Psychologist Laurie Helgoe, an introvert who has been happily married to an extrovert for nearly 25 years, says both sides often see the other personality as “selfish” in their behavior.
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Helgoe, author of Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life is Your Hidden Strength, suggests these tips to help partners accept and respect their differences.
Top 5 Tips for Introverts – Extrovert Relationships
1. Educate your extroverts. To KNOW you is to love you. Teach them: You need alone time to recharge; you like to think before you speak.
2. Cue your extroverts. When you need a break from people, tell them you’re checking out for a bit instead of just disappearing.
3. Expect respect for your pauses: Extroverts see quiet as a nonresponse; you need quiet to form your response. See Tip #1. Say, “Hold on. I’m thinking about what you said.”
4. Negotiate. Once you establish what works for you, you’re in a position to negotiate with your loved one how to get both of your needs met. Stretching yourself for love is a noble thing; stretching resentfully hurts you both.
5. Love, Introvert Style. Introverts give each other a lot of space, but your relationship with each other needs space too. Make room for shared introvert pleasures, whether that’s a coffeehouse conversation, a walk in the woods or a new part of town, or being “alone together,” reading or writing in a cozy setting (yes, that counts!).
Laurie Helgoe, Ph.D., is a psychologist specializing in personality. In addition to five books, she authored thePsychology Today cover story, “Revenge of the Introverts,” was quoted in the The Wall Street Journal, and is a frequent invited speaker and radio and television guest. Helgoe is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine.