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Living with Extroverts

Extroverts need to be heard and understood. So don’t immediately reason with them, analyse or offer solutions. Listening, showing understanding and validating feelings comes first. Only then can solutions be discussed. “Reason not the need..” as Shakespeare said.

Extroverts fluctuate. This is not “wrong”; it is their rhythm, their natural response to a world full of unruly events. Do not try to calm or cure, just because their expressiveness is sometimes repetitive or overwhelming. Love them for how they are.

Extroverts use talking to work things out. (Introverts tend to talk only after they have worked things out.) So when extroverts spontaneously float ideas, listen, acknowledge, consider; don’t imediately dispute. Discussion can take place only after they have felt heard and understood.

Extroverts soothe themselves though connection with others. (Introverts tend to soothe alone.) So if your partner is an extrovert and wants to tell you about something, listen, validate and empathise first.

Extroverts are vulnerable. It may not seem so but they put themselves out there. They can feel exposed and that they themselves might be the problem. So don’t criticise or blame them for being loud or “over emotional”. If you do that they may withdraw completely. Learn to respect and love them for their abundant contributions and wonderful spontaneity.

Spontaneity means extroverts voice both warmth and criticism. The hardest of all learning is hearing their criticism without being triggered and getting reactive  or withdrawing. At first simply mirror it, “It seems to you that I.. don’t listen/am selfish/don’t love you..” even if you think none of the criticisms are true. Acknowledge that something you may have done or said could have been hurtful (intentionally or not); apologise for mistakes!

Extroverts contribute to the relationship in ways that may not be so easy for introverts. Learn to voice appreciations, eg “I want you to know I am grateful that you.. organised the party.. dealt with the neighbour.. talked with the kids about sex. etc. And, “That’s something I don’t find so easy.”

Extroverts need to feel connected; that is their oxygen. Introverts must learn to stretch themselves into extrovert style sometimes. When extroverts feel heard, understood and they know some of their partner’s underlying emotions (positive or negative), they may then feel more together, loving and sexy.

In the long run, partners must talk about their differences and how they are going to deal with them together. “I realise that we are very different in the way we relate. It would be good if we could discuss how that impacts us both. We seem to fight over issues when its really about how we differ in being extrovert and introvert.”


With thanks to:
Shakespeare, King Lear, Act 2, Scene 4,
Quiet by S Cain,
Getting the Love You Want by H Hendrix
The Neuroscience of Human Relationships by L Cozolino,
Men are from Mars,… by J Gray

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