Are you an introvert who is dating an extrovert? Do you feel like you can’t quite keep up with your partner’s pace of life? Are the constant social calls draining you? Thinking of calling it quits?
Before you give up, do what introverts do best and take a moment to think before you act. You may not know it, but beneath the façade of incompatibility lies the possibility for one of the best relationships you’ve ever had.
Let’s take a moment to find out how.
Begin With Understanding
You might already have some idea of what it means to be an extrovert. Maybe you consider extroverts to be shallow. Perhaps you think them vain or overstimulated or flighty.
It’s time to let go of those presuppositions and get down to the basics of what an extrovert really is.
Extroverts have minds that have developed to be energized by social attention. Getting the spotlight makes them happy, well-adjusted, and just generally brings out the best in them. It also causes their brains to release dopamine.
You, on the other hand, dear introvert, don’t derive this same reward from social stimulation. You are energized by quiet isolation, which helps you to recharge and face a new day.
Why the difference? Part of it is learned behavior—your family, the environment you grew up in, and your peers. But another part of this personality equation is biological.
Introverts and extroverts respond different to chemicals released within the brain. Extroverts are hooked on dopamine, a chemical that provides motivation to seek external rewards. When extroverts are in a social situation, dopamine floods their brains, and they feel on top of the world. The dopamine reward network of the brain is much more active in extroverts.
For introverts, acetylcholine is their brain chemical. As is the case with dopamine, acetylcholine is linked to feelings of pleasure, energy, and happiness, but is released when we turn inward, rather than outward. It helps us become reflective, and to think deeply and focus on one thing for long periods of time. It’s easiest to access the acetylcholine reward network of the brain when there’s little external stimuli to pull us out of our self-reflection.
That’s it. Extroverts derive energy and pleasure from socializing and stimulation. Their inner lives are just as rich and vibrant as your own—you just need to learn how to play with their fire instead of simply enduring it.
So let’s take a brief look at what you need to know to do to successfully date an extrovert.
You Can’t Change Them
You might have entered into this relationship thinking that you could show your partner the light, that you could drag them to a library or a quiet museum and that they would suddenly have an epiphany about how shallow and insipid his or her life has been up until now.
Don’t count on that. You can’t change them. What’s more, you shouldn’t try.
Why? Because this is who they are, and that’s beautiful. No one should have to change their personality to suit a partner. Habits, yes—but not their personality. Accepting them as they are is the first step to successfully dating an extrovert.
See Their Sparkle
The second step to dating an extrovert is to learn to see their bright side. Extroverts are attractive people. They’re charismatic, alluring, and fun. Stop focusing on the negatives, and these positives will begin to rise to the surface.
Positivity is also incredibly attractive to an extrovert—your happiness will leave them energized and feeling alive.
Extroverts desire, above all, connection. And you, dear introvert, have that ability in abundance. While it may seem counterintuitive, extroverts need those in-depth conversations and meaningful moments, and so learn to appreciate and take advantage of their talkativeness in order to have the weighty talks you so crave from time to time.
Learn to bask in their glow, and your relationship will be off to a great start.
Do you need two days to yourself a week? Does an hour at the club make you hit your limit? Do you pale at the thought of surprise dinner parties?
Tell your extroverted partner this. Otherwise they won’t know.
Unmet expectations are one of the most common destroyers of even the best relationships—one partner expects the other to act in a certain way, and they don’t. Disappointment and anger ensue.
Introverts can fall into the trap of assuming others simply know—that they’ll know that they need their alone time or that they’re becoming overstimulated.
But the truth is that they don’t—your extroverted love won’t know what you need until you tell them.
So tell them. Don’t hold it all in, becoming resentful and passive-aggressive. Speaking up could save your relationship.