How to Better Understand a Highly Sensitive Introvert/Perspectives from an Extrovert
One would think race issues would be the biggest challenge in an interracial marriage/relationship, but for Parris and I it's our introversion/extraversion that created the majority of our issues. When Parris met me I was a typical extrovert. Throughout my life I was surrounded by extroverted people to varying degrees. After ten years I can honestly say learning how to adjust to his extreme introversion and an added high level of sensitivity was the one obstacle, had it not been overcome, would in all likelihood, ended our relationship.
A quick story to highlight what i'm talking about. As soon as Parris and I met there were sparks. We went out dancing nearly every weekend and not long after we moved in together. We went from a Friday of fun shopping for outfits to Saturday evening cranking up the music in the house and just having fun getting ready to go to our favorite spot (Whiskey River) where we literally had a blast, to Sunday and up to Friday being the polar opposite of fun. To say I was confused is an understatement.
When I say polar opposite I mean to the nth degree. Parris wanted to watch TV and be to himself. I took it personally. I acted up. I said things that offended him. I tried to get his attention. To be completely honest, it stressed me out. I had zero experience dealing with this level of introversion and the added sensitivity made me feel like I was walking on egg shells all the time. I become paranoid about my behavior and never knew if I was going to offend him. I am naturally highly analytical, so the constant need to figure him out and get the answers I needed to calm my nerves was a full-time job!
I have a feeling if you are reading this you are saying "how the hell did they make it ten years"? Well that is why I'm writing this blog post! The hard work paid off and I finally have it figured out. If you are with an introvert that is highly sensitive, I'm here to save you a lot of time, tears and frustration!
#1. It's not about you! As soon as you realize it's not your sensitive introverted partners intention to be quiet just to aggravate you, I promise everything else will get better for you!
#2. Introverts that are sensitive like conversation that has meaning, but not overwhelmingly emotional conversations. Introverts get drained easily, so be more consientious about the things you want to talk about, especially if you want them to engage. If you need to have those kinds of conversations ask them when a good time to talk is, so they are not caught off guard. If you are wanting reciprocity and understanding you need to be sensitive to their need to keep things simple and not talk about highly charged subjects when they have a lot going on. I promise you, you'll be far more frustrated and you will have wasted your time if you want to talk when YOU want to talk!
#3. You MUST focus on respect and kindness at all times with an highly sensitive introvert. If you become sarcastic or defensive, they will pick up on it and you will not get the quality you wanted from the converstion.
#4. If an Introvert chose you and you are extroverted I can guarantee they did this to get themselves out of their comfort zone. Your energy and enthusiasm matters to them and not just a little, so be upbeat and positive as much as you can. This is a real game changer! Once I learned to just be me and not be afraid to talk or say things and just kept a positive upbeat attitude, everything changed. Introverts have a million things running through their minds (it's like a bullet train on steroids!) They likely fell in love with the flair you have for life, so give them a healthy dose of your playful side! Parris loves having me around and I used to think he wanted to just be alone, but that's not true. He's comforted by my presence and now that I know that, it helps me to just BE!!!
#5. Pay close attention to their memories and the things they like. Being sensitive also makes him sentimental. Especially now that we have been together a decade, I know him and I cherish what he loves, so I try to give thoughtful gifts that I know mean something to him. I give him a watch on most holidays and birthdays, because we know the most precious thing we have between us is the time we spend with one another! The watch is a reminder to never take the time we have left on this earth together, for granted.
Those 5 things are just the beginning of things I've learned over the past ten years. Undoubtably there are thousands more, but if you try to understand your introverted partner, I promise you it will be the best thing you've ever done! My husband is complicated and complex, but he is also the most genuine person I know and my life with him has abundant purpose that I never thought was possible to find in another person!