I guess maybe you could call it jealousy, but I think it’s more of an introvert hang-up.
I’m beginning to realize that there are a lot of things about my extrovert friends that I don’t understand or that I judge in ways that affect our relationships.
The whole verbal processing thing that extroverts do, I’ve learned to understand. I’ve learned to accept that not everything they say is a bona fide plan and they’ll probably forget what they just said in another hour. That’s so much different from the way I, as an introvert, prefer to process internally. Therefore anything I say out loud is probably a plan or thought I’m at least somewhat dedicated to holding on to.
I’m learning to put myself forward just a little bit more. To not expect extroverts to ask as many questions about me as I ask about them, and to not be hurt when they seem to use me primarily as a sounding board. For me, asking questions and listening is a sign of love and friendship. For an extrovert, talking to you is a sign of love and friendship and they’re not quite as attuned to who’s doing more talking as long as the act of communication is taking place.
With all of that understood, there’s another area of introvert/extrovert difference that still pops up and surprises me with how much it affects me. When I see an extroverted friend making a new friend and getting along really well with someone, I tend to automatically assume they’ll no longer be friends with me.
Which is why you could call this jealousy – especially if you’re an extrovert.
But here’s what it looks like from my perspective and why I don’t think it’s jealousy, necessarily.
Because relationships take both time and energy out of an introvert (namely, me) – I do literally have a limited number of friends that I can be close to. I can’t set a firm number to it, but I do know that somewhere there is a limit to my capacity for deep relationships. If one of those relationships drifts apart, then I have room for another one. If I want to deepen a relationship with someone else, then one of my current relationships will have to cool.
It’s different for an extrovert. Relationships for them only take time. I think it’s for that reason they can have a much higher friend-load and adding a new relationship doesn’t necessarily mean another one will have to cool. There seems to be much less of a limit for extroverts. Also, they tend to make acquaintances more quickly than introverts and what I would consider “making a new friend” they consider just hanging out – without an expectation of further friendship.
So when I see an extroverted friend hitting it off with someone new, my instant assumption that this may now put our friendship on the back burner is because I fundamentally don’t understand the capacity extroverts have for exponential relationships. And there’s not a raging sense of, “Ahh! I have to stop their new friendship!” and more of a sinking, “Oh, well, guess they won’t have as much energy for our friendship anymore…”
What about when I see an introverted friend hitting it off with a new friend? I must confess, this happens far less often because (1) I don’t have very many introverted friends and (2) the ones I do have tend to stick more with the friendships they already have. It seems like on the whole, introverts tend to be much less “flirty” in their relationships and I feel more secure in the friendships I have with other introverts
Since I’m just learning about this facet of my personality (and the personality of my extroverted friends), it hits me harder than other miscommunications I’ve had with extroverted friends in the past (see above references to verbal processing and being nothing but a sounding board). I can spend days being insecure about a friendship I think is going to melt away when, really, my extroverted friend has no intention or thought about that happening. I’m learning to remind myself of this facet of extroverted personalities, but it’s slow going.
I’m curious for your thoughts on this. Am I crazy? Am I really, truthfully just jealous? Extroverts, have I portrayed you correctly? Introverts, do you ever feel the same way?