I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not always awesome at relationships.
And my lack of self confidence has also been a roadblock.
But no mas, ya’ll.
Over the last few years, I’ve come to recognize some of my own self-sabotaging behaviors and limiting beliefs, and I’m starting to cut ties with that crap.
Everyone knows that relationships (romantic and otherwise) require some consistent elbow grease, but not everybody is ready to roll up their sleeves and do the dirty work. Sometimes, you’ve gotta get under the hood, make a lot of noise, and act like you’ve got a clue what you’re doing to improve things. (Is anyone else feeling this analogy, or is it just me?)
This is definitely one of those life things where the hard work is hard but the results make it all worth it.
I’ve come to realize that there are certain key things that help relationships chug along, and I feel like these things are often more important for introverts to understand especially.
Well, if you’re anything like me, words don’t always come easy to you.
And other people sometimes drain you.
And you value your relationships but don’t always put the time into them like you should.
So they suffer. And you suffer right along with them. But you just don’t know what to do about it. It’s okay that this happens, but it’s not enough to just recognize a problem and then not try to fix it.
Because when you know better, you do better. It starts with you, boo.
You have at least 50% of the control in a relationship and the direction it goes. The other 50% of the effort is obviously on the other person (you can’t control what they do or how they behave; you can only control your actions and emotions).
I think a lot of times, we want more out of our friendships and other relationships, but we’re not willing to work on ourselves to contribute to making the WHOLE greater. We want more love, deeper connections, and better understanding from others, but we’re coming into it halfheartedly and with our own set of issues that we need to work on first.
Ready to start doing your work?
The following actions helped me realize where I was slacking in my interactions with others (as well as myself!) and are a good place to start if you’re ready to take your relationships from blah to bomb.com.
4 Ways Introverts Can Improve Their Relationships with Family, Friends, and Significant Others
1 | Understand your “relational energy.”
What a lot of people don’t understand about introverts is that we love people. We love people just as much as an extrovert does.
We just prefer our people time in smaller doses. 🙂
See, an introvert works like a battery. When we wake up, our battery is fully charged. Interacting with others throughout the day drains our battery. If we are social in a large group of people for an extended period of time, our relational energy—the full capacity of our “battery”—drains down even faster.
This isn’t a bad thing; it’s just the way we’re wired. Some introverts tend to be more outgoing and can mingle around in groups for longer periods without feeling depleted and tired. Others (like myself) don’t have as much relational energy to give out and so use it sparingly and only when necessary.
Extroverts are re-energized by being around people; introverts tend to be drained by people. (However, if we’re with our closest friends, those types of people can have the opposite effect on introverts and can actually energize us!)
Fortunately, when we find our relational energy all used up, all we have to do is seek some quiet time to ourselves for a day or two (or even up to a week for some people) to recharge.
The problem occurs in those people who are either still unaware of their particular personality type (introvert or extrovert) or who ignore their capacity of relational energy.
You can only give what you have.
Have you ever heard the saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup”?
This is how your relational energy works, too. It’s okay if you can’t be in large groups for more than a few hours, but you need to know this and own this. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself consistently on the verge of overexerting and overextending yourself.
If you’ve ever felt completely wiped out after a party or family vacation, it could be because your battery ended up being totally drained. (That, or your friends and family are just exhausting, haha.)
If you seek out some solitude every few days and don’t necessarily want to initiate social interactions but can’t figure out why, it could just be your body’s way of telling you that you need some peace and quiet for a change.
Don’t ignore these signs.
You’re your best YOU when you take note of what makes you click. When you’re at your best with yourself, you’re more likely to be at your best with others.Understand relational energy, love languages, be open to communication & love yourself.Click To Tweet
2 | Be open to communication.
As an introvert, I know at least one thing to be true: I sometimes struggle to communicate what I’m really thinking or how I’m really feeling to others, even those I’m closest to. Especially those I’m closest to.
Communication (the out-loud-talking kind) isn’t always something I want to do.
But even if you’re introverted, you’re still human, and we as human beings are social, communicative creatures. Even as an introvert, you probably crave social interaction—in smaller groups and with people you know and trust—but the craving is still there.
It’s meant to be there. It’s how we are as a human race.
Although for some of us, it comes a little less naturally than with others. And that’s okay.
What’s not okay is ignoring this important aspect of socializing altogether. What’s not okay is giving up.
Being more vulnerable gets easier.
I’ve mentioned before in my blog post on vulnerability that I used to be extremely shy and insecure. It’s something that’s gotten better over the years, but it’s something I have to try to improve on the daily. In that post, I mention that there came a point when I knew I had to make a change: do something different (move out of my comfort zone) in order to live the life that I wanted and in order to experience new, fun things.
I had to become more open to communication with others.
I had to expose more parts of myself that I wasn’t always comfortable with people seeing.
