The Introvert v. Extrovert personality contrast is a core component of personality profiling, workplace dynamics, and personal relationships. It’s also the subject of a new book by Susan Cain called Quiet:The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. I haven’t read the book yet, but I’ve heard great things about it, albeit mostly from introverts. It’s high on my to-read list. There’s been some workplace discussion about the term “ambiverts,” but I don’t think it’s that people fall in the middle, I think it’s that introverts can turn on the social charms and extroverts can be content being quiet and alone, when the situations arise. Rising to the occasion is what makes people successful, pretty much at anything.
The term “opposites attract” may be a cliché, but it is always true in magnetism and almost always true when it comes to introverts and extroverts in marriage. Husband and I are the classic example; no news there, but never have I felt it more than during the B & B Road Trip. 16 days of traveling together, not seeing anyone we actually knew for the first 9 days. Husband never failed to strike up a conversation. If anyone made any comment in his direction, he would happily tell them all about our roadtrip. If he was at a Flying Saucer, he would always chat with the waitress and ask to speak with a manager and tell them all about our roadtrip and talk about all the FS managers he knows. When we spent two nights at a B&B in Cooperstown, he made friends with the owners and the other guests. It nearly killed him when we went into an independent bookstore and I didn’t choose to strike up a conversation with anyone. Husband asked, “Have you considered telling them where you work?” Honestly, Blue Willow Bookshop and the Girlboss are known in the indie bookstore world, someone there might have heard of them and there might have been a conversation to be had, but, no, I never considered opening my mouth. If it had come up in some natural conversation I wouldn’t hesitate to chat, but…
I think much of the difference is that I always assume that no one else wants me to talk, unless they actually ask me. Husband assumes that everyone wants to hear what he has to say. Since I’m usually sitting back and watching, I tend to observe whether people are truly engaged with him, or feeling slightly trapped. I’m not being critical here, I think it is an asset and not a fault in the husband. I am constantly surprised at how many people actually enjoy talking with and listening to him. By contrast, I feel disappointed by an encounter with someone where I haven’t learned more about them than they have learned about me. And I’m content not having the encounter in the first place, just letting a place or situation imprint on me and not vise versa.
Neither of us is going to change, the polarity seems to work well in this marriage. I look forward to another roadtrip with the husband, just give me a little time to recharge in my own world, in my quiet house, with my close friends. Don’t worry, there’s no chance of me withdrawing completely, I’m married to an extrovert.