Intimacy isn’t just about sex. It’s a level of confidence and confidentiality, mutual vulnerability, and affection. It includes the sharing of life’s ups and downs as well as its eventual rewards. Intimate partners share their hopes, dreams, fears, hang-ups and an enduring sense of trust. They also share a sense of limitations: Intimates don’t share their private matters with other people. There’s a sense of safety, a mutual “This is just between us” respect.
There are many ways to express intimacy between friends, relatives, colleagues, and spouses. But people struggling to express their emotions aren’t usually comfortable with them. The public needs insights into how to have an intimate relationship with people awkward at sharing their emotions or yours. Read on if you’re in such a relationship and want to make the best of it.
Personalities differ. The general population tends to readily express anything on its mind, but shy, introverted people don’t. The Myers-Briggs method of identifying personality types is one method for gaining insights into specific character traits and types. The Enneagram is another method for that purpose. Both are guides to a person’s tendencies, not strict definitions of a person’s limits. Humans can change the way they think and behave.
Both methods of identifying personality types identify introverts and their communication styles. The Myers-Briggs system defines the personalities as INTJ, the abbreviation for Introversion (I), Intuition (N), Thinking (T), Judgment (J) or as INTP, the abbreviation for Introversion (I), Intuition (N), Thinking (T), Perception (P). The Enneagram system identifies introverts as the 5 personality among 9 possible personality types.
Each of those introverted personality types is
• Focused on specific goals that they’ve chosen for themselves,
• Methodical, and
• A prodigious thinker with strengths and weaknesses.
Introverts struggle to express their emotions and shy away from those of their partners. Emotionally detached and pragmatic, they present a communication challenge to people prone to gushing about their thoughts and feelings or likely to pursue too many goals at once. There are solutions to the dilemma, though.
How Introverts and Extroverts can Communicate Together
The private, introverted personality characteristics cited above can complement a relationship with someone who is less grounded, more extroverted and tends to spread their energies too thinly. Both people in the relationship need to understand, to accommodate, and to respect each other’s limitations and capabilities, though.
Remember: 1) Introverts have emotions, even if they don’t discuss them. 2) It’s possible for introverts and for the people in their lives to finesse the reserved style of communicating emotions.
One simple method for gaining insight into how to communicate with introverts is to study relevant materials such as Tips for Communication with an INTJ and the INTP Communication page. This Type 5: Knowledge Seeker blogpost also offers important insights. Counseling helps, too.
Remember: introverts fear being overwhelmed by someone’s emotions and needs. Phrase your needs in neutral ways, such as “It would be so helpful to me if you…” not as value judgments such as “You should…” Instead of declaring “I dislike it when you…” make a neutral remark along the lines of “Could it be more effective to do it X, Y, or Z way?”
When an introverted person shares time with you, they’re expressing affection and interest in you. Show appreciation for that with positive feedback. Make factual statements such as “You make me happy when you…” Avoid telling stories of how you feel. Introverts back away from listening to play-by-plays of someone’s emotional life.
Introverts can improve a relationship by speaking of their emotional realities to an extent comfortable for them, and by letting intimate partners speak of theirs sometimes. That levels the communication field. Keep the comments balanced, and enjoy the outcome.
Yocheved Golani is a popular writer whose byline has appeared worldwide in print and online. A certified Health Information Management professional, she is a member of Get Help Israel. Certified in Spiritual Chaplaincy (End of Life issues) and in counseling skills, her life coaching for ill people puts healthy perspective into a clients’ success plan for achieving desired goals.