I Love You But Don't Call Me, OK?

Talking points for "mixed" couples.

Posted Jan 16, 2013

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No matter how much common ground they have, introverts and extroverts have different needs, and do things differently. My husband is only slightly less introverted than I, and even we have had to negotiate a few things. (Communicating via telephone vs. email, for example.)

Some predictable issues seem to crop up in these "mixed" couples. They can be no big deal, or they can make trouble. If you’re giving it a whirl as an introvert-extrovert couple, here are a few things to consider and discuss:

  • General guidelines for socializing. How much socializing must be done as a couple, and how much is the extrovert OK with doing solo? And how much solo gallivanting can the extrovert do without annoying the introvert? Will special requests be honored? (“I would really like you to come to this office party, even though to you it sounds like entering the gates of hell.”) Also, party plans—two cars? One set time to leave? Secret signals?
  • Communication issues. Telephone, email, or text? How many phone calls a day is too many? And when is it time to stop the texting and just dial?
  • If the extrovert is a chatterbox (you know who you are), can the introvert cry uncle sometimes without hurting his or her partner's feelings?
  • May the introvert do things alone (a hike, a movie, a trip) without hurting his or her partner's feelings? Does the introvert need the house 100 percent empty from time to time in order feel utterly, deliciously alone? And again, is that doable without hurting anyone's feelings?
  • Is the extrovert up for introvert fun sometimes—hikes or museums without fidgeting or impatient sighs? And can the introvert be gracious when the more is the merrier?
  • What about vacations? Can you find compatible travel styles, so the extrovert can find action and the introvert can sit and watch? (Also, bed and breakfasts—fun or claustrophobic?)
  • Most important, can both parties agree that different social needs are just fine? Some people have lots and lots of friends; some are happy with just a few. Can you both avoid judging?

I'd love to hear from introvert-extrovert couples about your talking points. Which were the hardest to work out? What solutions did you come up with?

My book is out! The Introvert's Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World is available at real and virtual bookstores, and for Nook and Kindle.

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