He enjoys getting together with friends, but not too many at a time, and his fuse is pretty short when it comes to being with large groups of people. Ted and Suzanne have been married for sixteen years and except for the first several months, things have been shall we say…intense. A typical introvert, Ted tends to seek solitude and time for introspection when his battery needs recharging. But not until then. Suzanne, on the other hand gets recharged by being with people. We used to talk for hours about the most personal and meaningful things in our lives.
I loved his depth and his capacity for listening and understanding ; I thought that it would never end. Boy was I wrong. He reacted to my efforts to engage him and draw him out with resistance and resentment. He became passive-aggressive and that drives me nuts! It seems that the harder I try to express my frustration and my need for more closeness, the more he withdraws. Gloria, my girlfriend of four years and I had recently broken up.
Not surprisingly, she had some of the same complaints about me that Suzanne has. What to her was a reasonable expectation of connection time, to me was overwhelming. The hole in my life that she filled was empty again and I really took a dive emotionally. I went into a deep depression and got in touch with a fear that there might be something really wrong with me.
What kind of a jerk pushes away a woman that he loves without even making an effort to get her back? So when Suzanne and I met, we both fell hard for each other and I was so grateful and relieved to have been given another chance to do it right this time. The first year that we were together was incredible. I loved being back in a relationship.
I felt like a man who had been dying of thirst and was finally drinking from a stream of cool fresh water. I thought that it would never end. Shortly after our first wedding anniversary, I started feeling some of those old urges to seek out more solitary time.
And when she did, she tried to re-engage me by turning the heat up and I felt really pressured. Things just got worse. The harder she pushed, the more I withdrew. I felt like I was running for my life. That was the turning point.
Introverts tend to be self-reflective and seek out spaces where they can access their inner experiences freely. Extroverts on the other hand are predisposed to seek out others with whom they can engage and find the answers to their questions in the dialogue that the interactive process provides. It might seem counter-intuitive for these two very different personality types to get together, but it actually makes perfect sense from a relationship standpoint.
Left to their own devices or paired with a partner whose inclination is the same as theirs, each of their lives would be unbalanced in one direction or the other. Two extroverts would run the risk of burning out without sufficient down-time for rest and reflection.
Things could also get heated between the two of them as their tendencies might cause them to run the risk of overloading their system possibly amplifying rather than reducing the stress level of their lives. The potential danger of a relationship with two introverts is pretty obvious. Insufficient stimulation and inadequate external input. The net result of this is that the relationship and the passion level could flatline.
More marriages die as a result of neglect than unresolved differences, so a two-introvert relationship carries its own set of risks as well. This does not by any means suggest that marriages shared by two similar types are doomed.
We have known a great many couples that are in two-introvert or two-extrovert marriages that are ecstatically happy. All relationships have their unique challenges, and the predispositions that both partners bring are not the most important variable in the process. As many of us have found out, this is quite a bit easier said than done.
It is, however do-able, given a commitment to do the work. Both introverts and extroverts are challenged to reframe their view of their partner from judgment and resentment for not being more like they would like them to be, to gratitude for the value that they do bring into their lives.
As this process evolves, appreciation replaces criticism and acceptance replaces judgment. It does take work and it does take time, but as countless couples know from their experience, the payoffs more than justify the effort.