We have all heard the saying “opposites attract”, but in reality this isn’t always the easiest thing to negotiate in a relationship. Being in an introvert-extrovert relationship can be wonderful in the beginning, as you both grow and learn from each other. Over-time it can become frustrating and cause you to question how compatible you really are.

The terms ‘introvert’ and ‘extrovert’ are often misinterpreted as meaning being either shy and withdrawn or talkative and social respectively. The terms actually refer to how a person processes life events and situations and how they gain energy. Being in a quiet space, or even in solitude, energises an introvert. Being around others energises an extrovert. An introvert will think about things in their head, before they express an opinion. An extrovert will work out their opinion verbally. These differences can prove tricky when communicating in a relationship between an introvert and an extrovert. There are a few things that can be done to navigate these difficulties in an introvert-extrovert relationship.

Find out how your partner recharges, communicate how you recharge

Knowing whether your partner is an introvert or an extrovert, and communicating how each of you gains energy can greatly improve the quality of your relationship. Knowing what drains or recharges your partner can help you to schedule time together and time apart.  Scheduled times can benefit you both.  This is better than one of you compromising entirely, and thus not benefiting from the relationship. By honouring how your partner recharges as well as how you recharge, you will improve the way you engage with each other. The level of tension within your relationship will decrease and thus the mood of your relationship will improve.

Be mindful of when you choose to address certain topics

If you need to talk about something important or deliver some potentially bad news to your partner, take into account how they will want to process the topic. If your partner is an extrovert you will need to take into account that they will want to discuss the topic and work it through verbally. In contrast, if your partner is an introvert, they will need time to think the topic through before discussing it with you. it is important to choose your time for addressing the topic for the most positive outcome. For example, if your partner is an extrovert, make sure that you address the topic at a time when you will be able to fully discuss it. If your partner is an introvert give them fair warning before discussing the topic so that they have time to think things through.

Remember to listen

Listening goes for any relationship. It is especially important in an introvert-extrovert relationship. Both partners should be given equal opportunity to express their thoughts and opinions. The other partner should thoughtfully listen without interrupting.

Don’t take your partner’s behaviour personally

Don’t take the way that your partner process information or needs to recharge personally.  It is entirely about them, and not about you when your partner demands to talk things through immediately or mull things over before talking. Once you recognise their pattern of communication and they yours, it will become easier for you to communicate as a partnership. It is important that you recognise that neither your way, nor your partner’s way of replenishing energy and communicating is the right way in an introvert-extrovert relationship. Different communicating styles are just different ways of doing the same thing. What is important is that you learn from each other. Communicate in a way that means that you are both heard and feel validated.