You Say Potato And I Daydream Potato

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Mom, Dad, doesn’t Neil have the nicest eyes?

Most introverts would rather be in a relationship with another introvert. It makes sense. Who better to understand your solitary ways than someone who also requests a table for one at wedding receptions?

However, since there are more extroverts than introverts, it’s highly probable you could end up with an otherwise wonderful person who belongs to a 20,000-member book club.

Is it possible for an introvert and an extrovert have a normal, happy, fulfilling relationship? People have been asking that question since the first caveman told his wife, “Yes, I realize we’re surrounded by man-eating hyenas, but I really need to take a walk and be alone.”

Opposites often attract because each one offers what the other is missing: Introverts are amazed at extroverts’ openness and ability to demand a waitress replace a half-cooked entrée. Extroverts appreciate introverts’ thoughtfulness and are astonished they can listen to a grief-stricken relative deliver a lengthy eulogy without continually interrupting.

Introvert/extrovert relationships often work because each partner compliments the other. The extrovert can liven up the introvert and confirm they’re still breathing, while the introvert can calm the extrovert down and convince them not to sucker punch the policeman who pulled them over for running a stop sign.

Can an introvert/extrovert relationship work for you? To succeed, each side must be open to what the other has to offer and do it with a minimum of passive aggression. In the end, it comes down to chemistry or finding enough chemicals to keep you happy and sedated.

Dating World, Here I Come!

Dating_world_here_I_come_01You’ve been pretty productive lately. You finally found a gym that doesn’t prosecute members for failing to wipe down the machines. Your team of 20 crack lawyers figured out the best data plan for you. And after a lifetime of wondering if you suffer from Square Peg in Round Hole syndrome, you discovered you’re simply an introvert.

Now it’s time to find someone with whom to share your wonderful, solitary life.

Chances are your dating status falls under one of the following categories:

  • You’ve never been in a long-term relationship — excluding your life-long affair with “The X-Files.”
  • You’ve had one date in your life from which you’re still recuperating.
  • You’ve never been on a date, although you’ve convinced your parents you have a husband and five kids.

Relationships can be overwhelming under normal circumstances. They’re even more daunting when the most intimate relationship you’ve had is with the sultry voice in your head who always whispers, “The hell with karaoke, let’s go home and read a book.”

You probably won’t meet Mr./Ms. Right on your first encounter, but it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your eggplant parmesan while your blind date talks non-stop about her fallen arches. Then it’s on to the next candidate.

Before posting on Tinder a photo of your trembling face feigning confidence, take a deep breath, relax and read the following tips:

  • Don’t panic. You are embarking on a new phase of your life that will bring happiness and fulfillment with, hopefully, not too many noticeable perspiration stains. It’s not unusual to be nervous when you start dating. It may take some time, but eventually nervousness will be the last thing you’ll be thinking about as you head out to meet your 250th “sure thing.”
  • Think about the kind of person you’d like to meet. Aside from someone who “gets you” and won’t mind your month-long silent periods, what else appeals to you? Given that you may be anxious to meet anyone at the moment, it’s important to have some minimum requirements. Should he be tall and brooding? If so, must he be able to dunk a basketball? Should she have a pleasant resting bitch face? If so, is a complete set of teeth mandatory?
  • Don’t worry about rejection. Most people you’ll meet are dealing with the same fears and insecurities. However, unlike most extroverts who, after a bad date, must go home to a lonely, empty apartment, you get to go home to a GREAT, empty apartment.
  • Don’t think, “No one will want to meet a weirdo like me.” Dating will introduce you to some of the most unusual creatures ever to walk on two legs. You’ll leave many encounters thinking, “At least I know the difference between a fork and knife.”
  • Be yourself. You are a wonderful person with much to offer, including the ability to quietly listen to your date talk endlessly without changing your facial expression or losing consciousness (most of the time). Aside from perhaps a few  personal hygiene issues and some outstanding felony warrants, you are perfect the way you are.
  • Don’t wait for people to come to you. Introverts tend to let others to make the first move. This greatly decreases your dating pool. You don’t have to become overly or even normally social, but at the very least it doesn’t hurt to hit on your mail carrier or that nice woman next door with all the cats.
  • Be up-front about your introversion. Ideally, you’d like to meet another introvert or an extrovert who enjoys and appreciates introverts – unless, of course, you’re seeking someone who is turned on by passive aggressive phone sex. Why date a person who, after meeting you, calls 911 to report an unresponsive body when you can meet someone who is turned on by an unresponsive body?
  • It will get easier. You’re using dating muscles that have rarely or never been exercised. It takes most seasoned daters at least 10 times to comfortably say, “You don’t look anything like the photo in your personal ad.” It may take you a little longer. but in eventually you’ll be asking your latest encounter, “Aren’t we related?” without batting eye.

