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Can an extrovert and introvert prosper together?
October 25, 2009 3:35 PM   Subscribe

My girlfriend is extremely outgoing while I enjoy quite evenings at home. How do we keep both sides happy and satisfied?

I met this sweet girl and we had an amazing start, so amazing in fact, that we moved together after a month of intensive dating.

We been together for four month now. Love each other dearly, share many same goals, have similar opinions and lifestyle(Eating healthy, exercising, sustainable farming) . Have great communication. Most of it is just pure bliss. But,

I am a classic introvert while she is a hardcore extrovert.
I enjoy quite evenings at home, playing the guitar, reading, writing, having long conversations, the occasional movie, meeting up with few close friends.

She loves being around people, knows a good chunk of the town by name. Loves to party, drink and socialize.

At first I thought it wont be a big problem, that we could find a middle ground. I could go to the events that she feels are especially important to her, rough it up and let her go out by her own to the rest. But the thing is she is way more outgoing than I thought. Most weekends she would go to two/three parties a day with an unofficial gatherings in between. We are talking about four to five hours a day. Most weekdays she'll have something going on for three hours or so. This is way way too much for me to handle. Whenever I do go, I am very unhappy, counting the moments to return home and afterwards it takes me hours to recharge and regain my sanity.

Please notice; I definitely don't want to change her. I think she is great the way she is. Trying to change people to your own image is futile and will often lead to resentment. I also don't believe I can REALLY change; Yeah I can acquire skills and experience but when all is said and done at my core I would still love to be alone/small company than big groups. I feel that extroverted and introverted people have their own strengths and weaknesses, and being more extroverted is not a goal for me.
I can fake it when I really want to, and appear welcoming, enjoying myself and looking interested, but obviously its just a charade and a very draining one. I was like that most of my life (introverted) and it "works" for me most of the time.

I love this girl and really don't want to screw it up.

So,
Do you think our differences our too deep?
Anybody else was in the same boat? How did you guys coped? Did it worked out?
Words of general advice?
Ideas for a logical arrangement?

Sorry for any grammar mistakes, or just general awkwardness. English is not my main language.

Thank you and have a great day,
posted by Sentus to Human Relations (22 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
But the thing is she is way more outgoing than I thought. Most weekends she would go to two/three parties a day with an unofficial gatherings in between. We are talking about four to five hours a day. Most weekdays she'll have something going on for three hours or so. This is way way too much for me to handle. Whenever I do go, I am very unhappy, counting the moments to return home and afterwards it takes me hours to recharge and regain my sanity.

That's insane and would simultaneously exhaust me and drive me ballistic. I've been in similar relationships and it really put a massive rift between the two of us and I'm not saying that this is going to be the case with you but it also lead, inevitably I guess, to her cheating on me, incidents I heard about later through various sources. In the end I didn't give a shit because I wasn't going to put up with crowds of morons just to keep my girlfriend from making out with other guys but I guess what I'm saying is, deeply introverted vs. extremely extroverted isn't a great long-term strategy.

Also, maybe I'm reading a little too much in to this, and I'm not trying to offend, but moving in together after only a month (and I'm guessing she moved in to yours rather than vice versa) and her being out all the time seems to me that she is using your place as a base of operations more than anything.

In the end, all you can do is talk to her about it.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:44 PM on October 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is really not so hard to deal with. She makes all the plans she wants to make, and she flags on the calendar one to two a week (never two days in a row) that are "most important" to her in terms of you turning up. You go for two hours, and then go home.

Other options that can be a compromise is that you find some places - quiet neighbourhood restaurants, quiet coffee houses or bars - that the two of you can go to so that she's getting out, with you, but you're not required to deal with third parties constantly.

If she's not happy with that, or you're insecure about her being out without you all the time, then no it won't work but as someone who practically has to be dragged from my home with a winch, I can tell you it works for us.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:49 PM on October 25, 2009 [5 favorites]


I have a very similar arrangement as DarlingBri's. I'm the extrovert, my husband is the introvert. (But really, your girlfriend's schedule? Would drive this extrovert to an early grave. Wow.) As long as you both realize that neither of you is going to become the other, you should be fine. It's worked for us for nearly 18 years now.
posted by cooker girl at 3:54 PM on October 25, 2009


Is there a reason you don't just stay home even more often and let her go out alone? That seems like the obvious solution so if there's more to this, you should clarify.
posted by Nattie at 4:00 PM on October 25, 2009


I'm a mild extrovert, and you're gf's schedule sounds pretty mild to me. Three hours on the weekend.... isn't that much.

