Hi Kerry, I agree the extrovert’s needs should be honored as well. I guess I’ll throw your own question back at you, is it fair to ask us to reconstruct our behavior in order to accommodate yours? I don’t agree that a relationship should be 50/50, at least not all the time. Relationships are most healthy when they flex and flow. Each partner taking a turn needing something from the other and then at other times each doing their own independent thing. If we are both giving or compromising equally all the time then the relationship is so neutralized, dull and personally depleting that resentment creeps in. If an introvert gets time to recharge, then comes back and gives their partner undivided attention and genuine care, I think that is ‘fair’. If we give you the attention and interaction you desire and then spend some time in solitude, I think that’s ebbing and flowing. If you feel there is an imbalance, I suggest having a conversation with your introverted partner that starts with reassurance that you love him and are not going to leave/smother him (whatever his biggest fear is) and then say you wish to work together to figure out a way for you both to feel like you win regarding the disagreement about how much time you spend together. No one should feel like they are giving up too much of themselves or compromising their boundaries/values. Hope that helps Kerry. Thanks for giving the extrovert’s perspective. It is much appreciated.
I’ve been reading your site a lot and it’s helped understand the person I’m dating. However, she can be quite dismissive and sometimes too brash when low on energy. Bow can you approach the need to say ‘I think you’re being dismissive of my feelings and need to communicate’ in a way that won’t trigger guilt or defensiveness? I understand there will always be a bit of either when we realize we’re inadvertently hurting our partner.
I feel it’s important for our growth and ability to communicate that we recognize when our defensiveNess is making us act hurtfully.
We all respond better to calm and kind words. If you feel dismissed, your relationship does not feel secure. I would suggest you use the WIN approach to effective communication. W — What actually happened. Ex. “I came into the room and you told me to leave. I — What I feel Inside. I statements and feelings are used. Ex. I felt hurt and disrespected when you said that. N — Needs and wants. Ex. I want to feel appreciated and wanted in the relationship. I need our relationship to be a safe haven for us to talk calmly and openly to each other.
It is never OK to use introversion as an excuse to hurt someone. There needs to be as much understanding on both sides as possible. Good luck having the hard talk. May it lead to progress and more intimacy.
I think it is harder for my children whom do not understand quite fully as to what being an “Introvert” means. On top of that I’m an HSP and an Empath with an INFJ personality.
I’ve been with my husband now for 20 years. This is not my first marriage. My husband is not an Introvert.
Why I believe it works for us is because we have different interests. He is a Sports Fanatic, along with my 5 children, while I am and never have been.
So while it may seem strange to others, when he kisses me when he gets home from work, usually around 8pm, he retires upstairs with the 2 remaining children at home to watch Sports (my other 3 children are full grown adults living their own lives).
That coupled with the fact he leaves the house at 4:30 am – before I am awake – and doesn’t return home until 8-830pm – and I’m usually off to bed at 9pm – makes it work for us. It just happened that way.
While he is an Extrovert he appreciates the fact that I don’t hold his work hours against him, nor do I complain about them or the fact that I hardly see him all week because they also work for me.
I’ll never forget when we were first married and he had Season Tickets not only to our state’s Hockey Team, but to their Football Team, and when I told him I wasn’t interested in going he automatically assumed that I didn’t want him going either.
Imagine his surprise when I not only encouraged him to go, but to invite his best friend to use his extra ticket on and to have fun and have drinks afterwards.
He was floored! In his previous relationships that never would have been allowed. So we both got the best of our own world’s. He was still able to hang out with his old buddies because marriage didn’t change that and I was able to get much needed Solitude while he was gone.
Now by saying this I don’t mean to offend any extrovert wives/girlfriends out there.
For the longest time I thought something was wrong with me for not wanting to share his passion/interests with him all the time. To not want to be by his side every moment. It went against everything my girlfriends had ever spoken/complained about with their own husbands. Heck, it went against every magazine article I ever read about marriage and relationships (keep in mind I was born in the late 50’s).
To finally realize that I’m “normal” and that there are others like me whom feel drained by small crowds, let alone a stadium filled with large ones, makes me wish I had known and understood more about myself when I was a lot younger.
The fact that it just happened to work out between me and my husband was a total fluke. Don’t get me wrong. We had our issues (for instance he couldn’t understand why I HATED talking on the phone. He took it very personally), but now that we know that that, among other things, are ‘normal’ for people like me there is much needed understanding.
By the same token I’m expanding as much energy in trying to understand an Extrovert’s personality. He deserves as much understanding about him from me as I do about me from him.
You sound like wise couple. It is wonderful that your schedules work out so well for both of you. You are absolutely right that both natures need to be honored. I am sure he appreciates you learning about his temperament. Keep on learning, supporting and loving each other in your own way. As long as you both feel connected, honored and valued, that is all that matters. I wrote a post this week about different personality types creating enriched lives together -Can Different Personality Types Work in Love?. You might like that.
Indeed, there are many ways our personalities benefit each other and help each other grow. There are also aspects of our personalities clash and I think the fact that I recharge much faster than he does and can recharge while being around him whereas he recharges best being left completely alone is a big part of it. I just need to be better at realizing that he needs more time than I had been giving him and time completely alone. I also agree that we should arrange that a day, at least, a week time for him to recharge and feel like he can get things accomplished that are on his personal to do list. And also time that he can have social/guy time without worrying about taking time away from me or me being an intrusion. He is extremely considerate of me and my feelings and I feel that he has been allowing it to take priority over his own needs and therefore blames me in a way. I think we need to find a way for him to communicate to me that he is in need of recharge time without feeling like he is hurting my feelings or making me feel unwanted. I would never want to be the cause of his unhappieness or frustration so anything I can do to help him feel more comfortable and happy I am fully willing to do. 🙂 You are an amazing help and have a way of wording things so wonderfully and making them so well understood. Thank you.
You are a caring thoughtful partner. Giving him words to use to tell you when he is getting overwhelmed and needs time to himself is a good idea. You could use the gas tank metaphor. He could say, “My energy tank is really low right now. I need to refuel alone.” Or you could check in with him from time to time by asking, “On a scale from one to ten how triggered or overloaded are you?” If he says anything over 5 then you know he is in need of some quiet personal time. Make it a neutral conversation with neither feeling bad about his response. It’s just his state at the time. If he has the freedom to express his true feelings then he may feel more relaxed and open and therefore less drained. Good luck!
Holy spit! I know many others agree that they wish they had found this article sooner! It probably would have saved my relationship from MANY of the arguments we’ve encountered. Especially the most recent one in which he told me he lives me to death and how amazing I am as a person but misses being single. Until reading your article, I could not seem to wrap my head around how he could want to be single again but love me so much and think so highly of me. I understand now that when he doesn’t get HIS time and HIS space to recharge it makes him feel on edge and it result in arguments. He is also a Taurus so combining that with being an introvert then mix that with the fact I’m an ambiverted Virgo has caused a lot of friction at times. We have been together for almost 2 years now and we have lived together for about 1 1/2 years of that. I can never get enough of being together, even when we’re doing nothing but watching tv or chores together. But I realize through reading your post and the comments that sometimes that may not be enough alone time for him. That sometimes he needs true alone time where it is just himself an his thoughts doing whatever he chooses to do. Which is probably where the missing the single life comes in. I also have a 2 year old son and a dog that lives with us, which is probably also very taxing on his introverted side. I know he loves us all more than words can say. Sometimes it just gets to be too much and in my not having noticed or respected that it can cause something that he would normally brush off into a massive argument where he goes into a bull through a china shop Taurus rage which leaves him feeling guilty for some of the things he said. And his guilt turns to “if you wouldn’t have pushed me to that point I wouldn’t have to feel guilty for hurting you”. It causes him to feel like he is not good for me am all he does is bring me down. Even when I tell him I understand why he got to that point and that he didnt truly mean some of the things he said. I now fully understand that I need to recognize the signs of when he needs some time and space to recharge in order to keep those pointless arguments and unnecessary guilt from happening.