Finding That Special One With A Minimum Of Eye Contact

nervous_couple_01When it comes to love and relationships, introverts are different from extroverts and, for that matter, anyone else who doesn’t fanaticize about reading passionate poetry to their lover in a deserted Starbucks, located in a desolate seaport village being pounded by a violent nor’easter.

Introverts think and communicate differently, especially when expressing emotions and desires towards people about whom they feel deeply. Unlike extroverts, few introverts would propose marriage at a Ninety-Nine Restaurant & Pub during Happy Hour – and certainly not on Wings Night.

Finding companionship is challenging for introverts because they are more inclined to be approached rather than seek out their true love. Finding that one special person is even more challenging if your social circle consists of you, your cat and a stuffed animal who is the only one that really “gets you.”

But fear not! Your special someone is out there somewhere, probably like you, avoiding human contact and wondering why you two haven’t hooked up. All you need are a few dating strategy adjustments. In no time, you’ll be with your one and only, hearts pounding, eye contact avoiding and verbal skills atrophied due to years of neglect.

All Introvert Hangovers Are Not Equal

introvert_hangover_04Introvert hangovers come in many forms. Generally, the cure is always the same: Get as far away from people as possible, which is not an easy task if you’re an usher at Madison Square Garden.

Introvert hangovers, however, can be as different as the boisterous extroverts who provoke them. The following describes some common hangovers and sure-fire treatments.

Condition Symptom Remedy
Flapping Tongue Fatigue Dizziness after being asked for the 20th time in a job interview, “Why do you want to work here?” Forge a doctor’s note stating “<your name> needs to rest his/her jaw for the next 25 years.”
Congested Layover Exhaustion Extreme weariness experienced when sitting between two burly bodies, usually while waiting for a connecting flight to Des Moines. Head for the food court and create a quiet and comforting “safe” space away from people. For example, in a quickly-fashioned Cinnabon igloo.
Delusions of Networking A whimsical belief your life will change for the better if you can just gather the courage and introduce yourself to the regional sales manager. Hand your business card to the nearest waiter serving Shrimp Tostada Bites, declare victory and sprint to the warmth and safety of your hotel room.
No Luckus Interruptus Vanquished feeling at condo board meetings when realizing you’ll never get a word in edgewise Get everyone’s attention by pulling an Exorcist: Spin your head 360 degrees, vomit pea soup and groan, “I agree, we need to replace the lounge chairs around the pool.”
Inner Monologue Depletion Being so tired of people, you can’t even talk to the voices in your head. Concentrate and think, “Folks, can we continue this conversation another time?” More than anyone, the voices will understand.
Blank Stare Discombobulation When your “pretending-to-listen” facial expression morphs into your “Please stop talking so I can leave!” look. Allow a family of squirrels to store their nuts in your cheeks. That way you’ll always appear attentive and inquisitive.

 

Introvert Hangover – When You’ve Had One Too Many Extroverts

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Hold all my calls.

You know that burnt out, exhausted feeling you get after being with lots of people for too long? Introverts call it Introvert Hangover. Everyone else calls it Family Reunion Aftermath.

It’s important to regulate your extrovert intake to avoid emotional exhaustion. Fortunately, unlike some alcoholics, very few introverts believe for one second they can handle large swarms of sorority sisters or sales managers. They’ve known this from the moment they had to be coaxed from the solitary comfort of their mother’s womb.

Unless you’re a monk living on a deserted cul-de-sac who’s taken a vow of silence, there are times when excessive socialization is unavoidable. Introvert Hangover is that exhausted feeling afterward when all you want is to crawl under your bed and spoon with a dust bunny. You’re mentally drained, physically tired and in no mood to make eye contact with your pet turtle.

It’s important for introverts to know the signs of an Introvert Hangover and how to properly deal with it. It can mean the difference between being forced to spend a day alone recuperating from exhaustion or… Come to think of it, spending a day alone doesn’t sound all that bad.

