In spite of their differences, introverts and extroverts make great romantic partners. Perhaps it’s a case of opposites attracting — what one partner lacks, the other more than makes up for. They balance each other out.
“Extroverts report that introverts give them permission to explore their serious, introspective sides,” Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, wrote in a guest blog for eHarmony. “Introverts, on the other hand, often feel grateful that their extroverted partners make the atmosphere light-hearted and casual -– and that they do so much of the talking.”
It’s important to note that “introverted” and “extroverted” are not just synonyms for “shy” and “outgoing” — there are outgoing introverts and shy extroverts. The main difference between these two temperaments comes down to how energy is gained. Introverts gain energy and recharge by spending time alone, while extroverts gain energy by surrounding themselves with others.
Below, we asked authors, psychologists, relationship writers and real-life couples to share the common situations that arise when an introvert marries an extrovert.
1. You’d prefer to sit and think after a fight, while your spouse wants to resolve things right away.
Innies and outies, as they are sometimes called, have different ways of responding to conflict. Introverts need time to quietly process, while extroverts often prefer to think out loud and want to tackle the issue head on as soon as possible.
“My husband wants to talk it out because extroverts process that way,” author Betsy Talbot told The Huffington Post. “I want to think about it and have the talk when I’ve got my thoughts together. It completely throws me to think out loud, and it completely throws him to not be able to bounce ideas off of me. We’ve since learned to argue in a more productive way, but those first few years were a doozy.”
2. You rely on your spouse to rescue you from drawn-out conversations at parties.
It’s like you have a sign on your back that says, “Tell me all about it!” Somehow you always end up cornered at a party by a stranger with a lot to say. Fortunately, your extroverted spouse has no problem intervening.
“Introverts are excellent listeners and not big minglers, so at parties, we’re sitting ducks for chatterboxes,” Sophia Dembling, author of Introverts in Love: The Quiet Way to Happily Ever After, told HuffPost Weddings. “And while extroverts have a talent for flitting from person to person at a party, introverts are not always good at extricating ourselves from conversations that have gone on too long.”
3. And on occasion, you take separate cars to parties so you can duck out early and your spouse can keep socializing.
Introverts find small talk draining, while extroverts excel at making breezy conversation with strangers and acquaintances alike.
“The effort it takes to be a social butterfly means that my introverted wife hits her tired limit faster than I do,” Harris O’Malley, the man behind the blog Paging Dr. NerdLove, said. “Occasionally this means that I have to call it a night as well. Other times we take separate cars so that she can head home and I can hang around until I’m ready.”
4. You view alone time as rejuvenating, but your spouse finds it mind-numbingly boring.
“When not at work, my wife and I spend most every minute together and we both enjoy it,” self-proclaimed introvert Darcy Johnston said. “But when it comes time where I want to do my own thing like play video games or watch one of my movies, her response is always, ‘Well what am I going to do?’ Without the human interaction she gets frustrated, she finds it boring. I have to find something for her to do. And even then she’ll text me, ‘How long till you’re done?'”
Sometimes, extroverts take it personally when their introverted partners seek out solitude — but they shouldn’t. “We don’t do activities alone because we are sad or negative or depressed,” HuffPost blogger Kate Bartolotta wrote in a post. “We do it because that’s what fills our cup back up. We’ll be even happier to see you when we come back.”
5. You’re amazed at how easily your spouse meets new people, while you tend to keep to your smaller circle of close friends.
Extroverts are constantly making new friends — in line at Starbucks, at the post office, just walking down the street. In other words, anywhere. Introverts, on the other hand, are sometimes described as “slow to warm up” and require more time to establish a real connection with another person.
“We now live in a small village in Spain, and Warren immediately began making friends and practicing his Spanish,” Talbot said. “He talks to everyone, and it takes an hour to go to the small market even though it is only 500 feet from our door. It took a lot longer for people to remember me as anything other than ‘wife of Warren’ because I’m not nearly as extroverted.”
6. You prefer peace and quiet after a long day of work, while your spouse wants to chat about his or her day.
“My wife is the introvert but she actually has a forward-facing, customer-service intensive job that requires her to talk with dozens of people every day,” O’Malley said. “I, on the other hand, am an extrovert but also a writer, which means I spend the bulk of my day alone in front of my computer. By the time she gets off work, she’s exhausted from having to socialize, while I’m craving human contact.”
7. You have different ideas of what the perfect date night looks like.
More often than not, the introvert may prefer a quiet night in, snuggled up on the couch watching Netflix versus, say, a crowded bar. But even when he or she feels up to going out, the introvert’s preferences may not align with those of the extroverted partner.
“Introverts, who are more sensitive to external stimulation, are always ready to dial down the lights and action — think dark movie theatre or quiet restaurant,” clinical psychologist Dr. Laurie Helgoe, author of Introvert Power, said. “And extroverts, who are wired to seek external rewards, want to ramp it up at a casino or happy hour.”
8. You go out of your way to avoid activities that involve audience participation, while your spouse seeks them out.
“My wife and I love going to comedy shows, but the moments leading up to the comedy show are terrifying for me,” introvert and relationship writer Cody Mullins said. “My wife loves sitting up at the front where there’s a good chance the comedian will pull us into his shows, which is pretty much a personal nightmare of mine. The minutes leading up to the show are usually filled with panicked arguments (the panic all coming from me) on where we should sit. I always demand the furthest back corner where our involuntary participation is pretty much guaranteed to not happen. And then if it does, I have an easy escape route right out the back doors.”
9. Conversations between the two of you can be one-sided at times, and that’s OK.
Introverts tend to listen more than they speak and ask good questions, which works out well because it gives the extroverted spouse more room to talk.
“I personally think about everything I am going to say before I say it — I want to make sure it makes sense and represents what I want to say,” Johnston told The Huffington Post. “My wife mostly has no filter and just says what’s on her mind…I don’t enjoy forcing or having to carry a conversation. She loves to talk and needs someone to listen to her, so this setup is mutually beneficial. I help her by being her listening buddy, and she helps by taking the pressure of conversation away.”