Read this on one of the many introvert blogs: “I’ve seen plenty of these things extroverts need to understand lists and they are really starting to irritate me. I just think social interaction is a two way street and these lists make it seem like introverts don’t want to do any of the work. No relationship will ever work if people aren’t willing to offer a bit of compromise.”
This drives me nuts. My reply, in part:
“Speaking as an introvert, it’s the extroverts that don’t want to do ‘the work.’ Extroverts see space, reflective exchanges, and silent co-presence as the absence of something. Frankly they see it as the absence of anything.
Extroverts see introverts’ entire lives as ‘doing and saying nothing.’ Well those things are not nothing for introverts, they are the important things, the things that are real interaction. The things that are meaningful. And extroverts just don’t care, by and large, and refuse to invest the time. The moment things quiet down, extroverts disappear.
Introverts regularly sigh and suck it up and join extroverts for a night out to do some of ‘the work’ to be in the extrovert world, to support their extrovert friends. Does it ever run in the other direction? Not in my experience. Does an extrovert ever just come over for a few hours of quiet time? If they even turn up, they never stop talking. They refuse to join the introvert in their world.
It’s the extroverts who won’t do ‘the work’ to meet in the middle. The introverts invariably do their part by going to the party for six hours. And then the extroverts never stay for the other half of the deal, the six hours of quiet togetherness afterward; they breezily blow off after 15 minutes to somewhere else, or at the very least go into some other room and hop on the phone with some other friend, and ignore their supposed introvert friend summarily. No party? No listen, no stay.
“Well, nothing is going on here, so—”
You want someone to do the work? The extroverts need to wake up and do some of the work of maintaining friendships with introverts for a change!
— § —
Extroverts, you want to know how to be better friends to an introvert? Stop being mystified and listen to what we are telling you.
Shut up, calm down, and sit with us in the same room for a few hours, exchanging a word every now when it is honest and true and revealing, and otherwise simply working on quiet projects. Don’t leave the room. Don’t call someone else. Don’t talk incessantly. Be quiet—together—for an afternoon. Actually be with someone, rather than with your own chatter and a dozen superficial playmates.
Bet you can’t do it. Not even for half an hour.
Nobody’s ever asked you to do that before, have they? Is your skin crawling yet?