The pandemic has been a time of extended isolation for everyone while we wait for vaccines, herd immunity, and some kind of “normal life” to resume. For many couples, isolation and close quarters have brought unique relationship challenges. This is especially true for couples that are built of one extrovert and one introvert.
Extroverts typically feel filled and fueled by social interaction, while introverts feel filled and fueled by alone time. Quarantine presents difficulties for people on both sides of the spectrum; naturally, many couples have been struggling to cope with their differing needs. Below are tips for how introverted/extroverted couples can make it through this era together.
Identifying Each Other’s Needs
Not every extrovert is the same, and not every introvert is the same. It’s a spectrum, and everyone’s needs are a little bit different—you’ll find this to be the case even when you and your partner are both on the same side of the spectrum. Identifying both your own and your partner’s needs is essential for moving forward. Perhaps one of you is working from home while the other is going to their workplace every day. If the introvert is the one leaving to work and spending around others, while the extrovert is working from home, it’s no surprise that the introvert would come back at the end of the day ready for some alone time right when the extrovert is champing at the bit to hang out. Identifying each other’s needs is the first step to finding solutions that work for both of you.
You might assume that, if you are spending more time together, communication should be easier. This is not always the case. Poor communication is a point of frustration for many couples. To have a constructive and healthy relationship, communication is essential. Getting there requires you to express your needs, voice your frustrations, and display gratitude and admiration to one another—which, if this isn’t part of your normal way of relating, takes practice. Being open about these things often allows you to align and support one another well. Don’t leave your partner guessing about what is going on with you.
A marriage and family therapist (MFT) or other counselor who works with couples can help you and your partner deconstruct faulty ways of communicating and establish better norms for your relationship. Find a couples counselor in your area today!
Remember: Your Partner Is Not the Enemy
It can be easy to slip into anger and frustration when your partner’s needs are different than your own. It’s helpful to intentionally adopt a posture of “you and me vs. the problem.” This helps you think like an ally rather than an adversary. If something stands in the way of your contentment, then you need to work collaboratively to sort it out.
Get Ready to Compromise
Once you’ve identified your needs and you are both dedicated to finding a solution, the next step is to open up to compromise. There might be moments where each of you needs to step outside of your own comfort zone to support and care for your partner. A mutual habit of each flexing a bit to meet your partner’s needs means both of you will be cared for.
Take Care of Yourself as an Individual
While it is important to be there for your partner, you also need to take care of yourself. To succeed as a couple, you each need to succeed as an individual. Spend time really thinking about what is important to you, what your needs are, and how you might be able to meet some of those needs on your own or outside your relationship. For example, if you’re lonely and missing social interaction, think of a friend you could have a regular video chat with and reach out to schedule something with them. Your partner doesn’t have to be your only social outlet.
Take Time to Reconnect
Intentional connection is key to any happy relationship. Regardless if you are an introvert or an extrovert, couples benefit from time together. Choose to spend time together, reconnecting the parts of you that the demands of the pandemic might have buried. Take time to think about what is important to you both as a couple and make a plan for the future.
Compassion Above All Else
At the end of the day, remember that this is a crazy time. Both of you are trying your best to figure things out one day at a time (just like everyone else). Show your partner—and yourself—compassion above all else.
If you’re facing relationship issues, couples counseling can help you and your partner build up your relationship. However, if your partner isn’t interested in going to a therapist, you can still get to work on yourself and the issues in your relationship in individual therapy. Click through to find a therapist in your area.
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