A Guide to Understanding Asocial Introverts
What Makes a Person an Introvert?
Before I get into anything, let me be clear in my definitions here. Asocial behavior is behavior to leads to one becoming isolated and generally NOT WITH other humans. ANTI-social behavior is a different beast altogether. That's what serial killers and serial abusers are crafted from.
So, asocial means withdrawn from society. Anti-social means (oftentimes violently) against humanity. Anyway...
Introversion: What is it? Who has it? Is it like a disease or something?
Every philosopher, psychologist, and psychiatrist has taken a crack at this question. Sigmund Freud coined the term “introvert” to describe one of the traits associated with narcissism. In Freud’s view, introverts were neurotics who had taken “a turn from reality to phantasy [sic].” Now everyone loves to quote Freud because almost everything he ever said was controversial in one way or another. The problem with Freud is that the vast majority of his theories were baseless and not provable, and remain so today.
Who else has a fun opinion of Introversion? Two psychiatrists Costa and McCrae developed the famous Big 5 Personality Inventory. And even more recently, have drawn introversion into a six-faceted animal. Warmth, Gregariousness, Assertiveness, Activity Level, Excitement Seeking, and Positive Emotions. These six, combined, aggregate a person's level of introversion.
What this is trying to show is that there can be a gregarious, thrill-seeking introvert. Though typically, introverts tend to prefer solitude and the general monotony of life, to the ups and downs of extreme behaviors. These facets are also the facets of humanity, in that anyone can express them, and that included introverts.
But what REALLY makes a person an introvert? Most theorize it's a mix of biological and environmental. Say, your father is a quiet, reserved man who is well liked by everyone, but your mother is a thrill seeking maniac who goes to a different club every night, and gets in fights with all the neighbors over nothing. Put aside the point that they're married.
Think. How would their child turn out? Children tend to fluctuate between which parents they like the most, or identify with the most, even into the early adult years. Children effectively 'try on' various personalities and by seeing what they do at home, at school, and later, at work, they start to figure themselves out. It's a long, arduous process, and it begins at birth and ends at death.
My Son or Daughter is an Asocial Introvert, What Do I Do?
I'm glad you're here. As I am one of those people. I am an introvert. I am calm, reserved, reticent at times, thoughtful, and conscientious as well. I can also be gregarious and just as loving as anyone else. But most often, like your son or daughter, you'll see tendencies that look "unhealthy" or "abnormal".
Society has a list of words that it uses to describe those who can't or don't conform with the status quo. If you think you're being original by calling us unhealthy or abnormal, I recommend a thesaurus.
By creating an artificial distance between yourself and your loved one due to their introversion is like to create resentment on both sides of the table. They will dislike you because you fail to understand their actions, and possibly because they feel pressured to inherit family traits, or the family business.
You may feel resentment toward them because they're seemingly throwing their talents and their life away and not really acclimating to society. Both sides are understandable.
But there's a reason that the child is behaving that way.. Either they didn't receive enough love or attention as a child (that's one common theory) or they just tried out several ways of behaving and found that particular set of actions to be preferable..
Whatever the case, Introverts are driven by different means than extraverts. Extraverts may thrive on how other's see them, or by getting formal commendations at work, but introverts have an internal value system that they strive to keep in line with.
So, when a parent tells their introvert child that they're failing, they may not see it that way. They may be succeeding in areas that are just insignificant and altogether pointless in your eyes. And the same can be said for the opposite situation. An introverted father may see his extraverted daughter striving to be the most popular girl in school, and see her selling out her soul, one commitment after the next, and he wishes that he understood what could possibly drive that kind of behavior.
Do your best to understand. Have genuine conversations. Be ready to yell and scream, but don't ever give up on your child.
Would You Consider Yourself an Introvert or Extravert?
Introverts Need Happiness Just as Much as Extraverts
They need love, and fulfillment and success too. But some of our isolating tendencies and brusque demeanor leave other people thinking "Can this person really be worthwhile to society?"
The sad answer is, not always. When you stare into the abyss long enough, you may find that the abyss stares right back at you. Isolation, avoidance, flattened-affect, and many of the characteristics of hardcore introverts tend to be correlated with being absent from certain life events that generally provide happiness and contentment. Skipping prom is fine. Never having a girlfriend/boyfriend is not. Drawing the line between being a useless social outcast, and thriving and succeeding with your unique talents are literally the two sides to the halberd that comes to bash your head in. Makes perfect sense.
