The Introvert's Corner

How to live a quiet life in a noisy world

How To Score With An Extrovert

The introvert-extrovert relationship from extroverts' point of view

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jar0d/4923321001/
We’ve talked about how to pitch woo at an introvert. But, an introvert reader of this blog asked, what if you’ve got your heart set on a very special extrovert? How do you wow that person?

Heck if I know.

So let me introduce my new Board of Extroverts—some extroverted friends who have agreed to answer occasional questions about their ways. They range from 30-year-old newlywed writer to a 67-year-old who is retired from sales for an advertising agency. (And, his introverted wife says, “you can’t get more extroverted than that.”) A couple have been in mixed marriages for years, a couple are still in the adjustment phase, one says he likes introverts just fine but couldn’t be in a long-term relationship with one.

I would like to note, too, that most of these extroverts currently or at one time worked as creative professionals, which disproves the notion that introverts have a lock on creativity. You know me—it’s all about hands across the personality divide. I want to foster understanding, tolerance, and respect in both directions. If we want extroverts to respect our ways, we have to open our minds to the kind hearts and fine minds underneath all the bluster and chitchat of our extroverted friends.

Besides, what I hear already from these extroverts is that with time and patience, you might get to meet their inner introverts and find yourself tapping into your inner extrovert more.

The first question I asked the Board of Extroverts is what constitutes a really good time for them. What kind of evening or weekend plans make an extrovert feel loved and understood?

What's a perfect evening for you?

A progressive party that moves to several locations in the evening with many people coming and going throughout the night. –Scott, 56

(Note to introverts: Save up your energy for something like this and you’ll give your extrovert a big, loving gift.)

My husband and I have been together over 17 years, but he still woos me. For my 50th birthday he surprised me with flowers and my favorite wine while we were up at our mountain home. Then he gave me a lovely diamond and emerald ring. That was followed by cheese and fruit on the deck, before he prepared my favorite dinner. I was totally wowed by the thought that went into it all, so even though it was kind of an introvert date, he really made it work for me. Anytime that a person puts a lot of thought into an activity and takes the time to personalize it, it really warms my heart. –Candy, 56

(Note to introverts: That’s one way your extrovert can reap the benefits of your deep-thinking ways.)

I love "showing him off" to my friends, but to do so I feel like I have to cajole or bargain with him. I like to party hop and he has to save up his energy to go to even one party. But when he does, it means the world to me. –Catherine, 38

(Note to introverts: As long as you go to the party and make your extrovert happy, you have my permission to hide in the bathroom as much as necessary.)

My "perfect evening" is hanging out at the bar with a handful of friends, talking about whatever bullshit comes up, getting into friendly arguments, buying rounds and generally carrying on. But I love coming back home afterward, having a hot toddy or a cup of tea with my husband, and decompressing before bed (and whatever might happen in said bed). –Andrea, 30

(Note to introverts: Nothing wrong with providing the cozy place to come home to. Etc.)

I believe that in some ways I’ve become more introverted with age. Ten years ago, that might have involved a house party or a hopping bar. I still enjoy those things but rarely go out. Nowadays it’s definitely a dinner party with close friends. –Chris, 38

(Note to introverts: See? They get it.)

Would the person who plans a surprise party for you win your love ever after?

I don’t care for surprise parties. I’m an extrovert BUT I don’t want to be the center of attention. –Scott

(Note to introverts: Interesting! So, not all extroverts crave the spotlight. Another stereotype debunked.)

It would definitely increase the likelihood but it’s not a game-changer. –Chris

(Note to introverts: I bet you could plan a really great surprise party if you put your mind to it.) 

Does a quiet weekend alone with an introvert sounds like fun, or would you need something more social built into at least part of the time?

I would prefer having something social built in, even if it’s just dinner out one night. This might be in part because we have a two-year-old and don’t get out much. –Chris

(Note to introverts: A little staying in, a little going out. That makes for a nice, balanced weekend.)

A quiet weekend sounds great BUT not every weekend. –Scott

(Note to introverts: I don't know about you, but I couldn't do it every weekend either.)

I can totally see a weekend in the house, ordering pizzas and making tasty foods and just generally connecting. For me, being an extrovert doesn't mean you want to be OUT OUT OUT all the time, it just means I like to have someone around to bounce ideas off of. Patrick and I have spent days at a time on Battlestar Galactica marathons, or zoning out for a whole day playing video games together, or just laying around on the couch and reading our respective favorite books. I like the recharge time, but after a couple of days of it, I'm almost guaranteed to be craving some out-and-about time, so I'll often get real excited to grab lunch out of the house, or go shopping once the week gets going, just to feel a little more part of the world again. –Andrea

(Note to introverts: Appreciate the quiet time together, then be a good sport when your extrovert needs action.)

