“I think it fascinating that the introverted one needs people more than the extroverted ones, in a way.”
This is a comment a friend recently made on a story I wrote. It made me think about how rarely an introvert’s need for people is portrayed in literature. As I said last week, the general internet likes to talk about how introverts need alone time. This is true, and important. But it means many people have forgotten that introverts do also need people. And sure, there are lots of stories where the awkward loner does something cool and gains a bunch of friends, but that is not at all what an introvert needing people looks like.
It looks like a not-usually-chatty person coming home from college for the weekend and talking and talking and talking because they don’t have close enough friends at college to make them feel heard.
It looks like still wanting to spend hours talking to a close friend after a long day making small talk at work.
It looks like debating about whether to go to a social gathering, because yeah, you’re kind of lonely and you know it would do you good, but you’re also so exhausted…
Socializing does use up an introvert’s energy. But not all socializing uses the same amount of energy, and not all socializing equally satisfies the need for people.
For example, socializing with strangers or slight acquaintances uses a lot of energy and provides little satisfaction, so while it’s very often necessary, it’s not particularly helpful.
Socializing with close friends, on the other hands, uses little energy and provides lots of satisfaction, so it can potentially go on for hours or days with little need for breaks.
Then there’s the middle, people who use a moderate amount of energy and provide a moderate amount of satisfaction. The introvert likely considers these people friends, but not their closest friends. Whether they’re helpful to be around depends on what the introvert needs at the moment.
1. There are probably some introverts who could pull off being a hermit long term. I am not one of them. And while I don’t know statistics, I doubt it’s the norm.
2. All descriptions are from personal experience. Take them with a grain of salt. Your introvert may function differently than I do.
3. Not every decision on whether or not to spend time with a person is made based on amount of available energy and need for people. Nor should every decision be made this way. But it is often a factor.)
In conclusion: Don’t forget that introverts need people, too.