Do Extroverts Outlive Introverts?

Like Kay, I am also an introvert (on the extreme end of the spectrum). I very much enjoy one-on-one or small-group interactions with deep and meaningful conversations, but even those suck up a lot of energy and I need recharge time afterwards.

Big groups of people, especially in non-business settings (for some reason, I can handle that better because it doesn’t require anything but me being a SME [subject matter expert], which doesn’t tax my energy reserves because what I need is automatically there and doesn’t require a great deal of effort] just overwhelm me – too much going on, too much noise, too much of everything. I get zapped quickly and easily and just want to find a quiet corner to regroup and be invisible in.

I also highly recommend Susan Cain’s book. There were points reading this where I suddenly felt tears running down my face because I realized that she was accurately describing me and that it didn’t mean I was crazy, odd, weird, or any of the other negative descriptors that the western world, which places a high value on extroversion, while considering introversion to be undesirable and abnormal – and changeable (it is not!) – ascribes to introverts.

Ironically, introverts understand extroverts (even if they drive us crazy), but extroverts, through no fault of their own other than temperament and personality, are pretty clueless about introverts. In their cluelessness, they can often be insensitive, offensive, and abrasive. Introverts will take all of that deeply to heart for life sometimes while extroverts (a) don’t even realize what they’ve done and (b) forget it as soon as they’ve done it and move on to the next energizing thing that catches their attention.

This book will help both extroverts who want to understand introverts and will help introverts understand themselves better.

To Kay’s question, I’d venture to say “yes” as long as they have an active social network and excluding all other health/life factors. Mama was more of an extrovert (although she had some introverted tendencies at times) and I’m glad she was able to have a big social network as long as she was able to handle it. However, too much of noise, people, activity as her vascular dementia, Lewy Body dementia, and Alzheimer’s Disease progressed as well as becoming even more hard-of-hearing made a lot of social activity way too overwhelming and confusing for her.

As an introvert, will I have a shorter life? If so, no complaints from me. The quality of whatever life I have left and the character I develop with God’s help is all that’s important to me, not a bunch of Ecclesiastes 12 years.

Dealing with Dementia

quietMy Mom is calling me up to six times daily now and we have a varied conversation about the mail. On one call she will say in a disgusted voice “I’ve only gotten two letters about Dad’s passing” and then a half-hour later she’s adamant that “I’m not getting ANY mail.” Each time I direct her back to where I stacked all the letters I found dispersed throughout her apartment. Sometimes, it takes several attempts for her to find the drawer where we put the stacked the letters together. On each call, as patient as I can be, I work on finding out what specifically is troubling her as I previously discussed in the Question Behind the Question.

Today, when I asked her who she was expecting letters from she said she hasn’t gotten any letters from her girlfriends. I dug a little deeper and asked her which ones?…

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8 thoughts on “Do Extroverts Outlive Introverts?

  1. It would seem as introverts we are sure to make our life about quality. We usually only have trusted friendships and work at developing our lives into something we can look back and reflect upon.
    I’m ok with a better quality shorter life than I am living one that was so busy I didn’t have time to work outvthe quality.
    Not that being extroverted means a low quality of life. Or that they are dumb, just speaking as an introvert.

    • Thank you, Alicia! I totally agree with you about how we introverts focus on quality over quantity in every aspect of our lives (a major difference between extroverts and introverts, with the caveat being that it’s not that extroverts don’t appreciate quality, but they get their energy from quantity). And couldn’t agree more about a life that is so busy that in the end, it was just superficial business with nothing of substance or value behind it.

      I’m also not saying that extroverts have a low quality of life. In fact, from their busyness and energy-obtaining activities, they derive probably more overt satisfaction from life than we introverts do. I guess the real difference is that introverts require more substance to achieve satisfaction (and that’s getting even more difficult to find in an increasingly-lacking-substance world), while for extroverts quick and fleeting contact and connections on a continuous basis gives them a deep sense of satisfaction.

  2. Excellent! I need to read that book! I am an extrovert and try to understand people, but we can always learn more! Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks, Judy. I appreciate it. The book is very well-written and is the best book that I’ve read on introversion from a biological/genetic perspective, a temperament/personality perspective, and a practical perspective. You’ll definitely enjoy it!

  3. I’ve been a little alarmed reading the latest research about how people with active social lives live longer — since I am the most introverted introvert ever and even the idea of an active social life makes me cringe! I think being social is detrimental to the life of an introvert. And if I have to be social to live longer, it’s going to be torture and I’d rather enjoy what I have of a shorter life!

    • I am right there with you, Beth! We make the best and the most of whatever life we have left (quality) instead of trying to live a longer (although the stress from trying to be an extrovert – social – when you’re an introvert’s introvert, in my opinion, is likely to hasten death because stress is a killer too) life as a not-very-good pretender. Thank you!

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