Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Relationships Stage 5: Intentional Discernment or Courtship

Continuing the Stages of a Relationship series.
Stage 1: Fall in Love with Jesus
Stage 2: The Search
Stage 3: The 'Talking' Stage
Stage 4: The Dating Stage

Stage 5: Intentional Discernment or Courtship

It's time, guys. Time to step out in faith and invite this woman to discern marriage with you. No, it's still not a proposal. It's not even a declaration of love. Does it all sound too religious and stuffy? Or too long drawn out? Here's why this stage is so good and necessary:

- Courtship is drawing nearer to each other, opening yourself up to another person and letting them in. It is a romantic relationship, but one based not just on what feels good in the moment, but on a real desire to know the other well. You are asking yourself and God "Is this the one I can give myself to?" You can't do that without stepping in, and taking a risk with your heart. You have to wet your feet before diving all the way in.

- What do you do during courtship? Well, make sure you are spending plenty of time with each other, in different kinds of settings. If it's possible, spend time with each other's families, and doing different kinds of activities together. (This is a little more difficult when it's a long distance relationship as mine was and is.)

- The community I grew up with has a set of modules, questions on different kinds of topics to make sure y'all are covering all the important stuff. You need to make sure you are talking about your attitudes and plans about how and where you want to live, your career plans, your relationship with your family, whether you are open to two working spouses or hope that one will be the primary homemaker, whether you are open to a joint family or not, your spending habits, and the roles you think husbands and wives should take on, how much your faith influences you, how many kids you are open to having, what family life looks like to you, whether you agree with EVERYTHING the Catholic Church teaches, or think some stuff is optional, etc.

- Soak this time with prayer. Pray for your boyfriend or girlfriend, and pray with them too. Go to Adoration and Mass together. Talk about your faith and how it has grown.

- Set good boundaries for yourselves for how you want to show physical affection, and stay within those boundaries. If you know you're straying close to temptation, take a step back. It's good to show affection though! Get to know each other's love languages, and use them.

- My now-fiance and I decided we also wanted to spend time with other Christian couples that we respected. With the long-distance aspect, we only managed to have that time with one couple, but it was wonderful. We asked them questions about their relationship and family life, how their faith played into their decisions, and their honest answers helped us a lot.

- It is a very good idea to have a spiritual director, or even just a wise person we can each talk to about how the courtship is going. This should be a person we can be honest with, who knows our weaknesses and know how discernment works, and who is able to challenge us, encourage us, ask us hard questions, and pray for us through it all. I had a few GOOD conversations with my spiritual director, a young Catholic wife and mother, and her counsel was invaluable to me. One of my friends does an informal courtship guidance for young couples in relationships.

- We also decided to take separate silent retreats to hold up everything we were thinking and feeling to the Lord, and see whether it measured up to the kind of love He was calling us to. In silence and in prayer, the Lord was able to guide our hearts.

- I highly recommend reading JP2's Love and Responsibility. I had so many questions about what love is, how I could know if it was real, and what the difference between being in love and loving someone was (if it's just about choosing to love someone, then you could marry practically anyone and make it work. But if it's about a feeling, well, feelings fluctuate. So how does it all work together?) JP2 gave me the clarity that I was looking for.

- Even though this time is the right time to grow closer to one another, I would recommend waiting until you are very sure you want to marry this person before talking about love. Why? Because love ISN'T just based on the emotion of the moment. It has to be a deep assurance that this is it, this is the person you have chosen. Once you have used the L word, it's game over. Or it should be. When it used without that firm decision, it is very easy to hurt the other person.

- Courtship is a great time to let yourself fall in love. No, I'm not talking about manufacturing emotions, or faking it in any way. But many of us who have been guarding our hearts need to remind ourselves it's okay to slowly let our guard down.

- Guys, it is so wonderful for us women when you take the lead, when you choose to woo us. Sometimes (often), it takes our hearts a little longer to respond, but they slowly do when you are confident and assured and eager. Look at us with love. Tell us we are beautiful. Tell us how you feel. Hold our hands. But don't fake it! If you're not sure, don't do any of that stuff!

