10 things introverts struggle with most in social situations

It’s a well-known fact that introverts find social situations more challenging than most. That doesn’t mean they’re automatically shy or anti-social, though, as society would have you think. 

It just means they run out of battery faster and need some time to be alone to recharge. 

As a social introvert myself, I’ve observed this balance in myself. I enjoy talking to people, but then I’d need to get away after a while. 

That said, social situations do pose some challenges that may be difficult for introverts to deal with. 

If you have an introvert in your life, here’s a list of the things they likely struggle with most in social situations. Hopefully, it will show you how to make them more comfortable the next time you’re at a gathering.  

1) Small talk

The first thing you have to know about introverts is that their social battery is limited, as  I mentioned earlier. So, they like making each interaction count.

That means small talk, with all of its superficiality, feels burdensome to them. 

Ironically, small talk doesn’t break the ice for introverts as much as it does for extroverts. It actually does the opposite – be a barrier for genuine connection. 

You see, introverts want meaty conversations – deep and meaningful topics, real talk that gives them real insights into the person they’re speaking with. 

Another reason why introverts struggle with small talk is because of its rapidly changing nature. 

Small talk often jumps from topic to topic, requiring rapid shifts in attention. This can be mentally exhausting for someone who likes thinking long and deeply about things. 

2) Keeping up with large groups

As an introvert, I prefer one-to-one or small group conversations. You know why? 

Large group conversations make me feel lost! 

When everyone around me chimes in, it can be exhausting to keep up. Remember that rapid shift in attention I was talking about earlier? That applies here, too. 

I’ll give you a glimpse into how I fare in large group conversations. I’d still be processing the first topic, while the others have moved on to something else. 

It’s not that I’m slow, though people might think so. It’s more due to my tendency to think before I speak.

By the time I’ve gathered my thoughts and mustered up the courage to speak, what I have to say is already miles behind the current topic. 

This leads me to the next point…

3) Being overlooked

So, what happens then? Because I’m on the quiet side and because of my slower response time, the louder and faster ones get heard more. 

Think about it: when you’re at a meeting, aren’t there some folks who sit quietly while everyone else around them is exchanging witty comments and spitballing?

I’m willing to bet those are the introverts in the group. 

However, as much as being overlooked can feel lonely, introverts dislike the next thing more…

4) Having the spotlight on them

My family once held a birthday dinner for me at my favorite restaurant. Now, since it’s my family, I’m totally fine being the center of attention that night. 

But come dessert time, the restaurant staff came out with a huge birthday cake, candles all lit up, and singing “Happy Birthday”. Of course, that attracted the attention of every other diner in the place!

As sweet and touching as it was, I have to admit, I cringed and wondered if I could melt and disappear under the table. 

You see, we do like being seen and heard, but that much attention? Uh, not quite. 

In most social situations, we prefer to blend in and observe rather than stand out.

5) Sharing personal information

Just like having the spotlight on them, being asked to share personal information also feels a bit uncomfortable for introverts. 

Because, well, it’s just another form of being the center of attention. 

Plus, introverts are a wary and guarded bunch. Trust is a big deal for them. They won’t be opening up to a group or to mere acquaintances about the details in their personal lives. 

So, they tend to share personal information with people who have already earned their trust. With those who make them feel understood and safe.

6) Initiating a conversation

Making the first move is another aspect of social situations that introverts find incredibly hard to do. 

Where an extrovert might see a stranger and just spark up a conversation with a wide smile and a quick and bouncy “Hi!”, an introvert would be rehearsing various opening lines in their heads. 

Or, if they’re smart, they would’ve already done their mental rehearsals at home, way before the actual event. 

At least, that’s what I and the other introverts I know do. 

Because we’ve got a healthy dislike of the spotlight, the idea of drawing attention to ourselves can feel really awkward and uncomfortable. 

Unfortunately, though understandably, this hesitation results in…

7) Being misinterpreted

Distant. Standoffish. Snobbish. 

These are just some of the ways introverts come across to others who don’t know them well enough. 

It’s a misconception that we constantly have to battle. But again, it’s understandable when people jump to that conclusion given our quiet nature. Without meaning to, maybe we do come across as cold or uninterested. 

I can’t count the number of times people have told me this (and other variations of it):  “To be honest, I didn’t think we’d end up being friends. I thought you were a little aloof!” 

Let me assure you, we like making friends just like anyone else, it’s just a tad harder for us to do it right away!

8) Dealing with conflict

Let’s get this straight: introverts have “Peace and Quiet” as their middle name. So, you can imagine just how uncomfortable it would be for them to be right in the middle of conflict. 

If confronted while in a group, an introvert’s immediate reaction would be to de-escalate and disengage

They might say, “Let’s talk about this later,” or “Let’s talk privately.” Definitely, they won’t go into a full-blown discussion with everyone watching. 

If they’re the one who needs to bring up a sensitive issue, they might resort to written communication. This is a path I’ve taken in the past, choosing to express myself through a letter than sit down and have an upfront conversation. 

It might sound cowardly, but really, getting the tough words out can be really tough (pun intended) for us! Sometimes, it helps to get all our thoughts out without worrying about the other person’s immediate reaction.

But you know what’s great about us? If you point out our mistakes, you can be sure we’ll reflect on it later and see how we can do better! 

9) Loud environments

This is one of the major reasons why going out and clubbing till the wee hours isn’t at the top of an introvert’s priority list.

The plain and simple truth is that loud environments add even more to the pressure of socializing to drain an introvert’s battery quickly. Too much activity and noise can be mentally and physically exhausting for them. 

If you want your introverted loved one to come out with you and have a good time, best to make reservations at a low-key place, like a quiet, intimate restaurant or a cozy coffee shop

Or just go on a walk to the park! 

10) Networking

Finally, we get to networking, which I’m pretty sure introverts all over the world will unite (separately) to protest. 

You see, networking has all the elements introverts struggle with. In a nutshell: 

Initiating a convo + Small talk + Large groups + Loud environments = DREAD

Unfortunately, it’s also a non-negotiable in most professional settings. So, we’ll do our best for the sake of keeping our jobs, but best believe we’ll be treating ourselves to an extra-long period of hibernation afterward.

Final thoughts

Understanding introverts and their unique social challenges is the first step towards better communication with them. 

Forget the stereotypes – they aren’t shy, nor do they hate people. They simply have a different set of needs in terms of social interactions. 

And once you tap into that, you can enjoy a deep and meaningful connection. You’ll discover just how much they have to offer in the way of friendship and relationships. 

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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