My boyfriend and I have been together for over five years now and we learned early on just how different we are. He’s an extreme extrovert who loves going out and hitting loud, crowded spots while I’m an introvert who prefers calm, quiet, and very few people around me. Rather than let our opposite personalities get in the way of our relationship, we figured out how to make it work.
- We were honest about our social habits from the beginning. We had to really talk things out in a completely transparent way if we had any chance of making our relationship work. My boyfriend and I sat down for a series of open and honest chats about our social preferences. While he’s energized by crowds, I’m drained by them. Conversely, while he does like some alone time, too much of it drains him while I thrive from being by myself. Just knowing and understanding one another’s personalities went a long way in solidifying our relationship.
- We respect each other’s preferences. After we talked about our likes and dislikes socially, my boyfriend and I decided to make conscious efforts to truly understand and respect them. This meant creating boundaries that we never cross even when it’s inconvenient. Simply put: I don’t guilt trip him for wanting to go to parties and events instead of cuddling on the couch with me all weekend. In turn, he doesn’t bash my love for quiet bookstores and almost empty cafes.
- We always find some common ground. Rather than focus on how different we are, my boyfriend and I zero in on key things we have in common. By doing this, we’ve discovered that we actually enjoy a lot of similar activities. This has eliminated a lot of the frustration faced by couples in similar situations. There are tons of things we love doing together that doesn’t upset either of our individual balances and it feels great.
- We look for stuff we can do together. Both of us love going to the movies and it doesn’t bother either of us how many people are there (or not) because we’re very focused on the film. We both love to entertain, so we get a few of our close friends together regularly for dinner parties and intimate gatherings at our place. We’re both total history nerds, so we hit up museums once in a while. This gives us time to be together and do things we enjoy without either one of us being too drained.
- We compromise regularly. Given that we’re so wildly different socially, there are going to be times when one or both of us have to compromise if we want to stay together. That means that on occasion, I have to doll it up and head out to the events and parties with him, but it also means that he joins me for the random Netflix binge instead of going to the bar on Friday night. Compromise affirms the other, strengthens our bond, and helps us to create new memories together.
- We give each other’s favorite events a chance. Beyond just compromising, there are times where we do more than just show up for things just to make the other person happy. We always try to give each other’s favorite events a real chance. For example, my boyfriend loves live sports, and even though they bore me to tears and crowds make me anxious, I go with him to games because I know he loves it so much. Because he knows I don’t like crowds, he makes the trips to the concession stand, gets us to the event early enough to avoid most of the crowds, and if a crowd is unavoidable, he holds my hand when guiding me through them. On the flip side, when I want to just be alone with him, walking around a museum or grabbing some take-out and just staying in, he’s more than willing to do that with me.
- We happily give each other space. We can’t be together all the time, after all, and we shouldn’t be anyway. Every couple needs quality time together as well as apart, otherwise, we’d drive each other nuts. This holds true with my boyfriend, but there’s an added layer of necessity given our different social preferences. Being an introvert, I don’t just like my alone time, I need it. I recharge from being alone and off in my own thoughts. At the same time, my boyfriend thrives on the energy of a crowd. There are days when the two just don’t mesh, there aren’t opportunities to do anything together, or we just simply want to do things on our own. That space helps us maintain a healthy balance and lets us enjoy our own thing without burdening each other. That’s how we make it work.