- A successful courtship is not necessarily one that ends in marriage. A successful discernment is when you have figured out whether or not this is the right person for you. This means it is possible for one or either of you to reach a place where you 'discern out', and let the other person know (after sufficient prayer and counsel) that you do not feel called to marriage with them. Ouch. Yes, it will hurt. But you will recover. (Especially if you did not skip Stage 1.)

- How long should a courtship take? Some say no longer than six months. It may differ for different people. But it is wise not to let it go on too long. For me and J, we were both sure a month and a half into our courtship, after just knowing each other four months.

- Be honest with each other about where you are, if you have concerns or questions NOW is the time to voice them. Don't be afraid to go there, and don't avoid tough topics because you're afraid it will upset things. How you deal with tough topics will prepare you for a life together.

When you are both ready and sure, it's time to move on.. to the proposal and the engagement stage. I have JUST started that stage, and so you may have to wait a little longer to hear my sage words of advice on how to survive and thrive that stage (that is, if I survive it).

Relationships can be confusing and painful when we don't think them through and stumble blindly through them guided only by the wisdom of an even more confused and misleading world, and our own fallen desires. But relationships built on more solid foundations, guided by prudence, virtue and an openness to the Holy Spirit can be beautiful and good and freeing. I pray for you all to have holy relationships.

Feel free to send in any questions or ideas for related blog posts!

Related Reading

How to Love Well

How (and Why) Not To Fall in Love

What To Do When Things Don't Go Your Way

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Monday, 18 February 2019

Relationships Stage 4: The Dating Stage

Continuing the Stages of a Relationship series.
Stage 1: Fall in Love with Jesus
Stage 2: The Search
Stage 3: The 'Talking' Stage

Stage Four: The Dating Stage

At some point, someone has to get to the point. Guys, be bold! Don't drift! Take the initiative and say, "Hey, I would love to get to know you better, and see if the Lord has something more for the two of us. Can I take you out for coffee sometime?" Girls, feel free to ask what's going on if it's dragging on too long.

- PLEASE keep in mind that going on a date is not equal to proposing or accepting marriage. Girls, if a guy asks you out, it doesn't mean he's madly in love with you. Guys, if a girl says yes, she is just saying, "Yeah, you seem nice. Let's see if there's something here."

Don't do that

- When you go on a date, be real, be yourself and don't feel the need to be anything or anyone else. If the other person doesn't like the real you, great, you've weeded out the wrong ones.

- If you're a little nervous about going on a date, look up some good conversational starters and date questions. Ask good questions, most people love to talk about themselves and it gives you a glimpse of who they are.

- Remember that it's a conversation, not a monologue! If you find yourself going on and on, stop and say, "Sorry, I'm talking too much.. Would YOU rather die by drowning or being buried alive?" (the 'would you rather' game, always a winner :))

- You don't need to spend the whole date figuring out if you've found 'the one' or if you have romantic feelings for this person. You just need to figure out if you like this person enough to want to meet them again. That was the best advice I received about first dates. A friend told me, "When you go on a date, it's either a yes, a no, or a maybe. If it's a maybe, go on another date, and another until it becomes clear." When I met my (now) fiancé, we got on like a house on fire, it was super-easy to talk to him and be myself with him. I didn't know if there was anything more yet, but I knew I wanted to see him again. And so we planned another date.

- Be clear about where you are. After I went on both my Catholic Match dates, the guys texted the next day to ask, "So, what do you think? Would you like to meet again?" I was very grateful that they asked so directly, and I was able to respond as directly (while trying to be gentle), "I don't really see this going anywhere, but thank you for asking me out and coming all the way to meet me." With my now-fiancé, I told him, "I don't know for sure if this is going anywhere yet, but I'd like to continue going on dates, so we can get to know each other better." He told me to take my time until I was sure, so that's what we continued doing for a month.

