So, I’m an introvert, a fairly confident and outgoing introvert, but still an introvert.
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I married an extrovert…
…at times a very unconfident and introspective extrovert, but still an extrovert.
The following are some observations that I have gathered over being married for 13 1/2 years. Perhaps they will help fellow introverts out there who have coupled up with an extrovert.
Just a quick foreword, that I have been with introverts in the past, and while very harmonious I have found that sometimes it got too harmonious. We lacked engagement, we lacked (I don’t want to use the word passion, but dammit!) passion!
When your partner starts to feel like your sibling, that is a problem… I’ve never had that with my extrovert partner.
But there are some very different problems that come with being coupled with an extrovert. These can take a lot for an introvert to get used to.
Allow me to elaborate…
But first, let me also add, that I’m a man writing about the relationship with my female partner, so I’m going to use ‘she’ for the extrovert, but of course, your situation may be different, so no hard feelings right?
She talks so very much!
It’s like if there is a thought in her head she needs to express it, otherwise, something bad might happen?
But the take away here is that She just needs to feel listened to! So while you might be having your own, you know, actually important thoughts, you may need to quickly put them on hold for a moment to ensure that she feels heard.
Needless to say, speaking up is important too!
In the early days of our relationship, before I learnt to express myself better, I had an explosion that has caused us many laughs since. But at the time was the best I could do to try to put a stop to the incessant chatter.
We were lying in bed, either in the morning or the evening, really doesn’t matter.
Because she is always talking.
I was either half asleep or half awake and the words were issuing forth from her mouth, probably about something desperately important. And instead of being a grown-up man, owning my emotions and clearly speaking my needs, I was holding them inside while feeling more and more frustrated, finally erupting with an outburst, while kicking the covers off the bed and sitting up.
“Would. You. Just. Shut. Up!’
She burst out laughing, which wasn’t exactly my expected outcome. But she did stop talking… Just for a moment…
Which brings me to my next point…
It might just be my experience, but I have found my Extrovert to be somewhat lacking in boundaries. Perhaps I am lacking in boundaries too. Either way, someone needs to put some boundaries in place and since she’s not very good at them, then I need to be the one.
So remember peeps, to establish boundaries, ideally before you need them. But since that rarely happens, sometime after the most recent time that you realised that you need them is also good. Wait until you’ve both calmed down a bit.
And you’re going to have to repeatedly remind her about these boundaries until they stick…
Since you’re an introvert and your partner is an extrovert you’re doing to have very different coping mechanisms, so make sure that you are aware of yours and that you are taking care of them. Your Coping Mechanisms are those mechanisms that help you cope! They’re going to be unique to you. It might be spending some quiet time alone, listening to music, playing an instrument, reading, writing, watching a favourite show or movie, doing yoga, lifting weights, walking in nature… You know you, so why am I trying to tell you about you? If you don’t already know, you’ll work it out…
Which brings me to…
I feel like I am in a fairly constant dialogue with my wife; first thing in the morning before coffee, during coffee, in the breaks between my lessons throughout the day (I’m an English teacher working online), before, during and after dinner, then throughout the evening and also before bed…
But that isn’t enough for her! She needs dedicated time to ‘consciously connect… So if your extrovert needs that too, then make sure she gets it!
Checking in with Yourself
Of course, fellow introverts, we need to be ok in ourselves, so we need to check in regularly and see how we’re doing.
I’m usually the guy who is doing just fine… Until I’m not. I usually miss the signs because I’m too busy taking care of someone else, you guessed it! My extroverted partner!
So I’ve been learning to listen to myself, check in regularly and see how I’m feeling and what I’m needing.
I’m also usually the one who doesn’t know what he needs. I’ve been working on that with a life coach until recently. But I still needed a lot of reflection in each session to know (or perhaps, have the courage to say) what I needed, in each session, in my work, in my relationship.
It’s a skill, I guess… Or maybe I’ve got bigger problems.
Naturally, you’ll also need…
Support outside of the relationship
Now, this seems really obvious, but if you’re anything like this introvert, you’ll think that you’re doing just fine, that you’ve got all of the contact that you need through your work/online community/pets etc… But be careful about this, especially with the ongoing pandemic keeping us isolated and at home more often than usual.
I find that I can piggyback on the tendencies of my extrovert wife by allowing her to plan online meetups with couple-friends, and I get to see people without expending any effort!
But sometimes I just want to have a chat with my guy friends, so I do on occasion make the effort to reach out to my similarly introverted male friends, to catch up online and shoot the breeze for an hour or so.
I don’t know if I’ve stressed this enough or not, but possibly the single most important factor for keeping introverts, that are partnered up with an extrovert, sane is to have enough time on your own to think your own thoughts and do your own thing, without constant chatter and interruptions.
So make sure that you have some time dialled in for yourself, make it part of your boundaries, part of your requirements!
It will pay you dividends, I guarantee it!
If you are an introvert who is partnered up with an extrovert, make sure that you are taking care of yourself in all of the ways that you need!
Put boundaries in place, have your coping mechanisms ready, listen but put limits on communication, check-in with yourself, get support outside the relationship and protect your own time!
Of course, you could just go and get partnered up with another introvert and skip all of this bother…
But that would defeat the purpose of being with someone so different to yourself!
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