Are You Compatible With That Extrovert?
Some questions to ask when factoring extroversion into the equation.
Posted Jun 21, 2018
In my last post, I suggested some questions to ask yourself if you’re contemplating your compatibility with an introvert — whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert. Today, I’d like to address the same question if your sights are set on an extrovert. Sure, extroverts can be razzle-dazzling, but are you likely to enjoy the excitement over the long haul?
I’ll start with the same disclaimer I used last time: There is no “right” combination of introversion and extroversion. Each of us lands somewhere on a continuum between introversion and extroversion, and who fits with whom is highly individual. There’s nothing wrong, however, with factoring in introversion and extroversion when assessing your compatibility with someone new, or if you’re having friction in an established relationship.
So here are a few questions to ask yourself before getting in deep with an attractive extrovert. And again I say: These questions have no right or wrong answers, and no judgment is implied. All ways are fine ways. “I love parties” is as acceptable as “I hate parties.” It’s just about knowing where you’re coming from as you head into a relationship.
1. Given the choice, would I rather stay home?
You know that extroverts like being in the thick of things. Too much solitude (even if it’s solitude with another person) can make an extrovert restless, irritable, or even depressed. Not too different from how introverts feel after too much interaction.
Plenty of introverts appreciate having a partner who is willing to be the social director. They like having a low-effort social life, and their partners don't mind being in charge. That's cool. And lots of extroverts appreciate introverts who force them to slow down from time to time; sometimes they don't realize they're getting overextended and drained and need an introvert to chill them out. And introvert-extrovert couples often give each other space to go out or stay home solo as necessary. That's cool too.
Nevertheless, if your energy for socializing is way below what your partner needs, if you’re not the kind of introvert who enjoys riding along on someone else’s party tailwind, or if you can't come up with a stay home-go out balance that fills both your needs, think seriously about whether you’re suited for a relationship with an extrovert.
2. How much attention do I need?
Extroverts like juggling. They want lots going on, they maintain lots of friendships and acquaintances, and their attention can be scattered. Some extroverts thrive on being the center of attention.
There’s a good chance that if you want an extrovert’s attention, you will have to ask for it. Possibly again and again. Is that OK with you? Can you accept it as the extrovert's nature and not necessarily a commentary on your importance in his or her life?
And are you cool with staying home alone while your extrovert goes out to get his or her social needs met? Will you feel neglected? Will you harbor resentment? Do you think that you should get adequate attention without having to ask for it? If so, you might find a relationship with an extrovert stressful.
3. Am I good at asking for what I need?
This is a corollary to the previous question. Introverts tend to be reluctant to “force” their needs onto others. At our worst, we are the silent seethers, the secret sulkers. We wait to be asked and wallow in resentment if other people are too wrapped up in their own lives to interpret our meaningful looks and mumbled hints.
Extroverts in particular, with all the fuss and bother of their happy place, might not catch your cues. So if you want to partner with an extrovert, you’ll have to learn how to be direct and just spit it out — even if it's to say, "Something's on my mind, can you please drag it out of me?" A sensitive extrovert might eventually recognize the signs that you're ruminating and ask, but then it's up to you to give an honest answer.
Oh, and if you need time to think about a problem before you can discuss it — introverts often do — can you be responsible for bringing it back up when you're ready to talk? It's only fair.
4. Am I the jealous kind?
If your partner feels compelled to talk and, yes, even flirt with everybody around — including attractive individuals — will you perceive this as a threat? If your extrovert assures you that it all means nothing, it’s just the way he or she is, will you be able to give him or her the benefit of the doubt?
I don’t suggest ignoring your gut if it tells you something is wrong. But before you decide your partner is flirting with intent or ignoring you for the attention of others, try factoring in the needs of extroverts for lots of connections and attention.
If you’ve factored that in and still feel threatened, see the previous question: Can you speak up, explain your feelings, and ask your partner to ratchet it back a little? Your partner’s response and subsequent behavior is important information. A partner who blows you off or tells you you’re “too sensitive” might not be a good match for you. A partner who takes your discomfort seriously and either alters his or her behavior or explains it in a way that soothes your concerns could be a keeper.