- Going on dates is not the same as being in a relationship. But you need to have honest conversations so that you both understand that. Unfortunately in India we don't always have a common understanding about these things, or we are used to a system where our parents or a third party has those hard conversations. But I think that's something Indians can afford to grow in - having direct conversations about the things that matter, and avoiding misunderstandings and hurt feelings. It is a way to treat the other person with respect.

- Casual dating is a good place to ask deeper questions, to find out where the other person stands on the things that matter the most to you. But it's also a good place to have fun together, to see if you actually like spending time together. This is probably NOT a good time to be too intimate though, because this is still an uncommitted time, and this person still may be just a person you once dated. You don't need to talk about love, hold hands or get ahead of the stage you are at.

- Important tip to people who take themselves too seriously - please don't forget to be lighthearted, kid around, flirt and pay compliments. This is not a set of serious job interviews you have to get through. You want to see if you can fall in love with each other, and that's part of figuring that out.

- The casual dating stage is not purposeless or random. The point is to see if you are interested enough to want to seriously discern marriage with this person. That means at a certain point you need to decide if you want to enter the next stage.

Stage 5: Intentional Discernment or Courtship

Related Reading

On Vocations, Discernment and Asking Girls on Dates

The Lost Art of Listening

Relationships Stage 3: The 'Talking' Stage

Continuing the Stages of a Relationship series.
Stage 1: Fall in Love with Jesus
Stage 2: The Search

Stage Three: The Talking Stage

"So, are you guys dating?"

"No, we're just talking."

What does that even mean? It's that pre-dating ritual where a guy and a girl start talking one-on-one, which usually means texting or Facebook messaging or whatever newfangled thing this generation is into. Oh, for the days when talking actually meant talking! Just kidding, I never lived in those days.

The talking stage is just a getting to know you stage, where you can talk about everything and anything, you can be flirtatious, but you've not yet expressed an overt interest or intention. The talking stage is not a bad one, because you DO need to get to know someone a bit before knowing if you even want to date them.

Some people are able to skip this stage somewhat by ACTUALLY talking in group settings, when they have common friend circles, and there are normal and natural ways to get to know each other in neutral settings, to hang out and kid around and even have real conversations. I am a big fan of casual hangouts, but someone has to organize them, and then you have to use them well.

So, some 'talking' guidelines:

- Start intentional conversations with someone you find interesting.

- If you have an excuse to text them, go for it. "Here's a link to that thing we were talking about earlier."

- BUT if they don't respond, or answer in monosyllables, let it go. Please. If you're always the one starting the conversations, step back.

- Don't get too personal too fast. Ask good questions, listen well, but don't share too much of your heart. Guard your heart. Talking doesn't mean anything until intentions are clearly stated.

- Guarding your heart doesn't mean that you need to be overly clinical or detached or closed. It just means setting good boundaries, not making assumptions, and remembering that you may very well move on, and that this person that you are sharing information with could one day just be 'somebody that you used to know'.

- Don't start 'talking' with someone unless you really are interested in something more. RANT ALERT: Too many people get very emotionally involved without having seriously thought about whether they are really ready for something more. Flirting is only okay if it means something. So many broken hearts, hurt feelings, painful disappointments when people are not intentional about these kind of conversations. Also, once you get in the habit of texting someone, it's hard to break even when you know you are not seriously interested. Every time you're lonely, it's tempting to start it up again, just for a little attention. When you get stuck in a cycle like that, you're not going to be ready for the right person when he or she DOES come along, and you are not going to be able to live the life God has given you to live.

- Don't 'talk' with more than one person at a time.

- If someone is trying to 'talk' to you, and you're not really interested, don't go on responding to their messages. In the long run, it is better to be clear and blunt than to lead someone on. "Yeah she said she's not interested, but she's still texting back, so who knows?"

- Don't overdo the time and duration of these texting or phone conversations - if it's all day every day over a few weeks, it's probably time to move to the next stage. Actually the sooner it moves to the next stage, the better. Being intentional is the key! And nothing can beat real life in person dates. You get an actual feel for the person which rapport via texting and calls can hint at but may not lead to.

