Forrest Gump’s life might be like a box of chocolates, but my life is an inbox full of sticky introvert conundrums. I wish I could answer every introvertastic missive, but alas, Grumpy is a finite being, and the litter boxes need changing every now and then.
Still, I wanted to pack a little extra Grumpy punch in this column to thank you for your excellent emails—Introverts, Ambiverts, and Extroverts all. I hereby bequeath to you the very first Grumpy Introvert Sampler, with one quick(ish) question from each of the three personality types. It’s like speed-dating but way more fun, and nobody has to use mouthwash.
Enjoy! And keep those emails coming, or I’ll be out of a job, and it will be all your fault.
You’ve mentioned ambiverts several times… Where can I find more info on this personality type? The older I get, the more I believe this is my group! I tend to relate more to descriptions of introverts, but sometimes I feel conflicted. Is there an ambiverts test?
Now, now. We are all just whizzing, whirring atoms. We are merely ephemeral clumps of Big Bang detritus. Who knows what any of us “are”? Why must we cling to labels?
No, Grumpy is totes kidding—I love labels. BRING ON THE LABELS. It is entirely possible that your particular makeup of the universe’s toenail clippings skews ambivert. And lucky you! Ambiverts are a sexy, refined, balanced breed indeed—able to attend family reunions full of politically warring factions without incurring the same emotional scarring that introverts might, yet bold enough to vocalize the need for a night alone or attend a silent yoga retreat. Still not sure? These links might just clear things up for you. Ambivert on, champ.
I’m a female extrovert who has been dating an extreme introvert for nearly a year. We’re almost complete opposites. I have lots of friends; he has none, only acquaintances. He takes solitary holidays, works alone, and reads and cycles alone; I enjoy a job in media and love social activities and travel. One day recently, he said he “couldn’t commute for the relationship any longer.” He’s just across town, not long distance. There were no fallouts, no anything—this came out of the blue. But he said he still likes me, and he keeps popping up with various excuses to contact me. He won’t talk on the phone though, only texts. He’s in his forties and is still depressed from his ugly divorce, so I feel like maybe I should cut him some slack. I don’t want to walk away, but likewise, I’m confused.
Opposite, Still Attracted
Oh, dear. Imagine two hands coming through your computer screen, gripping your shoulders lightly, and shaking you ever so gently. Well, maybe not that gently. Those hands? Attached to Grumpy here. If you hadn’t told me your hermit beau’s 40ish age, I might have guessed that you were both in your early 20s. That, sadly, is not a comment on your youthful zest for life, but rather a pained observation of your heartbreakingly puerile take on this dead-horse relationship. Opposite, O, Opposite!
What on earth compels you to spend any more mental energy on this lackluster, flatlining connection? As Grumpy’s Aunt Mary used to say, “When a man shows you who he really is, believe him the first time.” Aunt Mary knew her stuff, Opposite. This man has laid all his sad cards on the table for you to see, and there’s not a pair in sight. It’s one thing to be an introvert; it’s something else to be the human equivalent of a limp handshake. You’ve been dating this guy for a year, but your letter gives no hint of why he’s worth your time. He’s not just an introvert; he’s an all-out loner who can’t handle a cross-town commute, isn’t over his divorce, and isn’t grown-up enough to talk to his extroverted ex(-ish) girlfriend on the phone.
Riddle me this: Why don’t you want to walk away? Why should you cut this guy any slack? He’s not showing that he’s invested in you, your needs, or more than the bare minimum of communication. Listen to my Aunt Mary, Opposite. Cut the cord, and fly free. You deserve someone who is delighted to be with you—and never, ever makes you confused about where he stands. There’s nothing to be confused about here—you’ve got all the data you need. Now you just need to use it.
I’m an introvert, but sometimes my inner extrovert comes out to play. How can I tell when I’ve hogged the stage too long? Sometimes I get the feeling I’ve overdone it. How do I stop myself from being a jerk?
My Inner Extrovert Gets Loose
Oh, that pesky inner extrovert. They can wreak all sorts of social damage, when you spend most of your time in the world treading lightly, soulfully, and privately as an introvert. It’s like a souped-up, blinged-out Lamborghini busting, Transformers-style, out of a base-model Toyota Corolla: fascinating to observe but perhaps slightly alarming. If you notice people panicking at a party and swerving to get out of your way, you probably need to downshift hard and fast.
Lucky for you, your introvert Spidey senses probably let you know (even if you’ve had a few too many drinks) when you’re overdoing it on the social stage. If you’ve got the feeling you’ve overdone it, well, you probably have. Chalk that mild embarrassment up to character building, but don’t keep your inner extrovert caged all the time either.
Sometimes we must let our inner extroverts roam free and pound a few ill-advised body shots off a stranger’s chest at the corner bar. Such is life, MIEGL. Our closest mates and family will forgive us for a few extroverted social blunders here or there because most of the time, we’re the ones sitting back with a wry, bemused expression on our faces, noting our loved ones’ extroverted, endearing missteps.