Introversion and extraversion are terms that were coined by Carl Jung to describe the two main ways that people get their energy. Introverts feel energized from spending time alone and are naturally drawn to their own inner world, while extroverts get their energy from being around lots of people and actively engaging in the outer world.
A good way to begin thinking about your type is to imagine your ideal Friday night. After a busy, stressful week, would you rather go out to a party with friends or stay home and read a good book? Chances are that if the party sounds good to you, you’re an extrovert but if a night in sounds perfect, you’re an introvert.
Generally speaking, introverts can be described as reflective or reserved. They are cautious when making decisions, and they may feel overwhelmed in loud or busy environments. Introverts feel comfortable being alone and prefer to get to know just a few people very well. Extroverts are generally described as outgoing people-persons who enjoy working in groups and having lots of friends. Extroverts like to jump into activities and make things happen, sometimes not taking much time to think things over or make a plan first. They often like to talk things out to solve problems with others.
Most people fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, and we all spend time introverting and extroverting. So why does it matter? Introversion and extroversion are at the core of our temperaments. When we make choices for ourselves that fit with our temperament, we can effectively use our energy and live up to our full potential. When we try to go against our temperament and fight our natural tendencies, we deplete ourselves of energy. Knowing whether someone is an introvert or an extrovert can be extremely helpful for knowing how to love and support that person.
With Valentine’s Day approaching, you may be trying to think of a creative way to show your love for that special someone. Whether it’s your partner, child, friend, or even yourself, why not try something that fits for their temperament of introvert or extrovert? Here are some suggestions for ways to show love to introverts and extroverts.
Three ways to show love to an introvert:
- Spend one-on-one time together. Introverts enjoy in-depth conversations and quality time with the people they love. Offer to go for a Sunday drive, a nature walk, explore a museum, or go for dinner just the two of you. Ask for a table or a booth in a quiet corner of the restaurant. Or even better, make dinner and enjoy it together at home, with the tv off.
- Allow introverts to have alone time without feeling bad about it. Many introverts may feel guilty for needing space and time alone to recharge. They may worry about seeming anti-social, shy, or rejecting of others. By understanding the importance of this time for self-care and re-energizing, you are validating the introvert’s needs and honouring an important aspect of what makes them unique. Why not give your spouse or friend a coupon for a kid-free afternoon at home, or a gift card to a quiet coffee shop?
- Write them a love letter. These aren’t just for romantic partners – you can write a love letter to a friend or to a child too. All it takes is a note, in your hand writing, that expresses what you like about them and why you value them in your life. Introverts may enjoy communicating in writing because it allows time to think, to be intentional about word choice, and to have something visual that they can return to and read again and again.
Three ways to show love to an extrovert:
- Try something new together. Extroverts often love changes of scenery and the adventure of the new thrills them. Surprise them with reservations at the hottest new restaurant in town, or go on a spontaneous adventure flipping a coin to decide left or right at each intersection, or sign them up for a one-time dance class to try with friends.
- Ask them to be the leader. Extroverts may like to have a clear task or purpose, and are great at making action plans. Let your extroverted child plan your Saturday afternoon family outing, or organize the menu for dinner and make the grocery list. Or ask your extroverted friend to help you choose colours for the spare room you’re renovating.
- Call them just to say “I love you”. Extroverts enjoy verbal communication with the people they love. While an introvert may treasure that love letter, an extrovert might much rather talk to you and actively engage in the conversation. They may appreciate the immediate feedback and the opportunity to tell you, too, how much they care about you.
If these ideas have inspired you, why not share what you’ve learned with your special someone? Your demonstrations of love will be even more meaningful if the recipient knows that you thought specifically about their temperament and tried to do something that fits.