Plus 10 Time-Tested Tips for Introvert Relationships
I recently read Peter Hollins' book The Science of Introverts. After all, some of the most shocking things I've learned this past year have to do with the root cause of introversion being science and our own brain - not from shyness, lack of confidence, or anxiety.
So I was curious to see if Hollins could teach me more lesser-known facts to share with you. What stood out most was the assertion that extroverts have more sex than introverts.
I'm a diehard believer that exploring our true strengths and embracing our talents to approach challenges our own way is fueling the introvert revolution. Introverts are navigating meetings, networking and social circles, and leadership opportunities with greater confidence. Introverts can truly flourish and achieve their ambitions when we do it our way!
Hypothesis: Extroverts have more sex
But now I read that introverts have less sex than extroverts! Now, I don't believe I'm a machismo male that insists sex is the lone gauge for happiness or a successful relationship, but this hypothesis irks me. So let's delve further...
Statistically, Hollins quotes what appears to be a large, reputable study in Germany that reported that extroverted men have sex 5.5 times per month on average compared to 3.0 for introverted men. Extroverted women had sex 7.5 times per month on average compared to 3.1 times for introverted women. These are significant disparities - more than double! Why?
Hollins offers two primary causes. First, in order for two people to have sex, they must meet. Extroverts simply socialize more. After a day's work and certainly when the week is over, extroverts re-energize in the company of others while introverts tend to go home. So naturally, one has a better chance of meeting a potential partner if you are "in circulation" than if your nose is buried in a book. This supposition seems to make logical sense.
Secondly, Hollins suggests that since introverts tend to be more introspective and also suffer more from anxiety that we are less apt to create an atmosphere conducive for sex; ie, our conversations are not typically fun and carefree but intense and perhaps depressing. Thus, each party may not be as open to sex, presumably whether this is early in the relationship or part of a long-term relationship or marriage. I understand what Hollins is talking about. A while back, I wrote about Introvert's Paralysis - our difficulty in being able to generate relaxing, natural conversation when thrust into the spotlight. I even extrapolated that further in a Facebook post titled Coitus Introvertus, the theory that the act of sex can be challenging for some introverts when minds wander from the lovemaking itself to the many other thoughts, concerns, or dreams floating around in our own brains. So I can recognize Hollins' second point as well.
However, I'd like to flip this script on its head a bit. Like many conversations and research regarding introversion, this assumes a lack of social skills which, in this case, can be detrimental to one's sex life. I disagree.
While introverts are less likely to be hanging out at the bar, and therefore I suggest we have a lower chance of contracting STDs😜, our tendency to dive deeper into relationships leads to a quicker assessment of our compatibility and a greater degree of interest and understanding. This likely doesn't happen in a 10-minute conversation, but can happen in a one-hour chat in the car while parked in a grocery parking lot (yes, that's how my wife and I knew we were meant to be)! So perhaps I'm agreeing with Hollins a bit. Maybe our frequency of sex particularly early in relationships (like day one), may be less, but the longevity of those relationships and, dare I say, perhaps the quality of sex resulting from a deeper bond rather than a one-night stand, may swing toward the introvert's advantage.
I suspect some of you introverted readers are nodding your heads in violent agreement. Others may recall that one-night-stand that perhaps even developed into your long-term commitment and disagree with me. I can (barely) recall the latter when I was in college (before I met my wife). But my memory is faint not because it was so long ago (though it was), but because of the sheer amount of alcohol that was necessary for me to relax and actually talk to a female, not to mention a stranger, back in those days.
My further research doesn't identify a discernable difference between introverts' and extroverts' marriage or divorce rates but does find that infidelity is the second largest reason (sandwiched between #1: lack of commitment and #3: too much arguing/conflict) for divorce. Intrinsically, I'd suggest introverts have a greater degree of loyalty (our Introvert Talent Quiz found this as one of the key strengths of introverts) and certainly a disdain for conflict. A Psychology Today 2019 article, Are Extroverts More Likely to be Unfaithful Than Introverts?, suggests that especially highly extroverted individuals are indeed more likely to be unfaithful while those that strive for agreement (read: introverts) are more likely to sort through issues and remain together.
The conclusion is that assuming Hollins' statistics are accurate, I can probably see why extroverts, on average, may have more sex than introverts. However, I would also suggest that introverts have more quality, long-term relationships filled with communication and compromise.