My issue now, though, is that he feels he has reached his breaking point an is miserable. I, through reading this article, realize that it is probably because he has needed his space and recharge time and I have been not giving it to him for so long that it has driven him to feel like brig single would be easier. How do I assure him that I have seen the error of my ways and help him understand that it’s not being single that he wants, it’s his space when he need it and that I am fully prepared and willing to give it to him (without us breaking up or separating)?
Sorry this was so long winded.
Dear Jasmine, it sounds like your assumptions may be correct. He may be so low on alone time that he is on edge/overstimulated/depressed/frustrated as hell. I suggest you tell him you have a new understanding of his temperament and you want to honor it. You love him enough to figure out a way to make your different personalities work. This is where the work of real love comes in for both of you. I can tell you that being home alone is usually more renewing than going away by yourself somewhere. Is there a time during each week when you, your son and the dog can be away from the home while he’s there for at least a morning or afternoon? An hour or so here and there is not usually enough time to regroup for an introvert. Interruptions like texts, phone calls, knocks on the door, etc are all draining as well. If you can totally leave him alone for a while regularly, he may be able to handle and enjoy even more being in a relationship.
I’m sure your guy loves you and your son but his nervous system is on overdrive and needs to rest. He may be his best most alive self when he can have peace and quiet alone. Your part is to not take it personally. It is not rejection of you but preservation of him. Hope that helps. 🙂
I don’t know you and only found this article, because something told me to look up a different perspective than what my brain had been hashing out and I Love You. I am in between extrovert and introvert. I like alone time, but in shorter bursts. My boyfriend told me he just needs to be alone and be himself for a while.He warned me, long before we dated, that he is like this. Of course, everyone’s natural reaction would be, “That’s a warning flag that he doesn’t want you.” But, this makes total sense and for that I love you. It’s not a bad thing. It just is.
Hi Lisa! I am glad you found my writing helpful.:) I hope it will help you have open, honest and wonderful communication with your boyfriend. It’s great that he could tell you up front what his needs are. Therefore, you did not go into the relationship with false expectations. It shows self-awareness on his part and a comfort level with you. Best of luck!
[…] A session of stillness makes me remember what I love about people. It allows the connection craving to surface. Alone time connects me with myself on a very specific yet universal level. I see my values and strengths and how they serve a purpose in the world — big picture time. In the end I feel a desire to share all of this goodness with someone else.” – Brenda Knowles […]
Thank you for linking to my post. I appreciate it. 🙂
[…] Interestingly, after some alone time, introverts tend to crave the presence of others again. This is when we feel the most primed and ready for conversation and intimacy. Brenda Knowles, creator of the Space2Live blog, explains: […]
Thanks so much for sharing your personal experiences so thoughtfully.
I read your entries, and it helps me to feel more accepting of who I am.
Just a note to all of the extroverts who think we are being selfish when we need time to recharge: this is not a choice. We do this out of necessity. It is how we are wired.
I can tell you from personal experience, that if we do not take time alone, it can have SERIOUS consequences. I am someone who did not understand my own needs for years, and as a result I became sick (in my 40’s) with adrenal fatigue from not building in the rest and rejuvenation I get from alone time.
Now that I have recovered, I am still explaining to family members that I enjoy their company, but I need more down time than they do…..I need to leave the party after 2 hours and cannot stay until the end, so let’s take 2 cars so they can enjoy themselves too….that I can only truly enjoy one social event on the weekend, not 3……that after driving around doing errands all day, I want to stay in the car while they go into yet another store to look around (and that I’m ok, not in a rush, they can take as long as they like….”
I feel like I over-communicate, and I get blank stares. So I just need to keep explaining and not creating false expectations. I never ask them to change who they are, just to respect how I am wired so that I can continue to give in the relationship. Is this selfish? All I can say is that it is not a choice, it is a need. We can choose how we communicate about our needs, but we cannot choose our needs. –Michelle
Well said!! I think I’ve been close to adrenal fatigue. It takes a long time to recover, especially when you still have others depending on you. I love the words you use to explain your needs. All we want is respect for our way of being, so that we can continue to give in the relationship. Perfect! Thank you for your insightful comment.
Since this blog was from 2013 I may be too late in making some comments. I’ve just in the last few years realized how much I NEED time alone. I have adult children and realize so much of what other people have said here about being close emotionally with their children while not necessarily physically, is what I sought while they were growing up. I am very proud of each of my adult children and the paths they are taking. My daughter is an “extreme extrovert”. We respect each other’s approaches while knowing that the life we each chose would not be what the other would want 🙂 My son is much more similar to me, so I “get him” more 🙂 They are both wonderful individuals, however.
It was intriguing and fascinating to read some perspectives here, many from extroverted people. I know I do hurt my partner with my “introversion needs”. Are we all selfish, introverts and extroverts?? Perhaps, each at different times. We could each say “I just don’t get it” about the other person. I am committed to this relationship (my former marriage dissolved for many reasons, one of which I wasn’t mature enough to state my perspectives and needs in open, respectful ways). Sometimes it’s very hard to “listen to the constant noise” — I know it’s not intentional on his part, but sometimes it gets very old 🙂
Problem: when I “fake” interest, or just kind of “go about my business” (when needing internal time), he says things like “he doesn’t like being lonely in his own house”. Then, I start feeling even more “engulfed” (that’s a great description!), and things get worse. We are both home much of the time (both semi-retired) and it’s very difficult for me sometimes. My brain knows he needs the talking, the reassurances, the praise, the togetherness, but my soul can’t take the constancy. Some of the comments here have been, if not solutions, at least good perspectives to keep in mind.
Ouch! The “I feel lonely in my own house” comment stings, doesn’t it? I have felt that bad feeling when you know you are hurting someone else by pulling away for your own sanity. Such a catch-22. I read in Passionate Marriage that there is a difference between withdrawal and self-care. Self-care is more acceptable in a relationship supposedly. I’m working on how to differentiate the two and spell it out to partners/children/friends who don’t understand the need for solitude.
You came to the right place. At space2live you should feel right at home. Everything you mentioned, resonates with me. How did you create mutual respect between you and your extremely extroverted daughter? That’s wonderful and the way to go.