And I had to get vulnerable…and I had to learn that transparency and realness are okay. Even when I was uncomfortable. Especially when I was uncomfortable.
Listen, it ain’t easy. But I look back on how far I’ve come, and I know that it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Now, I’m not saying that the minute you meet someone you have to immediately tell them about the day your favorite dog died when you were in the 3rd grade. That’s probably a lil’ too up close and personal.
Just start where it feels the most natural. If you’re not used to talking about how your day went with your parents, your best friend, or your significant other, start there. If you’re willing to start opening up and communicating about the most mundane aspects of your day, you’ll slowly find yourself talking about the deeper topics that matter the most to you in your life.
This won’t always be a fun experience, but if you want to build closer relationships with others, it’s absolutely necessary. You may second guess yourself (or me for suggesting the idea). Trust the process and trust yourself. Your circumstances won’t change unless you’re willing to do something different. Focus on the daily steps of open communication, not the end result. If you’re consistent with your efforts to open up more, the results will come.
3 | Determine your unique love language.
I can’t tell you how life-changing (and life-giving) this has been for me.
I first heard about love languages a few years ago during my junior year of college. The idea was so fascinating that I wrote a midterm paper on the topic. #nerd
If you’re unfamiliar with the topic of love languages, pastor and marriage counselor Dr. Gary Chapman authored his first book in his Love Language series titled The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, which became a New York Times bestseller.
In his book, Chapman describes the 5 basic love languages that are unique to each individual:
- Words of Affirmation
- Acts of Service
- Receiving Gifts
- Quality Time
- Physical Touch.
Chapman also explains how your love language influences relationships—for better or worse. You can visit www.5lovelanguages.com to discover your own love language and take advantage of some of the available free resources, such as the blog and free study guides.
Put it into action.
Like I mentioned above, I first heard about Dr. Chapman’s book a few years ago, and I decided on a whim that I would find out what my love language was (by the way, mine is quality time!) I was blown away by how accurate my results were…I was actually brought to tears as I thought about some of the relationships in my life that could benefit from understanding love languages. Immediately, I had my mom take the love languages test online, and we compared our results. Suddenly, years of misunderstanding and failed attempts at communication made sense. We were simply acting out our own love languages without knowing and learning about each others’!
After we discussed our results, we knew what each other needed in terms of connection and love. Our relationship has never been better.
Since then, my best friends and I have all compared our love languages and explained how we felt that they were a true indication of how we give and receive love. Our results from Dr. Chapman’s love language quiz available on his website were spot on! Knowing your love language isn’t about forming a deeper or more stable connection in your romantic relationships; instead, it improves the quality of ALL of your relationships. Since sharing our results with each other, my girl friends and I have improved our friendships and understand each other even better now. It’s incredible how learning this one aspect about another person can have such an impact on the way you care for them and interact.
I can’t recommend Dr. Chapman’s book enough. It’s powerful and has the ability to help repair broken relationships. If you do nothing else after reading this blog post, I sincerely hope you choose to read his book and take the love languages discovery test online.
You won’t regret it.
4 | Love yourself.
I’m not making this last point to be obnoxiously cheesy or dramatic; but it begs to be repeated again and again. I’m saying this because we live in a society that slowly leeches any ounce of positivity and self love out of us.
Until we are able to find and develop a love for ourselves, it will be hard for us to accept love from others. One of my most favorite quotes says:
We teach others how to love us by the way we love ourselves.
Just let that sink in for a moment. Powerful, isn’t it?
When I first came across this statement, I was taken aback because I had never thought about self love in that capacity before. It’s a simple statement, but it’s heavy with meaning.
Of course, we all know that loving ourselves is often much easier said than done. It takes awhile to reach that point where you’re happy and confident in who you are; for some, it never happens.
I haven’t always practiced self love, but I’m slowly getting to that place. It wasn’t easy. I cried a lot of tears and ate a lot of chocolate. But I’ve begun to realize how important it is. Now, I’m unwilling to settle for less than I deserve…even from myself. No matter how uncomfortable the journey to self love makes me, I know it’s worth it in the end.
You’re worth it in the end, too.We teach others how to love us by the way we love ourselves.Click To Tweet
Read more posts about introverts:
- 14 Ways Introverts Can Practice Self Care at Work
- Confessions of an Introvert (Part 1)
- Confessions of an Introvert (Part 2)
- Confessions of an Introvert (Part 3)
- Why Blogging is the Perfect Hobby for Introverts
- How to Be More Comfortable with Vulnerability
Have you taken steps in the past to improve your important relationships? What has worked for you and what didn’t? Did you take the Love Languages test? If so, what were your results? Leave me a comment below and let me know if this post was helpful for you! If you’re in need of more ways introverts can improve their relationships, I’d love to talk more with you one-on-one. I’m a good listener, I promise. 🙂
I have a feeling we’re going to be good friends—let’s get to know each other better.