If you have ever found yourself complaining that you and your partner disagree about what defines a good time, you’re not alone. Often, one person in the relationship is more extroverted than the other — more excited about going to parties, inviting people to dinner, making new friends and so on. The more introverted partner, meanwhile, may be happier to stay home, go out for a quiet night with just the two of you, or stick with a close circle of friends, newcomers need not apply.
This can be frustrating for both. The extrovert often feels their social life is being stunted because their partner won't join them in the things they want to do. The introvert feels pressured and blamed just for being who they are.
Of course, when you stop to think about it, there are plenty of traits that make you different from each other; there's nothing wrong with that. You're a dog person; your partner loves cats. You love to ski; your partner’s toes freeze the moment they hit the slopes. The point is that you’ve probably found ways to work through other differences, so why make this one a deal breaker?
The first step to take when your "sociability gap" rears its head is to try and neutralize the conversation. Imagine you want to go to a big dinner party your friend is throwing, and your partner would rather do just about anything else. No one is right or wrong, so avoid getting angry or letting it escalate into something bigger. Statements like "You never want to do anything!" or "Of course I don't want to go — your friends are so boring!" are over-generalizations and counterproductive.
Instead, try to stay positive and focus on the issue at hand. There are more options than you think:
- You could go to the party by yourself — without resentment — and simply enjoy your friends, while your partner does something they would enjoy instead, like calling a close buddy to go for a beer or staying in to watch a good movie.
- Both of you could go to the party for a while but agree to leave when your partner is ready (preferably after dinner, but maybe before the host breaks out the Cognac).
- When all else fails, just inquire about the guest list — maybe a friend your partner would enjoy seeing is planning to attend. Stranger things have happened. In any event, each of you needs to feel heard and respected so that whatever compromise you make is fair to both.
One caveat: If one partner promises to do something that is important to the other, they need to stick to their word. It's easy (even for an introvert) to agree to attend something that seems far in the future — until the time actually arrives, along with a bad case of RSVP regret. But backing out at the last minute undermines trust, and that's a lot more damaging than having to spend an evening at the symphony when you'd rather be home cozied up with the dog, your remote control and a pizza.
The goal is to prioritize, compromise and strive for balance. If he's willing to go to your office Christmas party with you, maybe another night you stay home and watch the big game with him (even if football’s not really your thing). If you're hosting a dinner party at your place, make sure to invite people you both want to include.
With the right attitude and healthy respect, personality contrasts don’t need to be sticking points. They can be wonderful assets in a relationship when you appreciate that you have different — even complementary — strengths instead of fretting over your differences.
If you and your partner are having difficulty seeing eye to eye on such an issue, let the professional counselors at the Relationship Center Orange County help. Call us at 949-430-7218, or book your appointment today via the online calendar.
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