My spidey senses are telling me my extroverted friends and family will be calling me soon (please email or text instead 😜). Statistics and these points are based on averages and assumptions and there are always exceptions to any statements. There are surely lots of introverts who have frequent sex and there are many extroverts enjoying long-term, symbiotic relationships.
10 Time-Tested Tips for Introvert Relationships
Okay, I'm definitely not a marriage counselor or relationship guide. But the levity (wrapped with some true learnings) of this post and my nearly 31 years of marriage make me feel somewhat qualified to offer some relationships advice, which you can obviously take or leave:
Take care of yourself first: when you are in a good headspace and feel confident in yourself, others notice and gravitate to that. Best not to go on a date when depressed. Take time to tend to yourself first. I think this is good advice not just for dating but for life.
Meet people "where you are:" if you aren't comfortable at a bar, don't expect to meet your next great love (or sexual encounter) there. Try Meetup groups for hobbies you enjoy. Use a dating service to find someone with lots in common. Get set up on a double date with a friend so you have support and it's a small, intimate setting.
Ask questions: this works well in early dating. It takes the pressure off you, you get to know the other better, and then you see if they reciprocate with questions showing their interest in you. It also works well in long-term relationships. Show interest in the other person's day, dreams, and worries. Listen and care.
Be vulnerable: strong relationships don't build without vulnerability. Share your feelings, worries, and ambitions even when it is uncomfortable. This may not be your initial conversation, but don't wait long. Introverts need this level of sharing and if the other is scared off, better to know that early.
Don't let things fester: if you are frustrated or angry about something and you can't let it go, bring it up. Introverts tend to steer away from conflict, but if you've made a sacrifice or your feelings aren't being attended to, best to bring it up. If it festers, it can grow into a cancer on your relationship.
Pick your battles: this is closely linked with the previous point. Everything should not be an issue. This is rarely the case with introverts who don't typically enjoy conflict and thrive on compromise. These battles could be small or large, but if they are important, prepare in your mind for a tactful discussion rather than an unplanned, chaotic attack. Most all issues can be resolved peacefully and be building blocks for your relationship.
Communicate: this is a big one and is closely linked to many other points. Many introverts, myself definitely included, often prefer to sort through issues in their minds. We like that introspection, it is like a hobby, and it boosts the Acetylcholines that our body actually craves! But a relationship is dependent on communication. And our long-term mental health does benefit greatly from having a confidante - and that person most often is/should be your partner. If you find yourself stewing on something, it's probably a good topic to share with your partner.
Be grateful: oftentimes everyone, introverts especially, can get tied up in knots worrying about the swirling issues in our minds, contemplating the next challenge ahead, or reminiscing over meetings, social events, and family outings that could have gone better. Step back and be grateful. Every Sunday at dinner start with the family sharing what they are grateful for that week. The worries and anxieties will wait, but the recognition of the good things in life will help to bolster your confidence and happiness.
Drink wine together: okay this may just be a personal preference and I'm not advocating overdoing it (too often - see my post last week on the turmoil this can invite), but carving out time to relax together, release the tensions of the day, and get silly together are important in every relationship.
Have sex: it doesn't matter so much about quantity or even quality, but getting together in such an intimate, vulnerable setting is healthy for relationships. Lean on common introvert strengths of preparation and creativity to create the ambiance and mix things up. 😁
Peter Hollins' book, The Science of Introverts, opens some very interesting topics for consideration. The study he references regarding the frequency of sex may be a bit disconcerting in some ways, but introvert strengths of loyalty, sharing, and deeper conversations can help build strong relationships, regardless of the frequency of sex.
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The Questions Introverts Ponder
The Answers Extroverts Need to Hear
Introversion often feels so alone and many of us assume no one else could feel this way. Contained in this book are many of the questions that have been asked, often by introverts trying to understand this personality trait that can at times govern our lives.
Hi Steve! I just wanted to say I'm incredibly thankful that I came across your blog. I currently have your [Q&A] booklet up on my work computer and every single line resonates with me. I've struggled my entire life with introversion, but your guide is helping me realize that I need to embrace it instead of feeling embarrassed! Anyways, your content is awesome and I'm planning on sharing some info with my team. -GK 2/8/2022
I also hear from many introverts struggling to share their introversion with family, friends, and co-workers, either out of fear or just not having the words. I hope this booklet may serve to educate others to better understand the many strengths and talents we have to share.
I hope you will find this booklet an informative read and reference book with a splash of light-heartedness and inspiration as well. I invite you to start with the questions you are most curious about and share from there.
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