My contradictory life as an outgoing introvert (with an open relationship)

I am that kind of person that needs a lot of time on her own. Endless walks in the forests, staring at clouds while dreaming of romantic love stories and simply sitting in a corner of a room, wrapped in a blanket with a pile of books and a jar of tea within reach are amongst my favourite pastimes.

At the same time, I love the company of people. Nothing beats dancing for hours with an ecstatic group of barefoot dancers surrounding me, or long and deep conversations with friends followed by long hugs.

Outgoing introvert

Am I an introvert or not?

Because of my desires for both being alone and being surrounded by people, for many years I have been wondering whether I would categorise as ‘extravert’ or ‘introvert’. Nowadays I don’t believe that we are one of both. Rather, I believe all of us have both qualities, but in different ratios. You are 50% introvert and 50% extrovert when you like being alone exactly as much as being in groups. When this is not the case, you will lean more to one side of the scale.

I know that when I have people around me, it gives me energy for a while. But after some time company drains me. It doesn’t matter whether the company consists of strangers, a lover, my kids or friends. At some point, I’m full with impressions and I need silence and space to recharge, which makes me mostly an introvert.

Spacing in my void

Today is one of those days that I call my void. After two days of intense dancing on bare feet, hours of cuddling with multiple people at a time, teaching a workshop with 90 people in it and brunching with my family, today it feels like I’m walking around with an imaginary protective blanket around me. I feel totally unproductive, my mind won’t focus and the only thing I really want is reading books that I know will end well while having a real blanket wrapped around me. I want to wear soft clothes that feel nice on my skin. And eat chocolate. And drink tea.

And connect with people.

I want to tell people about my experiences. Wait impatiently for pictures from the parties. Send a message to a lover who was there, to say it was great to see him. Or a thank you note to the organisers.

It feels contradictory, to have a longing to be alone as well to connect at the same time. But I guess it’s quite logical once I let go of my own judgment towards it. The biggest fear for a human being is being separate (The Art of Love by Erich Fromm is an amazing read of this topic). It’s about being alone vs. being lonely. I long for connection. But I do need time without constant stimuli from people.

And so I sit under that blanket sometimes, spacing in my void, with my phone in my hand.

The joy of social media

I love social media. It enables me to connect with people without meeting them. From my safe bubble, I reach out. And I determine how much, when and how long I want to connect. When it’s enough, I just turn my phone upside down or shut my laptop. A reversible action as soon as I want to reach out again.

When I want to know how someone is doing, I check their Facebook status. I sometimes hesitate to send a message or phone them, because I don’t have the energy to talk with them. I just want to see their faces, read about their weekends and go back inwards. This way I keep control over how much time I spend connecting.

Then again, when I do have the energy to connect, I will drive an hour just for coffee, call them, have WhatsApp conversations for hours or eye-gaze through Skype.

Dealing with daily life: combining a family and an open relationship with me-time

People often ask me how I do it: combining a family with an open relationship, a business, three horses, lovers, a rich social life ánd taking care of my introvert needs.

The honest question is that I don’t know what works for you. I’m still learning and recalibrating daily to find the best balance for me. What I do know that doesn’t work is being tough, keep going and just work a bit harder. It’s exhausting and doesn’t make me the nicest person to be around.

These are a couple of things that help me:

  1. Being super-super honest about the time I need for myself, even when that is more than I think I should need.
  2. Asking my partner (or lovers or friends) to support me in having time to myself, for example by asking my partner to take care of the kids for the full day.
  3. Support my partner (or lovers or friends) to do the same and ask me when I can help them to take care of themselves, whether this is by doing something for them, or giving them space.
  4. Convince myself I definitely do NOT have to do a useful thing all of the time. I allow myself to have completely unproductive slots in my day. Especially as a business owner, it is tempting to push yourself to work constantly. We all need breaks!
  5. Making a balance of things that cost me energy vs. things that give me energy. See how the balance is working out, and how I can do more things that give me energy. This may involve a change of business plans or letting go of certain people. A process that is definitely easier said than done, but overall worth it! Also, plan a week in a way that energy-drainers are preceded and followed by recovery time or things that bring energy.
  6. Not giving too much of a f*ck of what society believes of how I should live.
  7. Being super gentle with myself, and respecting my seemingly contradictory desires.

A recent example of dealing with my desire to being alone is having bought a little house in the forest. It brought up a lot of inner struggle: can I, being a mum of three without a huge bank account, be willing to have space for myself, away from home?

The longing exceeded the fear. And now this little place on earth is my little sanctuary for solitude, my writer’s refuge, as well as a super cosy place to connect and meet with people. My partner is also welcome to use it when he desires so. Yes, I meet people who judge this move. But hey, this is about my life and my desires. Not theirs.

Have a look at your life. What gives you energy? Is that having introvert time or extrovert time? How can you create just a bit more of that in your life? Do you judge your (contradictory) needs and desires?

Do you want support and help with taking good care of yourself, expressing your desires or inspiration to make your life better, book an (online or offline) individual session with me.

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