Alright, time for Stage Four: The Dating Stage

Related Reading

Guys, Stop Texting Girls! And Other Super Helpful Advice for the 'Good' Guys

Relationships Stage 2: The Search

Continuing the Stages of a Relationship series.

Stage 1: Fall in Love with Jesus

Stage Two: The Search

When you feel that you are in a good place, ready for a relationship but not desperate for it, ask God to guide the search. There are so many ways to go about it. Whatever ways you use, don't put all your hopes into the search working the way you thought it would. The easiest way to mess it up is by giving God a timeline.

Did you know, I planned to get married in my early twenties, and have a bunch of kids by now? I thought I was so counter-cultural. But God had a pretty cool plan of His own, which involved me having a number of adventures, working in a an office, teaching in a village, doing eight years of mission work, travelling to different countries, serving the poor, growing happier and more confident and more peaceful over the years.. and THEN meeting my sweetheart at the ripe old age of 32. Who knew? Well, God did.

So how to go about this search?

- Be faithful to the work, the relationships and the mission God has currently entrusted to you. Live in the present moment, or you will miss the gifts of the present moment.
- Start praying for the Lord to guide your steps.
- Ask good leaders in your life if they think you are ready, and if they have any advice on areas you could work on to be more ready.
- Let friends know you're open to meeting someone, and that they are allowed to set you up. If someone DOES try to set you up, go ahead and meet the person.
- Prepare yourself mentally to meet people who it may not work out with.
- Take a risk - go out of your comfort zone. You can't meet someone if you're not willing to talk to new people. I joined Catholic Match and went on a couple of dates, one in the US, which for cautious over-thinker Sue was quite the feat. Nether worked out, but I didn't care because I had overcome my fears.

- Don't worry about other people's opinions. Welcome to India, where everyone has an opinion, and isn't afraid to share it with you. If you want to go for a 'meet eligible singles' event, that's your business.
- Make sure you know what you're looking for before you go looking. Don't expect or look for someone who is perfect, but someone who has the big stuff in place - faith, integrity, maturity, etc.
- Be the kind of person you want to date.
- Be willing to be friendly and interested in new people you meet.
- Say yes to opportunities to meet new people. Go with a willingness to make friends, not just search for 'the one'.
- Don't write someone off just because you aren't immediately attracted to them.
- If you've been doing all this stuff and still haven't met anyone, don't worry about it. It doesn't mean you are doing something wrong or you haven't tried hard enough which is what I think many people try to imply. Yay for interfering busybodies!

- If you don't meet someone, be at peace, it may not be the right time yet. Last April I was talking to a young couple who I respect a lot, and the husband asked me. "So Susanna, what has been the subject of your prayer recently?" And because I am a sharer and like to dive right in, and because they are good enough friends that I could be honest with them, I told them "Being single!" He looked at me and said, "That's not good. While it's good to pray about it, at a certain stage you need to let it go and tell the Lord, 'However You work it out is fine.'" He spoke from experience, and I agree with him. Do what you can do, but stop obsessing.
- If you DO meet someone who seems interesting and interested, move on to the next stage.

Stage 3: The 'Talking Stage' 

Related Reading

What Not To Look For in an Indian Spouse

A Catholic Perspective on Arranged Marriages

The Different Stages of a Relationship - Stage 1: Fall in Love with Jesus

Why yes, it is your local Relationship Guru back in town, willing and eager to spill all her pearls of wisdom into the ears of all 145 audience members. My qualifications? Well, I've been single for over thirty years, briefly had a boyfriend for all of three and a half months, and am now engaged to said boyfriend (yes guys, that WAS an engagement announcement, I wasn't even trying to be sneaky or anything).

So my relationship advice is built more on my fifteen years of thinking, researching, observing, reading, comparing and hearing about the mistakes and wisdom of other couples (more commonly mistakes though). So feel free to take it with a pinch of salt.

