Part 9 of Relationship Series
Updated: 5 days ago
Introversion and Extroversion
As with many other psychological traits, the lack of understanding about the place that one inhabits on the introversion-extroversion spectrum, and the place that others in their lives inhabit, can cause much unnecessary suffering. By gaining understanding of these two qualities themselves, where we land on the spectrum, and how these qualities tend to play out in a relationship, we have a much better chance at avoiding said suffering. It is most helpful to think of these two as a continuum, as opposed to two separate entities. One can be extremely introverted or extroverted, or one can be somewhat in the middle and everyplace in between. To get a sense of where you land, you can take this Extroversion Introversion Test
One of the challenges for folks more on the introversion side of the spectrum is that popular culture in this country is heavily dominated by extroversion. It’s about being bright, acting bright and funny, being the life of the party, and having lots and lots of friends and admirers. That is simply not what introverts want. Their interests are directed more inwards on their own thoughts and feelings. They want to keep their emotions private and prefer to interact one-on-one, or in small groups at the most. They are energized by spending time alone. Not understanding that our friend or partner is an introvert can lead to misunderstandings. Let’s say we make a plan with our friend to take a hike with a group, go out to dinner and then to a movie. After dinner our friend or partner says that they are going to skip the movie and head home. We may take that to mean they don’t care for our company anymore, when actually, they’re just full up with social time and need to be alone to recharge. It actually has nothing to do with us!
In general, extroverts direct their attention to other people and the outside world. They tend to be very social, have the gift of gab, and are comfortable being the life of the party. They tend to have a positive attitude and are willing to take risks and do new things. They get energy from being with others. Extroverts tend to receive positive feedback from the culture at large for these traits. Not understanding that our friend or partner is an extrovert can also lead to misunderstandings. Let’s say that we’re at a gathering with our friend or partner, and they are spending lots of time talking to other people. We may take that to mean they don't care about us, when actually they’re just enjoying the energy they get from socializing with other people. A big party to an extrovert is like being a kid in a candy shop! It actually has nothing to do with us!
Even the most rudimentary understanding of these personality traits can go a long way toward avoiding misunderstandings and hurt feelings in our relationships with others.
For more information on the personality traits of introverts and extroverts, here’s a good Article.