That being said, go out with her as often as you are comfortable with. If she's really into you, she'll stay home with you as often as she can.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:09 PM on October 25, 2009


Stay home and tell her if she wants you to go out, pick one per week for you to go to. You show up for a few hours and then head home, leaving her to stay as late as she pleases. If she can't deal with this and you can't deal with going out all the time, then at least you've figured it out now.
posted by Brian Puccio at 4:10 PM on October 25, 2009


In my relationship, I'm definitely the more socially extroverted of us. I've just always gone out and had fun with my friends and let him decide if he wants to come (rare) or just gone out without him and let him have his down time. There's no reason you have to be together all the time, as long as she's able to make time for being with you. I love going out with my friends, but I also cherish the time I get to spend alone with my boyfriend, its just key that you two work out some sort of balance that will work for you both.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 4:44 PM on October 25, 2009


I was in a relationship like this for 12 years (I'm the extrovert; he's the introvert). At first, I really wanted him to go with me to my events b/c I wanted to share the experience with him. It didn't take long to realize that his going made 1)him miserable (he wanted outta there!) and 2)me miserable (I was constantly worried about how uncomfortable he was.)

Once I realized that, I started going to everything by myself. He was happy and I was happy, and it was always nice to have someone to come home to that loved me dearly. He liked the time when I was away, too, because he got to totter around and do whatever he liked without having to talk to me the whole time.

There will always be times when she wishes you would join her, but frankly, I'd keep those dates to an absolute minimum. This is a system that can work (very successfully and happily, I might add) if you're both okay with it.
posted by reebs26 at 5:20 PM on October 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Also, maybe I'm reading a little too much in to this, and I'm not trying to offend, but moving in together after only a month (and I'm guessing she moved in to yours rather than vice versa) and her being out all the time seems to me that she is using your place as a base of operations more than anything."
- I actually moved into her place.

"This is really not so hard to deal with. She makes all the plans she wants to make, and she flags on the calendar one to two a week (never two days in a row) that are "most important" to her in terms of you turning up. You go for two hours, and then go home."
- This actually might work. I'll give it a try.

"Is there a reason you don't just stay home even more often and let her go out alone? That seems like the obvious solution so if there's more to this, you should clarify."
- Well, After a certain point it becomes a bit awkward; Her spending a big chunk of her time without me (returning late at night). But maybe its the best compromise of we want to be together.

Thank you for all the helpful suggestions. Any more nuggets of wisdom?
posted by Sentus at 5:49 PM on October 25, 2009


I'm the extrovert, she's the introvert. Sadly, I trend toward inertia, so for the first decade of our marriage, I'd make plans to go out, she would say she'd go, and then the night of she'd say she was tired or sick and I'd end up skipping. I was miserable.

Then, about two years ago I started traveling a ton -- eight to ten days a month. I tend not to get more than four to five hours of sleep any night that I'm on the road because I'm out at night seeing friends and see live music. When I'm home I trend towards time with her and the kids. Has worked out very well.
posted by bpm140 at 5:50 PM on October 25, 2009


roomthreeseventeen, I think you may have misread -- the poster said that his girlfriend is partying for ~5 hours/day on the weekends, and ~3 hours/day during the week.

Sentus, I don't mean to sound dour, but that sort of schedule suggests more than just extroversion to me. If your numbers are accurate, she's spending 1 full day a week partying, or the equivalent of a second job; where and how does she do anything -but- socialize/drink/whatever?

