Everyone questions just how much opposites actually attract, especially extroverts and introverts, who seem to have completely different ways of life. But despite having differing attitudes and personalities, dating and relationship experts find that pairs like these can be more than successful.
“Opposites do indeed attract,” says John McGrail, Ph.D., a self-improvement expert and author of The Synthesis Effect: Your Direct Path to Personal Power and Transformation. “We tend to be attracted by characteristics and attributes in other people that we feel are missing in ourselves.
Even with a ying and yang sort of dynamic, that’s not to say that extrovert-introvert couples aren’t without their problems. Sometimes dating someone too out of your own element can feel more than confusing, often causing unwanted frustration, and not to mention tiresome arguments. If both parties in the relationship are willing to work with one another to make things work successfully, it can really pay off.
Learn to make your differences your superpower
Making any relationship work comes with accepting each other’s differences. While extroverts tend to be ‘people people’ and thrive on lots of social interaction, introverts trend to be more introspective and need to recharge after some social events.
Often at times, extroverts feel frustrated by the lack of communication from their introverted partners, therefore immediately misinterpreting them as standoffish and rude individuals. Similarly, introverts can grow frustrated with extroverts’ constant need for social interaction, making them feel uncomfortable and frustrated.
“It’s important that an extrovert understands an introvert has a limit to the amount of socializing they can do before they are tapped out and need alone time to re-charge afterwards,” says Erika Martinez, a licensed psychologist in Miami. “Also, extroverts often misinterpret an introvert’s quietness in social setting as an indication that they are not enjoying the event, and many times that’s not the case.”
While you both may be on opposite ends of the spectrum, understanding how your partner feels versus how you assume they feel is key to maintaining any relationship.
“Both personality types bring their own set of strengths, and the couple that learns to find value in difference is a powerful force indeed,” adds Mars Incrucio, a founder of Matchr, the card game based on online dating.
Learn each other’s communication style
Extroverts and introverts have different ways of vocalizing their feelings, so it’s important for both parties to have an open dialogue about making the relationship work. Doing so can help you both understand each other better and squash any unnecessary arguments down the road.
“Extroverts should ask introverts questions,” stresses April Masini, a relationship and etiquette expert. “Be sure to talk to them about their life, their experiences, and their reactions. Be sure to listen to the answers, before jumping in with your exuberance.”
And while extroverts tend to speak often, it’s wise for introverts to learn to vocalize their feelings as well. Doing so can help you set boundaries and be perfectly clear of what makes you comfortable and what doesn’t.
“Dating an extrovert is an opportunity for you [introverts] to learn to speak up more quickly,” adds Masini. “If you don’t, you’ll feel steam rolled. If you do, you’ll be uncomfortable at first, but with time, will learn that you’ve become more adept at voicing your choices. This is how you’ll make a long-term relationship with an extrovert work.”
Compromise — don’t change
Even with very different personalities, always remember that changing your partner never works. Compromising makes a much healthier alternative, as making deals can help you both satisfy your own unique nature.
“Make deals where for every party date, where there’s lots of social interaction involved, there are an equal number of dates where the two of you observe quietly — whether it’s the movies, art museum trips, or going to lectures,” says Masini.
Aside from compromising, accepting and learning from one another is most important. Each individual brings something unique to the relationship which can help the other improve aspects of their own life. Relationships like these can help you grow into a better person.
“For both partners, you can improve your social skills by observing the other,” says expert life coach Tina Mertel. “Extroverts can build their skills in slowing down, listening, and picking up on subtle clues of pleasure or displeasure. Introverts can learn to be more spontaneous, take risks in speaking up to others, and being more playful with strangers.”
Lesson: Don’t count each other out just because you think it can’t work.