Written by Writer’s Corps member Amanda Phillips
“Opposites attract” – we’ve all heard it a million times, right? There’s almost nothing more opposite than an extrovert and an introvert! You’re the strong, silent type; they’re the first to volunteer at karaoke night. While introverts prefer spending time alone and having smaller groups of friends, extroverts need to be around people, so how do you make it work? Fear not, it’s totally possible to be complete opposites and still get along seamlessly. Don’t believe me? Just ask Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Lisa Olivera. She told Bustle, “introverts and extroverts can create beautifully balanced, whole and healthy partnerships together.” The trick is both partners have to commit to understanding how “each best function in the world” and honor that.
I decided to test this theory among oppositely paired couples I knew. How do they make it work? Their answers below may surprise you. Here are four couple’s take on making it work when you and your partner have opposing personality types.
1. Find a Balance
“My boyfriend likes to talk about things right then and there when we have a big decision coming up – but I need to process because otherwise I feel rushed. He knows I need that time, so he does his best to give me space – and I try to respect his needs by not dwelling on it for days.”
None of us are mind readers – so communication is a major key for introverts and extroverts in a relationship. A lot of times, introverts need to think things out while extroverts need to talk things out, and finding a good balance is an important step in healthy communication so the introvert doesn’t get lost in their thoughts and the extrovert doesn’t feel forgotten. Being self-aware of what you each need here is step one, but you have to share that with the other person, too!
RELATED: 7 Ways to “Make it Work” When You and Your S.O. are Total Opposites
2. Discuss Your Difference In A Healthy Way
“We try to start hard conversations with, “I love you, AND…” or “our relationship is fine, but…” — my boyfriend needs a lot of alone time, and tends to overthink things, so we try to keep that reassurance to avoid anxiety.”
— Brannan H.
Relationships are not all sunshine and rainbows. Everyone has conflicts or arguments from time to time, but there is a way to “fight fair” and keep things healthy while you’re working through something. Remember that at the end of the day, healthy relationships are built on care and compassion – and there are ways to be kind and supportive of one another, even when you disagree.
3. Find A Balance Between Homebody And Life of the Party
“If we go to a dinner party or a fire pit night with a bunch of friends, I try to make sure my SO has some time to themselves the next day. I know she needs time to recharge after being around a lot of people.”
— Cesar S.
Your SO may not want to go to every single party – just like you may not want to spend every night in. The things that give you energy may exhaust them, and vice versa. How do you find a good balance? By letting each other know what your needs are and making sure you both have equal say in the relationship. Maybe you need to call an Uber to escape the semi-formal event when you get drained, but they feel like staying out on the dance floor. Your social lives may look very different and that’s okay. The secret to success here is to find a compromise that takes both of your needs into an account.
4. Don’t Be Afraid To Learn New Things About Each Other
“My boyfriend is a total extrovert, and I’m as introverted as it gets. So, we both took the Myers-Briggs [test]. It felt weird taking a personality test, but it helped us really get each other because sometimes it’s hard for me to explain why I don’t always want to be out and about and around people like he does.”
— Audrey Y.
While this might not be a first date activity, there are lots of ways for you and your partner to learn things about each other. Everything from horoscopes, to the 5 Love Languages, the Enneagram, and the Myers-Briggs test give you a little peek into the inner workings of your partner. What makes them tick? Are they talkative and open or more reserved? The more you learn the easier it will be to appreciate your partner’s communication style and personal preferences. Remember, a healthy partner will want to respect what you need, and learn how to explain what they need, too! Why? Because healthy relationships are all about finding a balance -and this can be a real challenge when you have opposite interests!