When you’re partnered up with someone whose social tendencies are pretty much the opposite of yours, it can be tricky to navigate. You may worry, “They’re always going to want to go out!” or “They’re always going to want to stay in.”
Having very different social personality types doesn’t mean that a relationship is bound to fail. On the contrary, introvert/extrovert relationships can actually be very balanced, as long as each partner makes an effort to truly understand how their S.O. needs to recharge.
Here, real women in opposite introvert/extrovert relationships share tips on how to strike the right balance.
1. Acknowledge your differences from the start
Going into any relationship, one or both parties often find themselves trying to match or fit into the lifestyle of another. “As an introvert, I found myself attending parties and dinners several times a week at the beginning of our relationship,” says Leigh An, 22, from Mission Viejo, California. “Thankfully, he already knew that too many big social gatherings in a row wears me out quickly and can leave me rather irritable. Knowing key personality differences like these from the start helps both parties be more aware of their partner’s feelings and expectations.”
2. Encourage introverted partners to open up
If you’re the extrovert in the relationship, you may feel like sometimes you’re the one expressing feelings, thoughts, and in general doing all the talking. “When I first started dating my introvert girlfriend, it was hard to really know how she felt or what she wanted because she rarely shared her thoughts or feelings about anything,” says Elise, 29, from Brooklyn, New York. “Don’t expect your introvert partner to offer their opinion and thoughts on their own. Make sure you are routinely asking your partner how they are feeling or what they think.” And use open-ended questions like, “What was your day like?” rather than closed-ended questions like, “Did you have a good day?” This will get them to open up more.
3. Share your expectations
As an introvert, Leigh An says that right off the bat she made a point to let her extrovert fiancé know that “alone time” is extremely important to her. “I explained that there might be days when I don’t talk as much or simply take the entire day just to myself and that this does not mean I like him any less, this is just a critical necessity for me to “recharge.” Likewise, he explained to me that he loves to be around people and frequently has lunch dates with friends and weekend adventures. Sharing these boundaries from the start saved us from countless moments of misunderstanding, anxiety, and resentment toward each other.”
4. Be mindful of time spent in large social gatherings
If you’re dating an introvert, know that they can only take so much being out in crowds. “Because I didn’t realize how introverted my girlfriend was at the beginning of the relationship, every time she denied my request to go out in the city or come to a party, I thought she just wasn’t interested,” says Elise. “Make sure you are planning more one-on-one time than social time with big groups.” While an introvert can be social, they prefer it in small doses, and they’ll need to retreat to get some peace and recharge.
5. Don’t push too hard or try to change your partner
It doesn’t matter who is the introvert or extrovert in the relationship, you can’t change them. “When my boyfriend and I got together, he used to push me to go out nearly every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night. I didn’t want him to think I wasn’t interested or boring, so many times I obliged and went, even though it was really exhausting,” says Jamie, 33, of Los Angeles. After about two months of trying to keep up with her extrovert boyfriend, Jamie said she had no choice but to confront her boyfriend. “When I explained that his social lifestyle was not who I am, he had a hard time understanding, especially living in L.A. When he finally got that as an introvert, I prefer more alone or ‘us’ time, he stopped pushing me to go out, and I feel like we finally found the balance our relationship needed.”
6. Figure out what your boundaries are
If you do not have boundaries, figure out what you need personally as an introvert/extrovert to allow yourself to rejuvenate. “Maybe it is simply an hour a day to yourself, maybe it’s an entire day to yourself on the weekends. As an extrovert, you may need at least one social outing a week or more, you may need a few hours of dedicated time with your partner per day. Once you have determined these necessities for yourself, it is crucial to sit down and share these with your partner. From there, begin to see how you can both work to give your partner and yourself what is needed so you can both feel complete, revived, and alive on a daily basis,” says Leigh An.
7. Seek out like-minded friends
“This can take a lot of pressure off the relationship,” says Elise. “When you feel like you just have to get out and socialize, but your partner is the introvert and prefers to stay in, having a well-rounded group of friends that you can lean on for social interaction can take a lot of pressure off your partner. Just make sure you and your partner have an understanding about this.” Elise adds that her girlfriend knows all the friends she goes out with. “Not only will your partner not feel guilty about not going out with you, but you will both be able to have the experiences you each need and then can truly enjoy your times together.”