So! Here we are again for another commission topic. This week, I’m taking up a suggestion from Riana.
It reads: “When personality and love collide – struggles of an introvert.”
I thought this would be fitting this week as my husband and I just celebrated our second year of marriage! There is hope for introverts and love.
I hope to train some of my experience through the lens of the topic. Today I want to talk about some struggles I have had as an introvert in relation to love and finding it etc. and offer some thoughts on them as well.
I want to indicate that I’m not giving fool proof advice. I know what it is to be a young person who feels talked down to by married people about what I am doing wrong and how if I play my cards right I could land a husband. I’m not here to do that. What I’m about to say in terms of romance is not formulaic. So take away what helps you and leave what does not.
Before I begin I would like to clarify a common misconception. Introvert is not equivalent to boring or timid or shy or uninvolved just as extrovert is not equivalent to loud or boisterous or annoying or shallow.
The terms simply mean that introverts tend to find their energy drained by spending too much time around people and prefer alone time where they can recharge their batteries. While extroverts tend to find themselves energised when they spend a lot of time interacting with others. There are introverts who enjoy socialising and extroverts who enjoy alone time. Their limitations in either context determines how much of which -trovert they are.
So here goes!
So unexpectedly love shows up at your doorstep. I daresay is it ever expected? What should you do dear introvert?
1. Love and appreciate yourself.
My husband and I are both introverts by the way and while for some that might be a double whammy, for us it’s celebratory. We love being introverts and if you’re an extrovert you should love being you too! Whoever you are it is so important to discover yourself, keep it in check, groom and appreciate it.
There is no point in getting into a relationship if you have no certainty of who you are. If you don’t know yourself or you are uncomfortable with yourself why do you want someone else to endure that discomfort too?
Be true to your individuality and what God has called you to be. Be honest with yourself about your abilities and flaws. Work on improving what is wrong. And be settled that if somebody appreciates what you have to offer or is not interested in that, at least you did not compromise who you were to sustain their attention.
There seems to be a sewn in insecurity among many introverts that if they do not overtly display their characteristics in every context that they are uninteresting. Sometimes we prefer silence and solitude to decompress. Some more than others. And there are times when we decide to take that retreat in a public space.
When people say things like “wait, you don’t talk?” Or prod you against your will to say something, don’t take it personally. It is easy to feel insufficient if you need a moment to work up courage or you need time to think before replying. Don’t lambaste yourself about it.
Introverts speak when they are comfortable. And the people who will invest in finding out who you are and listening to the silence are worth your while. There are occasions when we have to step out of our comfort zones to get things done or accomplish a goal we regard as greater. But an introvert who is passionate about specific things does not need coaxing to be bold and forthright in those spheres. Sometimes they unintentionally even dominate those discussions.
So be comfortable with yourself and find your flock. There’s nothing to gain in being somebody else. Your tribe will know when to leave you alone when you wish to stay in and when it’s necessary to drag you along.
2. Find spaces you are comfortable in.
While introverts enjoy uniting from the comfort and seclusion of their own households, you’re not going to find a love life there aside from your shadow. Well unless you establish one online and even then you should proceed carefully.
What I’m trying to say is: get out. And I don’t mean force yourself to go to the club or to the boat ride if it’s not your scene. We just spoke about being comfortable with who you are, so if you get excited about the movies, a comic con, a book club, a trampoline fitness class, go out and do it. Learning new things and meeting people with similar interests is a lot easier to navigate when you get there than you believe before you leave home. Even if you haven’t found Prince Dreamy, don’t give up opportunities to enjoy yourself and build your skill set.
I found myself at conferences in my study area, on committees to help communities I was interested in and ministry outlets among other things. Whatever my hand could find to do I did it.
3. Home in on purposeful missions.
I prefer not to engage in activities where I don’t have someone/ones “to revolve around”. In other words, I can do anything if I have wing men. Interestingly enough, the situation which led to my marriage didn’t involve any wing men.
When I decided to volunteer for mission’s work, the one thing guiding me was the constant whisperings of God to go. It weighed on me in my sleep and in my work time. I don’t know about anybody else but I do find it difficult to obey when the task involves the spotlight or group work where I dont know everyone well.
