When Susan first started dating an extrovert after breaking up with her extremely introverted and analytical boyfriend, it was like a breath of fresh air. This new guy was relaxed and talked and laughed and put her at ease quickly. He did not worry about if they were “making good time” if they drove to the beach, and he did not analyze and critique the things she did.
Her happiness at the “greener grass on the other side of the fence” soon became a feeling that she was a boring, unsociable person. She was only 22, yet she found herself exhausted by the nightly – yes nightly – parties and social events his large circle of friends expected them to attend. Her own friends were more introverted, so they and she considered it sufficient to see each other every week or two. That meant that almost every night, weekdays and weekends, she was either spending the evening with him and his friends or trying to explain why she was taking a night off and putting up with the jeers of, “You’re no fun!” She pushed herself more and more to try to keep up with this group. To make matters worse, he was clueless about the fact that she needed alone time and she never expressed it to him. One day she told him she was going to go run some errands alone. Oh, she was looking forward to just wandering around alone all afternoon! The phone rang before she could leave, and she soon heard him telling one of his friends her plan and agreeing that sure she’d love to have her come along! Soon she was picking up the other girl to take her along! The other girl was a very nice person, but it was not the recharge getaway she had planned. She returned home even more exhausted and burned out than she had been before she left.
If this was me, knowing that I’m an introvert, I would definitely find out what my ratio of people-time to alone-time is. After a work day, do I need 20 minutes or so to just be alone and go through the mail, etc.? Do I need to stay home at least one night a week? Three? And I would tell him about my need to recharge. “While you watch the baseball game, I am going to get away to go just be alone. I will be back, and we can do something fun then, but don’t you dare tell anyone where I am!” 🙂 Likewise, as an extrovert, he’d want to be able to go, go, go, and see as many people as possible, so I would talk honestly to him about which things he really wanted me to go to with him and which he could manage without me while I recharge my battery. I might still get a few, “Oh come on!” but it would be his choice which events were the most important to him.
One advantage for a introvert dating an extrovert is that you can entertain yourself quite well, so the other person is free to have as many nights out with friends or sports activities as he/she likes. It just means you can curl up with a book and have a delicious unstructured time to yourself. If only the world could understand and accept our need to recharge alone!
Photo credit: Paul Keleher