Thanks for sharing your story and welcome to space2live.:)
i once found an introvert man, i see obviously he loves me..
but someday i made mistake then he became disappear, and rarely met me..
but everytime i have theres chance meet him i feel he still love me..
and it got me confused actualy he want me or not, because he seldom come and like hiding from me, then i decided to ask him personally..
i ask him to meet me face to face and ask him if he loves me or not..
he answered he ever loves me, but for now he feels more comfortable to be just friend with me, though i feel he still love me but i try so hard to believe in what he said..
after that conversation he becomes awkward and and hide from me, and try to show me that he doesnt like me anymore, whereas before that conversation he still like approach me.. but now not anymore..
what should i do brenda?
i like him as well, but can do nothing cause im a woman, just cant say it first..
need your advice
Sorry I am just now getting back to you. I didn’t realize I hadn’t responded. I would tell him how you feel. Women are gaining courage and power. It is OK to say how you feel. If he still avoids you then he may not be the man for you. He may not be brave enough to be honest and vulnerable or he may not be interested enough. If he is too shy then your relationship will take forever to develop or may never develop at all.
Will he be able to forgive you for your mistake? Was it a big mistake? I wouldn’t waste a lot of time. I would approach him and tell him how you feel, perhaps while you are walking. Men often like to talk when they don’t have to look into your eyes. Best of luck! Love is worth the effort.
Thank you so much for your blog. especially for this post. just in the past few days i have learned so much about introversion through your posts.
i met my current boyfriend online about two months ago and things were great. we live about two hours away but we manage to find time and visit each other every weekend. he’s attentive, he makes me feel like the most important person in the world. he like to spend our nights in and cook dinner together and watch tv while play some board games. i have no problem doing that because when we are together all i care about is us spending quality time together.
about two weeks ago, i was spending the weekend with him and he got a speeding ticket. the ticket was one that required the offender to show up to court. he became immediately withdrawn and announced he didn’t want to do anything and wanted isolate himself. so we cancel our plans of dinner and movie and instead got groceries and stayed in. no problem. we ended up having a great time and he even said at one point he forgot that even happened. he’s hardly expressive with his feelings but that weekend, out of no where he told me that he really appreciated me and he wanted me to know how much he really does like me, he said he knows he’s hardly expressive but he knows i need reassurance so he wanted to let me know. last friday, he texted me and told me he spoke with a lawyer. lawyer told him it was going to cost up to 2500 dollars and of course it will affect his driving record and he may have to do jail time. worst case scenerio of course. i tried to call him immediately after receiving the message, he sent me to voicemail and texted that he wanted to be alone, did not feel like talking. i said i understood and i’m here for him when he needs me. friday night he canceled our saturday plans via text. saturday he tried to break up with me because he says he so stressed and doesn’t want his stress to affect my life and he doesn’t want to take his stress out on me. i tried to talk to him and asked him if he’s considered the possibility that i could be a good support system for him, that it doesn’t have to be him alone all the time. he said he hadn’t thought of things that way, so he held off on the whole break up. monday night he texted me and said I’m the most caring woman he knows besides his mom. i asked him if he wanted to cancel our plans for this wknd, i’m going on vacation next week so i wouldn’t be seeing him. he said he didn’t want to yet lets just see how the week goes. i try and text him just once a day a sweet text let him know i’m still here and i care. and i asked him couple times if there was any other reason for him wanting to break up besides the stress. he always said no, he still really likes me. but he is stuck in his thinking and his own world, he’s really scared about losing his job also due to this.
i guess never realized how big of an introvert he really is until now. maybe he’s also feeling depressed due to this incident. i’m trying my hardest to be understanding but i can’t help feeling sad and helpless and lonely. i miss him so much, just 2 weeks ago he called me and left a message hey babe, just wanted to say hi and i miss you. now i barely hear from him and he feels a million miles away. i can’t help but to feel down. I’m not exactly the most patient person but i am trying to dig deep. maybe this is a test for the both of us. some of my friends says maybe he’s cheating, but he has never given me a reason to worry in that department. i choose to believe in him, as well as in us. i just figure one of us has to …. right??
It sounds like you are doing everything thoughtfully and consciously and he recognizes that. The speeding ticket and subsequent consequences are really rattling him. I’m sure his overactive mind is working overtime. For him, action dissolves fear so it’s good he’s contacted a lawyer and doing everything possible to minimize the damage. For you, hang in there. If you do get together this weekend be light and help him relax. Also, be strong and show how steadfastly you will stand by him. If he feels secure in knowing you aren’t going anywhere it will ease his mind. I would let his words and actions guide you as far as how much time and attention he wants and you should provide. I understand you are going on vacation and want some quality time/closure/reassurance before you leave. If he has integrity and good character, he will realize he needs to be there for you as well. This is your chance to show him you are in the relationship for the long haul, the ups and downs. I hope he sees your strength and depth of character and figures out how to calm his mind enough to let you in. Best of luck! You are on the right path.
thank you so much for replying so fast. i needed that. this morning i texted him and told him that i had woken up and said a prayer. i thanked God for me meeting him and then i prayed that he finds the answers he’s searching for. and have a blessed day. he didn’t text me back. but that’s ok, that was my way of just letting him know I’m there. neither of us are religious but we are both spiritual. so i thought maybe that could be helpful. he really doesn’t reach out too much these days and i’m doing my best to not take it personally. i hope he doesn’t cancel this weekend but have this feeling that he just might. it seems like he might be trapped in his own thoughts and stress he really doesn’t have the extra mental/emotional capacity to think about me…when he texted me that i’m the most caring woman he knows, i felt hopeful and encouraged. but now it’s been two days, i’ve gone back to feeling down again. but i’m doing my best to be strong through this……maybe if we can ride this out together we can find happiness once again
Reblogged this on Slowing The Pace and commented:
Interesting and enlightening..thanks for sharing.
Reblogged this on The Whim Wryter.
I can’t explain how relief my heart feels after reading this. I am an extrovert, and my boyfreind is an introvert, this is both our first relationship and we have been dating for just a little over a month and at the beginning everything was wonderful, it was the ideal relationship for an extrovert, all the cute messages, flowers, the time he spends with you, walking in the park together, everything. Then things began to change, he became distanced, no more good morning messages, no more seeing each other often, and I decided to enquire him about it and he was honest about him needing space and how it is vital for him, he says he loves being alone, and he is so used to it, he needs this ever so often, my situation is very similar to the people who have commented above and am glad to know I am not the only one going through this, last few days I feel like Ive been going crazy because of the less communication and seeing him too much on social media, I felt as though he does not love me anymore, so me being me, I profess my love to him reminding him I wont ever leave him, and how much I want to make is work, he adores that but these days it feels one way, like I am putting in all the effort, it feels emotionailly draining at times.
I spoke to my boyfreind last night and asked him when I will see him again, my birthday is in 6 days and I dont even know if he’ll attend because he is going through his self disovery cycle, where he needs. be alone, he keeps sayimg he will see me soon, but when is soon, how long do I wait? I crave for him everyday, I haven’t seen him in 3 weeks and to him thats okay but to me its painful, sometimes a nice cuddle under the stars would be most wanted.
How can I deal with this self discovery crycle much better? Should I text him or leave him be till he is ready? I really need advice 🙁
Hi there. I have recently started dating an introvert. We have been together for two months and the first month and a half has been amazing – we lived in each others pockets, fell quickly in love with each other. He is such a sensitive, caring and affectionate partner. I love being with him, around him. But the past two weeks have been so different. He has backed away from me and at first, I took it personally. That didn’t help the situation and only made him retreat further. Things got to the point where he gave me an ultimatum – accept he needs this time to recharge or move on. I am 100% not moving on; I love this guy but this is all so new to me and the past week has been so hard. I miss our cute messages and closeness. We have spent two nights together this week and they have been great, all the love and affection is there. He opened up to me this week and I understand a lot more now where his head is at. But how do I stay strong through this? I am an extrovert and I live alone – I miss his company dreadfully and while I try take my mind off him with other activities, it is nights apart that I miss him so much. How do I do this? Will he truly apreciate me giving him this time? I want him to come back to me recharged and positive but how do I deal with my own emotions while he does this? Please help!
