What do you do when your partner is the life of the party and you enjoy quality time with the couch instead? How do you both get what you want and stay happy in your relationship?
First, let’s define our terms. Introverts replenish their mana (think video games here), by staying in for a quiet dinner with partner and a few close friends. It’s not that introverts can’t go binge drink and dance on a table- except that spends energy. Extroverts, on the other hand, replenish their energy by being the life of the party, meeting new people, socializing, etc, and a quiet dinner in might spend mana for them. (Think of mana as sort of fucks you’re able to give, or in therapy, something we call frustration tolerance. You will be able to tolerate and adapt to more if you are feeling at your best. If this takes up all of your energy, then it won’t take much for you to feel overwhelmed or out of sorts, socially.
So how do we balance this in relationships? We do see the sort of opposites attract cliche playing out quite a bit in relationship counseling. It’s nice to have a partner or partners that can take you outside of yourself a bit, and at first, that extroversion quality (for introverts) feels exciting. Same for extroverts. There is something grounding in introverts that some extroverts find grounding. Fast forward into later stages of the relationship when the honeymoon phase is over, and what were once attractive cute idiosyncrasies can sometimes turn into flaws in the eyes of your partner/s.
In relationship therapy, we would want to start with learning effective communication strategies to be able to communicate idea likes “I need to stay in and just refill, tonight- you go have fun and come back and tell me all about it.” as opposed to “You fucking asshole, you always do this - you know I don’t feel like going out to the club again so soon after we went out all night last weekend.” You tell us- does one feel different?
In therapy, we would look at this situation from the perspectives of both individuals and try to see where we can change the potential cognitive distortions which may be present and interfering with seeing eye to eye when it comes to social needs of your significant other. Challenging these distortions makes way for a more positive thinking pattern which allows for both partners to be happy and content in their relationship while getting what they want and need.