Nevertheless I did it because I felt impressed to. It’s so important to follow God’s leading. I was not in search of a man but at least if the man is to find you let him find you out gleaning in the field. Let him find an industrious woman. I know there are exceptions to the rule but so many couples meet and continue on like trajectory when they are both pursuing purpose.
A husband may not drop in your lap. So while you reserve your heart for one, don’t compromise productivity in hopes that he will come and find you lounging in a tower.
A wife can show up when you least expect it. While looking out for her, observe her well before closing in (and I dont just mean physically). Additionally don’t shirk your work and dreams in the mean time.
4. Facilitate proper pursuit.
And by this I don’t mean you should be desperate. One thing I’ve discovered is that men tend to be like an on/off switch. Guys correct me if I’m wrong. They are either totally into you or they are not so much. If you have to chase him, he’s probably not really into you.
There are guys who have a horrible habit of leading women on and dropping them unexpectedly. Be wary of that. Watch how things unfold over time. The really interested stick around and those looking for a chase have an expiry date especially if easily distracted.
I’ve heard many introverted girls lament that nobody is interested in them while their extrovert peers’ outgoing personality lands them a man at the snap of a finger.
Yet if a man does approach them, sometimes they freeze up and sometimes they won’t give him a chance. There are so many ways that things could go! But don’t ever count yourself out and equally don’t count out a good guy.
I mean common sense must still prevail. If either person is problematic such that you don’t coalesce it’s probably wiser to let sleeping dogs lie but sometimes it is a blessing when everyone doesn’t pursue you.
Some feel like they have to constantly fend off unwanted attention from diverse places and walk on eggshells to breathe. It’s harder to make an informed decision when you are constantly bombarded. Especially if you are an introvert who likes your own room.
Still if a viable opportunity comes up give it a chance. Please don’t forget the word viable. Old people always used to say “you just know” I dismissed it with annoyance and impatience. I thought it a lazy cop out. But I didn’t know until I just knew.
Initially when my husband asked me to go out with him, in true introvert fashion, I started hunting for every excuse in the book not to go. But finally I decided to. Why? Because he was worth an effort. Am I saying to take every opportunity? No. But don’t run from every one either. Pray for wisdom, consult your friends or mother or mentor. Occasionally you discover gold in someone you didn’t notice before which leads to a journey towards marital partnership. Sometimes outings are chances simply to learn more about someone else. And introverts do very well in one on one contexts. Make use of that strength.
On the males’ end. There is a strange misconception that an introverted man (which is not necessarily synonymous with a shy man) will not know what to do when he meets a woman of interest. I beg to differ. A man who knows what he wants pursues it and if he is convinced of his choice, even if he must stumble over his words he will eventually make a move.
Of course these are not hard and fast rules. Circumstances and people differ. Sometimes we miss chances, sometimes we legitimately don’t get any. Don’t despair if nothing seems to be happening. It does not always mean that something is wrong with you. Remember that sometimes if he claims to be intimidated or she won’t call back it can be a missed bullet. Remember that the “You ain married yet?” turns into a “You ain have children yet?” And since there’s no way to avoid the questions pitched from every corner in life we have to learn to play them off and find contentment. If you aren’t happy now, marriage would not change that. It’s not a rite of passage.
What I want to encourage you to do is make wise decisions, take the plunges which are worth it and never cancel yourself or life out if things don’t work out. While my heart pines when I look around at the number of amazing, accomplished young men and women who just won’t hit the spouse jackpot. But my mama always says there are worse things than dying an old maid. Dearest introvert, your marital status does not reflect your value or completeness. If marriage comes steward it, if you’re single steward it.
A friend of mine reminded me of this, this morning:
“I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose–I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]”
PHILIPPIANS 4:13 AMP
If he has called us to lifelong singleness He will strengthen us, if to seasonal singleness He will strengthen us. To marriage He will strengthen us. Every step of the way, no matter what it looks like, we look to Him and lean on Him.
There’s nothing wrong with you if you desire to be married. But don’t let bitterness take root in your heart while you search and wait. It is good to have friends and family around who will give you an ear when you feel most vulnerable, alone and frustrated.
Take consolation in your sufficiency in Christ and remain steadfast and confident in Him and His work. Both married and unmarried. Both introvert and extrovert.
P.S. I plan to do a part 2 next week so stick around!