Although common wisdom holds that introverts are not interested in people, this is far from true. In fact, as relationship coach Jordan Gray notes on his website, introverts actually crave intimacy more than extroverts do. As an introvert, you are skilled at making the deep connections that foster healthy relationships. However, introverts and extroverts have vastly different social needs and communication styles, which can cause conflict. Address these differences head-on to ensure that you and your partner are both comfortable.
Building Emotional Ties
In a piece for "Psychology Today," introvert and author Sophia Dembling notes that introverts often try to dive too quickly into emotional intimacy. Since you likely find chit-chat inane and pointless, your tendency is to jump straight into meaningful conversation. Nervousness might also lead you to ramble about a topic that particularly interests you. To build a meaningful bond with a new partner, start slowly. Even the deepest relationships are built on a foundation that begins with light banter. Gray points out that introverts have natural listening skills and empathetic tendencies, so use those to your advantage. Allow your partner to speak, even if you feel that the topic is shallow. Over time, your innate desire for depth will help cement your emotional bond.
Finding Alone Time
Introverts recharge their batteries by spending time alone with their thoughts, but if your partner is an extrovert, you might struggle to find time to do so. In a guest post for eHarmony, author Susan Cain points out that extroverts tend to come home from work craving conversation, while introverts come home desperate for solace. Be creative in finding solutions that work for both partners. For example, you might carve out an hour of alone time immediately after work and then dedicate the rest of the evening to sharing time with your partner. Or you might take one weekend day for yourself and be available on the other. Work with your partner to find a solution that is right for both of you.
Balancing Social Needs
Cain also notes that friction can arise when one partner is more social than the other. Dembling explains that many introverts judge parties and gatherings as shallow or meaningless, and have a tendency to isolate themselves too much. Yet too much socializing is draining for an introvert. Set ground rules with your partner, suggests Cain, such as how many times you will host or attend parties each month. Encourage your extroverted partner to go out without you sometimes, while you take the opportunity to be alone.
Within many introvert-extrovert couples, partners have very different styles of conflict resolution. Cain points out that extroverts tend to argue until they find a solution, while introverts tend to retreat into their own heads. To find a healthy middle ground, both partners need to make changes. Realize that friction is an important part of any relationship, and take your partner’s desire to argue as a sign of respect. Arguing out a situation means coming to a resolution rather than letting issues linger. To set up the best chances for success, encourage your extrovert to breathe deeply and take a short time-out before addressing the situation in a calm tone of voice. Meanwhile, you can focus on your own coping skills. Engage your logical mind and put your active listening skills into place as you prepare for a meaningful, honest discussion.
- Visage/Stockbyte/Getty Images