Psychiatry & Psychology--General/Introversion

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Hi Alan.

I've recently come to the conclusion that I'm a full-blooded introvert. I certainly wouldn't call myself antisocial or socially anxious - I have a good circle of friends and I definitely enjoy a party from time to time. However, I exhibit almost all of the traits that I've come to understand are associated with introversion.

Although I'm comfortable being introverted, there are a few issues that are holding me back in life. The biggest issue that I have with my introversion is that it takes a great deal of energy to be around people, especially people I don't know well. In larger social gatherings, I find myself becoming bored, irritable or even outright physically tired.

I know this is a common trait of introverts, but it is a serious issue for me from time to time. Flirting, for instance, saps me of energy like you wouldn't believe. As you can probably understand, it's frustrating to be at a party, getting to know a girl, and suddenly feeling very tired and antisocial and lacking the necessary energy to move forward with her.

Do you have any advice for overcoming an issue like this?

Thanks.

Answer
Hi Patrick, sure I do.

First, forget your self-diagnosis because so-called intro/extraversion is more situational than consitutional.

You're shy in a large group of strangers and around girls. You and most every other young (I assume) guy.  In short, you're perfectly normal, except for being more self-perceptive. So try to focus more on the new person than being so tuned-in to an inherently stressful encounter (to such an extent that it magnifies into a form of stage-fright that causes somatic symptoms).

The gals are going to be more nervous than you, and most will not attract further interest as you get to know them, so it's not like you're investing undue resources in approaching some for a chat. But that takes practice to handle smoothly, so expect nothing more than gradual improvement. Like writing an essay, what's most important are the beginning and the end, so rehearse an overture ("Hi, how are you. I don't think I've ever seen you before" and search for something in common, whether friends, activities, work or school, ...)  And practice an "out" in case you decide to break it off ("Listen, it was really nice talking with you, and I hope we'll bump into each other again").  In between, the responsibility to chat is just as much hers.

The last thing I'll mention is that shy people are better liked, because they're easier to be around.

Thanks for asking us, and I hope those thoughts will be of some help.

Alan  

Psychiatry & Psychology--General

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Alan Auerbach

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Taught psychology for 30 years, authored four textbooks. Specialize in introductory and industrial/organizational psychology, but will tackle wider range of areas.

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