Introverts often require a significant amount of time alone in order to process their thoughts and feelings. This can be difficult for a romantic partner to understand, especially if they are not of the same personality type. It can be perceived as pushing them away and creating boundaries, whereas the opposite is usually true. Introverts often require “recharging time” after extensive social interaction as it can be particularly draining for them. Downtime can be energizing.
5. The porcupine problem
Introverts may push their partner away to avoid being hurt. In 1964, Schopenhauer devised The Porcupine Problem, an Aesop’s fable-esque parable which demonstrates our need and reaction to human connection. The porcupines huddled for warmth but had to quickly disperse due to pricking each other with their quills, only to reconnect when it became cold, just to be hurt by the quills again.
This implies that our desire for human interaction is both a fundamental and universal human need. But as much as we crave social interaction, people also cause each other pain, distress, and heartbreak. In the same way that we are drawn to each other, we are also mutually repelled by the adverse qualities of human nature.
6. The dreaded small talk
An extravert may enjoy telling their significant other about the most minute details of their day. They want to share and know their partner to establish a sense of connection. However, for an introverted personality type, this can be an immensely difficult task. It’s not in their nature to share every thought that comes into their head. This may present to a partner as disinterest.
7. Difficulty talking about themselves
In a similar vein, as they dislike small-talk, introverts are uncomfortable talking about themselves for many reasons; they may believe that they are boring, and their partner doesn’t want to hear about them, or they may not be able to think of anything worthwhile to say while under pressure. As a result, this may cause a partner to feel as though they don’t want to open up when in reality, they’re more comfortable listening.
8. Spending too much time in their own head
Being reflective of our own thoughts is healthy behavior; however, for an introvert, too much reflection can cause them to overanalyze even the most insignificant interactions. This can lead to them second-guessing everything they say to another person, whether one to one or in a group. They may essentially inhibit themselves from being able to relax in company.
9. Failure to appreciate their partner
Due to the taxing nature of social events on an introvert, they may fail to appreciate when their partner makes plans, and instead, be more excited when they cancel them. This is not due to their dislike of social interactions, but they can be exhausting and taxing for them. This can lead to a partner becoming frustrated and feeling undervalued.
Maner, J. K., DeWall, N., Baumeister, R. F., Schaller, M. Does Social Exclusion Motivate Interpersonal Reconnection? Resolving the “Porcupine Problem,”Interpersonal relationships and Group Processes.
Martin, C., Martin, G. (2001). Building People, Building Programs.