Toastmasters Introduces Small Talk Workshops

bad_speaker_01bToastmasters, the organization dedicated to helping people become better public speakers, is adding new workshops for introverts who want to improve their small talk skills. Topics include:

  • First impressions: Transforming a severely sarcastic sigh into a barely detectable groan
  • Saying “Hi” without crib notes
  • Staring at a woman’s breasts is not “almost” making eye contact
  • When is it not appropriate to query, “Is this handsome guy your boyfriend or a paid escort?”
  • Listening without snoring
  • How to clean up limericks using suitable words that rhyme with “Nantucket”
  • Ten nice things to say to a person handcuffed to an FBI agent
  • Showing empathy without belching
  • Visual aids and props: Things that are better left said by your hand puppet
  • Catchy comebacks after 45 minutes of awkward silence

Good Samaritan Becomes Despondent Trying to Cheer Up Introverts

Mark Loofton

theory-of-mind-1Last year, I joined the “Do a Good Deed or Die Doing It Club.” I pledged to brighten up every introvert I know – whether they liked it or not.

So far, I’m batting zero and totally depressed. Introverts are now approaching ME and asking, “Are you okay?”

I don’t understand.

Each time I try to console an introvert friend in need, their reaction is always the same:

“I am happy.”

“Just because I’m not smiling doesn’t mean there’s something wrong.”

“What part of ‘Leave me alone’ don’t you understand?”

“Excuse me, this is a private funeral.”

“Didn’t you read the restraining order?”

I wish I could convince my socially adverse friends that being more approachable brings immeasurable joy into their lives. If only they knew the pleasure I feel each time a co-worker I vaguely know approaches me and proceeds to talk non-stop about her upcoming colonoscopy.

I understand never smiling  has its advantages. For example, you always look like your driver’s license photo. Also, it can be helpful in professions like multi-national corporation CEO or freelance dominatrix. And yes, there is something sexy about clenched teeth and a guttural growl.

But I can’t believe introverts with gloomy demeanors are really happy – especially the ones who see me approaching.

Mark Loofton is a door-to-door doorbell salesman. He holds the Guinness World Records for longest period of time without taking no for an answer.

One Small Talk for Extroverts, One Giant Pain in the Neck for Introverts

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I’m only going to ask one more time: How have you been?

Introverts hate small talk. It feels phony, it forces you to make eye contact and it’s exhausting. If only there was a better way to find out how co-workers you barely know feel about the weather.

 

Unfortunately, there isn’t. Until Apple, Google or Amazon develop a device that talks to the people we want to ignore, the chore will be left to us.

The good news is introverts are smart and resourceful. Also, their rich inner lives make it easier to tune in and out as someone drones on about their granite countertops or which Hampton Inn has the best continental breakfast. (Any introvert knows it’s the one in Denville, NJ.) It’s amazing how far an occasional nod accompanied by “Really” or “That’s interesting” will get you. In the meantime, you can focus on more important things like “Did this woman get a nose job?”

 

Flee From the Madding Crowd

leaving_02Donna Bernstein is an introvert who has never encountered an uncomfortable social situation she couldn’t avoid. “I know how to slip away from any gathering without being noticed. That includes my first, second and fourth weddings.” Bernstein, a quiet freelance astrologer, trained as a Navy SEAL. She uses her survival skills to escape over-hugging strangers and talkative co-workers. Bernstein once fled a noisy bridal shower by squeezing through a tiny bathroom window and rappelling 10-stories to a sidewalk, using only a piece of dental floss.

Of course, the best way to avoid any unwanted event is to not go. Donna’s first advice is create an extensive list of excuses. For example, she has 25 possible reasons for not attending a Kazakhstani Sweet Sixteen Party. “Although,” she says, “my fail-safe excuse is usually, ‘I’m under house arrest’.”

If you arrive at your destination but are having second thoughts, Bernstein recommends continuing to drive around your end point until you run out of gas. “Then call AAA for help. They’re nice people and, like me, have no interest in mindless small talk. It’s also a good opportunity to watch your odometer pass 100,000 miles.”

Even the most cautious introvert may find themselves at a meeting or event in which everyone is a total stranger. Then what? “That’s easy,” says Donna. “I pretend to have an urgent phone call and say loudly, ‘How far apart are the contractions? Call the doctor! I’ll be there soon!’ Then I sprint out of the building without looking back until the voices screaming, ‘Is there anything we can do?’ have faded away.”

Donna plans to deliver a series of lectures about avoiding crowds and strangers, but only if they’re sparsely attended. “I could never speak to a large group of people. However, if no one shows up, I’ll definitely be there.”

Bernstein has advice for introverts who don’t want live life off the grid but yearn for more alone time: “Let people know how you feel but be nice about it. A politely written Post-it Note attached to your forehead indicating you are an introvert is always helpful. I guarantee, no one except concerned mental health professionals will bother you.”