Eye-Opening Ways to Care for Your Introvert (Insider’s Guide)

two women side-by-side staring at water.

Got a quiet friend? Someone who seems to be missing from every party? Chances are you’ve got a friend who’s an introvert.

What does that really mean, you ask? I’m so glad you did!

What is an Introvert?

Introversion was introduced by Psychologist Carl Jung in 1921. He found introversion and extroversion to be pivotal parts of the personality. These personality traits have grown in awareness and interest in recent years.

Introversion is characterized by folks who prefer a less stimulating environment. They much prefer to spend time with their own intimate thoughts rather than in the company of others. Lots of social interaction drains us mentally and physically, and we need alone time to recharge.

Extroverts, on the other hand, seek out stimulating environments. They are energized in social settings. They enjoy being around large groups and meeting new people.

It is worth noting introversion and extroversion are best thought of as a spectrum. Not every introvert is introverted to the same degree. However, the more introverted you are, the less extroverted you are … and vice-versa. 

Ambiversion is between the two. Ambiversion is being a little introverted or a little extroverted, depending on the circumstance. This is best explained by outgoing introverts who seem to mimic extroverts in their social life but still need quiet time to recharge.

Having a relationship with an introvert can require a little bit of patience but is well worth it. Introverts are selective about who they spend a lot of time with because relationships require energy. This is a good thing.

If you are a close friend or romantic partner of an introvert, trust you are important to them. They value having you in their lives, even if they don’t say it a lot. 

How Many Introverts Are There?

One of my favorite books by Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in A World That Can’t Stop Talking, shared studies that found about a third to a half of the US population are introverts. 

Furthermore, there is a higher presence of introverts within certain fields that require a lot of deep thinking. For example, around 60% of attorneys are introverts.

Who Are Some Other Introverts?

You can find introverts doing some amazing things now and throughout history. Sadly, people find this surprising because people (mostly extroverts) do not associate introversion with success.

Don’t believe the hype, my friend! My fellow introverts are among some of the most brilliant minds and have lasting impacts on humanity. Here are some more notable introverts that you may recognize:

  • J.K. Rowling – we can thank her for Harry Potter.
  • Dr. Seuss (Theodore Seuss Geisel) – author and illustrator of a bazillion iconic children’s books.
  • Isaac Newton – famously known for discovering gravity and being the Father of Calculus.
  • Albert Einstein – Physicist and all-around genius.
  • Mahatma Gandhi – non-violent revolutionary. That’s putting it lightly.
  • Larry Page – part of who we thank for Google. Google!!
  • Steven Spielberg – extremely successful movie director. Seriously, try listing ten of your favorite movies without at least two connected to him.

This list could go on but you’d probably get tired of reading it, and I think I’ve made my point. Introverts are awesome! But why …

What’s Special About Introverts?

Introverted people possess natural talents or skills that help them accomplish things extroverts find extremely challenging. These introvert skills – or superpowers as I like to call them – have led many introverts to great innovation and success. 

These superpowers are also a tool to help connect and relate to others, which is not our strong suit. Highlighted below are four introvert superpowers, how they show up as strengths, and when they turn into possible weaknesses.

Superpower: introspection.
Strength: the ability to process information and many thoughts simultaneously and, organize information making it easier to understand and use.
Possible weakness: thoughts will replay over and over leading to stress and anxiety.

Care opportunity: give them a way to release the many thoughts whirling around their head at any given moment. It could be a journal or something similar, or just a listening ear.

Superpower: focus.
Strength: promotes great attention to detail, and patience.
Possible weakness: focusing on a topic of interest for too long – can you say rabbit hole?

Care opportunity: help them refocus when they can’t seem to pull themselves out. Do so gently, though! Introverts can get a little testy when being pulled away from their rabbit holes. Mostly because it then becomes an incomplete task. Cue dramatic music ,,, dun dun duuuuuunnnnn.

Superpower: listening.
Strength: ease of receiving and synthesizing information to help ourselves or others.
Possible weakness: spending so much time listening we don’t share our own thoughts or feelings.

Care opportunity: pause to give them enough time to speak. And be patient, it can sometimes take a little longer for us to formulate our thoughts into words.

Superpower: social selection.
Strength: devotion to those we include in our inner circle and consider our closest friends.
Possible weakness: social isolation when we avoid spending time with other people.

