A Guide to Understanding Introverts

Whether you’re one yourself and need help explaining to others how you feel or you have friends who aren’t as outgoing as you, this cute, simple comic can help relationships grow and mend!

Introversion comic

[via I Waste So Much Time]

44 Responses to A Guide to Understanding Introverts

  1. What’s the payoff for following all of these special needs requests of introverts? It seems like a lot of time / sensitivity investment with very little return.

    • I had the same thought about the extroverts, what’s the point of listening to their exhausting endless complaining and whining about everything and their half-baked thoughts on things they never took the time to really study. It’s really hard when you have to pretend someone is saying something interesting when all they’re saying is just nonsense.

      Plus, you’re the typical extrovert who’s all about himself and doesn’t pay attention to anything that goes on around him. You ask “What’s the payoff for following all of these special needs requests” WTF, there’s ONE request DON’T DEMAND TO HAVE ENERGY SPENT ON YOU WHEN IT’S NOT NEEDED.

      You see I just spent energy trying to have an exchange with you when I knew right from the start that there was nothing in it for me.

      Whaterever… I’m off to my hamster ball.

      • Thank you for saving me the energy, Poolk. You were also more polite than I might have been. :)

      • Please, refrain from using phrases like “You’re a typical…”. It shows that you think ALL of that kind of person to be less than you are. It comes off as rude and pompous, just as much, if not more than, the person you are speaking of, because you are claiming to be above whatever it is that they said, and just displayed otherwise.

    • The “payoff” is they might talk to you. If you’re not interested in that, then don’t engage and go on your merry way. I doubt the introvert is going to care.

    • The “payoff” is being able to have a friend be comfortable around you and let them know that you respect their personal boundaries and limits. If you aren’t willing to spend a little time and effort on a friend’s behalf, then you need to reevaluate yourself.

      • I am a very extroverted person and following pretty much this advice I ended up marrying an introverted and after 7 years, so far so good. I don’t think they meant any harm to compare introverted people to rodents. Actually, my husband loves hamsters so he found it rather amusing.

      • The time and energy will be expended before they are friends, so their comfort isn’t paramount as strangers.

      • Significant others don’t make me jump through hoops or give me rule sets for communication. In turn, I treat them with great kindness and empathy. Needy strangers on the other hand, no so much.

    • As an extrovert, the “payoff” is that you draw energy from the introvert. Drawing energy from another extrovert, you are both “taking” energy from each other, and competing for each others social energy. Drawing energy from an introvert, however, they are not competing with you for the social energy that is being generated, so the extrovert does not have to compete for it.

        • If you think of other human beings as parasites on your precious bodily fluids, I hate to tell you this but you’re not introverted, you’re sociopathic.

        • I would agree with the idea behind this comparison. What seems to be said here is that extroverts are symbiotic because they bounce off each others energy and taking and giving each other’s, neither ever becoming really depleted. As introverts don’t take energy from others as they don’t interact as much, expend energy in social interactions that are more effortful and tiring than for extroverts, without getting energy from others. Therefore, by the end of the interaction, they’re worn out. An extrovert-extrovert relationship seems symbiotic, while an introvert-extrovert one can be seen as parasitic, tiring out the introvert while the extrovert is sustained. As an extrovert myself, I still struggle with this since all my close friends are introverts. I think it’s up to each person to decide how valuable these relationships are to them and being able to respect that not each person can interact with them in the same way while knowing that good friends will be there for them when they need.

    • Having a relationship with someone is hard work. If you are constantly looking for “payoff” or easy ways around this, go get a dog.

      • “Having a relationship with someone is hard work” which cosigning on this comic implies that you want the other person to do 100% of.

    • Introverts, as givers of energy, can often be the most sensitive and insightful of listeners, advisers, and friends. They are often comfortable discussing things which extroverts reflexively avoid- subjects which fare poorly in group discourse, but which can be explored profoundly one-on-one. Moreover, once you know and introvert and they innately trust you, you may find that they have developed a fabulous and unusual inner life, which can be fabulously rewarding to share in- above and beyond going out for drinks in loud smoky places with bros et c

  2. I’m an extrovert who has been completely drained myself by the constant needs and demands of introverted people. Other people are not on this planet solely for their benefit. If a situation is not about them or benefiting them in any way they don’t give a damn. It’s never about what anyone else might need. They take-take-take, and when I need a little TLC they pull out the “I’m introverted, leave me alone” card.
    Friendship is a two way street. You give, you get. Anyone who is all take on either side is toxic.