You sound, to me, like a pretty balanced dude. Is she similarly well rounded? What about her is attractive to you? Why is she into YOU, for that matter? I think the answers to your questions hinge on that. Relationships live and thrive on shared time and activities. If she's vapid and pretty and really just out sleeping around, then no, you probably won't last; if she's crazy about you and you guys have tons in common, aside from her desire to be very social, you probably will.
posted by ellF at 6:04 PM on October 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Your best bet: live the way you prefer to, and let her live the way she prefers to, and see if it works for both of you in the context of your relationship. If being apart so much is "a bit awkward" now, it'll be a disaster by the time you're deep in it -- but some people thrive on not spending a lot of time together. YMMV, but you'll only determine your actual mileage by both being yourselves.
posted by davejay at 6:16 PM on October 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Maybe she would be interested to read Caring for Your Introvert (I think I first saw this elsewhere on AskMe, in fact)?
posted by Weng at 6:53 PM on October 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


As the introvert, the worst thing you can do is listen to turgid dahlia and start getting all jealous and clingy. Flirting for an introvert is casual conversation for an extrovert, if you excuse the hyperbole. Extroverts gain energy from other people, just as introverts gain energy from being alone. What your extrovert wants is support, and that might mean hot sex when your extrovert comes home from a night of partying (this says "you are the one I want, hence why I'm here and not at somebody else's place" as opposed to "you are just my base of operations"). As an extrovert, I often appreciate having a calm person to balance me out, especially after a night of insanity.

One thing that former introvert partners did with me was they tried to go out with me more one-on-one or with smaller groups, which usually filled up some of my energy quota for the day without overwhelming them. If an introverted partner never fills up the calendar, the extrovert will do it without them. An introvert who only wants to stay at home is going to become a bother. If the introvert is passive, this is where the problems start. Being an introvert doesn't mean you're a potted plant.

Caring For Your Extrovert: Be with them as much as possible. If you're scheduling one-on-one time out and about, they may not need to go to so many wild parties. The extrovert's compromise should be not to pressure the introvert and to spend a designated weekly "cuddle night" with the introvert. The introvert's compromise should be to try and do more things out of the house in general.
posted by Her Most Serene Highness at 7:58 PM on October 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm an extrovert. I'm not saying I could keep up with your girlfriend, but I go to a fair amount of shows and parties and like having my picture taken and talking to people and drinking and all that.

I've been in a LTR with an introvert before, and that difference between us is a huge part of why we broke up. I'm now with another party kid who knows even more people and can talk to strangers better and can put down amounts of alcohol that would put me to sleep, and I'm so much happier oh god. Not that that means anything about you and your girlfriend.

Here is some stuff that would have made me less crazy if I was still dating an introvert.

1. When I go out, it's not because I want to go cruise/meet/kiss/fuck other guys. Give me some credit, OK?

2. Don't wait up for me all worried and make me feel guilty for staying out late.

3. Dear god, if you're not going to have fun, DON'T GO. Nothing makes a show less fun than having to babysit your mopey boyfriend wallflowering by the bar the entire time, and nothing is lamer than going to a party and only getting to talk to the person you came with because they won't talk to anyone else.

4. If you don't want to go, that doesn't mean I don't get to go. It means I get to go alone.

5. If I want to go somewhere alone, I'll probably hint at it (I don't think you'd enjoy it, etc). This does not mean that you suck or I hate you or I want to fuck other guys. It means I think I'd enjoy myself more alone. See #3.
posted by Juliet Banana at 8:26 PM on October 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, After a certain point it becomes a bit awkward; Her spending a big chunk of her time without me (returning late at night).

I think the question is why you two are finding it awkward. I mean, it's totally understandable, there are lots of reasons this sort of thing can be awkward — but it doesn't have to be.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:41 PM on October 25, 2009


Hey, this is the introverted boyfriend half of wuzandfuzz. (See above for her post) I used to be pretty social, but I guess my circle of friends changed. Now I am kind of a loner except for my partner in crime, the extroverted girlfriend half of wuzandfuzz. Here's some tips to keep yourself sane.

1) DONT BITCH AND MOAN WHEN YOU HAVE TO GO OUT. This is totally key. Doing so will ruin your girlfriend's night, and not make yours any better. Make a real effort to have fun - you might even have fun!

