If you are an introverted thinker, chances are you suck at relationships with people: Be it family, friends, colleagues, partners, or groups. You may have difficulties dealing with them since childhood. Complaints of “people don’t get me” or “I was always an outcast” is common among introverted thinkers.
But if you ask the others on what they think about you, most probably they will find you cold, rude, aloof, and not particularly friendly or social. Or in a corporate setting, they may see you as not being a team-player. And romantic partners may soon complain of selfishness and lack of feelings.
Introverted thinkers do not have a lack of feelings. But due to being in their own head all the time, they lack an understanding of other’s feelings. Basically in their childhood, their sense of gauging and reacting to others’ feelings doesn’t develop. This leads to relationship problems as adults.
Since childhood, introverted thinkers don’t "fit in" with their peers and peer groups due to their weakness in socializing skills. They don’t make a conscious effort to develop it as well. As they are at quite at home being a loner if rejected by peers. Introverted thinkers have a rich universe to play with in their own heads.
Outside sensory input from friends will be nice for their emotional needs, but not strictly needed. In fact, it can get stressful if it becomes too much. So even if they have friends and are part of groups, they will want to their own time and not be too aware of the emotional needs of people around them, which may not be taken well by their friends. Leading to conflict and rejection.
But even with such weaknesses, the biggest strength of introverted thinkers is their thinking capacity. Their weakness of seeing people as puzzles can be turned into a strength just by realizing it: That they do not see people as beings with emotional needs. It took me a long time to get to this understanding as an introverted thinker.
Once this is realized by us, then people no longer remain puzzles, and relationships become easy problems to be solved with thinking and tuning our own behavior.
Recently, I met a highly intelligent introverted thinker. We share similar interests and we connected over some shared passions very quickly. I found we could have long discussions over intellectual topics. And in one such discussion, I learned about their issues relating to people since childhood, including family and friends.
When I suggested starting with their close family and try tuning their behavior so as to respect others’ feelings more, I got a reaction like this: “Hahaha, I’m doing the opposite of what you’re saying here… I’m rude to the people I’m close to, and act nice to others…”
This is a classic behavior pattern among many introverted thinkers. We try to be overly nice with outsiders and will be rather direct and rude with people we know. Worse, we won’t even understand how hurt our loved ones feel with our behavior. And even if we do, will try to justify it logically.
The being overly nice behavior develops since childhood. As we can’t understand others well and fit in immediately, we develop a need to be very nice to please others, so that we will be accepted by them. We don't have this need with family. They are taken for granted by us.
Our ego too develops during childhood. So in our case it will develop coldness or "I don't care" attribute as we get left out from groups and shunned by friends. And it develops strongly because even close people don't get us. This attribute of ego helps us survive being a loner.
The other thing it develops is "competitiveness" - to always prove better than the others whenever there's an interaction. Because we were not understood and sidelined by them, there’s a need to prove ourselves as better. Relationships can thus turn competitive, critical, and even combative quickly.
Both of these ego states start developing unconsciously as defense mechanisms. And they play a big part in adult life and relationships. Any relationship is interfered by these two unconscious attributes of the ego — Unless the mind is able to keep it in check through conscious thought.
Now, for most of us, family is taken for granted. And other people we meet are difficult to understand. So when in a conflict, we show our rude self to close ones without putting any effort to understand their feelings. While being nice to others to compensate for our weakness in understanding them. And to be accepted by them.
Another effect will be in relationships with the others only. When being nice, we see other people take us easy. And we may not be achieving the required effect to be accepted and treated as an equal. So to compensate, we may act disrespectful and rude to them later. Or can start ignoring them altogether to compensate for the lack of acceptance.
People will then find us to be indifferent. That we neither understand their feelings nor we are being nice all the time. This will create conflict with those we are forced to be with like coworkers. At least passive aggressive ones, if not ‘hot’ ones like we may have with family. And when the relationship deteriorates with them, "how do I care" attitude of the ego will take over.
This ego attribute always worsens relationships. Many times completely ending it. So more people will leave our life than be part of it. And this keeps happening until the unhealthy ego attributes developed during childhood as defense mechanism are tamed by us consciously.
Our personality also affects romantic relationships. Where again we want to be nice because we like someone but we fear our partner will take us for granted. So we will tend to become hot and cold. Like being close then distancing, confusing our partner. It will make them question our feelings. The overthinking attribute of the mind also plays a part here confusing us.
We will not be able to understand their feelings but will think up our own idea on how they feel— which may be far from reality. So we will tend to get them wrong. And they will leave seeing our confusing, unfeeling and detached behavior. At the same time we will let it go due to both 'competitiveness' and 'I don't care' attributes of the ego.
Again ending another relationship before it can even develop. But the good thing is, in moments of diminished ego, thinkers do realize their own weaknesses. Like their weakness in understanding others feelings, in fitting in, and being rude to close people .
With this realization and help of time we can work on our weak area of feelings. Because we are too good at logical analysis and dissecting problems into sections and solving, we can easily do the same with our weaknesses. Let’s start with important people first.
Take immediate family. Then we can ask these questions at any time or during any conflict:
- What for are we having a conflict with them?
- What do they expect from us in a conflict?
- Do we feel they are thinking with their feelings and not getting our “amazing” logical arguments?
- If so, can we try understand their feelings?
- How far can we go to meet them half way even if we feel their expectation is totally illogical for us?
- When we do fight with them or anyone close, do we also go cold and not talk to them spoiling the relationship?
- Does our “competitive instinct” take over and stop us from saying sorry and doing rapprochement first?
- If so, what if we fight our ego and just go talk to them first after the fight? They are after all family!
By thinking like this and taking small actions we can keep the ego's unhealthy attributes in check. And control our behavior to achieve less conflicts and better resolutions with close people without hurting them too much. Of course, it is important to let the people know too about your difficulty understanding them and the effort you put. Lest they take you easy.
With professional relationships and friendship, if we feel we need someone and we are letting things go too cold, we need to fight the inertia and ego to make contact. Let’s see their reaction. If they are responsive, we already understand one thing about their feelings - they respond if we give attention to them!
We can take it further and logically solve our problems in a relationship with them for whatever we want to achieve - be a friend, be a colleague, do business together, get emotional support, be an activity partner etc. Basically we can successfully build friendships and partnerships.
For romantic relationships, which may become the biggest part of life as an adult, introversion, competitiveness, ‘don't care’ attitude are all detrimental. Unless the partner is really mature, understanding, and can easily empathize with our thinking. Which is a difficult ask for many. And so as a rule of thumb, thinking personalities find romance a very hard area.
So in this area, at least in the begining or during a conflict, the best would be to give up on all the conscious overthinking and subconscious ego attributes to give into just feelings. This generally makes things much better. But if the partner takes advantage of this and turns out to be a jerk, then not a problem. It is very easy to turn cold, "I don't give a damn" person and not allow the partner to control us. This is a big advantage for introverted thinkers!
If the partner is a logical thinker themselves, they can be challenged, criticized, and compete against intellectually. If fact, it will help build the relationship more if done without letting the ego attributes take control. But majority of people are ‘feelings’ people who don’t like such intellectual combat. This has to be kept in mind always.
The very simple understanding that most people think with their hearts and not their minds, unlike us, will help introverted thinkers navigate all relationships much better.