When you go searching for dating advice online, you'll probably notice that the majority of the resources are geared toward introvert/extrovert relationships. Yes, I know that opposites attract, been there, done that. But when I was in a relationship with an extrovert, my introvert-self felt pressured to go out, to hang out when all I wanted to do was stay in, insecure (and annoyed) when he couldn’t understand how I’d rather read a book than be with him.
So, when I met someone more my own speed, I couldn’t help but think he’s my long-lost soul mate. It started slowly, we texted a lot since talking on the phone made both of us cringe. Later, most of our date nights revolved around watching Parks and Rec and whatever movie was on TV. We spent our time daydreaming about our future life together, and everything seemed perfect.
However, eventually, the little things that brought us together began tearing us apart. Everything was ideal in our imagination, but in real life? Not so much. Here are some things I wish I had known before I started rolling my eyes each time I saw him.
Step into the Real World Once in a While
One of the hallmarks of introverts is the ability to fantasize. We imagine the perfect life and the perfect partner, but that can easily get in the way of real life. No one and nothing is perfect, and seeking perfection is a sure way to be let down.
He couldn’t live up to my expectations and, being an introvert himself, he immediately noticed when I started questioning our relationship. Truth to be told, I am not perfect, either. But he only realized later, when he had already created an image of the perfect girlfriend, everything he had ever wanted. I let him down as well.
My advice: Don’t date an imaginary person when a real one is standing in front of you. I didn’t have that problem with extroverts, I saw their flaws right away, but another introvert caught me off guard.
Take a Deep Breath and Take Charge
There is a world of difference between imagining a better life and working together to make it happen. We created our little universe and avoided the outside world. We both laughed to people saying stuff like: “You need to grow as a couple and as individuals to be happy and you can’t do it without the real world”. But the joke was on us.
I soon realized that someone had to take charge. It was easy with extroverts, they always led the way. Now, we both hoped that the other one will assume that role. Another disappointment.
I later learned that I needed to force myself to be more assertive. You don’t have to be an extrovert to make decisions, it’s not that hard: you can make a game out of it, flip coins or roll dice. The key is to do it together. When you act together, you can hold each other’s hand (literally and metaphorically) in uncomfortable social situations. You can also divide the “work”: today you can call the pizza place to order in and he can talk to the delivery boy and tomorrow you’ll switch the roles.
Speak Your Mind
I used to be proud of my ability to keep quiet and stay calm when I’m angry. In my other relationships (not only romantic ones), others would start the conversation, so I was forced to say what I think. But he also liked to keep it all in, avoid conflict and become passive aggressive. Two passive-aggressives don’t make a healthy relationship.
Again, neither of us could make the first step and start speaking openly. We ended up resenting each other for the silliest things instead of just biting the bullet. It is stressful, uncomfortable, and can very well end in an argument, but turns out constructive arguments are really part of a healthy relationship.
Don’t Carry the Weight of the World Alone
Introverts don’t need to be told to listen to their partner, that’s our forte. However, we have the desire to avoid unnecessary exposure, which includes letting people see our weakness and stress. So, someone has to tell us to talk.
My ex was going through a rough time, so I became his emotional drain. I didn’t want to burden him with my issues and add to his already full plate. I remained quiet about my troubles because they were not as important as his. The stress started to build up, I lost weight, started feeling apathetic and blamed it on him.
I could have simply told him what’s bothering me. We could have found a way to beat stress together. It didn’t have to be anything complicated: cycling, having a picnic or a romantic dinner followed by a relaxing bubble bath… And talking.
Let Them Have Close Friends
Most introverts only have a few close friends, but we are quite attached to them. As another introvert, you know that your partner confides in that friend, that they share their hopes and dreams. And sometimes, you can’t help but feel insecure and the green-eyed monster appears.
If a friend has problems, the introvert will take their secret to the grave. If you start feeling left out, remember that this is one of the reasons you fell in love with the person in the first place. Don’t take it against your introverted partner if they don’t answer your texts right away when they’re with a friend. You of all people should know that attention should be given to the person sitting next to you.
In the End…
If you are an introvert dating an introvert, learn from my mistakes. Be just a little bit bolder, louder, stronger; I know I will. It’s not that hard once you realize you have someone worth holding on to.