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Follow-up: The Introversy Continues Jonathan Rauch comments on reader feedback about introvert dating—and poses a new question Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day?
My own formula is roughly two hours alone for every hour of socializing. I performed exhaustive research on this question, in the form of a quick Google search. As often as I have tried to explain the matter to extroverts, I have never sensed that any of them really understood. For one thing, extroverts are overrepresented in politics, a profession in which only the garrulous are really comfortable. With the possible exception of Ronald Reagan, whose fabled aloofness and privateness were probably signs of a deep introverted streak (many actors, I've read, are introverts, and many introverts, when socializing, feel like actors), introverts are not considered "naturals" in politics. As Coolidge is supposed to have said, "Don't you know that four fifths of all our troubles in this life would disappear if we would just sit down and keep still?
Extroverts are seen as bighearted, vibrant, warm, empathic. Introverts are described with words like "guarded," "loner," "reserved," "taciturn," "self-contained," "private"—narrow, ungenerous words, words that suggest emotional parsimony and smallness of personality.
Female introverts, I suspect, must suffer especially. I suppose this common misconception has to do with our being more intelligent, more reflective, more independent, more level-headed, more refined, and more sensitive than extroverts.
If you are behind the curve on this important matter, be reassured that you are not alone. Introverts are also not misanthropic, though some of us do go along with Sartre as far as to say "Hell is other people at breakfast." Rather, introverts are people who find other people tiring.
Introverts may be common, but they are also among the most misunderstood and aggrieved groups in America, possibly the world. Extroverts are energized by people, and wilt or fade when alone.