I’m a textbook introvert; however, I still have a full-time job where I have to be “on” a lot of the time: make presentations to the big wigs and act as a leader. I handle all this with grace and have learned to hide any nervousness I feel. At the end of a particularly social day or week, I really need time alone to recharge. This is not the way most of the other people in my life function, and it can sometimes cause friction.
First of all, I have always been a magnet for extroverts! For as long as I can remember, I’ve been the good listener, the quiet one in the relationship…and I like it that way!
Talking for me can be exhausting, especially small talk. I think many introverted people feel this way, and having an extrovert to pick up the slack is the perfect balance. So now here I am with a charming, extroverted husband, two extremely outgoing, (maybe overly) confident, extroverted teenage sons, and a handful of extroverted girlfriends. This is what I’ve attracted into my life and I love them all fiercely, just the way they are! And they love me for my quiet, thoughtful ways.
How is it that introverts and extroverts can get along with such different approaches to life? Here are some things that have helped me navigate through this tricky territory…
- The first thing to do is make sure you are communicating your needs! The most important piece of advice for an introvert living with an extroverted loved one is to make clear your need for solitude. Sometimes it’s hard for an extroverted person to understand this need because their go-to when they need to recharge is phoning a friend or getting together with someone to talk about the challenges of life.
- Find a space of your own! When I need respite from my extroverted family, I go to my bedroom…and they go off to their social spaces. The kids go with friends or to chat on their phones, and my husband goes to the neighbor’s or to Home Depot or Lowes where he can spend hours socializing with his BFFs in the construction department. As an introvert, it is essential to have somewhere in your home to escape to when you need solitude.
- Allow your extroverted partner, kids, friends to encourage you to do things you may not be inclined to do without a push. A GREAT thing about being an introvert surrounded by extroverts is that they will make you want to try new things! You never knew how much fun life could be until your extroverts coaxed you out of your comfort zone.
- Know your limits and make sure your extroverts understand and respect them. Most introverts know that after a certain amount of time at an event or outing, they “hit a wall” and mentally check out. Work with your partner or friends to create a sort of action plan for social activities when needed.
Introverts and extroverts really do complement each other. Introverts tend to be self-reflective and seek out quiet spaces where they can rest and recharge. Alternatively, extroverts are much more likely to seek out others to engage with and mull over situations in search of answers to their questions in the form of dialogue. It might seem unlikely for these two very different personality types to be successful together, but it actually makes perfect sense and can be very sympatico.
I admire the way the people in my life interact with others. I feel awkward in the midst of small talk and uncomfortable in large crowds. All these amazing extroverts I have attracted to my life are not that way at all, and I am in awe of their appreciation for people and their ability to finesse most any social situation. These people I love enjoy their interactions with all types of people — and I adore that about them.