An unexpected book arrived in the mail the other day. A gift from my friend’s at Wisdom Publications. Zen Master Raven: The Teachings of a Wise Old Bird. by Zen Master human form, Robert Aitken. Here the koans are told by and to animals of the forest: raven, porcupine, owl, woodpecker, badger, black bear, and […]
Brittany Wong, Divorce editor at the Huffington Post recently asked me about mixed introvert and extrovert couples. You can read her interesting article here.
If you are an introvert in relationship with an extrovert or an extrovert in partnership with an introvert, there is no need to despair. There are ways that you can make your differences work for you to enrich your lives.
Of course, mindfulness can be a helpful adjunct.
Here are some more of my thoughts on the topic:
- Avoid blame: No one is right, no one is wrong.
Introversion and extroversion are basic personality traits. They are integral to the way that we inhabit the world. If your partner is a strong extrovert and you are a strong introvert (or vice versa) it’s easy to get caught up in blaming, ridiculing, and deriding your partner because her or she is not like you. Your partner is not this way to annoy you. Understanding that two people can be very different can empower you to appreciate the other rather than seeing him or her as trying to frustrate you
- Educate: Don’t Fall into the trap of mind reading.
Even when you recognize that your partner’s differences are legitimate, it is often still necessary to educate him or her on what it means to be an introvert or extrovert for you. Your unique needs. Your way of seeing things. Your way of feeling, especially for introverts when it comes to social activities, stimulation, and quiet time. Your partner can’t know what these needs are unless you tell them. While it may be perfectly apparent, it’s not transparent until you make it so.
- Negotiate: You can’t get your needs met 100 percent of the time.
Being with an introvert/extrovert opposite can enrich your life. Extroverts draw out introverts and open them to new adventures. Introverts bring a measure of calm, quiet, steadiness to a relationship with an appreciation of interior things like thoughts, feelings, and creativity. Even with this enrichment, there will be times when you can’t meet each other’s expectations. Here, you negotiate. To get the best deal, you’ve got to know what your needs are, which as we saw, also helps with education. For introverts in particular, when you overextend your energy to meet high demand social situations, you’ll need to negotiate recovery time. “I’ll go to that office party with you but then I am not leaving the house for the next two days …”
- Meditate together
Mindfulness meditation practice can provide a common ground of quiet, introspection, and peace that both introverts and extroverts need in the hectic, loud, fast-pace of life. Doing something together—especially learning something together—is a great way for couples with different personalities to connect. In addition to slowing things down and having some respite in your days, the benefits of the practice can help you to be better listeners and to know yourselves better.