I can admit it: I’m an introvert. I like it best when I’m hanging out alone in my apartment, doing my own thing, and vibing to my own groove.
I need my alone time to recharge my batteries, especially after social situations. But then I had to go and fall in love with an extrovert.
Together we had to learn how to compromise and make each other happy while still meeting each other’s social needs. This involved a whole lot of communication and discussing our boundaries, but the end result is a harmonious relationship.
Want to learn how I did it? Let’s get right into it:
1) It’s a need, not a want
I might phrase it as I want to be alone, but it’s actually a need for an introvert to have some alone time to recharge. On the other hand, my extrovert partner has a need to spend time with the people he loves, including me.
Sometimes he doesn’t remember that my downtime is important to my mental health and energy. He’s not being a jerk on purpose; he’s just wired differently and in his mind, it’s awesome to hang out with me.
For me, I have to be willing to occasionally step out of my comfort zone to support my partner in his more extroverted activities. I might need to take a few days afterwards to chill out, but it’s worth it to see him so happy.
It’s the harmony between us that makes our relationship work, and an understanding of each other’s needs. It didn’t happen overnight–we spent a lot of time discussing it, and even reached out for professional help, which I’ll expand on later–but it’s only made our relationship stronger.
Now we can tell each other exactly what we need, and we understand that we might react to stress differently. If my partner needs to talk to multiple people about an issue, or put it all on social media, I don’t feel hurt or that he’s ignoring me.
And he’s always willing to lend an ear when I need to discuss what’s stressing me out. He’s also willing to let me just go over something in my mind and analyze it myself without pushing for me to share if I’m not ready to yet.
We always remember we’re in each other’s corner.
2) Encourage each other
I want to support my partner and make him happy, and I know he feels the same. So we encourage each other to do the things that recharge our batteries, even if we have to do them separately.
Let me explain. I want my partner to have hobbies and activities outside me, both because we don’t need to be attached at the hip, and because it gives him an outlet for his extrovert needs.
Meanwhile, I get to spend some time alone, so when he does come home, I’m feeling recharged and happy to see him. Neither of us take it personally, though it was a bit of a sticking point early in our relationship. After all, nobody likes to feel like they aren’t important to their partner.
That being said, I do still want to spend time with my partner, and occasionally I feel a bit… overlooked when he’s really busy with his hobbies and activities. So we make sure to set out time where we can be a couple, in ways that make us both happy.
Sometimes that’s as simple as a nice home cooked meal and a movie evening. He gets a boost from spending his time with me, and I get a boost from doing something relaxing with just one (very important!) person.
If I get my movie at home, then it’s only appropriate that on our next date, we do something he wants to do. So if he wants to go out to a bar and have a drink, I’ll accompany him and I’ll make an effort to be good company, especially if he brings friends along.
But like I said: it took some time to get to this point, and we had to learn how to communicate first.
3) Communication is paramount
As an introvert, I’m pretty shy, but when I feel comfortable with someone I can talk, talk, talk. My partner isn’t quite as chatty, despite his extroversion, but he knows the importance of communication between us—at least he does now.
When we first got together, we had a few arguments and bumped heads quite often, mostly due to our opposite natures. We also have different communication styles, which didn’t help; it’s difficult to feel like your partner is listening when neither of you realize you’re communicating in different ways.
We both had to learn each other’s way of communicating and how to compromise so that we both felt heard and could come to a solution that made both of us happy.
Want to know the secret behind our communication? We reached out to relationship coaching service Relationship Hero.
I’ll admit I was a little skeptical at first. Talking to strangers about my relationship wasn’t really an idea I was fully comfortable with. I was honestly a little afraid that they might judge me and our issues.
But my partner convinced me to give it a go and I’m glad we did. The coaches at Relationship Hero were kind, patient, and welcoming—and best of all, they had real tips and advice to help us work through our problems together.
Our coach was available whenever we needed them and I could tell that they really wanted to help. My partner and I had a few hiccups but I came out of our sessions feeling positive and enthusiastic. It was great to put their advice into action and see how well it worked.
But don’t just take my word for it. Check them out yourself here.
Once we had some strategies in place, it was much easier to celebrate each other’s traits instead of getting annoyed by them.
