You don’t need an elaborate personality quiz (though they are fun!) to help you determine whether or not someone is an introvert or an extrovert, but finding harmony and balance with a spouse who falls on the opposite side of the spectrum in terms of social style and needs can be tough. In other words, if you prefer to pack every day with social events and are the life of the party when you arrive, but your partner’s idea of a good time is simply snuggling on the couch, then you’re going to need to show some understanding in order to find a happy medium with your one-and-only. Fortunately, extroverts, and introverts can get along swimmingly—provided the former knows what NOT to say to the latter. Here are the three things that experts want you to stop saying to the introverts in your life.
Got an Introverted Spouse? Here Are 3 Things Experts Want You to Stop Saying to Them
Meet the Experts
- Ryan Sultan, MD is the Medical Director of Integrative Psych as well as an Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology and Principal Investigator at the Sultan Lab at Columbia University.
- Dan Auerbach is the Founder and Co-Director of Associated Counsellors & Psychologists in Sydney, Australia. As a relationship therapist, Auerbach uses the model of Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples to help couples better understand and manage their relationship patterns.
- Angela Ficken, LICSW is a Boston-based psychotherapist at Progress Wellness with over 10 years of clinical experience. She started her career at McLean Hospital, one of the country's top-ranking psychiatric hospitals, and is affiliated with Harvard University.
1. “You’re so quiet.”
The jury is in and all three experts agree that this is one of the least constructive things you can say to an introvert. Alas, introverts get told they’re too quiet all the time—and it’s not a fair criticism. Auerbach explains: “Introverts often prefer to listen, observe and think before they speak. They might not be as talkative as extroverts, but this doesn’t mean they’re disinterested or shy.” In other words, the naturally quiet disposition of an introvert is not a character flaw or social deficit—and every time you call them out on it as if they’re doing something wrong by being themselves, it’s liable to leave them feeling misunderstood or judged. And in case you were wondering, similar-sounding remarks like “you’re too serious” or “why don’t you ever want to go out and do something fun?” are also not appreciated. Per Ficken, these personality-shaming comments “disregard that introverts often find joy and fulfillment in quieter, introspective activities and implies that [they’re] inherently less fun.”
2. “Don’t be so antisocial.”
Here, another statement that comes off as a character attack and pressures your partner to be someone they are not. “Introverts may prefer a lot of alone time, or they might enjoy small, intimate gatherings instead of large parties, but that doesn't mean they don't value social connections,” says Auerbach, adding that the term ‘antisocial’ is often misunderstood. “Instead, it's important to understand and respect an introvert's need for solitude without assuming it reflects negatively on their social skills or desire for connection.”
What’s more, the consequences of this thoughtless comment can be pretty unfortunate, since pressuring an introvert to socialize more than they’re comfortable with can easily make them feel overwhelmed and drained. Still, it’s OK to ask your introverted partner to meet you somewhere in the middle. In fact, Auerbach tells us that “finding ways to enable your partner to succeed in making you happy often works, provided you allow them to achieve this whilst maintaining their personal integrity.” So next time you’re tempted to launch an attack, try acknowledging your partner’s needs for alone time instead; then, tell them your needs and ask if there’s an activity you can both enjoy out of the house together on a regular basis.
3. “You’re too sensitive.”
“Introverts often process information deeply, which can make them more sensitive to their surroundings and interactions,” explains Sultan. In fact, this is why introverts tend not to like large gatherings and overstimulating venues. (Times Square? No thanks.) While this might be inconvenient for an extroverted party animal, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, it’s a mistake to treat “sensitivity” as a character defect. Especially considering that the more sensitive nature common to introverts means that they typically know how to empathize with others in a highly unique and special way. (Yep, introverts are pretty awesome.)