The Introverted Divorcee

Way back the last time you were dating, there wasn't much talk about introverts versus extraverts.

If you're like me, you weren't thinking about the introversion/extraversion spectrum when putting together a list of the qualities you wanted in a partner.  In fact, there's a good chance that you didn't even have a list.

You met someone, ended up getting serious, and married him.  You may have married him even though there were one or more red flags that were bothering you.  But, you probably weren't thinking about whether you and he matched up when it came to your preferred ways of being social.

If you're reading this post at all, you're probably somewhere on the introversion spectrum.  But, just in case you think that introvert is just a synonym for shy, click here for a quick summary of these two basic personality types.

Now that so much is being written about introverts, you might be wondering how you can honor your own ways of recharging your energy -- during and after your divorce . . . as well as going forward in exploring new romantic relationships.

Well, let's take a look.

Is divorce more painful for introverts?

Yes, it might be a little more painful, since introverts don't tend to use social escapism to get through life's challenging experiences.  (Broad generalization, I know, but dividing all of humanity into two camps -- introvert and extravert -- is pretty broad, too.)  

Extraverts may tend to cope by getting as busy socially as possible, and move on much more quickly than the average introvert.  It may be years before they stop long enough to consider their deeper emotions, and start to process what happened.  Or, maybe they never will.

Introverts are more likely to blame themselves for far more of their share of the problems that led to divorce.  They can tend to drive themselves crazy with "what if" scenarios.  But, this deep-thinking quality can also help them avoid jumping into inappropriate and harmful new relationships.  And, it can also help them handle divorce negotiations and post-divorce communications with the ex in a careful and even-handed manner that benefits everyone.

We may even emerge from divorce in better shape than our extravert counterparts, since we, most likely, won't be spending too much time drinking ourselves to death or engaging in potentially dangerous sexual exploits just to avoid being alone.  It's less likely that we'll be screaming at our ex at every opportunity, or raving like a drama queen to everyone who will listen.

If we use our natural strengths of being measured and thoughtful, we'll likely come out of the divorce process with a deal that is not only fair to the ex, but fair to us (and protects our children) as well.

As an introvert myself, I think we're more likely to spend time sorting out what happened and learning from the experience so that our future relationship choices work better for us.  I also believe that the shock of divorce temporarily shortwires our social discomfort mechanisms, so during the divorce year (or two), we're more likely to step outside our comfort zone because exploring life without a spouse becomes interesting and worth the risk and potential energy drain.  This can be a reset that opens us to more experiences in the long term.

But, isn't it easier for extraverts to move on and find a new partner?

Move on, yes, but find a relationship-worthy partner, not necessarily.

You may be surprised to learn that introverts have many advantages over extraverts when it comes to dating.  And, many of them have to do with aspects I've already touched on earlier in this post.

Dating is a one-on-one activity, and this is the type of social interaction in which introverts are at their best -- as long as we're with someone who has something to say (and we're interested in whatever he's saying).  Introverts tend to know how to listen, and to love to have meaningful conversations.  This is an advantage in dating, and in relationships in general.

For more dating advantages of the introvert, check out this summary from the book Introverts in Love.  I especially liked the insight that introverts can be seen by the outside world as mysterious and intriguing.

Don't take the advice of your extravert friends -- you have nothing to prove

You're not in a race.  There is no finish line.  Don't let anyone try to convince you that you should be going out more, that you should force yourself to jump back into dating, or that you should force yourself to have casual sex "just to get it over with" for the first time after marriage.

Now that you can live more in tune with how you want to do things, don't replace your husband's expectations with the expectations of your friends or family.  This is the time to think about what you need, and what makes you happy.

This can be difficult for introverts because we're used to trying to fit into what is overwhelmingly an extravert's world.  But, if you are true to yourself now, the rest of your life will reflect this.  If you allow yourself to be pulled off your center, it's likely that you'll be living someone else's preferences (whether it's friends, family, your children, or a future partner).

This is your chance.  Take it, and be you!