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Outgoing & Shy Personalities in Relationships

by Scott Thompson

If you always want to be out and about while your partner seems to avoid socializing whenever possible, you might assume your partner is shy and needs help overcoming anxiety in social situations. However, the problem may not be shyness at all, but the basic personality difference between introverts and extroverts.

Introversion and Extroversion

Some people prefer to always be where the action is, surrounded by bright lights and sparkling conversation. Others would prefer to stay home with a good book or a video and may even find busy social events to be upsetting and difficult. "Psychology Today" defines an introvert as a person who finds interacting with other people to be tiring but who finds solitude energizing and refreshing. Extroverts are the opposite of introverts. They find social interactions stimulating, but solitude is difficult for them.

Introversion vs. Shyness

Introverts and shy people can both find socializing difficult, but not necessarily for the same reasons. "Psychology Today" defines shyness as a condition of constant fear and anxiety in social situations. An introvert can also be shy, and many are, but many introverts aren't shy at all. They just don't find it pleasant to socialize too much, and doing so can drain them of all their emotional energy. Shyness is usually an emotionally painful experience for the person experiencing it, but introverts are often perfectly happy people as long as they get enough quiet time.

Shy Extrovert or True Introvert

It's possible for the same person to be both shy and extroverted. Plenty of people crave company and want to be out doing things and having fun, yet find it hard because of their fear of doing or saying the wrong thing and being judged by other people. If your partner resists going out and doing things with you, the cause can be either shyness or an introverted personality or both. Talk to your partner to find out. Shyness is an anxiety problem that can be overcome, but introversion is a personality type and not a problem at all.

Working It Out

Extroverts and introverts can have successful romantic relationships as long as they take the time to understand each other. Shy people and outgoing people can do the same. In the "Psychology Today" article "Introverts and Extroverts in Love," Sophia Dembling, author of "The Introvert's Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World," suggests that the key is simply to negotiate everything in an open and honest way so both partners can have their needs met. For instance, if you want to go to a party but your partner wants to stay at home, Dembling advises you to either both go for a limited amount of time or for you to go without pressuring your partner while your partner stays at home without pressuring you. The same policy should work for relationships between outgoing people and shy people, but if either partner tries to pressure the other one to change, the result can only be conflict.

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