The truth is he probably won’t be able to deliver cute messages, caring sensitivity and affection if he doesn’t have time apart to digest, process, create and return to himself. He is asking for what he needs in order to be his best self for you and the rest of his world.
As for dealing with your own emotions, I suggest getting out and interacting with others. Do something helpful for someone else. Find projects that need and will keep your attention. This is self-validating. Self-validation will make you an amazing partner for your introvert. It’s incredible to be involved in a heady relationship of deep intimacy but in order for the relationship to continue to breathe it will need air. It sounds like you found someone loving and wonderful. I’m sure he feels the same and wants to be a great partner to you. He knows himself. He knows he needs re-charge time. It’s up to you to handle that or not. That said, your temperament deserves honoring as well. It will take self-awareness, self-confrontation and self-soothing from both of you in order to make it work. Be steadfast in your commitment, but perhaps not absolutely steadfast in your physical presence. Hope this helps. Best of luck! It sounds like you have an opportunity for a fulfilling relationship.
Thank-you so much for replying so quickly. I got a text from him last night to say he had finished work and was on his way home. Instead of pushing him to see if he wanted to see me, I just wished him a good sleep which was really hard. I miss him so much! I want him to know that I care for him and I suspect that giving him this space is doing exactly that but I do worry if I don’t contact him, he will think that I am just living my life without thinking of him. Is that how introverts feel when their partner goes about their lives during these times of recharge? I have no idea how long he will need and it is hard to deal with as I don’t handle ambiguity very well!
I would let him know that you really like/love him and you would like to spend time with him anytime but that you are letting him make the decision when that will be. That way he knows you’re interested but being respectful.
First off I wanted to say thank you so much for this website, it has been a life safer for me, almost literally. I cannot tell you how much pain and ups and downs I have had with my very introverted SO because I didn’t understand. I felt he didn’t care, he was a jerk, he was giving me crazy mixed signals etc. Now I have been learning the past few months and I feel so much more calmer.
One thing is bothering me still. I want to ask him this myself, eventually when the time is right but I feel that won’t be for some time as he is in one of his cycles right now. I feel the cycles are longer as we are making breakthroughs, I guess thats because its a lot emotionally, but still positive. So I am giving him his space and alone time to process.
We have gotten into fights (actually its just mostly been me in an extroverted rage and him shutting down and not responding), in the past because I would get so furious when he would just be ignoring me and shutting down but I would see him on dating sites, social media sites, commenting, being friendly, posting on facebook etc. I took it personally and was hurt I was lashing out horribly, I was an emotional mess. From my perspective it makes me feel like he’s not happy with me and hes still looking etc. Its hard to think otherwise and reprogram my mind when I know its not like he’s going out meeting all these people.
This is long winded so my question is, is this just one of his recharge mindless downtime things? I know he consumes a lot of online media in general . When I decide to approach the subject I’m not going to try to forbid him to do something by any means its more just for me to understand. At the end of the day if it’s just something he does to recharge, kill time etc I could care less what he does as long as I know he’s coming back.
Any insight would be very helpful!
I would say social media is his way of connecting in a safe/not too demanding way. I would not worry about that. Introverts love socializing from the comfort of their own home. The visiting dating sites is another story. I can’t see why he would be visiting them if you are in a solid, long-term relationship. It would just be extra work/socializing. You are smart not to ‘forbid’ him to do any of that. That would just turn him off. I would inquire about the dating sites and his intentions regarding those. If he wants to date other people he should be up front about it. Best of luck!
It was quite dejecting to read some of the earlier comments painting introversion as inherently selfish. While introverts can be selfish, it is not mutually inclusive: much the same can be said with extroverts, ambiverts and all human beings in general.
As a 77th percentile introvert I’ve seen the hurt and confusion when my battery hits the red zone (*Warning 5% Remaining*) and I withdraw psychologically (and if this space isn’t respected, then eventually physically as well). On a side note I take extra care to reassure those who listen that this isn’t their fault: it’s a simply a base psychological need I must fulfill before normal service can resume.
For you extrovert loved ones, we love you. And in order to continue being those very same people that you love we need to recharge. I’m sorry for those who are hurt by this need. I can empathise that extroverts feel that they are always the ones who are expected to adapt to the introverts needs, and I dare say that a lot of the time they are.
If you’ll indulge me, I feel that expectation is is not wholly unreasonable (within limits) because:
Extrovert batteries are recharged by activity, and interacting with people. If we just stick to people, the current world population is estimated in the region of 7 billion people. Minus the 1/3 to 1/2 of people estimated to be introverts that leaves 2.31 to 3.5 billion people. That’s a lot of energy sources for you to replenish yourself with.
Introverts have 1 energy source. Only one. Solitude. We may be doing different things when we get it, but it’s the key ingredient.
I guess my question to exasperated extroverts is: is it really such an imposition to go find an alternative energy source when they payoff is our undivided love and attention the moment we have the capability to give it?
Surely, to the few that do, making that introverted loved one responsible for providing all the energy and the self validation that you receive is its own kind of selfishness too?
You worded your response respectfully, honestly and intelligently. Love it Hanzie. Thank you for taking the time to provide a thoughtful reply to the extrovert questions and suppositions I receive daily from those who stumble across space2live. 🙂
My teenage daughter has stopped going to school for health reasons….she’s enrolled in an Independent Study program and is home all.day.long. I have never been more miserable. My husband works from home most days. I am rarely ever alone and am constantly energy depleted
Oh my! I feel for you. I would be the same way. I just talked to a friend who is going to homeschool her kids. I would lose my mind. I admire those who can handle the constant companionship and interruptions. I know I am not like them. I suggest you make some corner of your home your space. Put a do not disturb sign out when you demand space. I hope your family is understanding and honors your needs. Make sure you do some activities that fill you up – reading, exercising, walks in nature. Sending you peace and strength.
I’m so sorry, truly, but we over here in the extrovert world are gasping. How could you not want your own child at home? That’s a parent’s dream. Rejecting her for your own selfish purposes? The level of selfishness is almost inhuman and staggering. Get drugs so you can feel what it’s like to live.
You are not equal to us or better, you are trapped in your own world. Introverts are just very hurtful, selfish people. It’s not your fault, but it is an unfortunate disorder for those who love you. I’m serious, you guys are very, very messed up.
You just don’t know it.
I guess I’m gasping from your comment but to each his own. If your dream is to have your children around you constantly I respect that. Like many introverts, I parent deeply, knowing my children very well, as I am acutely in tune with them. That constant awareness of their well-being is draining. I need to recharge alone. Once recharged, I return stronger and more generous with my energy. It’s a cycle as the post describes.
I disagree that introverts are selfish, although we all (introverts and extroverts and ambiverts) have our selfish moments because we’re human. I have responded to many many comments stating that each temperament should be appreciated and honored, not solely the introverted one.
