My partner is an extrovert, the quintessential “people person.” One of things that drew me to him is how outgoing he is. On our first date, he knew a few people in the restaurant who excitedly came up to speak with him. This, eve though we were in my neighborhood, a good 45 minutes away from where he lived. It happened again on our second and third dates.
He is always in a good mood — always up for anything, and obviously gets his energy from other people.
On the other hand, people deplete my energy. I need to have alone time to get my reserves back up, and I have to be “on” if I’m going to a social gathering. I am not always in a good mood and tend to be very affected by the energy in the room, while he always positively influences it.
After being together for a few years I’ve realized that his extroversion — one of the things I love most about him — also exhausts and frustrates me at times. I know he feels the same way.
I don’t want this to cause a huge wedge between us, so I’ve learned some coping mechanisms over the years. Here’s what I know.
I don’t go to every event he goes to.
He is big on concerts and sporting events, and doesn’t mind large crowds. I do. He loves parties, where I love staying home. When we first started dating, I’d go to everything he wanted to go to because I felt like a bad partner if I didn’t.
Doing this is what actually made me a bad partner, though — because afterward I was grumpy, moody, and exhausted.
It’s OK if I stay home some of the time. We need different doses, and it’s okay if I skip out sometimes.
I don’t get mad at him for going without me.
This was a tricky one for us at first. If I wanted to stay in, I wanted him to stay in too, but that’s not fair. I had to realize if he wanted to go to a dinner party or play in a men’s basketball league a few nights a week, that wasn’t about him not wanting to be with me. He always asked me if I wanted to go.
He has his own life, and that’s really attractive. And he doesn’t get upset with me for wanting to stay home, so I can’t be mad at him for wanting to get out.
I tell him when I need down time.
Since he always seems to be on, and I can sense when my introverted self really needs a break, I tell him as soon as I can. I let him know I’m not feeling social and I want a night in or some time alone.
Once I started doing this, all our arguing over going somewhere stopped. I didn’t spring it on him, and he didn’t feel blindsided.
He’s the life of the party, and I won’t try to change that.
This is who he is. He works the room and talks to everyone, while I’m someone who likes to talk to one or two people at a time. I hate small talk, and I’m fine to sit alone and watch people.
I don’t try to get him to sit with me during an entire event. I let him do his thing and he lets me do mine. We can respect each other’s varying social approaches and realize that, above all, it isn’t personal.
We balance each other out. Sure, there are still times when he doesn’t understand why I don’t have the energy to do something he wants to do. For the most part, though, we’ve accepted we are an extrovert and an introvert who very much want to be together, despite our differences.
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