You’ve heard the terms introvert and extrovert thrown around a lot, right? Do you know what they mean? If you’re not sure which one you are or which your partner is, here are the basic definitions of these two terms:
Introvert: Someone who does not require a lot of social time. When they are social, especially in large groups, they lose their energy quickly, and the way they recharge is with alone time.
Extrovert: Someone who requires a lot of social time in order to stay happy and reenergized. They like alone time too, but when it gets to be too much, they need to charge up by spending time with others
So which are you? And whichever one you are, are you with the opposite type in your relationship? If so, you may find it difficult to navigate your social and home lives. This is a common issue for relationships that include one introvert and one extrovert. Fortunately, this problem is not one that has to tear you two apart.
You can make an introvert-extrovert relationship work. Here are some tips to help you get along:
Tips for Making the Mismatch Work
- Introverts: Understand what an extrovert needs.
Introverts don’t understand extroverts innately. “What do you mean you recharge with other people…?” In this respect, an extrovert might as well speak a foreign language. But if you are an introvert, it’s vital that you try and understand your outgoing partner.
Extroverts need social time to feel energized and alive. They get excited (not fearful) about the prospect of meeting new people and heading into crowded places. The thought of having to make small talk with someone might freak you the heck out … but to them, it’s like a breath of fresh air. It’s fun!
- Extroverts: Understand what an introvert needs.
Hopefully your introvert is trying to understand you, and it only makes sense that you should return the favor. In other words, you’re going to make sure you review the words: “She/he needs space.”
Unlike you, who might be able to head to a dinner party, then to a club, then to a friends house to “hang out” on a Saturday night, your introvert will probably be gearing up the whole day just to make it to that dinner party, and they’ll be ready to head home right after. For them, going to all of those places in one night would be the equivalent to you of spending all of Saturday and Sunday doing job interview after job interview.
Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but you get the picture.
- Introverts: Set your boundaries.
Introverts are the way they are, and there’s not much you can do to change them. The sad thing is, they often get labeled as anti-social, crabby, and clinically shy because of their hermit-like ways. If you’re an introvert, this brings on its own set of problems. You might find yourself canceling a lot of activities or feeling guilty for not wanting to go places. You might feel like you snap at your partner when they interrupt your alone time.
For this reason, it’s important to set your boundaries ahead of time so that you don’t have to worry about guilt, shame or blowing up at your partner. Let your extrovert know gently that you need from this time to this time to be alone. When you get asked to go somewhere, always take time to think it over before accepting.
- Extroverts: Don’t hold back for your partner.
Your partner does not want to be as social as you want to be, but don’t hold back and decline invitations to go out and socialize just because your partner doesn’t want to go.
In fact, if you get out there when you need to, your partner will appreciate the alone time. Contrary to popular belief, this does not mean that they don’t care about you or that they want you to be gone … in the same way that it does not mean you don’t love your partner just because you want to go out and have fun with other people even when they don’t.
- Introverts: Learn from your extrovert.
Keep in mind that even though being an introvert is nothing to be ashamed of, you can still work on yourself and learn how to be more outgoing because you have an extroverted partner.
For example, you might be afraid to socialize because you worry about saying the wrong thing or embarrassing yourself. Look at your extrovert: do they worry about these things? Likely, no. Learn from them and see that socializing and spending time with others can be just as relaxing as spending time alone.
- Extroverts: Learn from your introvert.
If you are used to a fully extroverted lifestyle, you probably spend all of your free time with others, and you always need something to be going on: music, activities, the TV, etc. You may not spend a lot of time doing singular activities, such as reading, meditating, or just staring out the window and daydreaming.
This is the stuff of introverts, and you might be able to learn a thing or two from them. Sometimes, spending quiet time with yourself can be freeing and calming to an extroverted spirit.
- Both: Learn how to compromise.
Whatever you do together, you’ll need to skill of being able to compromise. For example, don’t take it seriously, extroverts, when your partner declines an impromptu invitation for the both of you to go out. Learn to accept this “defeat,” but request that the two of you do something else on another, preplanned date.
Introverts, learn how to get out of your comfort zone for your partner. They will appreciate it if you can spend some together time with them, even when you might initially rather be spending time by yourself.
Compromise is an art, and if you are a couple that includes one very introverted partner and one very extroverted partner, there will surely be more compromise demanded of both of you. But just remember: It is doable, and if you truly love each other, it shouldn’t be hard.