Neither and Both: Understanding Ambiverts
If introversion and extroversion are the poles on a spectrum, ambiverts are the people who fall in the very middle of that spectrum.
As we’ve recently been exploring, extroverts typically feel emotionally filled up and energized after social interactions. In contrast, introverts typically feel emotionally filled up and energized when they spend time alone. And while no one is a pure extrovert or introvert, most people find that they fall more on one side or the other. But some people don’t see themselves in the definitions of introverts or extroverts or see themselves in both. Where do they fit?
I’m Not an Introvert… I’m Not an Extrovert…What Am I?
Ambiversion is a term used to describe individuals whose social needs vary. Sometimes, what restores and refreshes them is time spent alone or in tranquil environments. At other times, they find social and high-energy situations energizing and restorative. They don’t fall neatly into one of the other boxes, so this third term was created for them: ambiverts. Just like an ambidextrous person can use both their right and left hand with pretty equal strength and skill, so an ambivert is both internally and externally focused, and can be alone or
The Middle of the Road
Labels can promote self-exploration and understanding, but when you don’t fit any of the available labels, you start to wonder about yourself. That’s why the introduction of the term “ambivert” is important–because there are people who truly do fall in the middle, and now we have a way to talk about that middle-space, understand it, and appreciate that, just like their introverted and extroverted counterparts, ambiverts are not alone in their operational patterns.
While introverts and extroverts tend to be fairly predictable in their social needs, ambiverts are not. This isn’t a bad thing! Ambiverts are actually the most emotionally diverse group out of the three.
7 Signs You Might Be an Ambivert
Context Affects Your Needs
Depending on the situation, you might feel like an extrovert one day and an introvert the next. Context plays a big role in this; when you consider your current social needs, what you’ve been up to in the last week or day can play a significant role in what you need right now. Some days, you might feel like being in a crowded room full of people; others, you might want to stay home. Both are okay.
You Have a (Changing) Social Limit
Your extroverted friends may expect you to always want to be out and about with them, but if you’re an ambivert, some days that is just not the case. Your social limit changes from day-to-day, and it’s okay to need time to yourself.
You Prefer Deep Conversation But Are Also Good at Small Talk
Ambiverts can do it all, but at the end of the day, they value more in-depth conversations. They like to get to know others in a meaningful rather than superficial way.
You Can Be Reserved and Outgoing
With constantly changing social needs, ambiverts are often quite self-aware out of necessity. Thus they generally know when to set their boundaries and withdraw, and when to let loose and be outgoing and energetic. This balance is great for maintaining all types of relationships.
You Can Be Something of a Chameleon
One unique aspect of ambiverts is their ability to shift how you’re showing up in a moment to fit the needs of the situation. For example, if you’re chatting with a friend who is quiet and withdrawn, you might go into your outgoing-mode, while if you’re talking to someone with a lot of chatty social energy, you might pull back a bit and go into your listening, attentive, introverted-friend mode. You may be an ambivert if you find your friends are all over the spectrum in their personalities and social needs since you can (and often do) shift a bit, like a chameleon, to suit them pretty easily.
New People Are Great as Long as Your Friends are With You
Ambiverts may initially present themselves to new acquaintances in a more reserved way until they are comfortable enough to open up and express their more extroverted side. Having a familiar friend along can ease this process.
You Need Alone Time AND Social Time
Alone time is still critical to the ambivert who enjoys being social. Both situations fill them up in different ways. It’s almost like ambiverts have two tanks, a social tank and an alone-time tank, that both need to be maintained.
What Ambiverts Bring to the Table
Ambiverts naturally offer a balancing influence to society. They grease the wheels in social situations. They can relate to just about anyone, which means they can be the relational glue in friendships and true peacemakers when conflict arises. Ambiverts also bring a contemplative self-awareness that can inspire others to do the work of being introspective, self-attuned, and capable of healthy boundaries.
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