An Appeal to You Introverts
Find happiness, in whatever context it means to you. Find success, even if it's in a video game. Find a friend or two whom you can trust entirely. Tell them your feelings, tell them your hopes and dreams. Don't become entirely alone. Don't cloister yourself so much that you forget who you are, or start to become delusional about the outside world.
Yes, on every street there is a jerk, a wife-beater, a pedophile, and maybe even a murderer. But even those types of people are worth getting to know. Everyone is struggling with something right now, and it goes a long way when someone opens up their own shell to understand what makes another individual happy or sad.
Create connections. You can do that online too. Make sure that if you drop off the grid entirely, that you at least have one person to pull you back out from inside the abyss.
If you're lucky, find a woman/man who isn't prone to the same flaws as you. Help them with their shortcomings, and they'll help you with yours. That's what marriage is.
In short, live another day, because tomorrow is full of infinitely possibilities, both good and bad, glorious, and devious.
My Boyfriend/Girlfriend is an Introvert, What Do I Do?
Thankfully, I was extremely fortunate in this regard. I met my wife in a video game of all places. Yes, you heard me. An MMORPG too. She was a quiet, shy girl who just really seemed to open up while kicking my character's behind in duels. I got to know her over the course of several months before asking her to move across the country and live with me. She's a hardcore introvert just as myself, but this isn't always the case. Not to mention, an introvert being attracted to extraverts and the opposite is very often the case.
I know from my own ventures in dating, that the glowing socialite of an extravert can be the most attractive. Wheeling and dealing conversations like it's nothing; ah, it's a bit like envy. They have what I do not. I can stomach social interaction if there's a clear goal in mind, but some of the women I fell for had an unending appetite for it.
What do you do with a potential significant other who has a different appetite for socializing than yourself? Try to understand. If possible, delve into their childhood even and find out what makes them swing toward one end of the spectrum versus the other. How do they *feel* when out in public? What exactly is the sensation they get when walking into a pub that they have yet to explore? Is it dread, or quite possibly excitement at getting a chance to meet some new folks. Humans are interesting people, there can be no doubt, and it's our duty to understand our partners for who they are and how they might meet their needs.
I have met a few extraverts who are absolutely petrified of one-on-one interaction. One girl I knew refused to meet with anyone this way. Meet at a coffee shop for a chat? Nope. Refuse. Study in the library together? Absolutely not. Bowling with twelve people and then a rowdy bar crawl afterward? Sure. Let's do it. I never once saw her with less than two people, and in my eyes it made it hard to get to know her. For each person involved, the obstacles to deep and meaningful conversation increase. Even after years, I never really felt like I knew her. That's how she wanted it, even after I received a "yes" to a first date from her. It was a double date, of all things, which is just barely at my people limit. While it was an enjoyable time, I didn't feel much of a connection since there was another couple there as well.
While we didn't end up together, I still marvel at her ability to bounce from one conversation to another with seamless grace and a dearth of awkwardness. Don't scorn what you don't understand. Just try to keep talking :)
Introverts Come in All Shapes and Forms
They are politicians, doctors, janitors, scientists, speechwriters, and comedians. Introversion is just a way of life, but it's also flexible. Given the right scenario, I'd be willing to jump out of a plane, or travel to italy, or go shopping in a mall, or attend a dance, or go to a party. There are very few things that are absolutely entirely on my "will never do" list, because I know that being fulfilled in life isn't just about getting along with myself, it's about finding a few other brave soldiers to assist you in your endeavors, and perhaps one who you may want to spend the rest of your life with.
Helpful tip: Don't keep an introvert in a loud nightclub all night, bad things will happen. And conversely, don't keep an extravert in solitary for too long. While I thrive on silence, most do not.
And remember, both introverts and extraverts have enormous amounts of overlap when it comes to daily activities. It's not night and day different. I'm saying this because you may have a coworker or even a friend who may be an introvert and you may not even realize it because they are so acclimated to their limits in social contexts that they may produce results in situations that are on-par with even the best of extraverts. Now, if you see this friend always ducking out early from parties, you've got your answer ;) They've had their fill, and now they're going back to their bat-lair for some peace and tranquility.
If you've learned anything from this, it's that stigmas are created by idiots with too many words on their lips, and that the truth is most often obscured. Do try to find it.
© 2014 Alistair