Perhaps you’ve been hurt by an introvert? I’m sorry for that but please don’t lump all of us into the hurtful, messed up and selfish camp. If you would like to understand us better continue reading other posts and comments on my website. I think you’ll find we’re quite human and just want to be understood and appreciated. Thanks for your perspective.
So much could be said to your responses, but basically you are rejecting out-of-hand anyone who is not like you are. It would be so easy to simply throw the same things back to you — “get drugs so you aren’t so out-of-countrol”, or some such. I sincerely hope all your children are extroverted — surely you would not call an introverted child “hurtful and selfish” and surely you would love them for who they are and not tell them they are just “very very messed up”.
I guess if no one in your world is introverted, there’s no need for you to explore different perspectives, opinions or needs. Some people chose not to, and will not, comment in respectful ways. Ah, well.
Well said Kim. 🙂
Thank you thank you for this article. I thought I was crazy, or he was crazy, or something was wrong with me. I am an extrovert. I am the definition of the term, I love people and activity and the more I am alone the less motivated and energetic I become. The man of my dreams is the opposite. He doesn’t like large groups, and loathes the idea of spending our only night off together in the company of many other people. He is also the most generous, kind hearted, smart, funny and sensitive man I know. I am privledged to call him my boyfriend.
We almost never argue, we have very similar views and values and respect one another enough to allow for differences of opinion.
Our biggest conflicts happen when he needs his time alone. I struggle with feeling wounded and abandoned when he takes his time to recharge. He virtually disappears from my life for a week or two and I don’t know how to avoid taking it personally, especially because it usually happens out of the blue and I feel like the rug has been pulled out from under me.
How can we both get what we need to make these situations more comfortable?
Did I reply to you Kelsey? I apologize if I didn’t. Your relationship sounds like so many I hear about on space2live and in ‘real life’. One person is a busy doer with lots of energy for people and tasks and the other is more reflective with a limited amount of energy for the most important people and work in their lives.
In your case, I can understand the confusion and feeling of loss when your bf disappears for a week or two. The way you are wired you enjoy company and consistent connection. He needs a back and forth rhythm of space and connection. I recommend he honor your nature by letting you know when he needs time alone and when he’ll be available again. Sometimes it is difficult to peg down an exact time when our batteries will be recharged but he should be able to at least give you an idea of when he will be fully present for you again. For your part, do not take it personally when he separates from you temporarily. He needs the space to return to himself and to be a better partner for you.
Focus on the strong parts of the relationship and know it’s OK if you are not completely in sync all the time. It’s good you both are whole people with a growing understanding and appreciation of your differences. Being able to self-soothe or return yourself to equilibrium is a sign of maturity and makes for more relaxed and intimate relationships. The burden of resolving the other’s anxieties is removed. My most recent post covers this — Self-Soothing and Not Giving a Fuck: Managing Your Anxiety in a Relationship.
Best of luck and kudos to you for taking the initiative to learn more about introversion.
I would also suggest that you take the time to look at yourself and your interaction with your partner. I know, for me, I like quiet time watching tv or even doing chores with music, without talking. It doesn’t feel good to tell someone you love to “please stop talking” but it’s what I need to feel connected. A lot of noise gets me distracted and drains my energy, I like to focus on what I’m doing and what I’m thinking, and usually that train of thought leads to deep emotions about my partner. But, when someone is constantly distracting my thoughts, I have to start over and sometimes the deep emotions don’t resurface until I pull away for a little bit.
I love the way you described this introvert phenomena. I feel the same way.I love to watch a movie or do household things with my partner but not with a lot of intermittent dialogue or physical touching that feels distracting if it is too often or off subject. I like to absorb and process what I’m doing or watching and then perhaps talk about it, but not constantly. If a show is on that I am interested in I don’t want to talk about other things while it’s on. I can only handle so many subjects in my brain. 😉 Thanks for your insightful response to Kelsey.
This totally spoke to me I found it to be so true but could never put it into words… I always feel so deeply unsettled when I haven’t spent enough time actually one on one with myself through out the day. Thank you for sharing I sent it to my hubby hoping it will make him understand me more haha
We so need that time to go internal without being interrupted by external stimulation. We get edgy and unhappy if we don’t get it. Everyone wins when we get solitude. It’s so hard for many people to understand that. We have to help them understand so they don’t feel rejected and we can feel at peace with our needs. I hope your hubby sees the light.;) Thanks for reading and commenting.
Is it normal behaviour for an introvert to go quiet at times and not respond to anything I say? This is what my partner does. I wouldn’t call myself an extreme extrovert, but talking is very important to me, and silence makes me feel very uncomfortable. I’m quite happy to sit side by side reading separate books every now and then, but I feel like it’s a slippery slope to losing all communication and connection. Also, when I’m trying to talk to him for connection and he doesn’t answer me, I feel this red-hot fury and desperation, because I feel that I’m not being valued, that he doesn’t care and is going to end up pushing me away completely. The more I try to encourage him to talk, the more he won’t. Is that kind of behaviour the sort of thing I should expect from an introvert?
I feel that extroverts are often expected to cut the introvert lots of slack and adapt their personalities to suit them, but they receive no such courtesy in return.
The only justification I have for his lack of response is that he may have experienced so much stimulation that day that he is indiscriminately tuning you out with all the other noises and distractions of the world. I can understand your feelings of disconnectedness and invalidation. My only suggestion is asking him to give you a timeframe for when he will be more available and present with you. If you give him a few hours of alone time he may be willing and eager to connect with you afterwards. One more thing, if you can somehow get to a point where you can both make light of your differences in communication needs then life will be easier. Levity actually gives me energy as opposed to draining me like other communication/interactions can. Do something silly to get his attention. Shake him out of his zone a little but also be mindful of his space. Your needs deserve honoring too so if you can find a way for you both to communicate without wearing each other out that is the best path. Best of luck! Thank you for reading space2live and being so caring regarding your introvert/relationship.
Read ‘Quiet’ by Susan Cain, it is brilliantly written and very insightful. Chapter 10 ‘The Communication Gap’ discusses exactly what you are talking about and provides real life examples and strategies that you may find helpful. And yes, your need for communication is just as valid as your partners need for quiet time.
Wow. I could not have phrased my feelings as well as you have. I am in exactly the same position as you. It does feel a lot like us ‘relative extroverts’ are expected to adapt to our introvert significant other’s needs.
My introvert bf explained this to me and he said that just because we are not talking, he doesnt compliment me as often as i like and we don’t do ‘flowery’ mushy talk, doesnt mean he values me any less. It is just hard for him to say. He says that as the days go by, he values me even more. Sometimes he does ignore me as well, however it is just as Brenda said- he drowns me out with the other noise of the world. I counteract that by telling him that there are a few things i need to talk to him about, can we discuss them tonight/tomorrow? Ask when a good window is. If its something urgent, then prioritize and bring it up.
You need to figure out what you need him to do to meet you half way and ask him if he can do those things. If he is unable to do them, then i fear that your frustration is not going to help you mentally and thus the relationship. Also, there is no reason for you to be unhappy as well. If you need something in a relationship and can not ‘compromise’ on it, then thats what you should chase. Not to be negative of course. A lot of people say an introvert/extrovert ying to their yang type of relationship can be beautiful, but i also see the frustrating side of it when one feels like they need to compromise on a daily basis.
