When we first considered exploring the lifestyle, I was nervous about many things, but one of my biggest concerns is that I’m an introvert. Large group social situations are not my comfort zone. I’m much more comfortable talking one-on-one (or two-on-two) with someone than socializing in a large group setting. In the vanilla world, I’d usually choose to not engage much when in a large group and just observe, enjoy the atmosphere without pressuring myself to meet and talk with new people unless absolutely necessary. Well, guess what? That doesn’t work well in situations where the goal is to meet new people and make friends.
At first, I was frustrated with myself. I tried to be something I wasn’t. I told myself I had to be more social, talk with more people, initiate conversations when it didn’t feel natural. I would try that for a while, but found it became exhausting.
I needed to withdraw to re-charge my energy, and then would be hard on myself for not being able to stay right in all the “hustle and bustle” of the event or party. Something needed to change, and I slowly started to adjust how I approached lifestyle situations.
I’ve learned a lot over the past few years about what works best for me as an introvert in navigating the lifestyle. When we go to events or parties now, I am much more comfortable in my own skin and engaging with others in my own way. Lifestyle experience has taught me that. And what’s really awesome is that I can carry that over to other parts of my life. The tricks or skills I have learned that work for me to socialize better in the lifestyle also work for me in vanilla social situations.
These are the things I have found to be the most helpful for me in navigating the lifestyle as an introvert:
Balance Large Events with Smaller Gatherings
This is probably the most important strategy for me in maintaining my equilibrium and enjoying our adventures.
I love to go to resorts, clubs, and events. They are so fun! But they are also tiring as an introvert because there are a lot of people, many who I might be meeting for the first time. It takes a lot of energy to be “on” and social with new people for an extended time. What works well for me is to balance the number of large events we attend with smaller meetups.
Meeting one other couple for an evening or weekend is what the introvert in me enjoys most, so I try to maintain a balance of those different types of social experiences.
It’s funny, pre-lifestyle I was not a messenger or social media person. I would have said I don’t really enjoy that, it’s much better for me to talk in person. However, I have found that messaging for me works really well in the lifestyle. Both individual (or small group) messaging with others we have met and larger group chats leading up to an event. With people I already know, messaging helps me maintain a connection that makes it easier to be comfortable the next time we see each other. With large group chats before an event (often with people I have not yet met), messaging helps me ease into getting to know others and establish some comfort level before meeting in person for the first time.
Take Breaks to “Introvert”
Building in time to re-charge, what I’ve started to call “introvert” time is so important to helping me manage a longer event or lifestyle vacation. When we first started exploring the lifestyle, it was so new and exciting, and I did not want to miss one single thing (FOMO anyone?) of wherever we were. But I would totally deplete myself and my energy, and then would start to withdraw during time when I wanted to be social. So, I tried a new thing. On our recent trip I carved out “introvert” time each day to be alone on the beach. On previous lifestyle trips my husband and I had been great about making time for just each other, to talk, play, and enjoy time together in a sexy place. That is important too, but I found it did not give me the complete alone time I needed to re-charge so I could continue to be social and talkative with new people. Building in some time to be by myself helped me to do that.
Make Friends with Extroverts
I’ve found that many couples in the lifestyle are comprised of one introvert and one extrovert. This makes sense as these opposite characteristics tend to attract for long term partnerships, bringing balance and stability to a relationship. Well, we don’t have that. My husband and I are both introverts, slightly different types of introverts, but still neither one of us is naturally comfortable striking up conversations with new people in crowded settings. We’ve both gotten better at it and have learned how to bounce off each other in a way that works for us. But what’s really nice sometimes is when friends who are extroverts help us in meeting and talking with new people. Often all it takes is that little introduction from someone I already know, and I am immediately more comfortable than I would have been meeting the new person on my own. I also learn from my extrovert friends, watching how they engage and “borrowing” ideas that help me be more comfortable in talking with new people.
Accept Your (Introverted) Self Exactly How You Are
I think the final part is giving myself grace to be who I am and engage in a way that is authentic to me. When I do that, I tend to meet people I connect really well with, even if it might take a little more time to make and build that connection than it would for someone more on the extrovert side. I’ve also learned to accept, and even embrace, that there are times when my energy is not at a place where connecting with new people is fun for me, and that’s okay. I might prefer to just focus on my partner or close friends that night and enjoy the atmosphere of wherever we are, knowing that another night my energy will be at a place where meeting and talking with new people will be exhilarating and exciting.
For those of you who are introverts like me, I encourage you to recognize and embrace it, and learn what works for you – in the lifestyle or in other types of social situations. There is no need to force yourself to be something you’re not. People will like you just as you are. And for the extroverts, thank you for being our friends and sharing some of your extrovert energy with us. We really appreciate it! In turn, we love to support you when you might want a quieter time to talk something through with a friend.
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