Stage One: Fall in Love with Jesus (DO NOT SKIP)

Start a relationship with Jesus. Until you know who you are in Him, you will not be ready to enter a relationship with another human being freely and whole-heartedly. So many of us are looking for another human being to give us worth, to tell us we are valuable, worthy, lovable. And they do play a part in affirming the truth about our identity. And yet, if we haven't allowed the deepest questions of our heart to be answered by the One who shaped and formed our hearts, then we often fall into some of the typical ways to destroy a relationship before it even begins - becoming obsessed with someone who is not interested in us, being in love with being in love, making relationships and marriage an idol, chasing someone who is not right for us, turning a blind eye to red flags (because you will sacrifice anything for this idol), and getting into and staying in physically or emotionally abusive relationships.

So guys, please... find yourself before you go looking for someone else. And the best way to find yourself is in the arms of the original Lover of our souls.

- Go on a retreat
- Start visiting an Adoration chapel every time your heart is hungry
- Start a prayer journal
- Be honest with God
- Read Fill These Hearts by Christopher West
- Ask yourself - "Is God really enough?  Can I be happy even if I never find someone?" If you can honestly say yes, move on to Stage 2.
- If your answer is "Not yet", maybe you should choose to commit a year to remaining single, focussing on other aspects of your life.
- The best way to find yourself and find God is to lose yourself in service of others. It is the most freeing, fulfilling way to become who you are meant to be. And whatever vocation God is calling you to, service is a great preparation for it.
- Try to live in community with other men or women. Build good friendships. My life on different women's teams and households has taught me many invaluable lessons about myself and the ways I need to grow, that romantic relationships are not the only ways to give or receive love, and that it is possible to live a happy and fulfilling life as an unmarried adult.

Stage 2: The Search

Related Links:

Where's MY Person?

Nine Things Christian Singles Are Secretly Afraid Of

On Waiting

Life Begins when You Meet the Man of Your Dreams

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Valentine’s Day Special: What It Is Like To Have a Catholic Boyfriend

The term ‘boyfriend’ is a sensitive one in India. Most people avoid it, and you keep getting introduced to someone’s ‘friend’ until suddenly they’re married. Most likely it’s because of the arranged marriage culture that moves very fast from introductions to decisions to marry, with very little space in between. The only people who date and have boyfriends or girlfriends are seen as those who may be approaching relationships very casually, most likely are either very young and going about it in a clandestine way, or older and wary of the permanence or stability of marriage. It has an unsavoury tinge to it to many people.

But as a modern-day Christian, I both value marriage, as well as think it’s essential to take time to get to know someone WELL before making such a big decision. What do you call someone in the interim period? I met a wonderful young man some months ago, we started ‘talking’, went on some dates, and then entered an intentional relationship/ courtship/period of discernment (more on the stages of a relationship in a different post). Since ‘intentional relation’ seemed strange and possibly creepy, we fell back on ‘boyfriend and girlfriend’, even though we are both in our thirties and perhaps that makes us sound younger than we are.

As my regular blog readers know, I was not interested in being in a relationship or getting married unless it was to someone who shared my faith (apart from several other criteria that I won’t detail here). People thought I was crazy. “You’ll never get married if you have such high expectations.” “Don’t set conditions, maybe he will become religious after he meets you. My husband didn’t go to church before, and he changed after we got married.”

Well, then I was prepared to stay single. But I entrusted this desire of my heart to the Lord. He told me “You take care of my stuff, and I’ll take care of you.” Well, He did! I got myself a super-Catholic boyfriend. I wanted to share some of the details to inspire y’all (or make you envious), and to honour him on Valentine’s Day. So what is it like to have a Catholic boyfriend?

1. Our first conversation started with me asking him ‘What’s your story?’ (I can’t do small talk) and he proceeded to share his testimony even though he was thrown off-guard. (Not intimidated by heavy questions! Winning!)

2. Before we even went on our first date, he took time off from talking to me for a personal retreat to pray about whether this was something God was calling him to start. Talk about intentional.

