How To Deal When You're An Introvert With An Extroverted Partner

by Rita Templeton
Dusan Petkovic / Shutterstock

You say tomato, I say to-mah-to. You say potato, I say po-tah-to. You say, “Let’s go out tonight!” and I say, “But that would require pants. How ‘bout Netflix and food takeout?”

And that’s how it goes when you’re an introvert married to your exact opposite.

They say that opposites attract, and it’s true. I’m fascinated that my husband is everything I’m not: socially confident, outgoing, gregarious, energized by crowds and people. And his spontaneous “out-there” nature is tempered by my steady, predictable ways. Because we’re so different, we also help each other to broaden our horizons and step out of our comfort zones once in a while, which is a good thing.

But I’m not gonna lie — it can be a challenge when two people have such different ideas of a good time, and it’s been a source of tension on many occasions. Luckily, one thing we have in common is that we’re both opposed to getting divorced over our social styles. So we’ve learned a few things to help us deal.

Suck it up once in a while.

If I had my druthers, I’d rarely leave my house. But this isn’t a one-sided relationship, so I can’t be completely selfish, which means there are times when I have to drag my chitchat-averse self off my couch and accompany my husband to some sort of “thing” with “people.” Likewise, there are times when he’d rather be out, but he stays home with me instead. Because we know that it’s not all about us, and we love each other enough to work out a balance.

Be willing to compromise.

Even when we’re doing something we’re don’t necessarily want to, we try to make it as tolerable as possible for one another. We’ll go to the neighborhood cookout together, but I’ll duck out a little early; he’ll keep the kids there so I can enjoy some alone time. Or we’ll stay home, but invite a few friends over for a small, low-key hangout. It makes it a little easier to endure our non-preferred social (or antisocial) activity.

Don’t take it personally.

For a long time, I thought his need to socialize meant he wasn’t happy being at home, and it hurt my feelings. But after so many years, I’ve realized that it’s not about not being with me; it’s about him recharging the way he likes to recharge — just like I prefer to recharge at home — and I have to honor that because I expect him to do the same for me.

Give each other a hand.

My husband knows that I hate making small talk, for example, so he’s always the first to speak up when we’re out, and it takes some of the pressure off of me. When you can anticipate how your partner will react to things, you can help make their experience slightly less awkward.

Plan stuff in advance.

The more we can plan in advance, the less we have to argue about what we’re going to do. Seeing it written out helps to make sure we’re both getting a fairly equal amount of the things we like. And if it’s a social event, I know exactly when it is and have more time to mentally psych myself up for it.

Don’t try to change each other.

We were first attracted to each other for a reason — and a lot of it has to do with personality, so who are we to try to change that? I admire my husband’s ability to liven up any gathering and get people talking. And he wouldn’t be doing me any favors by insisting that I “come out of my shell” because that’s not who I innately am. It’s better to learn acceptance than to struggle to change who someone is at their very core.

I can’t help it that home is where my heart is. And my husband can’t change his desire to chat up anyone who crosses his path (nor would I want him to). We are who we are, but we don’t have to let our differences divide us when — with a little compromise and a bit of understanding — they can make us stronger.