A Jewish Matchmaker’s Guide to Making it Work
If opposites attract, then odds are an introvert and an extravert will be drawn to each other. Initially, this can be a match made in heaven as each person’s unique approach to life will enhance the experience of the other. Eventually, however, the differing approaches can begin to create conflict and distance between couples. How can you handle the conflict? By working to understand the perspective of your partner and how this innate personality characteristic exhibits itself.
Many are under the impression that an introvert is someone who is shy and withdrawn, and the extravert is outgoing. This is not an accurate definition. It is not about shyness, it is about energy. An introvert gets energy from their internal world – they don’t need a lot of external stimulation to feel good. In fact, external stimulation, particularly interactions with other people (especially in group settings) can be very draining. Hence, an introvert prefers one-on-one, intimate conversations and needs plenty of “alone” time to recharge after a social outing. Extraverts, on the other hand, gets energy from other people, and spending too much time alone can drain them and leave them feeling down. When their energy level is running low, they need that social interaction to pump them up and rejuvenate. It’s clear that a partnership between these two can be challenging if one person wants to socialize frequently, while the other prefers to stay home.
So how can this possibly work? First, understand that although you cannot turn an introvert into an extravert or vice-versa, both of you can make some adjustments in your usual routine and get out of your comfort zone long enough to satisfy the needs of your partner. The key is to find some middle ground where both of you can feel nourished and thrive.
Extraverts can try to understand that your introvert needs “alone time” and not to take it personally; it doesn’t mean that he/she doesn’t want to be with you, it just means that it’s time to recharge. Introverts can try to understand that the extravert must spend some time engaging in social activities to maintain a healthy mental attitude. Optimally, the introvert can make an effort to participate in group social activities as a couple, while the extravert can accept that this participation may never be to the level that they would like, and that’s okay.
Get to know how these personality traits exhibit themselves in other aspects of your relationship, and some of the confusion as to why the two of you keep butting heads may be instantly clear. For example, introverts need time to process information, so during conflict, the introvert may have little to say until he/she has had time to mull it over. An extravert will want to hash it out immediately, and will cope better if things are not put “on the back burner”. Understanding that your introvert needs some time to process information while also understanding that your extravert cannot be kept “hanging” for long should be the catalyst to finding a method of handling conflict that reduces frustration and stress to both parties while validating individual needs.
An introvert and an extravert have great potential as a couple when both are willing to understand where each is coming from and to incorporate that understanding into their interactions.