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

Talking points for introvert-extrovert couples

I don’t have a definitive answer as to whether introverts and extroverts make perfect, complementary couples or are destined to drive each other crazy. The bottom line is, like everything else, it depends on the people. And like everything else, if both parties respect and compromise, everything’s cool.

No matter how much common ground they have otherwise, introverts and extroverts have different needs, and they do things differently. My husband is only slightly less introverted than I, and even so we have had to negotiate a few things. (The telephone vs. email, for example.) Some predictable issues seem to crop up in mixed couples. They can be no big deal, or they can make trouble. So if you’re giving it a whirl as an introvert-extrovert couple, here are a few things to talk about, at your leisure.

  • General guidelines for socializing. How much socializing must be done as a couple, how much is the extrovert OK with doing solo? How much solo gallivanting can the extrovert do without pissing the introvert off? 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? A set time to leave? Secret signals?
  • Any communication issues? Telephone vs email vs text? How many phone calls a day is too many? When is it time to stop the texting and dial?
  • If the extrovert is a chatterbox (you know who you are), can the introvert cry uncle sometimes without hurt feelings?
  • May the introvert do things (a hike, a movie, a trip) alone, without hurt feelings? Does the introvert need the house 100 percent empty from time to time in order feel utterly, deliciously alone? Is that doable without hurt feelings?
  • Is the extrovert game for introvert fun sometimes? Hikes or museums? Without fidgeting or impatient sighs? Can the introvert be gracious when the more is the merrier?
  • What about vacations? Can you find compatible travel styles, so that extroverts can find action and introverts can sit and watch? (Also, bed and breakfasts: fun or claustrophobic?)
  • And, most important, can both parties agree that diffferent social needs are fine? Some people have lots and lots of friends, some people are happy with just a few. Don't judge.

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

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Hooray, hooray, 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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Top 25 List: January 2013