Can an Extravert become an Introvert?

Over the years, I’ve noticed that myself moving from being an out-and-out Extravert to not just understanding Introversion, but actually finding myself behaving in a decidedly Introverted manner.

While wondering if there was any substance to this observation, I decided to re-test myself. My Myers-Briggs category was – and still is – ENFJ (Extrovert, Intuitive, Feeling & Judging), but I noted the results have changed in one detail, as there is now only a very slight leaning towards Extraversion over Introversion.

Despite being a reader of long standing and never having enjoyed being the centre of attention, high levels of social interaction have always been very important to me. Some 15 years ago, when about to live alone for the first time, I spent considerable time and energy worrying how I’d cope. I can now report that however much I enjoyed living alone – for I truly did – it is noteworthy that I balanced that solo living with an active social life.

The thing is, while I still like the idea of socialising with people be they friends or strangers – I now recognise the need for topping up my own tank. As a person who’s always cared – not just about what others think of me, but also about the welfare of other people – I can attract the emotionally wounded. As a result, my emotional resources have a tendency to become drained, leaving me lacking when I need those resources to recover from my own troubles.

Unsurprisingly, I’ve increasingly found time alone not just attractive, but necessary. When meeting new people, I’ve noticed that those who have a need for nurturing often actively reach out to me. As a result, it’s become easier to limit my social interaction to the few, rather than risk burnout from the needs of the many.

Do I look back with fondness on my previously busy social life? Yes, absolutely, but as an independent and responsible adult, I need to take care of myself so I don’t become a burden to my loved ones.

I still need people and still experience cabin fever after too many days of being home (alone until Himself returns), but I cannot avoid the knowledge that I am edging ever closer to the I instead of the E on the front of my Myers-Briggs category.

Where are you on the Extravert/Introvert scale? Have you noticed any movement from one side of the scale to the other – perhaps as you’ve aged, or gained wisdom & experience?

24 thoughts on “Can an Extravert become an Introvert?

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  1. I’m probably still a Bossy pants ENTJ, but my E and I have always been close. I do like interactions with people, but raising my own ENTJ (who is HEAVILY E) is exhausting. I liked living alone when I was single, but I was always a little lonely and looking to pair up. Now? If anything happens to spouse, hahahaha, no. That’s it. Single forever. I cherish my quiet alone time too much. And, like you, I attract some folks who need help–sometimes just for a little while, but sometimes it’s almost a permanent state of incompetence/ need. I’ve had to learn to set my own limits on what I can give before I become seriously resentful and snarky (which is easy to fall into when you are a J).

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  2. I used to consider myself an extrovert, but after the pandemic and some much-needed soul searching, I’ve discovered that I’m an introvert. I believe I was taught as a child that being shy was a negative trait, so I never embraced my introverted characteristics. But now I really like that aspect of myself. 💕

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  3. I’ve always been an introvert. I don’t get my energy from others. I do find I’m more selective about who I choose to hang with

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  4. Interesting post, Debs. I’m more I than E and have probably become more so as I’ve aged, and the isolation of COVID undoubtedly contributed as well. My guess is that part of the reason that people might become more I as they age is because they no longer suffer from FOMO – fear of missing out. Or maybe that’s just me!

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  5. I remain firmly in the introvert column, although I think we all move around a bit at times. I do enjoy some social interaction and I’ve noticed that increasing during the lockdown. These days I’m pretty quiet, even on the computer.

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  6. I’m more of an introvert. I enjoy friends and social activities, but I don’t seem to need as much social contact as some people. The opportunities for social interactions were easier when I was younger. I was married for 30 years before my husband died, and I loved having a partner. Plus, he was a big extrovert, a magnet for many deep friendships, which inevitably resulted in a big and interesting social circle for both of us. It was fun, but I’m also content with a quieter life.

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  7. Tater, I think that’s the case with so many people after the multiple lockdowns or restrictions. I did miss people and have been happy with returning to the social world. But I got a reminder of how careful I have to be the other day when a woman from an online networking group reached out to me to have a coffee chat – which we are encouraged to do. I’d not taken to her *at all* but she was most insistent. Then she spent the first 15 minutes crying because she felt safe with me. Aarrgghh! Of course I was lovely and all empathetic, but I so wish I could switch that off.

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  8. Hiya almost matching Myers-Briggs person 🙂 Yup, I’m the same now. If anything happens to Himself, I doubt I’d go looking – and being happy living alone is the primary reason.

    Interesting that D’s extreme extraversion is draining for you as a borderline E/I. I used to be fine socialising with anyone – whether “mine” or “their” friend if you see what I mean, but I realised I’d started to resent it unless I made sure to get the balance right… for my needs.

    I’ll repeat the story I just told Tater. Women’s networking group, we’re encouraged to have “virtual coffee chats” with each other, and I’ve had some lovely ones. One woman, I disliked immediately from her online messaging, and it got no better when she gave a talk. She pursued me to arrange one, then cried for the first 15 minutes because she felt sure she was safe with me! I mean FFS. I’m happy giving my empathy & understanding to someone I know, like, or love – but a random strange who I’d not taken to? Too much.

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  9. It’s funny isn’t it Mark. I’d imagine most people see you as a confident, outgoing kinda guy, and presume you’re an extravert, because they don’t understand Introverts at all.

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  10. Interesting Kari, what you say makes a LOT of sense. As a young child, I was a bit of a loner, a bookworm, happy listening to music on my own, but it wasn’t regarded favourable I – being the oldest – was pushed into being a social being – not just for myself but so I would lead my sibling, being wildly social is how life was as an ex-pat.

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  11. Ha ha Jane! That’s quite probably a factor 🙂 I had a degree of FOMO during my 50s, because I’d missed a great deal during my 30s & 40s when working full-time while being a single parent. But with my year of saying yes, and lots of lively living 4 years thereafter, I was ready to settle down with Himself and enjoy a more selective life.

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  12. Regardless of where we get out social interaction from – be that in person or online – energy in vs energy out is a tough balance to maintain. I suspect (and hope) that you’re good at understanding that fact and managing your energy appropriately Zazzy.

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  13. Nicki, the Myers-Briggs peeps do say that how we measure can vary over time & experience (and thank goodness they say that, or we’d have to stop regarding them with any form of seriousness). When I was first single again at 50, I put sociability at the top of my list of qualities I was looking for in a mate. Some 5 years later when I’d had lots of fun and done lots of living, I was happy to settle down with Himself who is anything but!

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  14. I’ve always been an introvert and even more so since the pandemic. These days, I could stay home all the time. I have to push myself out. Fortunately, I have a husband who helps with that. Just yesterday I was talking to a friend who’s always been extroverted and she says she’s become more introverted and needs her alone time. I do think we become more introverted over time and a lot of social time just isn’t as appealing.

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  15. INFJ, here. I get what you mean about attracting the emotionally wounded. I have met other extroverts who have become more introverted as they got older. Welcome to my side of the street 😁.

    Deb

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  16. While I am an INFP I’ve been told by therapists that I’m an extroverted introvert. This, of course, makes sense but is also about as clear as mud. When forced to engage in socializing I can do it well, BUT it takes me a long time to get over it. I once read a rule of thumb for introverts that said for every hour you’re around people it’ll take you two hours by yourself to regain your equilibrium. Has proven to be spot on for me.

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