While driving home from work today, I caught a snippet from a brilliant TED talk, “The Power of Introverts”, by Susan Cain, who explained the great talents and abilities that introverts bring to the world. The description Cain gave of introverts conjured a sudden sense of déjà vu from deep within me:
So extroverts really crave large amounts of stimulation, whereas introverts feel at their most alive and their most switched-on and their most capable when they’re in quieter, more low-key environments.
That right there, that’s my partner. And that contrast between extrovert and introvert is precisely the comparison that he had been trying to drill into my mind throughout the first years of our relationship.
Me? Well I’m an extrovert. Myers-Briggs would call me an ESFJ. I love dinner gathering with friends, meeting new people at parties, shouting a conversation with a mate across a loud pub. This is what I love. I build my leisure time around these experiences, which is why it took me quite some time to realise that my partner may not operate quite the same way.
Partners of Gamers – does this sound at all familiar to your situation? I’m not sure if anyone has ever tried to pull the numbers, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find that the majority of “hardcore gamers” are introverts.
To the unwitting (and extroverted), this behaviour could be mistaken as antisocial, uncooperative and, heck, even unloving; in reality, your partner could just be introverted. This doesn’t mean that they won’t enjoy going out for dinner or meeting your friends, they may just prefer some quiet, alone time at some stage to recharge.
If this is the case with your gamer partner, it is probably most advantageous for the both of you to act appropriately. Discuss this with them, show that you understand and if you’re extroverted, go find some friends and get your social on while your partner gets their social “off” and the two of you can reconvene later. The more you pressure them to put down the controller and join you and your friends, the more determined your partner will be to escape back to their man/woman cave. Alone.
Rebecca, from a.girl.IRL, kindly asks that we just give the introverted gamers their game time, in single player mode:
If you’re an introvert, and you’re forced to be around other people all day long who continuously spout, “Teamwork this, and teamwork that,” then when you get home and turn on your game, you often just want to toss all that teamwork crap into the garbage can and escape into a world where it all about you, and you can completely immerse yourself into that game world without it being entirely ruined by other gamers who have different playstyles.
I have finally (thank goodness!) understood this and I try to give my partner his post-work gaming time before I rumble on home and demand some attention. Safe bet is that if I give him his time to “energise”, he’ll be much happier and cooperative when I want to spend time together later on and/or ask him to accompany me to some social gathering.
The take-home message here is that introversion is not shyness, introversion is not being antisocial and introversion does not mean that your partner hates spending time with you and your friends. This post may or may not relate to your relationship, but at least take a moment to think of this in relation to your gamer, or anyone else you may consider “shy” or “antisocial” – you may be surprised.