There is a lot of the truth to the phrase “opposites attract.” Let’s be honest, many reasons we love our partners are tied directly to the differences they bring to our lives – personality, sense of humor, hobbies, organizing the refrigerator, etc. However, the differences (and similarities) we share often go far beyond mere interests. For instance, every person has either introverted or extroverted tendencies. Being introverted is not better than being extroverted, or vice versa. People are different, the world is a rainbow, and that’s ok. The majority of potential issues born of this idea relate to some of the major misconceptions about how introverts and extroverts interact with one another. This, in turn, can cause high levels of stress that result in a couple believing they just ‘are not meant to be’ simply because they do not understand how the differences affects their romance. What is an introvert? Introverts enjoy social interactions both large and small, dynamic and mellow, however, these interactions drain the introverts’ energy and vibrancy. Not in a bad way. Introverts simply put all they have into discussions, parties, and experiences and feel drained afterwards. Having expended all their energy socially, introverts recharge their batteries through time alone and contemplative conversation. Misconceptions about introverts: Introverts are often mislabeled as being shy, self-centered homebodies who can’t stand being around people. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is no fear or dislike towards social interaction; it just taxes their
mental energy. It is also important to note that being introverted has no affect on interests or activity. You are no more likely to prefer to stay at home or read a book than an extrovert – it is purely a preference for less social interaction. What is an extrovert? Most extroverts gain energy from social interaction, are drawn towards more sensationalistic conversation and often become unsettled if alone for long periods of time. Misconceptions about extroverts: Extroverts are often accused of needing to be the center of attention or only being able to have superficial conversations. While those people do exist, most extroverts are NOT party animals who can only talk about the weather. Some extroverts are quiet wallflowers who simply enjoy being around groups of people and recharge from social interaction. How can this affect my relationship? Being introverted or extroverted is a defining characteristic, yet most people aren’t fully aware of where they or their partner are on the introverted/extroverted spectrum. This can have negative effects on the relationship. For instance, an
extrovert might feel hurt if their introverted partner asked for some space. The introvert might just need to recharge their batteries but it can appear as if they are pulling away. Conversely, many introverts can feel completely overwhelmed by going out a lot or attending several social events. If they experience burnout, it is not because they didn’t like the people or event – they just did too much. The best thing to do is to understand what tendencies you and your partner have. Do this by taking one of the many online personality tests (HumanMetrics has a fairly detailed test) to help you identify where you fall on the introverted/extroverted scale. The next step is to understand how to support your partner, regardless of personality type. Much in the same way you support their career and interests, you can support their particular need for social interaction. The key is to know each others limits, discuss their introverted or extroverted tendencies, and learn when you need to plan a fun night on the town with friends or when you need to head home early. Introverts and extroverts can (and do) make amazing couples, but it is important that we don’t oversimplify or misrepresent their respective needs.