Care opportunity: include them in a very small social gathering where they can meet other people who may share similar interests. And I mean a very small group, no more than you and 1-2 other people.

These are introvert superpowers but many people see them as quirks or strange habits. And that’s putting it mildly.

There are a number of damaging misconceptions out there about introverts. Consequently, introverts are not new to being misunderstood. Ever wonder why?

Why are Introverts Misunderstood?

The number one reason why introverts are misunderstood is that it’s an extrovert world. 

Societal norms are created around what the more expressive and boisterous people want. Particularly in the US, a very extrovertist society, we value people who talk more and are ok with being the center of attention.

Obviously, this leaves introverted folks at a disadvantage. Because of these societal norms, introverts are often seen as lacking confidence or just downright weird. Neither is often true.

Another key reason introverts are misunderstood is their avoidance of confrontation or conflict.

Let me illustrate this for you. If interacting with people requires an orange-size amount of energy, conflict with people requires the whole tree. 

So, we avoid it unless absolutely necessary. Don’t get me wrong, introverts aren’t inherently doormats — a common misconception. We just carefully choose when a “fight” is worth the energy level it requires.

A third reason introverts are so misunderstood is our aversion to small talk.

We. Don’t. Do. Small talk.

But a lack of small talk doesn’t mean we don’t want to talk at all. We place a lot of focus on long conversations that have more meaning. Going back to the energy required for social interactions – if we’re going to be in social situations, we want it to be meaningful.

Small talk just isn’t our forte. Because of this, we are often misinterpreted as arrogant, mean, or rude.

Not so! Most introverts are quite pleasant to talk to … if you catch us long enough. 😂

Other misconceptions about introverts include:

  • Introverts are shy people. Shyness is not the same as introversion.
  • Introverts don’t like people. We do. In small doses.
  • Introverts lack confidence. We are as confident as extroverts portray themselves to be. We just choose to show it differently.

How to Care for Your Introvert

Now that you have a good grasp of introversion and understand some common misconceptions, you’ve taken the first steps toward caring for your introvert.

Here are four ways to care for your introvert, plus examples. 

Respect Their Needs.

Introverts need alone time in a quiet place to recharge. They are much more effective at maintaining friendships and other relationships when they have time to restore their energy. This is why social boundaries are so important. 

To best care for your introvert, give them a pass on social activities if they need it. Do this without pressure or guilt. Your understanding and appreciation of their needs will go a long way.

Remember Their Preferred Communication.

If you’re friends with an introvert, you probably noticed they don’t care to spend a lot of time on the phone. In fact, they probably could avoid talking on the phone altogether. Sound familiar? 

A simple way to care for your introvert is to text instead of call.

And while we’re on the subject, almost no introvert likes when people show up unannounced.

Text ahead or schedule an agreed-upon time if you really want to see them. Trust me, they’ll appreciate the heads up (or the opportunity to say no, lol).

Maintain Connection (With Limits).

Do include your introvert friend when planning social activities. But do so understanding they are just as likely to say no as they are to say yes.

Introverts like to be included but they also like the freedom to opt-out. 

Additionally, don’t assume they’re available just because they’re at home. Remember, introverts enjoy their private space. They may have a whole plan for their evening that does not include them leaving their home. 

A great way to care for your introvert is to give them something that will help them be even more comfortable at home.

This can be something small like a fluffy pillow, or a throw blanket. Snacks they like are another great idea. It shows you support their need for alone time, and it helps them look forward to seeing you again.

Don’t try to “fix” them.

Firstly, they are not broken! Fixing them usually means trying to make them more extroverted.

Here’s a pro tip on caring for your introvert. Most introverts don’t want to be extroverts. They quite enjoy being exactly who they are so don’t try to force them to be different.

On that note, don’t call them weird. There’s nothing weird about introversion. It’s a personality type that happens to be different than the societal norm.

Plus, it’s just plain mean! They may not have what most would consider good social skills but introverts add a lot of value to the different people in their lives.

The daily energy requirements of introverts can be a lot. The best way to care for your introvert is by learning more about them, and understanding what it means to be an introvert. This article is a great place to start. 

An Insider’s Guide to Caring for Your Introvert

As an introvert myself, I appreciate it when my extrovert friends try to understand me and others like me a little better. I hope these four ways to care for your introvert help you strengthen your relationship with the introvert in your life.