In July, my college sweetheart Debbie and I will celebrate 30 years of marriage. While this is a great achievement, it doesn’t mean that our 30 years have always come easy. Actually, when we were in premarital counseling, we were told that we may struggle because we’re both super outgoing and strong-willed extroverts.
Being similar does have plenty of positives, of course. It’s allowed us to understand each other in a way that introvert-extrovert couples may not. Knowing your significant other’s social response and where they get their energy from should be a main priority. Whether you’re alike or not, understanding will lead to a mutually beneficial relationship with fewer conflicts.
I don’t have all the answers, but there are traits that I’ve observed in Debbie, as well as in myself, that could be difficult for an introvert to understand. If there’s an extrovert in your life, here are 5 tips for understanding and loving them well:
We constantly engage in conversation.
Don’t freak out when we plan a date, then run into an old acquaintance, friend, or colleague. We’re social butterflies, but you’re still the focus of our lives. As extroverts, we can’t help being friendly, engaging, and conversational with others who have also enriched our lives.
This doesn’t stop with in-person conversation. Sometimes, when we come home, we’ll still be talking on the phone or scrolling through social media to see if we’re missing out on any events. Social interaction with others may be exhausting to an introvert, but it’s where an extrovert gets their energy. Use this opportunity to have some alone time, or if you need to, agree to set a “no phone” zone so you can have uninterrupted quality time.
“Strangers are just friends I haven’t yet met.” –Carol Pinchefsky, writing in Forbes Magazine
We love being in the spotlight.
While shyer people will steer clear of the spotlight, extroverts bask in the attention and thrive on responsive energy and audience feedback. (I can be coaxed to perform on stage in about 30 seconds.) This explains why many stars in the media and entertainment industry are extroverts. It also affects extroverts’ typical choice of hobbies and sports, which tend to lean toward action, adventure, and new experiences. It’s hard to imagine an extrovert being a stamp collector. An introvert may not want to be the center of attention, so while we do our thing, cheer us on as our biggest fan.
Extroverts seem to get promoted to leadership roles quickly. While we love our teams, sometimes we may forget to let others have their own moments. Help us remember to let other team members have time to speak, voice opinions, offer different perspectives, and be recognized for their contributions. In other words, you may need to tell us to shut up for a while and focus on authentic listening, especially when formulating goals, objectives, or new strategies.
Tip: Some extroverts should count to three before speaking to give others a chance to talk.
We tend to get bored easily.
Many extroverts find that being in a quiet room with a book is not an ideal situation for them. They often fail to see the many advantages of down time or quiet time. We may have a short attention span and usually need some external stimulus to keep the batteries charged. The upside of this is that we tend to be more creative, innovative, and project-oriented. Work with us to find balance in this area and join us in projects, work functions, and volunteer activities.
We want our rewards now.
Research confirms that extroverts generally seek immediate gratification. This means that we aren’t the best at saving money and may find a way to spend a monetary windfall on a party, vacation, or adventurous outing. You may have to put us in check financially from time to time, but you can still help us carve out ways to celebrate and have fun (maybe just a little party, please??).
If you love an extrovert, seek reciprocal respect and compromise to strengthen and nurture your relationship. For instance, you can reach agreements on the quantity and quality of socializing before attending that party, gala, or outing. You can also negotiate what kind of activities would serve both individuals, either alone or as a couple. Introverts find socializing a drain on their energy, while extroverts thrive on it. Work to understand and appreciate where and how your partner’s energy comes, then seek balance for both individuals. This just might lead to 30 years of blissful matrimony. 😉
Are you an extrovert, or is your significant other one? Share your favorite tips for navigating personality differences in the comments below!