2) Try to find someone that doesn't suck to hang with you are out. This is also key, as Mrs. Wuzandfuzz has the worst collection of douche friends from law school. If you whine about the crap friends at the outing, you will make her miserable by forcing her to weigh your happiness (going the fuck home) against hers (hanging with the buddies).
Thus, find someone to hang with that doesn't suck (at least ONE of them has to not suck) and chill with them. By having fun, you will not obligate your girlfriend to babysit your ass during her fun time.

3) If you really don't want to go, don't go. Tell her you are feeling like shit, whatever. Mrs Wuzandfuzz and I are at a point where such convenient lies are not necessary, but sounds like you are not. By going to stuff when you REALLY DONT WANT TO You will violate the above rules. You will be whiny-ass biatch supreme, unable to take 4 hours of hanging out.

Trust me, that is totally me most of the time, not wanting to go out - thus, I usually stay home with the cat, and watch college football. What's key is when you do have to go out, try to have fun.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 9:55 PM on October 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Guess I lucked out with an introverted girlfriend. Now the problem is that we're both introverts so we're becoming hermits ;)

Here are some additional nuggets of wisdom to try on for size...

- Remember that introversion/extroversion isn't just about liking hanging out with people or liking being alone. Its about how you recharge. She NEEDS the social interaction to recharge and you can't have it if you want to recharge. So forcing one of you to lean more towards the other too much can be harmful. Not saying don't compromise at all, but just beware of extremes--both of you.

- Your post didn't make it clear as to whether you two have discussed this potential issue. I find it hilarious how everybody posts their deepest issues to AskMeFi without actually talking to the person involved...so, stop reading this and go sit down and have an honest chat with her about your feelings and concerns. If you two are that close and its meant to be she will be understanding and you two can work it out. Relationships are about communication.

- This is coming from someone who had social anxiety disorder when he was younger and can now be the life of the party (while still technically being an introvert). You have some room to grow by forcing yourself to try to learn to be more social. It can benefit your relationship and your professional career as well depending on the situation. So occasionally you should suck it up and try to enjoy it.

- Try an evening out with her and several of YOUR closest friends. That might make it easier to bare and hopefully she can still have the interaction she needs.

- Consider doing more social things that are lower key but a happy middle ground between being stuck at home and raging parties. Smaller groups, quieter activities, etc. Like movies, going out for a nice dinner, having people over for a nice dinner, mini golf, etc.
posted by Elminster24 at 9:58 PM on October 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


My girlfriend is extremely outgoing while I enjoy quite evenings at home. How do we keep both sides happy and satisfied?

She goes out, and you stay home? Do you need to be with each other all the time? (Also, my wife and I are happily married, i'm quite out-going while she's incredibly shy. So yeah, a relationship like this can certainly work just fine.)
posted by chunking express at 7:54 AM on October 26, 2009


Obviously talk about things. I'm in a less-extreme version of an introvert/extrovert relationship, and at least for us it seems like a pretty easy fix. I, the extrovert, go to the events and parties that I think will be fun, invite the introvert, and if she doesn't want to go, that's fine. Not really much more to it than that. But, like I said, I'm less of an extrovert than your gf.
posted by craven_morhead at 8:00 AM on October 26, 2009


Some people have talked around it, but the most important thing here is trust. You need to trust that she's not cheating on you or straying from the relationship when she goes out. If you can't trust her in that way, and if she ever betrays that trust the relationship will not work.

Other than that you should just let her go out if she pleases and try to join her every once in a while. My boyfriend goes out with me and my friends maybe once every 3 weeks or so. My boyfriend and I go out alone together about once a week and I get the same social fulfillment doing that as I do being with a whole group of people. Things we like to do alone together are going to the movies, trying new restaurants, mini golf and walking / hiking. I seriously recommend that you try hiking together as it's not a pressing activity for introverts and theres usually enough interesting sights to entertain an extrovert. Bring a camera.

Be sure to let her know if you ever start to feel lonely or ignored, as extroverts may have a hard time telling the difference between when an introvert is just being an introvert and when they're feeling cast out.
posted by WeekendJen at 11:27 AM on October 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Whatever you do, don't push yourself into a significant change from your introverted habits. If you can't be you in this relationship, the relationship needs to end. Sometimes two very wonderful people just aren't right for each other, and that's how this relationship sounds, to me.
posted by jayder at 11:40 AM on October 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


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