[…] Understanding the Introvert Cycle: Why We Go From Irritable to Ever-Loving […]
[…] Understanding the Introvert Cycle: Why We Go From Irritable to Ever-Loving […]
This morning I read an article from your site on Mindbodygreen Daily and I am just in complete shock… I have read article after article on your site all day. I have never heard in Introverts/extroverts. My now ex boyfriend has ended a 2 1/2 year relationship actually engagement because we were planning to get married in March. And all happen over night! I truly believe he loves us and I am hoping he is going thru one of these cycles I am reading about. He definately is a introvert. If I would of read about this sooner I would of ben able to understand it more but of course I pointed all the fault in me becuase not even he can giv me an exact reason he just says he wants to be by himself. I am praying he brings our family back together but I just dont know what to do. Miss him so much but from what I have read you have to give them their space. I do want him to know I am here for him and want t be able to learn to undertand hi. Life was awesome and I want that agin. But i will have to be prepared if it happens again….
Now you are more aware. If you do re-connect with him you can share your new knowledge and perhaps you can come to some kind of arrangement where he gets the space he needs and you get the relationship you want. It’s all about communication, awareness, respect and appreciation. Both of your temperaments need to be honored. Good luck! I hope it all works out for the best. Thanks for reading and commenting.:)
Ok so now the thing is how do I let him know that I can understand what he is going thru with out bugging him? Or do I wait for him to come around again? Maybe its just he is just not that into me anymore after 3yrs?? I am in search of a quote or saying that I can send to him that will have him think and know I am learning and willing to understand him just need him to not let it all go just like that
[…] Understanding the Introvert Cycle: Why We Go From Irritable to Ever-Loving […]
[…] Understanding the Introvert Cycle: Why We Go From Irritable to Ever-Loving […]
I can’t tell you how wrong your perspective of extroverts are. It’s like you glamorize introverts as being the people who are more capable of stillness. I am a complete extrovert and love nothing more than coming home and meditating alone or with my lover. I love driving In a car not speaking and just getting lost in my fantasy. And where are the articles that say how seldom an introvert is willing to change. Most introverts are not capable of change. Most extroverts are able to move with the flow of introverts. There is nothing glamourous about a persons inability to truly consider other people experience and even the most aware, mature, kind emotionally stable of introverts seldom understand the concept of thinking of others when they are in their shell.
It sounds like you have been deeply hurt by an introvert. Of course, introverts do not have a monopoly on meditating and stillness but I would say more introverts prefer that setting than extroverts. It’s all about preferences, not absolutes. We’re all on the introvert/extrovert spectrum.
Within extrovert and introvert populations there are those who are more flexible/adaptable and those who prefer structure and control of their worlds. In Myers-Briggs this is the J/P function dichotomy.
It is true that when introverts are deeply depleted of energy we go internal. We do focus on ourselves. That is how we gather energy to get back out in the world. Without this retreat we are not as helpful to others. That is the cycle mentioned in the post. Many introverts are highly empathetic but still need time to recharge.
Thank you for your comment and its perspective.
you sound more like an ambivert than an extrovert, really. a true extrovert needs noise and company as badly as an introvert needs silence and loneliness
introverts are silence addicted freaks
extroverts are noise and people addicted freaks
ambiverts (aka normal people) need both in more reasonable doses. Most of the people in this world are ambiverts… sure they can lean one way or the other but moderately.
You probably won’t read this- but I’ll leave it here anyway. I think you’re slightly unaware of what introvert and extrovert means.
Introverts gather their energy from “within,” from being alone.
Extroverts gather energy from being around other people.
That is not the same as saying extroverts don’t know how to meditate or appreciate silence. It’s saying that your alone time is not where you gather your energy from. And as someone else said- you don’t sound like you are very far down on the extrovert scale. You probably are more of an introvert.
I am extremely introverted and cannot function without that alone time. Without somebody not asking me for dinner or to run an errand or giving me a special project. I just can’t. I get irritated and frustrated and all around angry and exasperated.
I could happily lock myself in a room most days and not talk to anyone. Not out of depression just to recharge my batteries so to speak.
I appreciate this article and the insight I hope it gives some extroverts. Wanting alone time isn’t the same as saying “I don’t want to be with you.” It’s more like saying “I need to just be with me right now.” It’s how we get through life.
I have began a long distance relationship with an introvert…we had some discussions which lead to her asking for “space”. Now my question is this how long does this “space” last and if sending a message saying hello would interpret into “need you too much”
Well, often the space needed is not quantifiable. You said you are in a long distance relationship so I assume you don’t see each other all that frequently as it is. How often do you talk on the phone? Text? Email? I would recommend trying the “Hello” and see what kind of reaction you get. If she doesn’t respond relatively quickly or if the response is short and polite then I would back off. If she is asking for space she needs it. It’s often hard for us to ask for it. If you fill her space too much she will need to get away from you. It is on her to honor your needs as well if she wants to be in a relationship with you. The kind thing to do would be to give you a description of what space looks like to her and how long it will last. I know introverts return as better mates after they have had time to recharge. It’s a cycle and a dance we do with our partners. The more awareness both partners have the better. Keep communication lines open. May you both be heard.
[…] This was a great read too! (defined me pretty well) Understanding the Cycle: Why We Go From Irritable to Ever-Loving […]
I’m definitely introverted, but my boyfriend of a couple years is so much more so. He’s also depressive, and that exaggerates his changes in sociability. When I need time alone, I usually crave social interaction again after one night, maybe two. But he gets in extremely distant, antisocial moods for weeks at a time, and it is so hard for me to accept. I understand it at a basic, conceptual level, but I cannot relate to that degree, which makes it hard for me to understand. I know I’m not asking in our relationship, because as a fellow introvert, I don’t want overly engrossing affection, but through our relationship, I’ve learned that I need more affection than I realized.
This blog post describes what it must be like for him during these “off” weeks, and it makes me feel terrible for expecting as much as I do. We broke up for about a month earlier this year, and that was about as long as it took him to miss me. I was so glad he missed me, and it was so fun starting fresh. But he’s back in that downward swing, and I feel so hurt again. I know it’s not me, and I know he’s sorry for making me feel so unwanted.
Introvert + extreme introvert. Can it work?
Your boyfriend reminds me of a brooding writer.;) Needing weeks alone. Does he have meaningful work/projects that pull him away or does everyday life wear him out and he just needs to get away from people in general? At least you know not to take it personally. That’s an advantage of being an introvert yourself. You mentioned you already know you want more affection. If there is a depressed element to his mental health then there may be a change in his space/time alone needs if he gets help to work through the depression. If he is not truly clinically depressed then my intuition says he isn’t going to change. This is his nature. He feels comfortable enough with you to be himself. It’s hard for introverts to ask for space but it’s just as hard to give it. I’ve been on both ends myself. Please do not feel terrible for your expectations. Those are your wants/needs. They are just as valid as his. I guess the question is can you be content with someone so removed?
Get away. They don’t change and it will make you crazy
Thank you soooooooo much Brenda for this blog seriously it has helped me better understand my boyfriend. I love him to bits and I always thought he doesn’t care about me but now I get it he is an extreme introvert, he will go from being affectionate, loving, caring, being the best boyfriend in the world to complete withdrawal the next day. These lyrics reminds me of him when I call him and ask how come I’m the one who always calls he would say because I don’t give him time to miss me. Oh thank you so much and somebody said we extroverts gets rewarded for every minute we’ve been missing them, it is so true when we together it feels like heaven he makes up for the time I’ve been missing him. I love my man so much I always thought he was weird but will really try and understand his unusual ways now.
