Everyone gets irritable at times, but a person’s introversion can sometimes be the cause.
But how, why, and what can you do about it?
That’s what we’ll explore in this article.
The following are some of the core reasons why an introvert might feel irritable after prolonged social interaction, plus some advice for introverts and non-introverts.
1. They are exhausted.
Imagine being really, really tired – the kind of rundown feeling of extreme fatigue that comes after a terrible night’s sleep.
This is an introvert after too much socializing.
This happens because an introvert’s brain is highly sensitive to dopamine, the chemical neurotransmitter that is released when a person engages in stimulating or exciting things… such as talking to and being with other people.
(We highly recommend you read our guide on what it really means to be an introvert which covers all of the ways their brains differ to those of extroverts.)
An introvert quickly suffers from social burnout and experiences an energy slump as a result.
When a person – introvert or extrovert – is mentally exhausted, it’s natural for them to become more irritable.
2. They can’t concentrate.
An introvert’s mind tends to be busy at the best of times, but during and after a period of socializing, it’s doubly so.
This makes it difficult for them to concentrate on anything at all.
They tend to zone out from whatever is going on around them as their mind buzzes with thoughts.
So if some sort of request or demand is made of them at this time, their brain can’t handle it and they might snap at whoever made it.
It’s their way of saying, “Please, no more, not now, not when I’m struggling.”
3. They can’t think clearly.
An inability to concentrate means an introvert isn’t able to think clearly, rationally, or logically.
This can prevent them from doing things that they’d normally be able to do.
Inevitably, this leads to frustration which can then manifest in a ratty, quick-tempered demeanor.
Think of it this way: if you were having to really focus on something and a person interrupted your train of thought, you would probably find it quite annoying.
Well, this is an introvert after too much social interaction, no matter what they are trying to achieve.
Most things become a struggle until they have recharged their batteries.
4. They can’t express themselves.
An introvert’s frazzled brain makes it exceedingly difficult for them to express their thoughts and feelings.
Everything becomes so overwhelming and they don’t know how to communicate this to others, especially to those more extroverted people who can’t relate to the introvert’s experience.
And when a person doesn’t understand why an introvert is behaving the way they are (e.g. withdrawing, wishing to be alone, becoming quiet, etc.), the introvert gets frustrated and lashes out.
It’s the only way they know how to get some people to respect their need for solitude.
5. They experience physical symptoms.
An “introvert hangover” is a phrase that is used to describe how an introvert feels after prolonged social contact.
This covers many of the points above, but just like a hangover caused by alcohol, it often comes with physical effects too.
Headaches are common, and symptoms such as dizziness, muscle aches, and tummy troubles can also occur.
It’s no surprise, then, that an introvert may be a little less tolerant and a little more irritable when they feel this way.
6. They feel trapped.
If an introvert isn’t able to escape and get some alone time, they feel trapped.
They crave something that they are not able to have, and just like any craving, this makes them tetchy.
They refuse to engage in any lengthy communication and may come across as rude and distant if a person persists in trying to interact with them.
All they want to do is get away from the situation and be by themselves.
You may also like (article continues below):
- The 9 Hidden Powers Of Introverts
- Thriving In An Extrovert World: An Introvert’s Guide To Recharging Batteries
- How To Strike Up A Conversation With An Introvert
- 30 Quotes Celebrating Introverts, Wallflowers And Lone Wolves
- 15 Ways Introverts Interact Differently With The World
What you can do about it – for introverts.
There are no two ways about it, if you are feeling irritable, you need to be alone.
You need to find a way to remove yourself from whatever it is that’s draining you and get your energy levels back up to where they need to be.
For people you interact with regularly, such as family, friends, or partners, it is recommended that you try to explain your introversion and what it means.
You should tell them that time by yourself is regenerative and it is as important to you as food and drink.
You may need to repeatedly tell them how you are feeling and why you are feeling that way until they really get it.
But given that it’s difficult to do this when you are drained, it is better to have this conversation when you feel refreshed.
Diplomacy is also very useful when dealing with people. You can agree to certain requests for their time or to do certain things, with the clear understanding that you be given some time to yourself afterwards.
This way, you can spend time with them safe in the knowledge that you will be able to recharge in the not too distant future.
This can alleviate the stress and worry about when you will next be able to be by yourself.
What you can do about it – for non-introverts.
If you are reading this as someone who finds themselves further toward the extrovert end of the spectrum, you may be trying to understand why the introvert in your life gets so irritable at times.
Hopefully you will now have a better grasp of what it means to be an introvert.
The absolute key to dealing with an irritable introvert is to accept them for who they are.
Just because you do not experience the same social fatigue, doesn’t mean it’s not very real for them.
By trying to force further interaction or communication down their throats when they are already running low on energy, you are invalidating their experience. This, by itself, can be infuriating and lead to an abrupt response from the introvert.
The crux of the matter is this: you can push an introvert beyond the brink and face the inevitable irritability as a consequence, or you can give them the time and space they need to avoid getting that way to begin with.
Just remember that all relationships are a matter of give and take. Engaging with other people often feels like giving from the introvert’s perspective, and so they need to take some time alone as a result.
Allowing an introvert time to themselves may feel like a lot of giving from your perspective. After all, you’d prefer to be out doing something with them or having them do something (e.g. chores) around the house.
But just remember that, once they are sufficiently recovered, you do get to take your fill in terms of interaction and/or activities.