Often times introverts are considered to be anti-social, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. While there are periods of time introverts prefer to be alone and in quiet areas, social interactions are definitely things we are interested in. It’s just harder to convince yourself you’ll have a good time when there are so many unknown factors. I’ve compared social interactions to swimming in a large body of water. I can do it, but after a while my social muscles get tired and I want nothing more than to hop out of the pool and rest. There’s no specific formula to how long I can spend in a social environment, but there are some factors that affect it. For the sake of keeping with the water theme I’ll call these factors Flotation devices-people/things that make it possible to stay comfortable in social situations longer, and anchors-people/things that make it more difficult to remain comfortable in social situations. If you’re someone that can get an introvert to go out with relative ease let me say congratulations to you, because you are most certainly a flotation device!!! Right now you may be thinking about an introverted friend and asking yourself “Am I a flotation device or an anchor?” Well, time and observation are the only ways you can determine where you stand in the social experience on an introvert, but I’m going to give you a few signs that indicate an introvert is done with a social event.
The fake smile
Often times an introvert will put honest effort to not leave social environments because it’s hard to tell when we’ve put forth the right amount of effort to satisfy our social obligation, but when we’ve hit our limit, the ‘fake it till you make it’ kicks in hard. If your look lingers for a moment after a fake smile you might see the “done” look.
The phone obsession
Now this one can be tricky because most people take a moment in social environments, but here’s the difference……There aren’t any selfies, there aren’t any funny laughs and hand gestures to show other people what just made you laugh. There’s a blank stare and scrolling and that’s it.
The distant stare
Similar to the stare into a phone screen, a large number of introverts are also able to lose themselves in their own brains. You’ll see this more often in introverts who also have ADHD. I myself get lost in writing stories in my head to keep my attention when I’m over people. These stories can range from science fiction to erotic fiction depending on where my headspace is.
There are truly so many ways to tell when an introvert is done with a situation, but these are some of my most used tells. None of the tells matter without one critical piece, and I’ll tell you that critical piece at the end of the post. Depending on the reaction received when introverts say we want to leave, we will try to stick it out until we are literally miserable. So please be kind to your introvert friend and tell us “it’s okay to leave” and watch our eyes light up. Remember that you going home early equals the same amount of effort and sacrifice made by an introvert to come out at all. So next time instead of complaining about us leaving early, lean over and say “Let’s get out of here and go have a quiet rest of the night.” You may see a reaction close to something out of a cartoon.
Oh….the secret key to knowing when we’ve had enough is to pay attention! Let your gaze linger after a smile, listen for the subtle tones that tell you we’re trying but we’re tired, and if all else fails ask us how we feel and be okay if we say we want to leave. That’s what makes you the real MVP!