Neither Introvert Nor Extrovert? You Need A Break Too

It is well-established that introverts need quiet breaks so that they can recharge their batteries in solitude. And extroverts equally need social breaks to fill up their emotional tanks. But what about ambiverts? What kind of breaks do they take? If introverts and extroverts get to recharge, isn’t it fair that ambiverts get the chance too?

Ambiverts, for those not familiar with the term, are people that fit into a category between introverts and extroverts on the introversion to extroversion continuum. A defining characteristic is that they are capable of manifesting both types of behaviour, depending on what the task they have at hand requires of them. So, they have the strengths of both introverts and extroverts. When I first heard about ambiverts, I felt that this was a bit unfair. I was under the impression that they had the best of both worlds, and as such that they were simply better people than my fellow extroverts or introverts. Yet, nothing is so black and white.

I interviewed more than 50 ambiverts to try and learn about the weaknesses that came with such an adaptable personality type. Based on this research, I believe that I can establish two weaknesses. First, ambiverts often confuse other people with their changing levels of engagement. It is hard to gauge intent and intimacy when someone sometimes acts on the more reclusive tendencies of an introvert, and other times displays the energetic connections that come with the personality traits of an extrovert. It is as though they are chameleons, making it difficult to predict how they are going to act. Many people, understandably, find this perplexing. The other weakness, and this is not really a material weakness, is that ambiverts don’t manifest the strengths of introversion or extroversion to the degree that strong introverts or extroverts do. They may present the same patterns of engagement, but it can be far less pronounced than those on either end of the continuum.

From our interviews, it seems fairly clear that the kind of breaks ambiverts take are a result of having overused one end of the continuum, enticing them to swing back to the other side of the pendulum in an effort to find balance. That is, when an ambivert has acted like an introvert for some time, they need to recharge their social batteries by taking what we would typically describe as an extrovert break. After being alone, they crave social stimulation. On the other end, when they have acted like an extrovert for some length of time, they may need to take an introvert break. Instead of talking and connecting, they may feel the need to have quiet time by themselves to recharge. Interestingly enough, our informants suggest that the length of the break would typically be less than that which the introvert or the extrovert may need to recharge. Ambiverts return to stasis more rapidly.

So, if you happen to manage an ambivert, recognize that breaks are useful to make up for the overuse of one side of their personality. Chances are, after a long time of acting like an introvert or an extrovert, they could need a moment to rebalance. While it may well be different than what you do as an introvert or extrovert, it makes perfectly good sense.

This article was first published by The Globe and Mail

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10 responses to “Neither Introvert Nor Extrovert? You Need A Break Too”

  1. Boulard says:

    Thank you for this enlighting paper.
    Having grown in an environment where extroversion was valued, it took me a (very) long time to understand that the stress I had experienced in my life and some of my « ohoh » moments were linked with my introverted nature.
    However, maybe because if this developmental journey, today I totally recognise myself in the ambivert dynamics, and sometimes, difficulty to be accurately understood by others.

  2. Mudd says:

    I agree the the consistency problem others have; with introverts is trust, primarily with consistency of energy or emotional output, or noise, which many introverts appear to avoid.

    With extroverts they appear to assume once I’ve gone “extrovert” with them, they count on me to always be available to their emotional output.

    My mindfulness practice, I notice, has moved me towards introversion.

  3. RA says:

    I guess I’d consider myself somewhat of an ambivert with social anxiety. Ive been working in sales (of all things) for many years and only until recently did I realize why I’d feel drained after just a couple of engagements, even if they were very positive. Yet if I’m with a group of people I like I feel excited.

    I do wish I could find a way to recharge while being away from home after making a couple of sales calls so I can continue the day but its hard. Some people will say take a break at a coffee shop for example. But because of the social anxiety, thats not really an option.

  4. RM says:

    Thank you! I finally feel understood.

  5. J says:

    Bien exprimé – je vous ressemble aussi!

  6. Trisha says:

    Is there a test to determine if you are such a personality? I feel this might describe me but not sure if I could be an extrovert with social insecurities or an introvert who likes people!🤪

  7. Maria Elizabeth Menezes says:

    I always felt I was a bit diferent , like duality in my behave.

    Now ,if I understood correctly its part of me and its not wrong with that.

  8. Edwin Henneken says:

    Great post! I identify as an “ambi”. It’s in part the result of being a Myers-Briggs INFJ and having learned to venture outside of my comfort zone and stay present and mindful there. Thank you for providing the ambivert with some limelight!

  9. carole anderson says:

    one might guess me an ambivert. Nobody ever believes me when I claim to be an introvert because indeed, I am at ease & engaging out among ’em. I am lucky to be preternaturally lacking in any kind of social anxiety & talented at encouraging others. It’s a family trait I share with my brother, our father and his sister!
    But in fact, I am an introvert. If I never leave my house, I won’t get bored or lonely. I’m visual artist, I occupy myself better than any other human can occupy me. I make myself go to the farmers’ market every Wednesday, & I’m taking an evening Spanish class on Thursdays because I know that social interaction plays an important part in the health of the organism. In such measured doses, I have learned to manage these necessities. Taken in measured doses this way, social interactions are really fun & beneficial. But if I overdose (which I do twice a year with the annual village birthday weekend, & the annual club fair) it takes me a day all alone in my cell on the top floor to recover. I’m great at parties….when I can’t get out of going…this is rare.
    I’m trilingual, I’ve read that unshy people have an easier time learning new languages. I am an American expatriot living in France. I love being a foreigner because for the likes of me it’s an easy, ready icebreaker. I love the internet, it’s an introvert’s salvation sometimes.

  10. Anonymous says:

    EXCELLENT!!

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