    • Hahaha that’s bad luck, you found ugly person xD but I’m an introvert and I use to love so much my friends, I’m loyal and I’m always there if they need a hand (:

    • I think you encountered a bad seed. I tend to love when my extroverted friends just want to chat about an issue they are having or problem. According to sociological studies, extroverts outnumber introverts 3 to 1. I’ve learned to navigate the extrovert’s world (my wonderful boyfriend is one). I go out with him, and he stays in with me. If I’m not feeling up to talking, we chat online (this has really become an easy way from me to recharge and still give him interaction). Being introverted is simply a personality trait and should be treated as an excuse. Anyone using it as a “get out of jail” free card or some type of a disorder. Using a trait as those two things gives all other introverts a bad rap. I’m sorry you had that experience because this person (s) sound crappy. You are indeed right: if an two people in any relationship can’t make room and negotiate personalities (let’s go bowling with friends on Friday, stay in on Saturday, go to the museum on Sunday, and I need some alone time on Monday so make sure to make plans with your friends), then it is indeed toxic.

      I think the only thing that I didn’t like is the description of how to interact with others. For me, I can be overstimulated easily–so yes, being a little reserved will help you, but it isn’t necessary. I won’t run away:). I’m not a skittish deer. And it’s not that we don’t care if we are interacting with you. I think it really has to do with two things: 1. We tend to be in our own little world so you have to “knock” us out of it. 2. We tend to view the world through introverted glasses–we are uber respectful of others personal space.

      Sorry so long: Felt the need to let you know we are not totally bad. Some of us look forward to opportunities to give a little TLC.

      • I really dislike the number of times negative imagery is used in the comic to describe extroverted people (“obnoxious predators” “needy” “annoying” “pushy”) and interactions (“expensive” “wasteful” “demands”). The comic really does portray interacting with introverted people as a one-way interaction where the introvert has every right to control, direct and deflect interaction in accordance with their needs but the extrovert has no rights in reciprocation but to accept whatever the introvert deigns to give.

        This comic describes a grossly dysfunctional way of behaving.

    • I’m very sorry to hear that you’ve had such a bad experience with introverted people. But it sounds a bit strange as well. I don’t doubt your assessment of them being introverted, but I think there’s something more to it than that since their behaviour sounds petty and selfish rather than simply introverted. Perhaps you met bad eggs?

      I myself am an introvert (big surprise!) and I couldn’t agree more with what you wrote about friendship being a two way street:

      Due to my curious, empathetic and introverted nature (a quite exhausting combination, but I’m used to it by now and know how to deal) I’ve always observed people and their emotions so I’ve become quite good at listening to people and giving them advice. This hasn’t gone unnoticed by my friends, introverted and extroverted alike. So they tend to use me as a sounding board/confidant/therapist for most things, big and small. I’ve been called in the middle of the night and stayed up for hours discussing things with them and comforting them when needed. Some even have the habit of contacting me after a long time just to ask me for advice and then disappear into the ether again.

      Does this exhaust me? Of course. Do I enjoy it? Of course. They are my friends and I love them. I’d feel hurt if they didn’t feel like they could come to me when they feel down. Or when they want to meet up since some of them apparently find it very relaxing to spend time with me (probably because I don’t drain them in turn). Some of my friends drain me more than others, but I would never avoid spending time with them because of that. That would be an awfully selfish thing to do. If they want to spend time with me when I’m exhausted I might suggest going for a coffee or cooking something together so I won’t have to deal with too much extra drain, but turning them away? Never.

      Sometimes I need to shut myself in for days afterwards, but that’s my problem and not theirs. Forcing them to deal with the fact that I’m introverted makes no sense. Punishing someone for not being like you is, like I write in the beginning, selfish.

      I’m sorry for writing an essay, but I guess I wanted to let you know that not all introverts are the same. Maybe you’ll find someone you can relax with?

      • So you think that being present for someone who won’t be present for you shouldn’t be absolutely exhausting for an extrovert? (hint: It IS). The facepalm-worthiness of this comic originates in its assumption that it is never necessary to spend energy on something that you see no immediate benefit to.

  3. As an introvert…I’m not sure how I feel about being compared to a rodent…or at least to needing a rodent ball to go through life. I think I prefer being thought of as anti-social instead.

  4. As an introvert, I approve this message. I love being alone and am very productive when I’m alone. I love people and am very chatty, so people think I’m an extrovert, but after spending time with people, I like nothing more than to come home and eschew personal interaction for a few hours.

  5. I know I’ll get shit for this but um… this is why I’m not friends with a lot of introverts. I love my alone time as well and can sometimes shut myself away from the world for days at a time. But when I go out in public, I don’t expect people to treat me differently. I expect respect but I also don’t expect people to tiptoe around me all the time.

    If I like someone, I am friends with them, if they like me, they are friends with me. If they don’t like the way I treat them, they can choose to not be friends with me. Lots of people in the world to hang out with, I’m not stepping on eggshells so someone so “fragile” can feel comfortable. I treat my friends with respect, love and caring but no, I’m not tiptoeing. If someone doesn’t like the way I treat them, they can tell me, and if we can agree that I was being an ass (which I can be just like anyone else) than I will fix my behavior and apologize, if they just don’t like the way I am, chances are, I don’t like the way they are and we won’t be friends. That’s ok. I’m not pretending like there is a rabid dog in the room I need to be on my best behavior for every time a supposed friend walks into the room. Waste of my energy too…

    • You won’t get shit from me. I applaud your honesty. I’m just amused by the fact that we share the same views on friendship even if I myself am an introvert. I would never expect someone to treat me differently and I won’t run away screaming if someone I don’t know/trust get too close (even if I will feel uncomfortable).

