When You're an Extrovert & Your Partner's ... Not

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Your idea of a fun night involves karaoke, dancing, and chatting up strangers at a communal table at a restaurant. Your partner? Turning off his phone and reading in bed. It's so endearing when two people with totally different personalities meet cute and fall in love, but the day-to-day relationship that follows can be -- well, slightly tricky.

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"While it's true that opposites do attract, they can also grow weary of one another," admits Paul Hokemeyer, JD, PhD, a licensed marriage and family therapist who works out of New York City, Los Angeles, and Telluride, Colorado. "The key to keeping the attraction alive is knowing your limits, being respectful of differences, and speaking up rather than acting out."

Here's how to make it work if you're a party girl who accidentally fell for a homebody:

Compromise. "In our win-at-all-costs, aggressive world, compromise has gotten a bad rap," Hokemeyer notes. "In reality, compromise isn't about what you give up, but rather what you gain."

Be honest with your partner -- and yourself -- about what you need in your life and what your limits are. If you crave a long night of dancing or a happy hour with girlfriends not just once a year but once a month -- hell, maybe even once a week -- let your partner know. Let him know that of course, you'd love for him to come with. But if he'd prefer not to (which he probably won't), explain that it's still important to you to go.

"Don't expect your partner to read your mind or act on your behalf," says Hokemeyer. "You have to expressly articulate what you need."

And that means giving him a chance to do the same. Chances are, he feels as strong a pull toward staying in on the couch as you do about that '90s dance party downtown.

Put a positive spin on your differences. "I've never met an introvert who doesn't admire and even long for extroverted attributes," Hokemeyer says. "And I've never met an extrovert who didn't feel the same about some qualities of introverts."

Instead of wishing that your SO would chat more at parties --- or worse, complaining about that aloud -- "focus on the traits you do admire," suggests Hokemeyer.

More from The Stir: 10 Amazing Perks of Being an Introvert

Maybe it's what a great listener your partner is. Or how you can always count on him to be calm and even-tempered; social drama isn't even on his radar.

Remind yourself why you fell in love with him -- and the qualities of his you admire -- and "your capacity to empathize will bridge the gulf between you," Hokemeyer says.

Learn from each other. Being with a partner who obviously wishes you were different? Talk about demoralizing. And if you're the person trying to get your SO to change, that's not only unfair, but also mentally exhausting. (Especially because it ain't gonna happen.)

"True success comes in celebrating differences and supporting your partner to be who they are," says Hokemeyer.

Your differences can actually help each other, if you only take the time to see it that way. "The extrovert can enable the introvert to have a healthy social life, while the introvert can help the extrovert celebrate stillness and the wonderful insights that come from living an introspective life."

 

 

Image via iStock.com/Georgijevic

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