I hope space2live helps you and your boyfriend understand each other better. Understanding and appreciating each other is key. Kudos to you for taking the time to read and learn more about introversion. Awareness will definitely benefit your relationship. Take care of yourself. Find your own passions outside of him and then when you are together it will be that much more engaging and magical.:)
This describes me so well! I actually thought I was going nuts with my up and down days. My partner can’t understand it either but I hope he will after I get him to read this! Thank you so much!
We just need to replenish our wells every once in a while.;) Good luck!
[…] Understanding the Introvert Cycle: Why We Go From Irritable to Ever-Loving […]
[…] Understanding the Introvert Cycle: Why We Go From Irritable to Ever-Loving […]
For over three years I’ve been in love with an introvert man. I am an extrovert. He is lovely in so many ways, thoughtful, so talented, etc., but he is also extremely hard to love. That’s my issue with introverts. They are very difficult to love. I feel like a predator, an unrefined nutcase, an energy suck. I’ve even heard that introverts process faces moreso as if they are inanimate objects — so essentially al my funny, loving expressions are worthless.
I might as well be a rock.
I think I know why there is a bias against introverts, and it has nothing to do with “living in an extrovert world” (that’s a wishful-thinking type perception). The bias is there because the very nature of the introvert is, as we see it (apologies in advance for honesty) selfish and unreliable. For example, when I’m really upset or excited about something, my boyfriend’s brain shuts down. He goes from: understanding to overwhelmed to total shut down. It’s really a weird thing to see.
Our brains don’t shut down! We need our partners to be there at the ready. All. the. time.
I’m apologizing now for this comment being rude or over the top. But that’s how you introverts see us anyway!
No, in all reality, I love him and I just wish he could be more.. open.. laugh more.. be more affectionate.. more reliable.. less tucked inside himself.
Oh yeah, and the part about you guys being just fine alone? That hurts us. A great deal. We expect lovers to say how much they need us, how much they’d miss us if we left, not “I don’t get lonely. I would be fine.” All that dopamine in the introvert brain prevents you from feeling bad, sure, if you have your perfect environment. But you live in fear, constant fear, that something will wreck it so you keep a keen, scrutinizing eye on everyone — extroverts especially. We FEEL that.
And when your environment is upset, you are pretty much good for nothing. You run and need to be away. Not a good trait, because the world, and relationships, are imperfect. To us, “I love you but please go away” is selfish, hurtful, and ultimately a liability not only for the home, family, and relationship, but for our hearts.
I apologize for this rant.
Thank you for your candid and refreshing perspective! I’ll just give you my personal introverted perspective. I’ve experienced the same things you have within a relationship. I’ve been left disappointed when a partner doesn’t need/want to be with me. I’ve wanted to be missed but wasn’t. I have managed to date some very unreliable men. I’ve dated introverts and extroverts. I’m the introvert who wants to be with my partner regularly. I like my space but have a big desire for connection as well. It’s true that when my environment is flooded emotionally I often want to retreat but I have learned that talking through it is the better route. Your line about needing your partners to be there at the ready all the time, quite honestly sounds selfish in my ears. I believe in being there for your your loved ones but to ask someone to be there all the time is asking someone to constantly put themselves on a shelf for you. My brain and heart think we are responsible for our own well-being but we also should love and show kindness. It’s a fine line to walk.
Even within the introverted community there are varying degrees of energy/emotional expression/attachment. I’m a highly expressive introvert. I can see where you would feel hurt by your boyfriend’s way of checking out. I would feel the same. Your temperament should be honored as well as his. Healthy relationships involve both parties feeling appreciated. I wish you all the best. Relationships are learning grounds. We grow within them. I know, I’m learning (often the hard way) every day.:)
I love this take Sab. Agree 100%.
I had to scroll a long way to type this, but it is more than worth it. Brenda, how can I express thanks for this post that communicates truly extraordinary? It is a most freeing kind of message. This cycle sounds so natural as you describe it, yet when unexamined can hold us back from intimacy. I figure no one could honor what I judged inconsistency on my part.
The irony is I am by nature constant in many other areas (minus the emotional) and thus end up being my worst critic.
* the extraordinary
We do puzzle many with our back and forth between intimacy and independence but it is a cycle. Most introverts don’t always want to be alone. I love individuals and want to climb into their hearts and minds and know them but then when my circuits are overloaded with so many souls to satisfy I retreat. I have to replenish from within. I have to sort out all I have collected from the outside world. I have to make associations and breathe and dream.
I am like you in that I am quite reliable and consistent in most arenas. People/intimacy time is more inconsistent because it’s based on the amount of stimulation and solitude I encounter.
Thank you for always responding so thoughtfully. After reading some of your posts, I sense we are kindred spirits. 🙂
Undoubtedly so. Cheers.
[…] Understanding the Introvert Cycle: Why We Go From Irritable to Ever-Loving […]
[…] Understanding the Introvert Cycle: Why We Go From Irritable to Ever-Loving […]
I LOVE your website Brenda! It’s been like a life line to me. So refreshing to realize that the habits/quirks that I saw as a liability before are actually strengths. Reading your articles helps me be myself more, and I really appreciate that
I’m so thrilled my words help you see yourself in a beautiful light.:) You have introverted super powers like the ability to concentrate, build deep relationships, tap into a rich inner world, work independently and help others filter and slow down. Thank you for your kind words.
I love being alone, and have for the past 7 or 8 years. I used to be uncomfortable with it, and now I crave it. I can go days without talking to friends. Now, I’m a bit different of an introvert because I don’t like people much, in general. I like animals a whole lot more than people. 🙂
You’re not alone. I know many people who find animals to be the best companions. It’s a kind of freedom to enjoy your own company. You never HAVE TO be with someone. Thanks for commenting Janice. 🙂
TTTTTTTTTTTTTTTThanks. It was lovely and wonderful to find someone who says exactly what I feel. We could be talking about this introvert thing for hours and I’m proud to say I am a hardcore introvert!!!
So thrilled space2live resonates with you. Introvert power!! 🙂
[…] Understanding the Introvert Cycle: Why We Go From Irritable to Ever-Loving […]
[…] Understanding the Introvert Cycle: Why We Go From Irritable to Ever-Loving […]
[…] 6. Understanding the Introvert Cycle: Why We Go From Irritable to Ever-Loving It really is a cycle. We love you. Go away. We love you. Go away. […]
Oh my gosh, wow, this is helpful!!! This describes my boyfriend so well, and it helps me feel like I understand his behaviour a lot better! Marc’s response, about his girlfriend being an introvert, was spot on as well!
Sometimes, as an extrovert, I am particularly needy. I feel best when my sweet introvert boyfriend is loving, affectionate, and talkative. But he will suddenly have these shifts in mood and seems to withdraw. As someone who craves that constant reassurance of his feelings, these moments of withdrawal often do seem like sudden rejections! It is hard for me, but I have noticed that it happens in cycles, and while I worry that things have suddenly changed, in just a little while, he is back to being as sweet and cuddly as ever.
This article really helps me make sense of that! He needs time to recharge, and that need may arise suddenly. If I can continue to be respectful and understanding of that, our relationship will flourish! 🙂
You’ve got it! You sound very enlightened.;) May your boyfriend honor your temperament as well.