Is there any sort of woo an introvert could pitch that would completely miss the mark?

No, at least they are trying to pitch something. A weekend of yoga would be off for me personally. My yoga max is 90 minutes. –Scott

(Note to introverts: You wouldn’t want a bunch of chatty extroverts at your yoga retreat anyway.)

Let’s say she says, “let’s skip that party and just go to a coffee shop.” If we end up missing an awesome party, but have just an okay time by ourselves. I might feel a little resentment. –Chris

(Note to introverts: Poop your own party if you want, but poop other people’s party at your own risk.)

Found any good compromises?

The great compromise we have struck between dining in and an evening of party hopping is hosting dinner parties of our friends. We have eight chairs in our loft, so we can invite no more than six guests. But dinner parties for groups of four to eight (including us two) have been delightful. We have a nice division of labor in that Paul likes to cook and clean behind the scenes and I enjoy facilitating introductions between our friends and keeping conversations going. –Catherine

(Note to introverts: Being the support system for your extrovert's social needs can help keep everyone happy.)

I noticed I naturally suggest a dining/entertaining party for 6 to 10 (seemed small to me!) while my wife always preferred 4 (total). –Lawrence, 67

(Note to introverts: If you extrovert is OK with small dinner parties sometimes, you can handle a larger one sometimes. Although extroverts should be advised that if you want a large gang, don't leave all the cooking and cleaning to your quiet partner.)

I found my wife’s introversion to be frustrating at times when we first started dating. I felt like I had trouble getting to know her because she wasn’t very talkative. At the same time I’ve learned to step back and appreciate the quiet communication that goes on between us. I’ve learned that in relationships there are some things that are very hard to articulate. You learn to read each other in a more intuitive way that lends itself better to introversion.—Chris

(Note to introverts: Extroverts want to get to know you, but you might have to help them out a little if you ever want to reach that point of quiet communication.)

My husband was much more of an introvert when we first met, but after being with me for so long, he also enjoys extrovert activities. For Valentines Day, we went to Sonoma to our favorite B&B, then went to a wine blending workshop at a local winery. This was followed by a cocktail hour and a great meal with a bunch of people that we'd never met before. I love to mix and mingle! It was definitely an extrovert activity but we both had fun. It was the perfect weekend. –Candy

(Note to introverts: Maybe her husband really did enjoy himself, or maybe he just pretended to because he’s a good egg who loves his wife and wants her to be happy. Either way, good move.)

When he needs alone time and I am home, rather than leaving the house, he has kindly offered to draw me a bath. He will light candles, put in bath salts, move a speaker into the bathroom so it's very cozy and relaxing. As soon as I sink into the tub and the bathroom door closes, he is basically alone in our one-room loft. –Catherine

(Note to introverts: Smart man.)

He'll come hang out at the bar, or join a big group out at the restaurant or the park, but he tends to sit and listen rather than jump into every discussion. What I appreciate about that is that he's not a sulky-quiet, but a thoughtful quiet, and often when we're alone afterward we have really great discussions about what happened earlier. He just doesn't want to pop in with his opinion in groups the way I do. So in this case, the introvert wooed me by being amenable to my extroversion, and accommodating of it, without making me feel like I'm railroading him because we always circle back at the end of the night/day/meeting and I can get his take on things, which I love to hear. He seems to genuinely find my extroversion amusing, rather than annoying. –Andrea

(Note to introverts: “Amusing rather than annoying” is a fine mantra when your differences seem glaring.)

As time goes by, I have come to especially appreciate more quiet times together, but I can’t say that’s true for most extroverts. –Lawrence

(Note to introverts: So, maybe if you just give it time…this couple has been together 40 years.)

Over time, as you really start to enjoy each other’s company, reading in bed usually trumps going out.—Chris

(Note to introverts: Not as long for this couple, but they’re already meeting in the middle.)

I can already hear some of the crankier introverts among us grumbling about how they already have to live in an extroverts' world and why should they put all this effort in and blablabla...Well, you can feel that way if you like, but the take-home here for me is that if you do these kinds of things with love and intent, you build up the kind of goodwill that will make it easy for your extrovert to similarly honor your introvert ways.

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Here's an idea if you're in a mixed relationsihp: Buy my book, The Introvert's Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World, and leave it sitting out. Maybe in a quiet moment, your extrovert will pick it up and learn a thing or too.

And please come to my Facebook page and see what other introverts are talking about.

Photo by Sander van der Wel via Flickr (Creative Commons).

Sophia Dembling is a widely published Dallas, Texas-based writer. Her latest book is The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World.

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