      I would hate if my friends found it awkward to approach me with their needs since I want to help them as much as I can. I may feel exhausted after listening to a friend’s problem and comforting them for hours; but that’s a part of any close relationship and I am happy to do it for them. I will do whatever it takes to make them feel better and even if I might need to shut myself in the following day(s), I’d never turn away someone who needs my help.

      And I’d feel insulted if someone treated me differently just because I’m an introvert. If an incredible outgoing person runs up to a group I’m in and start chatting away at me a mile a minute I may feel a bit flummoxed at first, but I’m used to adapting.

      If you’ve met people who needs to be handled with care and you don’t feel like you’re up to it, it’s better for both of you to be honest about it and not be friends.

      But, speaking of your introverted friends: do you feel like you get more or less energy from an introverted person or an extroverted person? I’m just curious:)

  6. This should read less like “introverts are demanding hamsters who think you’re out to prey on their energy” and more like “some people get tired from interacting so be sensitive to everyone’s *individual needs and don’t be pushy.”

    Giving a play-by-play of how to engage with an introvert (and then recapping all of it in the next picture using the same words as if we couldn’t possibly understand the first time) makes them seem pretentious and high-maintenence, and takes away from their diversity/individuality. The most introverted person I know is also quite talkative most days and would spend MORE energy trying to make you laugh and open up if you were brief with him. Sure he gets tired but he loves people, a lot more than most, and so he likes to “spend his energy” all at once, getting away when he needs to.

    I appreciate the need to inform people, but the characterizations could be better. Extroverts aren’t all obnoxious bubble gum optimists chattering to exhaust you and introverts aren’t all shy, arrogant creatures glaring at everyone from the corner.

    • My thought too. It might be that I’m a closet introvert not wanting to admit it… or a very shy extrovert. Or it might be that the comic over-simplifies things and exaggerates the polar opposites to further explain how things work.

  7. Introverted people tend to be very loyal and helpful, even to the point of ignoring their own needs to help others. Since it’s difficult for an introvert to talk to people, it also difficult for them to make friends, and so when they do find someone they’re willing to talk to and spend time with, they’ll put all the energy they have at the moment into that little bit of social interaction.

  8. This is way too oversimplified. I can’t even identify or classify who that I know is an introvert or an extrovert from this, because depending on various factors, these traits tend to overlap with people. From my experience, if you make an introvert comfortable enough, they become like an extrovert towards you, and if an extrovert goes through a severe enough experience (maybe something like a depression or an abusive relationship), they can become extroverted. But excuse me if I’m chatting shit. Also, this just makes introverts sound like they’re autistic or have some kind of disorder, which is not the case. Like a few comments have said before, friendship is a two-way street and should be natural and easy; if you have to tip-toe around a friend, something’s not right.

    • Most comics are oversimplified. That’s just how it is. Everyone will always find something to complain about.

      As for the examples you give, no. The introvert you described is /still/ an introvert. Introverts can be talkative, but it’s when /they/ are comfortable and want to give their personal energy to others.

      To the extrovert example, they’re still an extrovert. Depression effects both introverts and extroverts, but the extrovert is still an extrovert. Extroversion and introversion describe consistent traits shown over long periods of time. Depression doesn’t change the person’s character over a long period of time; it makes their personality “ill” in a way, so they will act abnormally.

      And no, as an introvert, this doesn’t make it sound like we have a disorder. It might be over-emphasizing our desire for people to leave us alone when we want to be left alone, but I’d hardly call that a disorder. How is wanting to be left alone a lot, and being picky about our interactions with others, make that a disorder?

      Further, the comic strip did not even imply that you have to “tip-toe” around them. You simply have to be more considerate. If you think being considerate is being overly-cautious or is just so exhausting, then I think you need to re-evaluate yourself.

  9. I’ve always disliked the stereotype that introverts are portrayed as bookworms. Books are like people to me. If its not the right kind, its a drain of my time and energy.

  10. (Disclaimer: I’m a closet introvert myself)

    The whole “energy transfer” metaphore is sort of insulting. Most extroverted people aren’t energy vampires out to suck out your soul marrow. Of course, you have those super-self centered guys and girls who HAS to have all the attention all the time. But most people aren’t like that. Most people just want to have their social interaction with someone they like and they use basic human communication and etiquette skills to make it so. Introverts are perfectly capable of doing the same without using recipes like this (of which I’ve seen several) or labelling themselves as bubblers who need special consideration. It’s not like it’s a disease.

    In my humble opinion – if you read this comic and go “that’s so right!” at every panel, it’s YOU that are doing something wrong. You’ve picked the wrong crowd, the wrong friends and you are not good enough at setting social boundaries.