Enjoy the Silence: The Triumphs and Tribulations of Living with an Introvert
Contrary to popular belief, introverts aren’t merely sullen mutes. They simply prefer to recharge their batteries in solitude, and when the mood strikes them, they can be the life of the party. Often times, they can come off shy, but they aren’t being rude – it’s just that they get overwhelmed and overloaded by too much interaction. Yet the stigma remains, leaving introverts to struggle against an unjust stereotype. For those of you whose roommate might be more introverted, don’t despair. You’ve likely hit the jackpot!
Although forming a friendship with an introvert can prove difficult at first, over time, you’ll likely find that you are two sides of the same coin. Opposites attract, as they say, and your polarizing energy sources can often fuse to create the perfect storm of roommate simpatico. However, when you first meet your new and introverted roommate, try not to come on too strong.
There’s nothing wrong with being excited about having this new person in your life, but keep it casual. Introduce yourself, inquire about their interests, and begin setting household guidelines and establishing personal boundaries. Your roommate will appreciate your relaxed demeanor and respect your desire to foster a positive environment.
As with any dynamic duo, communication is key. Living in a shared space require mutual respect, so if you’re the type of person who likes to take advantage of the kitchen and the living room, be sure that you’re upfront with your roomie from the get go. If you plan on having people over, don’t just spring it on an introvert. Let them know in advance so that they can plan accordingly.
Introverts usually fare far better in groups when they are able to connect with one or two people, so if you’re up for it, volunteer to be your roomie’s teammate for the evening. Of course, they might choose to go out to dinner or just hang out in their room, but they also might surprise you and become an enthusiastic member of the group. Lastly, if you notice that you roommate is isolating in their room frequently, don’t make a big deal out of it. Remember: they’re simply recharging.
As you and your roommate begin to adjust to each other’s rhythms and personalities, you’ll likely also become much closer as friends, which is great! A word of caution, though: don’t get freaked out if it feels like your roommate wants to spend an inordinate amount of time with just the two of you. They simply value your friendship and feel more comfortable around you than being surrounded by large groups.
This is where those boundaries we mentioned earlier come into play. If you two want to stay in and watch the Back to the Future series marathon-style, that’s great! But don’t break those plans, and don’t unexpectedly invite a third or fourth to join the group. Likewise, if you want to go out with a large group of friends for drinks or to a ballgame, be sure that you let your roommate know in advance how many people will be there and who they are. This will give them ample time to determine if they’re up for such an event or if they would rather bow out gracefully and have a quiet evening in.
You know that person in your life that avoids conflict like the plague? Yeah, that person is your new roommate. It’s not that they don’t believe in communication; it’s that they sometimes struggle with adverse face-to-face communication. When presented with such, they have a tendency to let their tempers boiling over, which obviously worsens the problem and can even create new ones.
Most introverts are very deliberate in their words, so sometimes e-mail, text messages, and even exchanging letters can be the best way to squash a dispute. It might seem odd or immature to you, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how quickly a dispute can be resolved when thoughts are put down on paper rather than enunciated verbally in a rapidly escalating exchange.
It’s Nothing Personal
If and when your introverted roommate goes through stretches of silence or isolation, try not to take it personal. This doesn’t mean that they are mad at you or that they don’t want to be friends anymore. Instead, they’ve likely stumbled upon a great new book or a super engrossing video game. Just like the rest of us, introverts absorb the world through a variety of mediums and channels; they just happen to do so more frequently
Also, introverts have a tendency to internalize stress more than their extroverted counterparts. They can become distracted when focusing on a problem that they are carrying and come off as aloof. So if they seem unusually reserved, feel free to lend them your ears. If they don’t want to talk, trust that they know how their mind works and that they will figure things out just fine on their own. After all, they always have!
We’re all made just a little bit differently, guys. And isn’t the world a better place for it? Introverts usually have a comparatively smaller social group, but they are fiercely loyal as well. If you can successfully tap into the headspace of your introverted roommate, you’ve got a friend for life and one that will have your back no matter what! If you're ready to find an new roommate who is an introvert, remember to message with them first before jumping straight to an in person meeting.