3. We often land up saving and sending each other the same Catholic memes and jokes.

4. In fact when I was Facebook stalking him before we even started ‘talking’, I was surprised to find we had shared a lot of the same Catholic links and jokes over the past year (why yes, that is a part of a girl’s research on whether she would consider dating a guy. Guys, check your Facebook profiles.)

5. When we meet and he hugs me, I say things like, “Why is it that it’s always so much better when we’re in the same place than on video call? I know - it’s because we are EMBODIED SPIRITS.” And he gets it.

6. On our very first date, we were supposed to meet at a garden before going out for pizza. But he secretly was hoping and planning to stop at an Adoration chapel before we even met, but didn’t want to tell me because he thought it would sound too cheesy. But the garden closed, we had to wait somewhere before the restaurant opened, so he jumped in with “Is there an Adoration chapel close by?” And that’s how we spent the first ten minutes of our first date with Jesus in a chapel.

7. We often include a stop at an Adoration chapel on our dates.

8. On our second date, we were each waiting for the other to signal when it was time to go, so we landed up spending more than half an hour at a church. While I was getting slightly impatient and wondering why we were still there, he coolly pulls out his bible and proceeds to have his personal prayer time.

9. He carries a bible everywhere he goes.

I got one for free

10. He often asks me what the Lord said to me in my personal prayer time.

11. On the day we started our courtship, I was extremely tired, so as I shared with him that I was finally ready, I just started rambling about everything I had been thinking and feeling and experiencing that weekend (I tend to ramble when I’m tired). He interrupted me to say, “Can we stop a moment and pray?” “Oh. Yeah.” He held my hand and proceeded to consecrate our relationship to the Lord and ask Mary to cast her mantle of protection over us as well. Swoon.

12. We both took personal silent retreats a month into our courtship to pray about what the Lord was saying to each of us. We read excerpts from Pope John Paul II’s Love and Responsibility (WHICH I CANNOT RECOMMEND HIGHLY ENOUGH), watched Jackie Angel’s video about how to know if you’ve found the one, and shared what the Lord said to us after our retreats.

13. Far from being shocked when I have shared some of my sins and weaknesses with him, he has promised to help me with them, told me to tell him when I’m struggling and said even if I give in to temptation, at least he can pray for me in the midst of it.

14. He ends every nightly conversation with a prayer for us and our current needs and struggles, a Hail Mary and a ‘Saint John Paul, pray for us’. (I’m sharing my patron saint with him. I didn’t realize when I chose him in 2016 HOW MUCH John Paul II had written and taught about love, romance, marriage and relationships.)

15. He loves going to Mass and Adoration and did long before he met me, and prays the Rosary every day (which is more than I do).

There’s so much more to him and to our relationship. We also do normal stuff like watch movies and dance and go to restaurants and get anxious about things and have misunderstandings and stay up too late talking and complain about how tired we are all the time. Being Catholic doesn’t make everything perfect or easy. He’s not perfect, neither am I, and nor is our life or our relationship. But we are both aware that we need Jesus even more than we need each other, that we need to have our personal prayer time before we talk to each other, and that only Jesus can help us learn to love each other well. Having a relationship with a living God helps us remember to always return to the One who can sustain us and get us back on track.

 P.S. Here’s an interesting little fact – he’s no longer my boyfriend. But that’s a story for a different day.

 Happy Valentine’s Day, sweetheart!

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Twenty Easy Ways to Love Your Introvert

1. Do NOT thrust a phone at them unexpectedly saying “Here, talk to so-and-so.”Instead give them five minutes warning to mentally prepare themselves for a phone conversation which will probably involve small talk.

Introvert's Friend/Lover: Here, say hi to so-and-so. 

Introvert: Kill me now. 

2. DO ask them deep and meaningful questions like “How would you have done this event differently?”or “What is your earliest childhood memory and how do you think it has impacted the person you are now?”

Introvert: What a great question! Do you have a couple of hours? 

