I'm an introvert. That means that I spend a lot of time in my head. Introversion does not mean shyness, or lack of social skills, it means that interactions with people outside of one's monkeysphere is taxing on the emotional reserves and one will need some alone-time to "recharge". That's all it means.
If you like socializing and like people, but you feel tired after *most
* (not all) social interactions and want to spend some time by yourself or with just one or a few close intimates, you're an introvert, not an "ambivert". But introversion / extroversion is a whole other topic. Because introverts "get energy" from being by themselves, that often leads introverts to being very introspective as well. MY VERSION of introversion includes having imaginary conversations with people. Lots of them.
By the time I've said something out loud, it's been rolling around in my brain for a while now. Unlike extroverts, I'm not "thinking things through out loud". I'm now sharing conclusions. I've reached a conclusion *about my viewpoint
*, but since a viewpoint can be changed with more information, it doesn't necessarily mean that I've found The Answer To Life, The Universe, And Everything (42), just that I know what my subjective position is on the subject. Now, either I need something from outside, or I'm done and I'm making an announcement.
Some extroverts, particularly those with a P in their personality designations, when they hear "I want you to do something", what they actually hear is "Hey! An option! There's a thing that exists! Just FYI, for you to add to your list of options!" When an introvert like me says something, though, I'm actually saying "I've made a decision that this is a thing that needs addressing."
So, when I say "we need to talk about this", I'll say it gently. I'll say "hey, I'd like to talk about this when you have a moment" or something flexible or soft like that. But some people will hear that and think "OK, there's no time limit so it must be not a big deal. I'll get around to it when I feel like it."
But what I'm *actually
* saying is "I want your full and undivided attention to address this thing. I am not going to infringe on your autonomy to decide when on your behalf, because that will only add resentment to the difficult conversation, so I'm giving you a warning that you need to choose some time that you can dedicate to this thing, because it will require your attention."
When I say things like "I need to talk about something", it's the Check Engine light going on - this isn't the moment that the car explodes in a fireball, but it's not idle chatter either. If you don't address it, that fireball is in your future. You should probably address it while it's something as simple as needing oil, not when you're sitting on the side of the highway, stranded, with black smoke pouring out from under the hood.
So every day that goes by after I've said "I need this from you" is a day that I give up a little more on you. It's one day's less worth of trust that you care about me or have my interests at heart. It's one day's less worth of caring that I have back towards you for this being a mutual exchange between us.
And eventually, that caring, compassion, and trust that I give up reaches a bottom where I can't care about you anymore. You stop being People for me, and there is likely nothing you can ever do to win back that trust. I will always see you as The Person Who Does Not Care Enough To Talk To Me When I Say I Need It. I will always expect you to let me down. I will always assume that anything you do that's positive for me is for a selfish reason and that I can count on you removing your effort as soon as it's no longer convenient for you.
And it doesn't even matter if you have a Really Good Reason for putting off talking to me. Because I do not pick moments to have Talks willy-nilly. Like, I've seen those romantic couples who get into fights at parties that make everyone around them uncomfortable. I've even had those partners who picks fights with me right before bedtime on work nights, or when I'm on my way out the door.
One of them actually scheduled to come over to my house one weekend, was 3 HOURS LATE, I was already in bed and had to get up to let him in, where he then insisted on having a Talk, and I had to be up for a dance performance the next morning where my appearance and my focus was actually important. I even told him on the phone when he called to say that he was finally on the road that I could not stay up that night because of my responsibility the next day. So I don't do that shit to others. I'll give you space to choose a mutually less-inconvenient time. That's why it doesn't matter to me if you have a Really Good Reason for just continuing to not talk to me. The longer you put it off, the more I distrust you.
I once had a partner who started dating a poly newbie. She had all the usual problems adjusting to poly. After about a year, I put my foot down and said "do something about this". So he approached her and she said she couldn't talk about the problem anymore. She wanted a 6-week moratorium where she didn't have to hear anything about polyamory or his other partners at all. She wanted 6 freaking weeks where she could pretend it was just her and him.
So 6 weeks go by without them talking about it (but otherwise being in a relationship together). And then another week. And then another week. After about the 3rd or 4th month of not discussing her inability to be in a poly relationship after I said she needs to show some improvement at being in a poly relationship, let alone him reminding her that her sunset clause was up, I broke up with him. I could not trust her, and because he saw no problem with that, I could not trust him either.
So, by the time someone in your life says "there's something on my mind..." it means FUCKING PAY ATTENTION THIS IS SERIOUS. If it's not serious, they'll probably tell you that. Unless you know for a fact that this person is the type of extrovert who likes just throwing shit out there and has no attachment to anything they're saying, and that what they're saying right now is indeed one of those things, then assume that every time someone in your life says that they want to talk or that they want you to do something for them, that this is a bid for your attention
that will get weighed against all the other bids for attention, and the longer you refuse to acknowledge that bid, the more they will pull away from you.
Dr. John Gottman at the The Gottman Institute
has written entire volumes on bids for attention. Bids for attention
are basically any statement or gesture towards another person that requests their attention back in some way. It could be as simple as saying "I talked to my sister the other day." That's a complete statement, not a question, so it might seem like it doesn't require an answer. But what it means is "I'd like to chat with you."
If you don't pause for a moment to say "Really? What about?", then you turn away from their bid for attention. If you *can't
* turn towards their bid for attention
right then, you should say "I'd love to hear about it, as soon as I'm done with this thing, OK?" That's still a "turn towards" or a positive response to a bid.
"We need to talk" and "I need you to do something" are much clearer than "I'm hungry [aka hint hint I want you to take me to dinner]
". Those are obvious bids for attention. Not all bids for attention will be that clear, but that doesn't make them "passive-aggressive", or even "indirect communication". Gottman's research shows that couples who turn away from or turn against bids for attention have a higher chance of divorce. His predictability on this subject is in the 80-90s% rate. People who do not turn towards bids for attention WILL LOSE THE TRUST OF THE PERSON MAKING THE BID. And loss of trust leads to the end of a relationship. Pretty much every time.
Gottman's research is primarily on heterosexual romantic monogamous couples. But, just like the 5 Love Languages that has similar perspective limitations, it's actually applicable to *any
* interpersonal relationship - friends, parents & children, coworkers, and in poly relationships, metamours. Orientation is also irrelevant, although there may be some cultural differences in expression and in response proportions.
Saying "I need this from you" or "we need to talk" is what Gottman calls a Sliding Door moment
. That exact moment that the bid is offered is not usually the big blow-up ending. But that's the moment that the decision the other person makes that leads inevitably towards the path - the make it or break it moment.
If you've not ever seen the movie Sliding Doors
, and you can still stomach Gwyneth Paltrow, I recommend it. It's a brilliant film that explores possibilities. What happens when the door to the train stays open just long enough to catch it? What happens when you just barely miss it? Whether the door slides shut in front of you or behind you isn't a noteworthy event, by itself. But the chain of events that stem from when the door shuts leads to very different outcomes.
Bids for attention, particularly large bids like "I have been thinking of something for a while and it's a big enough deal that I'm finally saying something about it and it needs to be addressed" are sliding door moments. Every day that this bid is not addressed is lost trust.
Lost trust leads to the end of relationships. By the time I'm willing to verbally say "this is a problem and we need to talk about it", it's a Big Fucking Deal and we need to talk about it. Every day that we don't talk about it is a massive withdrawal from our shared Trust Account. When that balance hits zero, you stop being People to me and I close myself out of the account. You can then start trying to build up more trust again, but I very likely will never trust you again once I've checked out, no matter what you do.