As countries, cities, and communities begin to ease out of social distancing restrictions, Extraverts around the world are celebrating. Plans are being made, lists are being compiled, outings and gatherings are being planned as access to restaurants, retail and outdoor activities continues to rise. And obviously, in their joy, these enthusiastic Extraverts want to include their close Introverts in their festivities.
It may seem shocking to these individuals that for the most part, their Introvert friends are perfectly happy to stay in the safety of their four walls. And in their eagerness to escape the mundanity of isolation, may forget that Introverts need to be handled with a bit of socially distant care. After all, they’ve probably enjoyed their time at home!
So we’ve come up with some helpful tips to help Extraverts acclimate their Introverts back out into the world.
DON’T expect your Introvert to realize isolation is over
Of all the Do’s and Don’ts, this is probably the most important one. While you’ve been taking extra strolls to check the mailbox eight times a day and chatting with anyone and everyone—including that stray cat—your Introvert has been enjoying the quiet. In fact, if you live with an INTP or an INTJ, chances are, they’re neck deep in String Theory or perfecting their online chess match techniques. Interrupting them to announce you’re ready to visit the shops will likely result in a decent amount of verbal biting.
Instead, you’re going to need to be a bit more subtle in your quest to get them out in public. Find out what has been their latest obsession or project. Maybe there’s a museum exhibit or author reading that ties into this hobby. If not, suggesting a visit to their favorite book store or hobby shop could entice them out of the house. Leave them in charge of mapping the route, giving their minds a problem to focus on. Maybe they’ll be so absorbed in their new purchases and plotting efficient routes, they won’t notice all the people. Maybe.
DO be enthusiastic to go along with any outing ideas your Introvert may have
Not all Introverts have been lost in blissful isolation. Just because they don’t mind being alone doesn’t mean it’s been easy. Even Introverts aren’t immune to the stress of not being able to check in on loved ones or experiencing the emotional strain the rest of the world is enduring.
So while your Introvert has dutifully stayed indoors, they may have been anxiously waiting to check on the people they love, or to help the less fortunate, since the beginning. Getting these Introverts out of the house may not be as challenging as you expect, but they will be focused on helping—not shopping.
Perhaps volunteering at the food bank or checking on your neighbors isn’t exactly what you would have come up with, but an outing is an outing. And because these particular Introverts are so highly tuned to the needs of others, this support won’t go unnoticed. Besides, they’re so perceptive, they’ll most likely have a stop or two meeting your needs scheduled in as well.
DON’T plan an outing that includes stopping by every location you’ve missed visiting
No matter how comfortable an Introvert is at staying home, there is no denying that the need for supplies will eventually raise the need for them to consider leaving their sanctuary. If you happen to live with the ISTP and ISTJ, these are probably two of the easier Introverts to lure out into the public. Even though they’re quite adept at entertaining themselves, they’re generally known to be up for adventure.
You can use their curiosity about the world and their desire to be useful to spark an afternoon full of outings. After the green light has been given, of course. But while you’ve been waiting to chat with your favorite baristas and stop into every single one of your favorite shops, even these more outgoing Introverts will quickly succumb to the tedium of shopping. Sprinkle your absolute must stop shops in between their supply list to maximize your outing without having to resort to leaving your very cranky Introvert in the car for the afternoon.
DO keep your gatherings limited to close friends until your Introvert has gotten used to people-ing
The thing to understand about Introverts, is that they probably consider any gathering a public excursion. This means the backyard barbecue you may be planning might be the thing of nightmares for your Introvert—even if there’s plenty of socially distant space appropriately planned. But if you live with an INFJ or an INFP, you’ll find they’re more open to the idea of a gathering than other Introverts might be. Especially if you include those your Introvert cares most about.
But even Feelings will only get you so far. If you really want to keep your Introvert engaged and content, utilize their more creative side. They can help cultivate the guest list, ensuring that there is connection and meaning in the event, which they’ll find particularly healing after the emotional strain of social isolation. By limiting the number of people, they won’t feel overwhelmed by the superficiality large groups impose, and will enjoy the intimate transition back into socializing.
The Final Word
Some Introverts are going to be more naturally inclined to be in public than others, just as some have a higher tolerance of people in general. But even then, their tolerance for these Extravert activities will be limited. With a solid plan combined with an understanding of their limits, making your way into public space with your Introvert can be achieved.
And if all else fails, leave your Introvert with their latest project and plenty of snacks—odds are you’ll be back before they know you left!