For 29 years, I considered myself pretty quiet and reserved. I only open up once I’m comfortable with someone, and if I am comfortable with you, I’m excited to share really engaging and insightful conversations. I’ve always been the kind of person who had one or two close friends, and that was it. I never had the personality to want to be part of a large friend circle. It always seemed too overwhelming to me. I never realized what that really said about me…until recently.

Over the past 18 months, I’ve done a lot of soul-searching. I’ve spent a lot of time in solitude, be it in my apartment or in my solo travels. At first, it was merely exciting to go off on my own, seek adventures, and see what happens. The more time passed, the more I realized how much I valued solitude. I can’t remember the exact day or how it happened, but somewhere along the way, it dawned on me: I am an introvert. It was like being hit over the head with the most obvious thought ever.

I’d always valued my alone time, but never had so much of it until the past year. There are certain situations I look back on and realize my actions were solely because of who I am fundamentally. For example, in past relationships, I can vividly recall numerous parties where socializing for an entire Saturday drained me and I would be eager to get home at nightfall. Because I hadn’t realized why I reacted this way, I couldn’t have expected my then-boyfriend to understand why I wanted to leave. It would simply cause fights. “Why are you in such a rush to leave?” he would ask every single time. I never had a “good answer” other than I’m tired. It’s been a long day. I’d like to go home and rest.

It sounds so incredibly simple, but this revelation blows my mind. Now that I’m aware of this, I feel like I have a cheat sheet to give to whomever I date next:

Dear Future Boyfriend:

Look, I’m an introvert. Because of this, please understand I need a lot of time to myself to recharge. I value deep conversations as opposed to small talk. I hate confrontation. I need to collect my thoughts, and I need you to be patient with me while I do so. I will want to go out and socialize in a big group every so often, but I am not the type of person who wants or needs that level of stimulation every night. If we do have plans, I will want to know all the details prior to going: how many people, who, where, etc. This helps me mentally prepare myself to have a good time. If I feel bombarded or overwhelmed, I will want to retreat immediately, and that won’t be fun for either of us. If you can respect this about me, we will get along swimmingly. Thank you in advance for your understanding.

Sincerely, a true introvert,

Jamie

The great thing about coming to this realization is that now I’m able to be upfront with people I know. I enjoy telling them what I’ve learned about myself over the past year, and I truly appreciate it when they are understanding. The downside is having to explain myself to people who don’t know me well and question me: I’m not anti-social. I’m not in a bad mood. I can’t just as easily be an extrovert, nor would I want to be.

What I hope to gain from being upfront about my introverted side in my next relationship is respect and understanding. I think a fundamental piece to a strong, long-lasting relationship is when both people know who they are at the core, as individuals, and therefore can work together and can compromise whenever needed to make each other happy. If I’m honest about my wants and needs (and he is as well), I think it’ll make a relationship a lot easier and more enjoyable. I look forward to that one day. In the meantime, I appreciate and value being self-aware and confident and having the comfort that comes with being transparent about who I am and what I want.

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  • Mary Fung

    Good luck !

  • mdrod1

    I completely understand. I am very similar. Thanks for writing this article so that others don’t feel they are the only ones.

  • David Mutton

    It’s like I wrote this myself….

  • nao

    Amazing 🙂 Thank you for sharing your story Jamie!

  • Nada Patterson

    Well said. It’s great that you have had this revelation so early in life. Took me many years to finally figure it out.

  • Michael

    Thank you for your thoughtful, candid and honest article. I’m 64 years (young) and only wish a similar revelation about myself and the ability to communicate that genuine and valid message to others would have happened long ago. Again, thank you.

  • John Hopper

    This all rings very true for me also.

  • Sian Aggett

    Thank you for putting it all together and giving me the words.

  • Lisa Fear

    Wow! You have just written what I have been thinking for years!! Thanks for the great article.