Introvert Dating An Extrovert? Here’s How To Make It Work

I know.

Your interest in whether someone else is an introvert or extrovert lies somewhere between you caring about the dream they had last night and who they drafted to their fantasy football league.

Here’s the thing: you don’t pay all the “introvert”/“extrovert”/“ambivert”/“ohmygodhowmany’-verts’arethere” labels much mind until you’re in a relationship where the discrepancies between you and your partner’s two different socializing tendencies quickly barrels to the forefront and requires some work to make sure everything runs smoothly.

It dawned on me pretty early I was dating a sociopath because he can have just as much fun at a networking event small-talking with strangers as he can anything else. I won’t go into detail about my personality, but for time-saving sake, let’s just say something like, I’d rather get a root canal than make a phone call. (Also like, please do not call me, ever.)

My boyfriend tends to be the homecoming king of every room he walks into. It’s pretty adorable and I love him for it.

It’s pretty adorable and I love him for it, until we’ve been at an event for four hours and he’s still killin’ it, but I’m at the point where I’m sneaking off to the bathroom every 15 minutes for some alone time, in a stall folding toilet paper into origami and making peace with the fact that everyone probably thinks I have a drug problem.

When we first started dating, I could feel myself becoming withdrawn in situations where he was thriving and I was miserable. I was envious of him. Truly. It masqueraded as insecurity in a variety of ways, but I realized at the base of it was me resenting him because of a personality trait he had and I didn’t. Girlfriend Of The Year Award!!!!!

So we had to lay some ground rules. Sexy, am I right??? Okay, not so much. But you know what is kinda attractive? Managing your tendencies so you can thrive in your relationship.

  1. Let them exist as they are. You’re going to want to jump off a cliff if you spend all of your energy trying to change your partner’s fundamental tendencies. Either you ride with them or you don’t. That’s not to say people don’t grow and adjust their own personalities over time; that’s called being a human being. But trying to 180 someone’s true self, which is essentially what you loved about him or her to begin with, is something you have to nip in the bud right meow.
  1. “What. Do. You. Want?” – Noah (Ryan Gosling), The Notebook. Part of being an alive human is needing things. Be clear about your boundaries. Erik knows I have roughly a three-hour max at parties or any event where I’ll have to talk about how nice the weather has been lately with too many people. But I had to articulate this to him beyond “I just don’t want to.” He understands now that it’s nothing against his people, I’m just Cinderella-esque: once the clock strikes I’ve-over-stimulated-myself o’clock I morph into a shell of myself and am as much fun to talk to as a raisin.
  1. Compromise. Compromise is different for everyone. For us that mostly means rating on a scale of 1-5 how badly we need or want that other person at our function. An office Christmas party might be a five while brunch with friends might be a one. Compromise also means making sure we’re checking in with each other. I know Erik will claw his eyeballs out if I make him sit and watch a Netflix marathon for too long and see above for my bathroom activities when I’m left alone for hours at a party where I have no connections.
  1. You can’t take everything personally. You aren’t allowed to tell your partner it’s okay that they stay out when they’re having a fun time and you’re just going to take an Uber home and no it’s totally cool (you’re mad) I’m not mad at all (I’m absolutely pissed) and I’ll just see you when you get home (nope, going to pretend I’m sleeping and then ice you in the morning). Just because they want to stay out and do their thing doesn’t mean they love you any less or that time spent alone with you is less enjoyed.
  1. Remember you love this person for a reason. You love how they approach the world and how nice they are to their grandma (IF HE’S/SHE’S NOT NICE TO HIS/HER GRANDMA DUMP HIM/HER) and how they butter their toast. We compliment our partner, which means we’re not alike in some ways. This is okay; cool, even. The point of your relationship is to grow and learn to be generous in ways you’re unfamiliar with. Just always make sure the generosity is reciprocated otherwise, “Boy, bye.”

Photo: 2nd Truth Photography


Liz Welle  is a professional feelings feeler but gets paid to do social and digital stuff for brands in Minneapolis while occasionally food styling on the side. She lives in Uptown with her boyfriend and their thirteen plants. She is doing her best.

 

 

 

 

  • This is so me. I’m super introverted – I know that root canal phone call feeling well. And while my boyfriend isn’t 100% extroverted, he is a lot more that way inclined than I am. I think communication (as it seems to be with everything in a relationship) is so key, once I explained to him how I was feeling and why I got super crabby at certain events we found ways to compromise that suited us both a lot better

    – Natalie
    http://www.workovereasy.com

  • Such an interesting read about a relationship that’s completely opposite to mine. I’ve had two exes that were both extroverts while I’m an introvert, and we didn’t do most of the things on the list and ultimately didn’t work out. My current boyfriend though, he’s an introvert like me, and amazingly I’ve found that it’s not always true that “opposites attract” like in our case, since we go together so well! I suppose it’s different for every couple.

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

  • I so, so understand and appreciate this post. I’m an introvert and my fiance is an extrovert (on the less extreme side). We’ve been together for 14 years and have (through painful experiences) learned to respect each other’s quirks and boundaries, though it’s still not easy. I will say that we’re now in our 30’s and are moving into the marriage/kids/home-buying portion of our lives, and it gets even harder, as I’m sure you know. Because your money is somewhat joined, so that can often make for difficult conversations when your extrovert partner spends money on social activities. My introversion favors me spending less money because I’d rather stay home and read/Netflix. To be continued 🙂

  • This was so good to read! My boyfriend is very, very introverted, whereas I am pretty introverted but tend to act like an extrovert for a few hours if required. (I just relax into being my ‘real self’ if there’s someone more extroverted there, like my boyfriend’s brother, for instance).

    This post makes me feel better about the fact we’re genuinely the kind of people who’d rather watch netflix or go for a walk, and have time separate from one another too!

    And I love what you said – “either you ride with them or you don’t”. After a couple of years living together, I know that he’s not the kind of guy who wants to hang out with people all weekend or be the life and soul of a party, and it feels totally OK when you just accept one another for who you are rather than fight against it. 🙂

    Flora

    http://www.theeverchanginghome.com

  • Proud introvert here!

    Last year I took a MBTI personality test, and it helped me solidify a ton about myself and the relationships I have with others. If you don’t want to ask your beau to do the same, I truly recommend taking it for yourself. I’m an INFP [introversion (I), intuition (N), feeling (F), perception (P),] and 100% proud of it!

    It has helped me me ton with significant ones like my parents.

    16personalities.com is a good resource to start with.

  • this is spot-on! my husband is more extroverted in the sense that he likes to be out doing fun things with people, but i’m the introvert who actually does better mixing and mingling with strangers than he does. we’re an odd pair, ha. lots of tears were shed (by me) during our dating years though while we tried to figure out the expectations the other one had. he wanted us to go meet up with friends and i always just wanted to hang out with him one-on-one. communication and expectation management are truly 2 of the most important components of a successful relationship.

    and i am SO WITH YOU on the phone thing. don’t call me, ever.