Weathering Breakups as an Introvert

– by Wes Colton

heartbrokenIt doesn’t matter who you are, breakups suck. You invested anything from months to years in this person, sharing your body, heart, and mind, and now they’re gone, possibly forever. It’s almost as if they’ve died, but worse, in some ways—at least if they were dead you wouldn’t have to worry about running into them with their new “bae” at the grocery store.

But breakups are typically worse for introverts than extroverts. It’s not that extroverts don’t miss their exes just as much as introverts do, it’s that extroverts’ addiction to socializing means they’ll be out playing the field again in no time. In fact, they’re probably looking forward to getting out there again.

Introverts, on the other hand, tend to compound the heartbreak with crippling, existential dread. “You’re saying that I’ve got to sift through dozens—if not hundreds—of incompatible, draining humanoids before I find another of those rare specimens I can actually stand?”

Ironically, the healthiest thing an extrovert can do after a breakup is stay the hell home. That way they can ask themselves whether their constant craving for stimulation contributed to the breakup, or even choosing the wrong partner in the first place.

But introverts might want to consider doing the opposite. Instead of stewing in your loss and self pity, once you’ve stopped crying, go out and do something social. Even if it’s just heading to a coffee shop and reading a book in the corner. Because, like a diver coming up to the surface from the depths of the sea, you’ve got to do so gradually so your physiology adjusts and you don’t get the bends (or whatever the social equivalent would be for this analogy.)

No one’s saying you should be instantly trying to replace your ex. To the contrary, desperate “rebounding” is one of the shittiest things we can do to ourselves or another person. But you need to get back into the habit of interacting with people tout de suite, so when your heart is fully healed, it’s rip roaring and ready to go.

Needless to say, the longer you stay at home binge watching Breaking Bad for the third time, the harder it will be to get out there again when you finally drag yourself off the futon. One of the biggest secrets to socializing as an introvert is making going out a part of your routine.

As with anything, it’s all in the perspective. Instead of wasting weeks mourning the death of your relationship, see this as an opportunity to finally force yourself out of the house again. And, who knows, it just might be the best thing that’s ever happened to you. Maybe you’ll realize you were actually with the wrong person because you were so reluctant to socialize that you settled for them out of desperation. Or were ignoring red flags because you were too lazy to start something else from scratch.

A breakup for an introvert doesn’t need to be a tragedy. Instead, it can be that obnoxious trainer who yells in your face until you get your social muscles back in shape and meet that person you’re supposed to be with. The person you never would’ve met had you not gone through a breakup.

In closing, I’ll leave you with a few words from lyricist Robert Hunter, responsible for the Grateful Dead’s famous ditty, “Truckin’.”

“Most of the cats you meet on the street speak of true love / Most of the time they’re sitting and crying at home. / One of these days, you know you better get going / Out of the door and down to the street all alone.”

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