I’m not sure I’ll ever fully understand it either ...why seemingly polar opposites attract. Like when introvert meets extrovert and they decide to do life together despite the obvious complications this invites.
After almost six years of consorting, my fiancé (the extroverted extrovert) and I (the quieter but astute observer) have recently moved in together for real, boots ‘n all.
By which I mean, there’s no more “I’m going home to stay at my place tonight” nor any pre-meditated Plan B. Being that we’ve each sold heaps of furniture and other crap to fit each other in. Big strides for two decades of commitment-phobic me.
To state the bleeding obvious, there can be challenges when introvert meets extrovert
I’m going to assume that you can envisage some of the wild differences & resulting complexities when introvert meets extrovert, but here’s a starter for 10 should you be feeling a bit in the dark…
And yet, despite our paradoxes somehow it works and then some, because...
10 awesome things I definitely never expected as an introvert dating an extrovert
Yep, so we've ascertained there are some challenges when introvert meets extrovert, let’s not pretend otherwise. I rather think though, that there are in any relationship one way or another. This cohabitating malarkey got me reflecting though, on just how many very cool unexpected things have resulted over time from the two of us getting together. Here goes:
1 - I’ve learnt to recognise & value my own strengths more
Contrast shows things up. While it's highly likely I may never be a great drop-of-the-hat orator or the world’s most accomplished socialite, I've realised I have been blessed with other tremendously useful abilities that not everyone has.
2 - I’ve learnt to love myself more
Being with a very confident person in whom you rarely observe self-doubt slipping into the corn gets you thinking about why is that? ...which leads onto what if how I am is not a personality flaw, but the result of things I sucked up from the past? …and then to so what can I do to improve that?
3 - I’ve learnt to love other people more
Being constantly thrust amongst it, you learn a few things. Namely, that as an introvert it's not other people that are the problem; its more about getting to a place of feeling comfortable in you. Learning to love myself more has made it easier to show up as me and be able to appreciate folk for who they are too – which hopefully gives others permission to do likewise, because its heaps more fun that way.
4 - I understand my own needs & protect my boundaries
It has become exceedingly clear that I need lots of time to myself, without anyone. If I don’t get this I may very likely morph into a screaming banshee, which isn't fun for anyone. I’ve learned to prioritise & protect “me time” at pain of death.
5 - I have waaaaay more integrity
Being around someone all sparkly and shiny, you can easily feel lost in the background - or worse, hide behind them purposely so you never really have to show yourself. I like Martha Beck's definition of integrity as being whole, entire, undiminished. So when you’re in integrity, you’re one fully aligned system – and when you’re not, you are duplicity because there’s one part being true to you and another not, which creates stress. What I'm getting at here is that having integrity is being true to yourself, rather than avoidance ...like failing to voice, do, be who you really are because you find the thought of that uncomfortable. I find integrity hugely empowering.
6 - I’ve become a much better communicator
I've had to learn how to voice my opinions and needs in a way that someone with quite a different approach to engaging with the world can hear, understand & appreciate. In all honesty, this is no mean feat, I suspect also never ending, and involves much practice, patience, trial & error! And worth it.
7 - I’ve become a courageous comfort zone expander
My partner is vision-impaired and can’t recognise faces, so in typical extrovert fashion just assumes that everyone is always stoked to see him and approaches them thus. Meaning he doesn't worry unduly about what anybody might be thinking of him. My eyesight is largely fine, but I've taken this onboard as an excellent general strategy to life all the same. So much of what holds us back hails from fear of what other people might think, which is nuts.
8 - I’ve realised that so much is actually a choice
I can’t meet in the middle if I’m leaning out. I’ve realised that ultimately, I have a choice in this and in all my relationships, and in life. I can choose, if I wish, to resist lots of my very strong but not necessarily that useful default urges to do (or not do) or react to things in the same ways I always have... or I can lean in and be open to flirting with someone else's ways too, as there just might be something cool in there for me also.
9 - I’ve learnt the importance of support & encouragement
Be generous and lash lots of that good stuff about the place. We all need it - introvert, extrovert, ambivert, whatever. If you're in someone's life, encourage them - this is now a philosophy of mine.
10 - I’ve become a leader in my own lunchbox
Playing small because other people make more noise than you be damned. Overall, I've learnt that to be who I want to be to myself is a hugely valuable approach that feels goooood. I've become a leader, expert and success story in my own lunchbox; this being something of a culmination of all the above that being an introvert doing life with an extrovert has brought in.
So to close this all out nicely, where I used to say my guy and I are like "chalk and cheese", I’m now evolving into the term “complementary”.
Shall we call it feeling quietly confident? I am an introvert after all