Relationships

Introvert vs. extrovert: How to make a relationship work when you are on different ends of the spectrum

While introverts and extroverts can be considered as opposite ends of the spectrum, sometimes in relationships opposites attract. In fact, we think that being different makes our relationship stronger.

What is an introvert?

I think there is a bit of a misconception about what an introvert is, and somehow it has a bit of bad name (to the point where people are probably a bit embarrassed to call themselves an introvert. Many think that introverts are shy people, who arent confident or who are awkward in social situations. From my experience, this just isn’t the case.

But in order to understand how a relationship can work between an introvert and an extrovert, we need to understand what an introvert really is. Below are some common personality traits associated with introversion:

1. You prefer time to yourself

The idea of being home alone is thrilling, not daunting. These periods of solitude are crucial to an introvert’s health and happiness. Whether you’re simply spending time resting or engaging in an activity, solitude is very much welcome.

2. You are drained by social interactions

While extroverts would not dare miss a Friday night out with friends, introverts know when they’ve maxed out and need to refuel their batteries. That’s not to say all introverts will flake out of parties (I love going to parties as much as Elliot), but at the end of a long night, introverts need to escape to recharge and reset.

3. You prefer working alone

Introverts often work best when they work alone. The isolation allows introverts to focus deeply and produce high-quality work. This isn’t to say introverts don’t work well with others; they just prefer to retreat and focus on the task at hand, rather than navigate the social aspect of working in a group setting.

4. You have a close circle of friends

Don’t mistake an introvert’s small circle of friends as a sign that they can’t make friends or don’t like to socialize. In fact, they enjoy talking with people and getting to know others. They also prefer the solitude of a small circle of friends. High-quality relationships are a key to happiness for introverts (I like to think of this as quality over quantity!).

5. You are introspective and curious

You may find yourself daydreaming or working things out in your mind long before you put a plan of action in place or lift a single finger to change anything. Introverts have a very active inner thought process. That also leads them toward self-reflection and research. Introverts are dedicated to pursuing their interests and feeling prepared and well-read.

6. You prefer writing over talking

You’re more comfortable writing out your thoughts rather than speaking, and prefer to think through your response because your communication style is focused and considerate. You can carry on conversations, but if decisions are necessary, you may want more time to consider and weigh your options so you feel confident in the choice.

How does it impact our relationship?

Alex: Without a doubt I am an introvert, and while this is not something that I think impacts my day to day life in a huge way, it does definitely impact parts of our relationship. In particular, when we first started dating and getting to know each other.

For me the biggest point where this is still something we work on is the communication. Very much in alignment with point 6 above, my natural conversation style is “less is more”, which doesn’t always help resolve disagreements quickly!

Elliot: I can also at times exhibit some qualities of an “introvert” and that is a big misconception, that extroverts are all “in your face” all the time. The biggest difference and area of potential problems for me in a relationship with an introvert is communication, and just how different we are at our core – especially in an argument. When things are heated, and emotions are rising, my natural tendency is to talk. Talking is communicating in my book, and at my core it makes me feel like we’re communicating. This is opposite to Alex: she listens, and thinks, and naturally then, from her end there are pauses in an argument. I need to realise constantly that this is her way of communicating, and allow her time to think instead of always pressing for a response.

Any tips?

So there is no easy fix here. Like so many things in relationships its all about compromise and trying to understand what the other person needs. I try to give Elliot as much of a response as he needs, and he appreciates that sometimes I need time and space. After quite a few years of trial and error we have found what works for us!

If you have any thoughts on what its like to be in an introvert/extrovert relationship let us know below – we would love to hear your thoughts! Or maybe you think being on such opposite ends of the spectrum just cant work for you?

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