Improving Our Social Lives – How Two Introverted Personality Types Foster Friendships

Kyle’s avatar

Introverted personality types are sometimes seen as socially handicapped. In our personality trait system, Introverted, Thinking types are considered to be especially challenged. These are their stories. DUN DUN.

TV crime show references aside, we two authors, Kyle (a Turbulent Architect) and Lucas (a Turbulent Logician) can personally relate to how difficult it can be for these personality types to connect with others.

Take, for example, responses to the research statement, “You actively seek new friendships”:

  • 53% of other personalities, including other Introverts: Sure we do.
  • 20% of Introverted, Thinking types: (small voice) I suppose so…

And to the survey question, “Do you have a hard time understanding other people’s feelings?”

  • 76% of everyone else: Of course not!
  • 61% of Introverted, Thinking types: Yes… Yes, we do.

So, yeah, both of us have identified our social lives as something to work on, though neither of us craves a large social circle. We want to connect better – deepen existing friendships and make a few new ones.

Our past social setbacks were partly due to not understanding personality types very well. Luckily, our work with 16Personalities has been revelatory in terms of self-awareness and understanding others. But while we may be personality type experts, we’re not social masters. We falter, experiment, fail, learn, and improve.

And, in case it might amuse or inform, we’re sharing our efforts with each other – and you.

A different personality type’s approach to life can show us options beyond what our own traits offer. It also helps us appreciate how another person thrives by living in their own way. Neither needs to feel superior for both to be inspired.

Two Styles of Social Ineptitude

Lucas’s Social Challenge: Bad Luck, Fresh Start

Much in my life follows a pattern of infatuation and burnout, and social connections are no different. It’s hard for me to maintain interest, not just in a given social relationship, but in social interaction broadly. This pattern makes those few genuine connections all the more important to me, because it’s so easy to lose a friend when you stop trying.

How are things currently?

The result of this is that I have very few friends. With such a limited pool, it puts a lot of pressure on each of them to be my “everything person,” that one human being who borders on a platonic soul mate. It also puts a lot of pressure on me to try to preserve these relationships, which itself can be exhausting. A side challenge is that I’ve had just flat bad luck: in the past 15 years, almost every time I’ve begun to establish what I feel to be a true friendship, they’ve suddenly moved away. I try not to take it personally. :)

How would you like things to be?

In a self-deprecating ideal, I’d be less prone to that infatuation/burnout tendency. But realistically, that’s a part of who I am, and much as it might be easier to be steadier, I don’t necessarily want that. So, the real ideal is to create expectations in my friendships, old or new, in which I’m invited out (as opposed to inviting others out). It’s tiring to initiate things, but a lot easier to follow along with a social event. There’s nothing wrong with letting someone else take the lead and relying on my Turbulent guilt and Prospecting opportunism to get me out the door.

How are you working on this?

To achieve this, I apply a tactic that I’ve used in many other areas of my life: create circumstances that make it hard to do what I tend to do but don’t want to do. More specifically, I’ve made an effort at low-effort connection when I’m in burnout mode, mostly via text message just to say hi. This keeps me on others’ radar and increases the chances of being invited out to do something. (In a similar vein, I make sure to follow up after I spend time with a friend – “I’m really glad I came out, thanks for the invite!”)

Kyle’s Attempted Social “Architect-ural” Upgrades

“Remoteness” describes my friendships – I’m not pulled to see or talk to my friends very often, and I’ve had a hard time relating to new people I meet. Trying to push beyond these natural-feeling boundaries has felt disingenuous, as if I’m pretending to be someone I’m not. And pushing myself to be “more social” can be exhausting.

How are things currently?

I think I’m slipping a bit too comfortably into isolation. There’s nothing wrong with solitude (and I’m in a committed relationship, so I’m not actually alone). But it feels too easy, as if I’m settling into limitation. And despite my social reserve, I find sincere human connections incredibly satisfying and people to be very interesting. So, my pattern isn’t entirely satisfactory.

How would you like things to be?

My friends are in my life because I think they’re wonderful people. I want to better express how much I value them, even if I don’t see them very often. And while I’m more concerned with the quality of my friendships than the quantity, I’d also like to open the door a little wider to new connections. Basically, I’d like to get better at overcoming “Introvert Inertia.”

How are you working on this?

I try to show social appreciation directly, like saying, “I really enjoyed seeing you!” I’m also trying to be more sensitive to friends’ undeclared needs. Social inquiries can be disguised requests for support, so I try to accept more invites instead of always defaulting to hermitude.

When meeting new people, I focus on finding and enjoying common ground, however small. I find that, at first, it’s better to solidly connect over one thing than to try to accommodate each other entirely. Having your preferences stretched too far creates aversion, but sticking to enjoyable commonalities keeps things going until deeper acceptance grows.

What do you think about my approaches, O esteemed colleague?

Taking in Another View

Hearing other people’s thoughts and feelings is not only enlightening – it may even change the way we live our own lives. Let’s see what our authors said about each other’s take on things.

Lucas: I find your current effort – to find small commonalities and enjoy them simply for what they are without needing to push too far beyond them – inspiring. It’s such a stark contrast to my own tendency to seek out the “everything person.” It makes me wonder if I’d find more enjoyment in social relationships – and be less prone to burnout – if I sought out these smaller, more present joys.

Kyle: Well, it sounds like we’re both trying to better maintain our connections with our friends. But your attempts to encourage outside forces are fascinatingly foreign to me, a control-seeker. Brilliant, though. I’m swimming against my tendencies, but you’re creating coercive currents to carry you to your goal. Thanks for sharing that!

I admire your optimism in seeking an “everything person.” ;)

Seeing Value in Growth

We love hearing how different personality types approach life, because it shows the strength of individuality. When facing similar circumstances, not everyone benefits from identical approaches, but there’s personal growth to be found by exploring how other people do things. Individual strengths can be shared, just as two authors shared their thoughts with each other.

Perhaps most importantly, understanding other personality types can create a sense of respect for each other, even as we do things our own way.

What’s your approach to improving your social life? Share your take in the comments below.

Further Reading

Adventures with an Adventurer – Stories from the Real World

Two Roommates and Some Coffee – Stories from the Real World

Let’s Talk to Other Personality Types: The Art of Conversation

“Social Activities” Survey