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Are introverted and extroverted Partners a Match?



Question of a Reader: "I am an introvert myself but my friend is totally extroverted. At first it was no problem because I tend to believe that he likes the fact that I am very quiet. And I also liked it because he is a funny, lively chap and because there are aspects to his nature I am lacking but find interesting. On the other hand the problem is that he is extremely talkative and inquisitive. While he always tries to draw strangers into conversations regardless of the location, be it the drug store or the hot dog stand in order to learn something new, I am the exact opposite. I prefer to avoid getting involved in conversations with others because it just isn’t my thing and I would rather be left alone, most of the time I wouldn’t even know what to say. Originally, we saw our contrast in a positive light and told each other that we would be able to help each other - I to get him to quiet down and keep his feet on the ground and he by helping me to open up a little. However, the reality is that he is a person who truly enjoys conversations, who knows a lot about lots of things and who can talk for hours. And that is the point when things get very stressful for me. I am always being delegated to the corner and can’t get out of it. When I happen to say something, he immediately has something to contribute and is right back in control of the conversation. Conversations are wonderful if everyone gets his or her turn but it's a bit much for me when I am always relegated to the role of a listener. Beyond that I fear to bore him when I say nothing. Can this relationship work nonetheless?"

My Response: Relationships between extroverts and introverts are not all that rare. For instance, in our case my husband is introverted and I am clearly extroverted and we have already been able to put up with each other for 15 years . . . ;-) – Seriously, it can work - even in long term relationships. I suppose that this imbalance never entirely equalizes, but then it doesn’t have to. It is important that you appreciate your partner’s differences and simply accept him the way he is. Problems show up when one starts trying to change the other as for instance constantly dragging an introvert to all sorts of parties and then have her hold the birthday speech before fifty total strangers! Obviously that won’t work just as it is intolerable for an extrovert to keep suppressing his need for company and interaction for his partner’s sake.

Rather than with all that socializing and action, maybe both of you should gradually determine your lowest common denominator and in that way find your comfort level. Then you do together whatever that turns out to be, and everything else your significant other needs to satisfy his extroverted nature he’ll just have to do on his own. That will then give you an opportunity to relax and re-charge your batteries. There is absolutely no rule that folks in relationships must do everything together – on the contrary all couple therapists will tell you that it is even beneficial to maintain a modicum of freedom and independence from the other! After all, both of you are independent persons and you should stay that way!

Furthermore, you should not be afraid to bore your significant other with your quiet nature! Extroverts are happy when no one interrupts them and they can just keep jabbering their thoughts to themselves! I know what I am talking about. After all, I am one myself! ;-) Have you ever asked your friend if it bothers him that you are so quiet? Far from it it is often exactly this character trait which attracts extroverts to introverts! In this respect extroverts may be on the same wave length with other extroverts, but you introverts are the much preferred audience because other extroverts do want to have their say, as well! Don’t be unnerved – in the final essence this difference is not the sole reason that you are happy with each other, or not! One thing is for sure, there are no guarantees even if both of you were to be wired in the same way.

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