Can Introverts Love Extroverts?

A friend posed this question to me today. I had to ask for clarification–I’m sure many introverts fall in love with extroverts, and vice versa.

She clarified that she is curious about whether or not introverts can show their love to extroverts. Can introverts–those who typically need a lot of time by themselves to re-energize, loathe talking just for the sake of talking, and don’t enjoy jumping into rooms full of strangers–fulfill the relationship needs of extroverts–those who get energy from being around other people, need to verbalize quite a bit and fill gaps in conversation, and get excited about meeting new people?

I think they can. It just takes some work.

I dated an extreme extrovert for a long time. I’m not an extreme introvert–I do enjoy hosting parties, and I like structured time with friends (like board game nights), but this woman and I were quite far apart on the ‘trovert spectrum.

I don’t think we had a perfect system in place, but we had a pretty good one. She spent a lot of time with her friends after work, and I used that time to fulfill my introverted needs so that when she got home, if she wanted time with me, I felt free to give it to her.

It helped that she was an exceptional conversationalist. Introverts (at least, socially savvy introverts) tend to ask a lot of questions, deflecting attention and relieving the burden of entertaining from themselves. Thus conversations with talkative extroverts can end up being completely one sided, which can be really deflating for an introvert. We like to be asked questions! That empowers us to talk more. It just so happened that this girlfriend was great at balanced conversation. If that’s not the case, it would be very difficult to sustain a relationship.

The one other component is that introverts need to be a part of their extrovert partners’ social lives–not all the time, but some of the time. I think this is where communication can really help. If you want to be by your partner’s side at a party, communicate the importance of that to your partner in advance. Even better, encourage your extroverted partner to introduce you to people that they think you’ll enjoy talking to–that way you can have the types of conversations you enjoy, and they have the freedom to roam around the room meeting all those strangers.

I’m sure you all have some great examples of ways introverted-extroverted relationships succeed (and fail). Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.

4 thoughts on “Can Introverts Love Extroverts?”

  1. Name: Sarah

    Species: Introvert

    Recurring nightmare: Party. Room full of strangers eating finger foods. (Could be worse. Could be spaghetti.) Alone, in limbo, in that middle ground between clusters of happy chitchatty people, with no way to break into the group. Panic sets in. The kind of panic that, were it to happen to Jamey Stegmaier, would end with a loincloth.

    Salvation: An extrovert to throw me a lifeline that brings me into the group.

    Life plan: Date the extroverts. They’ll save you from loincloth purgatory.

    (…or…crud…on second thought: Avoid the extroverts. They’ll drag you to those parties. Now I’m confused again.)

    • Finger spaghetti would indeed be far worse.

      That’s a really good point about the value to introverts to date extroverts…well, I would say “extroverts with a heightened sense of awareness.” (It’s equally important, in my opinion, for introverts to have that awareness too–we need to be aware when we’re deflecting conversation too much or isolating people instead of engaging the group, etc.)

      • Huzzah!

        Life plan back on track: Date the extrovert with a heightened sense of awareness. And don’t eat pasta with my bare hands

        …in public


  2. Consider your question. “Can introverts–those…fulfill the relationship needs of extroverts.” I think the answer is no, at least not personally. But I don’t think that’s a problem when dating.
    Because introverts and extroverts re-energize in different settings, by definition, they do not contribute to building each other’s energy needs. But (as in your example) I think that’s ok, so long as they are each able to re-energize individually, and don’t resent the time that the other person takes to re-energize. If the extrovert is disappointed that the introvert needs 2 hrs of reading time alone each night, that could cause trouble. Or if the introvert really wishes they could go out with friends three times a week, that could be an issue.
    But I think the most interesting part of this analysis is that being with the other person will be draining to both, because they are not alone, and they are not with a group. To be willing to expend your energy in (and on) a relationship is the important factor (to me).


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