4) Laugh and let go
Listen, everyone has their little traits that can be annoying to other personality types. I know I have my flaws, much as my ego doesn’t want to admit it. And so does my partner, especially when it comes to his extroversion versus my introversion.
In the beginning of our relationship, it drove me insane when he would push to go out all the time and hang out with multiple people. And he chafed at my desire to stay at home, or to do things that didn’t involve any other people.
Those are pretty big examples–kind of our fundamental differences in a nutshell–but there were smaller things too.
He’d shout across a room to greet a friend, startling me. He’d wander off in the middle of a chore because someone texted him and he got involved in conversation. Small in the grand scheme of things, but irritating.
Which isn’t to say I was–or am–perfect. I tend to be emotional, even when it would be better for me to be logical. I didn’t always answer his phone calls, and sometimes I just got so focused on myself that he felt ignored.
What really helped us was to learn to laugh things off. There’s no point in focusing on every single weird quirk your partner has, especially if it’s not really hurting anything. Embrace those quirks, because they’re part of the person that you love.
When we did happen to annoy each other? We took a moment to stop and analyze: is this a thing we need to sit down and communicate about? Or is it just a temporary blip that we need to acknowledge and then let go?
That being said, we still each established clear boundaries.
5) Boundaries are healthy
Setting boundaries in a relationship is a good thing, whether you’re introverts, extroverts, or somewhere in between.
For an introvert like me, I need to set social boundaries or I get burned out on people and that leads me to be cranky. For my partner, he needs some time where he can go hang out with friends, or visit a crowded place. And he doesn’t always need me there (which honestly is awesome for me).
If it is something important, though, then I have to be willing to go with him. I’ve attended a few work functions that weren’t my scene at all, but it was important to my partner.
And knowing that it was out of my comfort zone, he compromised by agreeing to leave early so we could get home before I started feeling overwhelmed.
By setting our boundaries clearly, we’re able to stay in harmony with each other, supporting each other without sacrificing our own mental health.
We also find it helpful to occasionally discuss our boundaries and see if anything has changed. If it hasn’t, then we reestablish our boundaries to ensure that they’re still clear on both sides. It all comes back to how important communication is.
6) Find your common ground
We might have different needs when it comes to how we recharge our batteries, but the best way my partner and I maintain harmony is to focus on the areas where we have something in common.
For instance, we both love video games. We actually met through a video game, and it’s honestly the perfect intersection between our different personalities. It’s an MMO (an online game), which means it’s both something we can do alone but also contains a social component.
So we can play the game together, and also hang out with friends at the same time—even if it’s just over voice chat. As a bonus, that takes some of the pressure off me to be socially presentable. And if I need to be completely alone, I can play a single-player game and he can do his own thing.
It’s not just video games either. We actively look for ways we can spend time together, or things we can share with each other, that don’t make either of us feel like we’re getting pushed too far out of our comfort zone.
Outside of activities, we come together over the personality traits we share. We both enjoy a good joke, and we enjoy teasing each other—and best of all, we’re both respectful enough to know not to go too far. There’s nothing better to take me out of a bad mood than swapping teasing texts with my partner, because he always makes me smile.
My partner also supports me, and as the more logical of us, he will calmly help me to look at the positive side when my emotions try to get the better of me. It’s a lot of give and take, but hey, isn’t that what being in harmony is all about?
That intersection between you is what will help you to build yourselves into a team, strengthening and nurturing your relationship.
The bottom line
At the end of the day, you may have your social differences and recharge in opposite ways, but you’re in this relationship together. By communicating and setting clear boundaries, you’ll ensure that you’re both on the same page.
If you’re still struggling, know that it’s okay and it happens to everyone. A relationship between an introvert and an extrovert is the very definition of opposites attracting.
Fortunately for my own relationship, I truly believe that’s a good thing. My partner and I might clash sometimes but being with him has helped me grow as a person, including in my confidence and self-esteem.
I like to think I’ve helped him grow as well. He takes more time to think about my feelings and to get more in touch with his own emotions. And he’s gotten way better about shouting across the room—at least while I’m standing beside him.
So if you’re an introvert in a relationship with an extrovert–or vice versa–then there’s definitely hope. Good luck with your partner and your search for harmony!
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