Introvert or extrovert? And… does it matter?

For people engaging in relationships, the shared connection will largely depend on how well you 'get' one another. For this reason, it can be helpful to learn where you both sit on the introvert/extrovert spectrum. Before we look at that, let’s be clear on what introvert and extrovert means. 

The terms introversion and extroversion were first popularised by Carl Jung in the early 20th Century [1] and have become so embedded into our culture that now introvert is shorthand for ‘shy’ and extrovert for ‘party animal’, but the truth is a little more subtle than that. It would be better to think of the types as a continuum, with people leaning slightly more one way than the other.  

Generally, someone who is typically more introverted relaxes and recharges by spending time alone, whereas a more extroverted person is energised and stimulated by spending time with other people [2]. This difference in reaction to stimuli has, according to some studies, been put down to genetic neurological differences [3]. (If you’re not sure if you’re an introvert or an extrovert, there are plenty of online quizzes to help you understand where you are roughly on the spectrum – just google it.) 

So what has this got to do with relationships? Well, if you’re in a couple where one of you is firmly on the introvert side of the spectrum and the other is on the extrovert side, it might lead to some difficulties. For example, a more introverted person might want to stay in a lot more, meanwhile the more extroverted partner wants to go out and socialise, which could potentially lead to one partner not getting what they need. Someone who is more of an introvert might want to consider important decisions by spending time alone pondering, whereas the more extroverted partner might want to discuss their decisions out loud immediately and discuss it with several people. These small character differences can sometimes cause couples to become frustrated with each other and question their compatibility.  

What can be done about these potential rifts? Firstly, think about where you and your partner might fall in the introvert/extrovert continuum and take time to learn what works for each other. Make time for each other’s preferences and compromise sometimes on whether to go to that party or stay in. It’s really helpful to recognise that you can’t ‘convert’ someone to your personality type, which is all a part of accepting them for who they are. 

The introvert and extrovert labels can sometimes be unhelpful because it's often not a clear-cut way of defining someone's character. For example, you might assume your partner is introverted because they don’t like being social, but this could just be a matter of self confidence. This is why it pays to really understand your partner. Always remember, when it comes to being an introvert or an extrovert, it shouldn't be a label that defines you. People often have elements of both introversion and extroversion, with some experiencing more 'text book' tendencies. But none the less, a useful way to help you understand one another better.  



[1] Jung, Carl (1921) Psychological Types


Written by mygroovyplanet

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