Thank you Brenda, that means a lot. I had a couple of really good days with my boyfriend where I felt less anxious and needy, and I found him gravitating toward me more. Last night, though, he had a half hour or so where he seemed really withdrawn. We were trying to watch a tv show, and when I spoke to him he seemed tense, slightly annoyed, and was pretty unresponsive. How do I deal with moments like this, would you suggest? Moments when I am longing for connection and he seems to be absent?
It might be helpful to note that my boyfriend has diagnosed OCD–the kind that manifests itself in unwanted thoughts and preoccupations. He admits that these anxious spikes really overtake him and consume all his thoughts. It is hard for me sometimes, because I am sensitive and empathic, to not feel rejected or like I am bothering him. I am trying so hard to understand how to be there for him and still respect my own space and needs. Help!
I was reminded recently by an article on passion and relationships, that we are responsible for our own well-being. If we believe our partner has good intentions and is a good person and we allow ourselves to trust him/her then we are saying, “I know you are going to make mistakes and hurt me because we are humans and messy, but I trust you enough to work through the hurt when it arises.”
I think you are learning to work through the hurt when it arises. You are aware of his tense/annoyed moments. Aware of his OCD spikes. Is it easier for you to leave and give him space when he is in such states or is it better to stay and talk it through? Is it happening too often for your own comfort? Only you two can know that. Are these times of wonder/rejection/frustration opportunities for you to grow? Could this be a sign that you may be counting on him for your happiness? Could they be opportunities for him to learn how to communicate better with you? We are in relationships to grow.
I’m throwing questions and ideas out there. Feel free to reject any of them.;) I’m cheering for your relationship and the potential of the individuals involved in it.:)
I am so thrilled to have stumbled across your blog. Finally, someone who understands! I don’t often discuss my need for space from my own children for fear of being judged harshly for it. Thankfully, my daughters never judge me. They are 15 and 17 and indulge my need for solitude. It’s normal for us to connect with one another after school/ work and then all retreat to a separate location in the house for the remainder of the night. Others perceive us as being cold and distant from one another, but I feel more emotionally connected with them than anyone. Unfortunately, I have yet to find a significant other who can accept this.
There is definitely no judging here regarding needing space from your children. I get it.:) How lovely for you and your daughters that there is an understanding around the need for solitude. My children have been influenced to believe that their mother should be near and for them at all times. I’m slowly making inroads, making them aware that some people require quiet and/or alone time to process and recharge. I believe two of my children are introverts so hopefully someday they will feel free to ask for the solitude they desire.
You hit the nail on the head when you said you feel more emotionally connected to your girls than anyone. I believe it’s possible to be intricately connected with someone but also need physical space away from them.
The search for a significant other who understands is a tricky one. In my experience they either feel and understand introvert energy but have a hard time committing to a relationship or are willing to commit but don’t completely connect with introverted desires and thoughts. I do know many couples that include an introvert that are healthy and happily engaged with each other. It’s possible.:) Keep your mind and heart open.
Thank you for commenting and sharing your story.
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Your words are so relevant to me today, Brenda. My son is at his dad’s this weekend, and after more than 24 hours without him I start to really miss him and long for him. To feel the absence of his ebullient personality, his chuckles and boisterousness. But…I know that within 2 hours of him being back here, I will be looking forward to him going to bed so I can read and have silence and alone time. It feels so crazy! I do long for the balance.. and I can relate to the stuff about being an intimacy/intensity junkie too, very much. Thanks for articulating so well, yet again, what it’s like as an introvert.
Apparently it’s your turn to say how I feel about parenting.;) I love each of my kids’ personalities and unique nature but I also cherish the time to myself when they are with their dad. It’s hard to say this because the predominant way of thinking in our society is that a parent (especially moms?) should live for the times with their children. I feel non-nurturing for feeling this way but it’s who I am. It took me years and much validation from like-minded people, to know I am a good caring parent despite this need.
Your self-awareness will guide you. Love your child in your own way. It’s the perfect way.:)
Thanks Brenda – you are so right about the dominant cultural expectations. It’s validating to hear your words. I wish moms would be more honest about this – I know I’m not the only one.
*I* think I am crazy to swing back and forth between wanting people and not wanting them. It feels like a branch of bipolar, a roller coaster of highs and lows that hurt most of the time.
It’s become extremely hard to be involved in my marriage because I give everything to him and nothing to myself. I am not able to balance the two, and I’m falling apart. Being forced to interact with another person daily is taxing.
My suggestion, because I’ve been in your shoes, is to get away by yourself for a while (days not hours). I know that isn’t easy but you need to get back to yourself so you can stop the extremeness of this cycle. If it will save your marriage it’s worth asking for, yes? Also, have him read some of the posts of space2live and their comments. They will validate you and him. Peace and strength to you.
This may be my favorite post so far! It perfectly captures how I feel (yet am unable to articulate so clearly and elegantly to others). Thank you.
Thank you for your kind words. I articulate better through writing.:) Happy it resonated with you.
Side note: I am wondering if many (most?) introverts articulate better through writing. I know that is certainly my experience. I have mastered the long-winded email with multiple bullet points, the “short answer” response that ends up expending the character capacity of the answer box. 🙂
I think many introverts do prefer writing because it gives us time to prepare and organize our thoughts as well as edit. Extemporaneous speaking is much scarier.;) I do receive a lot of long, well articulated comments on my blog. I have to say though that I prefer to write but not long passages. I like to say what I want to say and be done.:)
VERY well said!
Well said! Thankfully, my husband gets this. Just this morning, he was asking me where my head was because he could tell I was craving solitude. I was able to talk it through with him and we both felt much better. I’m going to share this blog post with him, if nothing else to affirm that even when we both get it, it is still hard sometimes.
So nice to hear about a relationship that works so beautifully. Credit to you both.:)
It explains exactly what extroverts need to know. Introverts love and give with such intensity until they are depleted and need to recharge in solitude. It is difficult to understand because after a time of very deep and intense feelings follows a time of distance and space which can easily be understood as rejection, even though it is only to regain strength which will result in them giving again. Yes, it is a roller coaster, and something which seems very difficult to understand for others, but if you love your introvert you will be rewarded for every minute that you miss him or her.
It took me a long time and lots of research to understand how my girlfriend could act in such extreme ways, until I finally clued in that she was an extreme introvert. I have to say that it is still difficult and demands quite the discipline to give her the space when she needs it, when she completely goes silent, but I can assure every extrovert that it is worth the time apart… Extroverts, be patient and understanding, the time apart gives your partner the strength and ability they need to focus on you after recharging.
I think it shows I love that woman 🙂
Kudos to you for making the effort to understand your girlfriend’s needs. It sounds like your relationship is benefiting. I know the roller coaster and believe me it’s not easy being on the introvert end either. Most of the time we want to give and make everyone feel good and cared for. It’s hard to admit our limitations. Open communication and awareness on both partner’s parts is so crucial. Keep up your openness. Bask in the loving.:)
Being on the P!nk kick that Karma is forcing on me, another lyric fits:
Go away, give me a chance to miss you.
Say goodbye, it’ll make me want to kiss you.
Anyway, I love the entire last paragraph. It is exactly how I feel.
I love those lyrics!! I’m going to use them.:) Thanks for sharing.