Holidays can be tough if you crave solitude but your partner craves social contact.
If your partner’s idea of the holidays is visiting friends, office parties, and Christmas Caroling, but your idea is slipping into your favorite slippers and cuddling up in front of your lighted Christmas tree with a quiet book and a cup of hot cocoa, then you might be an introvert.
Parties energize extroverts but they exhaust introverts. Often, we attach to our complimentary opposite. Early on, we admire the different qualities in the other person but after being committed, those same qualities become a target for tension.
Here are a few introvert holiday survival tips if you're the introvert to your partner is the complimentary opposite extrovert:
1. Recognize the difference between extroverts and introverts.
If you're not sure, check out Susan Cain’s New York Times Best Seller, Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the consummate extrovert while Eleanor was a confirmed introvert yet they formed a strong, close, and long-lasting relationship.
2. Don’t try to change your extroverted partner.
You like people but they need people. Relish the difference and remember your excitement when they first showed you a whole new world.
3. Communicate in advance of large gatherings.
Start with "I feel…… when we………"
And strike while the iron is COLD. Find a quiet time to talk when there is little stress, not when you are headed to the boss’s house for eggnog and fruitcake.
4. Come up with a plan.
Try, "How about if we go out every-other weekend and stay in every other week end?", "What if we visited family every-other year?" or "Let’s talk about tonight. How long will we stay? How long will you stay with me?"
5. Have a "safe word".
If you say the word in public, your partner has fifteen minutes to find a way to say goodbye and the two of you leave for home.
6. Always have an exit strategy.
It has be something that you both agree on. Knowing you are not trapped will reduce your anxiety.
7. Don’t seclude yourself.
Come up with three stories, write them down, and share them at the party. Find something to hold in your hands; a drink, a plate, a kitten even.
8. Find a friend.
Remember, one-third of the world, right? There are people at the party just like you.
9. Peruse the perimeter of a party.
Just like shopping at the supermarket, that is where you will find the best people to have a meaningful conversation.
10. Ask questions — people love to talk about themselves.
Don’t want meaningful conversation? Head to the middle with the sharks, make eye-contact, and start asking questions, lots of questions. Extroverts love to talk about themselves!
Above all, remember what my youngest said, "It’s Christmas, can’t we all just get along?"
If you're stressed during this time of renewed peace, YOU are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Take a deep breath, make one small change to let yourself know that you are still in control of your life, and step away from the fruit cake.