Spare a thought at this time of the year for the introvert.
And the introvert is indeed no rare bird. Susan Cain, author of the best selling Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, estimates that around 50% of us have the qualities that make up an introverted personality.
For introverts the holiday season often means an onerous obligation to be around extended family and friends, grappling with endless rounds of small talk and ‘family inquisitions’. This for an introvert can truly play havoc with their need for down time, alone time and a quiet space to simply recharge the batteries.
As Emily Keeley, introvert and blogger, stated: “Just to be clear — introverts don’t hate people, nor do we hate fun. We know how to relax, and we don’t want to be alone all the time. Introverts just operate a little differently from extroverts. We’re not big on small talk, we like to have our social interactions spaced out, and we prefer to operate alone or in small groups — all the things the holidays don’t really afford us.”
And as many of you are aware, the holiday season can be stressful, often bringing relationships to the boiling point. So when the heat is on how does an introvert cope with the end of a relationship and indeed, the divorce process?
Laurie Helgoe, in her book Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life is Your Hidden Strength mentions that introverts have a willingness to honestly reflect on events like the breakdown of a relationship. Helgoe believes that this capacity to self reflect can be an asset after a divorce in that it better prepares an introvert for their next relationship.
But the downside of a broken relationship and divorce can often relate to the whole process of divorce, the planning and logistics that go into talking to an ex spouse about property and parenting arrangements; having to meet with lawyers, mediators and organisations like Relationships Australia; and of course having discussions about the divorce with well meaning (or sticky beak) family members. As Jennifer Kahnweiler, the author of The Genius of Opposites states, “With each new appointment an introvert has to add to their Google Calendar, a little part of them dies”.
Kahnweiler, an introvert herself, believes that the key to an introvert surviving the breakdown of a relationship and the divorce process is to monitor energy flow and be mindful of the need to take breaks amidst the chaos. She also suggests that communicating feelings about the end of the relationship through journaling or writing emails to family and friends can also provide comfort.
But the power of being able to sit down with someone you trust and talk when a relationship is over should also be in the mix. The problem here is that by their very nature introverts are careful about who they become friends with and often don’t have a large support network. It’s at times like divorce that introverts should endeavour to make the most of their support networks, even if that requires emerging more from the sanctum of their inner comfort. Sophia Dembling writer of Love: The Quiet Way To Happily Ever After has some words of wisdom for introverts going through divorce:
“While I always encourage introverts to respect their quiet, homebody nature, there are times when you’re wise to ignore your first instinct. Instead of being holed up – let others drag you out and about, just to keep you connected and remind you of the possibilities in life.”
Finally, for blogger “Introvert, dear” the whole thing about relationships and re-entering the dating game was crystal clear. When mentioning why she shied away from dating after a divorce, she pondered whether it was the pain of the divorce finally catching up with her but instead came to the conclusion that as an introvert… she simply just liked being alone!