When the COVID-19 social distancing/stay-at-home quarantine protocols began rolling out across the nation, I saw many social media pleas from extroverts, along the lines of:
“Introverts, please put down your books and talk to us! We’re not OK!”
“Introverts – check on your extroverted friends. We need help!”
Fair and reasonable.
Though I know I obviously don’t speak for all introverts, I’ll set that inconvenient fact aside as use “we” as though I do. Because I may speak for more than you think.
Many introverts answered the plea from our extroverted friends. We jumped on Zoom calls and Marco Polo to check in with you. We even scheduled some, because we recognized the value of staying in touch when we can’t see you face to face.
We even endured to some extent, extra online meetings, because we knew you were lonely. Because we love you. We love you enough to put our book down and chat, when we have no need to.
Here what introverts want extroverts to know as the quarantine restrictions loosen
“Extroverts, please don’t overwhelm us with urgent requests to hang out, multiple times per week, for the foreseeable future.”
For the solo time-loving introvert in your life, not much has changed. Did you get resistance to socialize before COVID-19? Expect the same once it’s normal to be able to hang out again.
An aside: I write this from the perspective of an introvert, even though I am a hybrid “extroverted introvert.” To the uninitiated, I might be perceived as an extrovert based on social interactions. But I definitely need time to recharge in solitude after socializing.
I understand how full-on introverts think though, so I am writing with them in mind.
Extroverts, just as you felt a sincere pang to be with your people when you were cut off, we introverts will still feel a strong urge to manage our social interactions as quarantine is lifted. We ask that you respect that.
Another piece of introvert trivia … seeing y’all on social media, and posting our thoughts there, is energizing to us, and gives us more social fulfillment than we should probably admit. Its not that we don’t want to see you — however, seeing you on social media goes a long way towards filling the gap of not being together in real life.
Keeping that in mind, here are a few ideas to help both personality types love each other well post-quarantine:
- Don’t overwhelm us with invitations
As much as we love you, we don’t need to see you 2-3 times in a week.
- Spread out the invitations to us
Please, please … settle for one gathering initially, then give us some time to recover.
- Realize we probably have multiple extroverts trying to see us
For folks who crave social interaction, scheduling time with people who have a much lesser need in that regard can be frustrating I would imagine. My challenge to you is to realize that we might have multiple people competing for time on our calendar. Please take that into account if we need to schedule something further out than you’d prefer.
- Be willing to overextend yourself slightly to meet with loved ones
I’m looking at myself here. I want to be willing to squeeze a few more things into my schedule than I’d normally allow if it means showing love to a friend or family member.
- Let them talk – a lot – without getting frustrated
They’re going to anyway, remember? So allow them to release pent up conversation that may have been bubbling up inside them for weeks. 🙂
- Remember it’s OK to set boundaries – and implement them
If you try to limit your social outings on a given week, great. You’re in good company. If you’re willing to let that slide for a few weeks after quarantine, I commend you.
However, that does not mean that you have to relinquish control of your social schedule. You can still say “no” to gatherings without feeling bad. Here is an idea of how it could play out:
As it becomes permissible in your area to gather in smaller groups and perhaps eat in restaurants, you may find that multiple people or groups want to get something scheduled. My recommendation is to decide ahead of time how many “social slots” you have available each week, then begin to schedule them out as opportunities come in.
When you get offers for additional socializing, especially last minute things, you can say something like:
“I really appreciate the offer! My schedule is full this week, but how about next week or the week after? I could do (insert a few times you are available in the future).”
“I have plans then, but could we take a rain check? Thanks for the offer; let’s get something scheduled for later this month.”
Or, if you want to politely refuse an offer and not schedule it at all:
“Thanks for thinking of me. I don’t have the bandwidth right now, but I appreciate the offer.”
Parting words of advice for extroverts and introverts (which overlaps to some degree with planners and spontaneous people – my post about that is here)
Extroverts – if you get shut down by an introvert, please don’t take it too personally. We most likely want to see you, in a fashion and time frame that doesn’t overwhelm our schedule. (Schedule overwhelm exhausts us.)
Introverts – to summarize – be more flexible and generous with your time, roll with it, but give yourself permission to not overdo it.
Is there anything you think I overlooked or misrepresented, for either side? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for reading!