Introverts and Extroverts

Jonathan Rauch’s Caring for Your Introvert: The habits and needs of a little-understood group is very good, and I say that as a confirmed introvert.

The usual definitions of extrovert and introvert – the former is outgoing and the latter is introspective – are less than worthless. A decade ago I discovered the Jungian definition and found it much more elucidating: extroverts are energized by interaction with other people, and introverts are drained by interaction with other people. That was a eureka moment for me, and describes the situation perfectly.

I’m an introvert, and I can only take so much social interaction before I have to become a hermit. How much depends on the circumstances. I can be around people longer when I’m having fun than when I’m not having fun, but I run out of steam faster if I’m tired or ill.

My wife on the other hand is a very gregarious extrovert. That caused some conflict early in our relationship. She couldn’t understand why I wanted time to myself, and took it as rejection. Me, I just wanted to be left alone sometimes. I explained it to her in terms of introversion and the Jungian definition. She understood, but pointed out that the “little time” I wanted to myself was morning, noon, and night. We’re gradually developing a compromise. She gives me some space when I need it, and I make a point of giving her time and attention throughout the day when she needs it.

Via Kevin Drum.

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