Introvert-extrovert friendships can be great, but they can also be hard on us introverts.
Extroverted friends are amazing. They help us introverts get out of our comfort zone and be social. They can be awesome conversational partners. My best friend is an extrovert, and hanging out with her is the easiest thing in the world.
But sometimes, you have to deal with the downsides of introvert-extrovert friendships. As introvert, you just cannot keep up with all the social gatherings you’re invited to!
I was inspired to write this article when I went back to my parents’ house at the beginning of the year. It was the first time in a long time that I was back in my hometown for more than a weekend, and I was very excited to see my friends and family.
However, my enthusiasm was soon brought back to reality: after a very long drive, I was exhausted and felt like relaxing on the couch and playing games instead of going out.
I thought that I would stay with my family for a couple of days and then go see my friends for a quiet night in.
And then I got it: the dreaded invitation to go to my extroverted friend’s house and hang out with a bunch of people I didn’t know.
So, how can we make introvert-extrovert friendships work without sacrificing the alone-time we need as introverts?
Extroverted friends are, well, extroverted
Getting unwelcome invitations always puts me in a bit of a dilemma. I do theoretically want to see my friend, but practically a social gathering is the last thing I feel like doing (welcome to life as an introvert).
For me as an introvert, it is difficult to understand why a friend whom I haven’t seen in months would want to invite me to a party instead of hanging out just the two of us.
However, just like we want our extroverted friends to take into account that we’re introverts, we have to take into account that they’re not.
I am definitely guilty of not acknowledging it enough. In fact, my first reaction to such an invitation usually runs along the lines of ‘why would you want to torture me?’ and ‘why don’t you want to spend time with me?’.
Which actually leads me to my next point:
Extroverted friends are not trying to torture you
Whenever my extroverted friends suggest something that I don’t want to do, the most important thing I have to tell myself is that they’re not me. It sounds silly, but I often tend to forget that they can’t know how I feel about everything.
To them, hanging out with a bunch of people is a nice thing to do, and so they invite me. It’s not a way to make me uncomfortable, it is really just an invitation.
The same actually goes for friends inviting you to eat out when they know you have IBS. To them, it’s a nice thing to do. They can’t know that eating out sounds like a whole lot of trouble to you.
Being social as an introvert is often tiresome, but we need to remember that our extroverted friends are less familiar with that feeling.
Making a decision: is your introvert or your anxiety talking?
Once you have established that your extroverted friends are just trying to be nice and that you can’t expect them to understand how your mind works, you now have to decide what you want to do.
I am often torn between feeling like I have to go and not wanting to. What makes it more difficult is my shyness that tends to come through: sometimes I really don’t want to do something, and sometimes I’m just afraid that I won’t be comfortable amongst a lot of people.
The same goes for my IBS: I often get anxious and scared that I’ll have a flare-up, which makes me want to stay at home. It really depends on the situation. Going out for breakfast is a suicide mission for me and I’ll never do it. However, going out for sushi at night should technically be okay and I, therefore, try to jump over my shadow.
The bottom line is: if I feel like I’ll regret not going, I force myself. If I feel like I wouldn’t regret it, I don’t.
Explaining your reaction to your extroverted friend
In the case of my friend’s invitation to a social gathering, I decided not to go (and I didn’t regret it all).
Now you might be tempted to decline the invitation by inventing some sort of excuse. There are several problems with this.
First of all, your friend will probably know that you made up the excuse. It’s not a very nice thing to do and won’t benefit your friendship.
Second of all, even if your excuse sounds real, you won’t really be off the hook. The next invitation will come along, and you have to be really good at excuses to keep up the game. In the long run, this might really hurt your introvert-extrovert friendships!
Instead of all this, I actually suggest being honest. You don’t even have to say that you don’t want to come! Just tell your friend that you’d prefer spending a night in just the two of you.
If you’re interested, that is exactly what I did. And it worked out perfectly!
Be mindful of your extroverted friend
With a bit of honesty and communication, you should be able to find a compromise to make both of you happy.
However, you also have to be mindful of your extroverted friend. If your friend wants to throw a big birthday party or a wedding, you should just deal with it. I admit it might not be the most comfortable situation for you. However, on such occasions, you need to put your friend first. At least in my opinion!
What do you think about introvert-extrovert friendships? If you liked this post, I’d appreciate it if you shared it with your friends!