3. Allow them to go on and on about their favourite topic every now and again even if you couldn’t care less, and heroically ask them further questions. Try to actually care.

Introvert: I see I've won you over to the wonders of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. I knew you were always secretly interested. 

4. Make sure they always have access to the internet and don’t be offended when they disappear into their phones every now and again.

Introvert: I'm not ignoring you. My brain has just reached full capacity for social interaction. 

5. Do NOT ask them to leave the house more than a couple of times a week.

Introvert's Friend/Lover: You want to go for Kyra's party on Friday? 

Introvert: I'm sorry, I went to to that wedding on Sunday, so no, not possible. 

6. Make sure they get enough sleep. Tell them to take a nap.

Introvert's Friend/Lover: Go take a nap. 

Introvert: I love you. 

7. Plan a movie at home and order takeout food at least once a week (if not most nights).

Introvert's Friend/Lover: Want to go to the mall? 

Introvert: Did you say 'Want to watch the new season of Young Sheldon?' Why yes, I would LOVE to.

8. Buy a soft and comfortable couch and a fluffy comforter.

Introvert: I need to feel safe and loved. I either need a hug or a couch. 

9. Remind them to look at the stars. They often get so caught up in their own thoughts that they forget, and they appreciate the reminder.

Introvert's Friend/Lover: Look at the stars! They're so beautiful. 

Introvert: Oh my gosh, they are! I haven't seen them in years! I didn't even know we HAD stars in the city. 

10. Stock up the house with their favourite junk food – they are unlikely to leave the house to buy it themselves.

Introvert's Friend/Lover: Here you go - Lay's, Budhani's chiwda, Twix and chocolate chip cookies. 

Introvert (moved to tears): I didn't know you loved me THAT much. 

11. Do NOT mock them for doing everything online including grocery-shopping and asking for directions.

Introvert's Friend/Lover: Why not just stop and ask someone? 

Introvert: How many times do I have to tell you? Siri IS someone. 

12. Do NOT tell them they’re boring or antisocial; instead tell them, “It’s wonderful how you are perfectly content by yourself.”

Introvert: Why yes, it is pretty wonderful. 

13. Do NOT keep talking to them when they are reading a book.

Introvert's Friend/Lover: Hey, did I tell you I met Bob at the supermarket? 

Introvert (lifting his or her eyes from the book): Do you hate me? 

14. Ask them about their latest brilliant idea to save the world or make millions or fix all the problems.

Introvert: I had another brilliant idea I've been working on all day. 

Introvert's Friend/Lover: Tell me more! 

15. Ask them for book recommendations. Borrow a book from them, read it and then tell them what you liked about it.

Introvert: Love my books, love me. 

16. Offer to do the shopping.

Introvert: I will do all the cooking and all the cleaning and all the things that don't involve me leaving the house... But please, please... 

Introvert's Friend/Lover: Fine, I'll go. 

Introvert: You saved my day. 

17. Make a plan to go out and then cancel it. Go back to No. 7.

Introvert: Aw, we can't go out because of traffic? Too bad. I'm so disappointed. JUST KIDDING, GIVE ME A SEC TO CHANGE INTO MY JAMMIES AND GRAB SOME HOT CHOCOLATE! 

18. Do not get mad when they cancel plans with flimsy excuses.

Introvert: I can't come because er.. I forgot I had to clean the stove. 

Introvert's Friend/Lover: Sounds legit. Maybe next time. 

19. Do NOT ever force them to dance in public. Offer to teach them to dance in private.

Introvert's Friend/Lover (pulling arm of introvert at wedding): Come on, we're all dancing, I know you really want to join us. 

Introvert: I'm sorry, it's very important that I sit at this empty table and guard the coats. 

20. Cover for them when they disappear at social events. Show them good nooks to disappear to when they need to.

Introvert's Friend/Lover: Here's the bathroom, there's another balcony, and at worst, there's the back door. 

There you go, you now have the key to every introvert's heart. Any other tips, introverts?

Related Reading

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How an Introvert Socializes

More Interesting Introvert Facts