We all need love.
But we don’t all express it in the same way.
Even people who share the same love language can find themselves misunderstood—because of temperament differences. An introvert’s need for solitude may be mistaken for a lack of caring. And extroverts need for connection may be mistaken as a selfish need for attention.
What causes such misunderstandings? The fact that introverts and extroverts come into the relationship with different needs and expectations. Which leads to problems.
Problems that could be solved with a little mutual understanding.
Temperaments and people-energy
Understanding the energy issue may be the most important key to improving introvert-extrovert relationships. An introvert expends energy while relating to people, while an extrovert gains energy. After a busy day at work, an extrovert may long to spend time with their special someone, while an introvert may long for solitude.
To the more extroverted partner, an introvert’s request for solitude may feel like their partner is saying, “I don’t want to be with you” or “I don’t love you.”
Please don’t believe this. More likely, the request for solitude simply means the introvert is running low on people-energy. The wise extrovert knows that when their favorite introvert is feeling drained, the best way they can show love is by allowing the introverted partner time to recharge. Give them thirty minutes of alone-time and they will probably be ready to connect with enthusiasm.
By the same token, the wise introvert understands that their favorite extrovert needs to spend time with them. Lots of time. The introvert partner must learn to discern when they truly need alone-time and when they merely want to be alone because it’s easier than dealing with other humans. To show love to their extroverted partner, they must be willing to spend time together even when they would prefer chilling alone.
When we do our best to accept and understand the legitimate needs of the opposite temperament, we show that we value our partner. An introvert needs time alone. An extrovert needs time together. A healthy relationship has room for both.
Temperaments and social events
Social events can be a significant drain on an introvert’s people-energy, yet they energize an extrovert. When it comes to large parties or loud, boisterous events, an introvert-extrovert couple will need to find ways to compromise.
Introverts should understand how much it means to their extroverted partner when they agree to attend. Extroverts should realize that their introverted partner will enjoy these events more, and be more willing to attend, if they know they can leave when they have reached their energy limit. That may mean leaving the party earlier than the extrovert would have liked, but at least they attended. An alternate solution is to drive separately so the introverted partner can bow out when they’ve had enough.
Temperaments and communication
Introvert brains tend to process thoughts slower than extrovert brains. Extroverts are usually quick at putting thoughts and feelings into words, while their introverted partner may need time to think before answering—and not just a few extra nanoseconds.
Which can turn conversations into potential mine-fields.
When the extrovert partner asks their favorite introvert an important question—and the introvert doesn’t give an immediate answer—it does not mean the introvert is being stubborn or uncaring. More likely, the introvert wants to give their best, most insightful answer, but is struggling to drag their spinning thoughts into some semblance of order. Please understand, when they request time to think a question over instead of answering right away, it means they love you too much to give a quick answer.
At the same time, introverts must keep in mind that their favorite extroverts need frequent conversations to feel connected. The face-to-face kind. Their extroverted partner wants to know what they are thinking, and what they are feeling. Yes, it may take effort to find words to express the myriad thoughts and emotions milling around their heads, but if they want to show love they need to try. Even better, introverts should practice expressing their feelings without waiting to be asked.
I hope these few suggestions will help extrovert-introvert couples improve their relationships. When each partner understands the other’s underlying needs, they can become advocates instead of adversaries.
Happy Valentine’s Day.