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I'm a really introverted person and conversations can quickly feel quite exhausting and mentally draining for me. Of course I like to have a social life and enjoy it to have nice chitchats with friends, acquaintances, colleagues, etc. - to a certain extent. But there are some extremely talkative extroverts who would often push me to my limits. They are still really nice people and I enjoy talking with them in general and would like to remain in a good relationship with them, but I always start feeling exhausted as the conversation is going on for a while. Especially in noisy environments where it's hard to acoustically understand each other.

In a situation like that, I don't just want to say something like "let's stop talking for now, I'm getting tired" since this would most likely be taken personally. But I'd like to let them know in a polite way, that I sometimes need a break but would like to continue the conversation later. Most extroverts don't understand that feeling and either feel personally attacked/unwelcome or can't take the issue seriously and say stuff like "come on, it's not that bad, you have to get used to that". (These are my common experiences).

How can I approach this issue politely without hurting feelings and harming my relationships?

I would like to have a way to hint/give signals when I start getting tired and need a break from the conversation, that they would understand and not feel bad about. But I can't think of a sensitive way to do this.

(Please also consider situations where I'm not able to walk away to have a break or end the conversation. For example: at my workplace where my colleagues are always around in the small office room.)

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My background: I am married to a very introverted person, and I have had to explain his disappearing act when he needs to go recharge. I understand the reluctance of explaining what you're doing and why you need to recharge/rest.


How can I approach this issue politely without hurting feelings and harming my relationships?

I would like to have a way to hint them/ give signals when I start getting tired and need a break from the conversation, that they would understand and don't feel bad about.

If you interact with these people on a daily basis:

  1. Let them know early on that you are an introvert and need time to "recharge" occasionally, and do not mean any insult to them when you leave the conversation. It helps here when you know them, they will be familiar with you leaving to recharge, and think nothing of it.

  2. When with friends, tell someone that you need to recharge/rest, and if anyone asks for you while you do whatever you need to recover, that friend can "cover" for you, and simply say "cinnamon has gone to recharge, they'll be back sometime, be patient please."

  3. When you feel the need to recharge, let them know using "I/me" statements to avoid putting blame on the other person.

For example,

I need to take a few moments to recharge, I would love to continue this conversation later, is that okay?

If you do not interact with these people on a daily basis (acquaintances):

  1. Same thing applies here- Let them know early on that you are an introvert and need time to "recharge" occasionally, and do not mean any insult to them when you leave the conversation.

  2. This step may be harder when you're not around friends, but it shouldn't stop you. If there is one person around you that you feel comfortable with, maybe not necessarily a friend but a trustworthy person- you can tell them if anyone asks for you that you have gone to recharge and you'll be back sometime.

  3. When you get tired, find a good time in the conversation to say that you need a break, and you need to recharge.

I need to take a few moments to recharge/rest, I would love to continue this conversation later, if that's okay with you?

  • Maybe then you can exchange phone/text numbers if you want to continue at a later time if the person is not available later in person.

The overall goal here is to have you clearly and succinctly state that it is YOU, not THEM that needs a break, and if they have a problem with that, it is not your responsibility to entertain them or keep talking with them. The best way is to not make excuses, and just state what you need and express desire to continue the conversation.

Expressing the desire to continue the conversation at a later time politely informs them that you are not trying to get away from them because they are talking, but that you are tired.

I need a few moments to recharge/rest. May we continue this conversation later/at a better time over a meal, next day, over text, in a game, etc... There are so many possible modes and locations of communication!


One of your concerns:

Most extroverts don't understand that feeling and either feel personally attacked/unwelcome or can't take the issue seriously and say stuff like "come on, it's not that bad, you have to get used to that". (These are my common experiences).

Solution: Repeat what you need to say to tell them you need time to rest, and that they can continue the conversation later at a better time. If they keep insisting, maybe go to a trusted person or a friend to let them know that this person won't let you go rest/recharge/recover.

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I completely understand what you are talking about, I also need breaks between social interactions.

Lets call our introverted girl, Emma. she had two close friends, Kathy and Sharon. Both Kathy and Sharon were very extroverted and the three friends spent many happy times together, but it was much more draining on Emma to socialize for long periods of time than for either Kathy or Sharon. Emma felt she needed breaks between social interactions.

She felt very self conscious about this and wasn't sure how to tell her friends about needed breaks, so instead of explaining anything to her friends she would isolated herself for periods of time, where she would not answer the phone or door until she felt capable of handling the socially interactive again.

After one of these isolation periods, Kathy and Sharon confronted Emma. They were kind and concerned about Emma. When they were not able to reach her, they when through a great deal of worry wondering if Emma was okay.

The three worked out a solution to the problem, with Emma saying she would always answer the phone or door when they tried to contact her, and let them know she was taking a break. Her friends agreeing that she didn't need to talk longer, just let them know they did not have to worry about her. She had not considered how her isolation affected the people who cared about her.

Sharon was comfortable with this solution, but Kathy wanted to know why Emma would feel as though she had to take breaks. Kathy thought that as friends, Emma should not have to take breaks from her. It was okay if she needed breaks from other people, but why would she need breaks from Kathy

Emma tried to explain what it felt like to her as an introvert, how exhausting and mentally draining it could be for her to socially interact with any one for long periods of time, even with close friends. This explanation did not satisfy Kathy. Emma tried again and again to explain how she felt in as many ways as she could think of, but Kathy still did not understand. No matter how it was explained Kathy never did get to the point that she understood. Eventually Emma stopped trying to explain to Kathy, realizing that no matter how she explained, for some reason Kathy could not accept the explanation. Eventually Kathy and Emma spent less and less time together because neither could understand the other. Kathy concerning the breaks, and Emma because she couldn't give an acceptable explanation to Kathy,

With some of the pressure off Emma from Sharon, Emma had time to consider different aspects of the problem. She realized the largest part of the problem was how she herself viewed introversion. She had always viewed it as an emotional problem, one that had to be explained, one that was abnormal and unacceptable. She now saw the "problem" differently. Society may look at extroversion as more positive than introversion, but was that actually true. There were positives and negatives about both. Emma knew some people that were just naturally extroverted and some that were just naturally introverted, one was not better than the other. She did not judge these people because of this, so why did she judge herself? it was just two different ways of individual personalities.

Emma no longer felt she had to explain her introversion and wanting breaks, or her emotional needs to everyone. She eventually became comfortable just telling people who asked that she had a limited about of time for social interaction, that she needed a lot of alone time. From then on when she was in social situations and wanted to leave she just commented that she had reached her limit and was ready to go home.

During work hours when Emma felt she should be socially interactive with co-workers, she became to view it as part of her work duties, at times maybe not a pleasant one but one that was expected of her. If she became too stressed, she would excuse herself to go to the restroom and take a small break. When she was done, if her co-workers were still socializing, she would either feel she could continue the interactions or say she needed to get back to work.

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    Hi 111, welcome to IPS! I think the answer you have here is a very good starting point, but it could benefit from having more details. You mentioned that when confronted you defended your behavior by explaining how you felt and that you weren't intending to hurt them. Could you go into more detail about how that conversation went? – Rainbacon Nov 21 '19 at 13:34
  • Hi Rainbacon, I just finished editing this answer and hope it is clearer and more detailed. :) – 111 Nov 24 '19 at 5:10
  • It looks pretty good, I'm assuming that you are "Emma"? – Rainbacon Nov 24 '19 at 21:24
  • Yes, that is the name I picked to call myself in this story, It seemed to be easier to write up what I wanted to say that way. – 111 Nov 24 '19 at 23:12

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