As an ongoing student with an AA degree and no formal training in counseling or most subjects, I feel fully qualified to give my advice on most topics.
With that being said, please take this article with a grain of salt. It is not based on any studies or actual data. It is base on my own experience. I have read other stories similar to mine so I believe I am not alone in this opinion. That is not saying all introverts feel the way I do. My opinions are my own and are not necessarily those of all or any introverts.
I don’t get out much. I am perfectly content sitting at home Friday night with a book or my blog having very little need for actual socialization. This lifestyle had led me to be a bit of a hermit in a way. Like many introverts, I have few friends, and making new friends is a challenge. Let to my own devices I would probably be a lonely person and not realize it.
Which is why I’m lucky that I am not left to my own devices. I have found “the one” as any unrealistic chick flick would say. This past Tuesday Michelle and I celebrated five years together and I could not be happier. As cheesey as it sounds, she is the “Yin to my Yang”. She is the extrovert to balance my introvert and vice versa.
Now I am not saying that introverts must date extroverts in order to be happy. We’re not all equal. You may find happiness with another introvert. For us, our relationship is a great balance. She loves going out. She loves going to the bars and clubs which encourages me to go out as scary as it may seem. Because of her I am able to get out of my own mind and see the world around me. As we all know socializing doesn’t come naturally to me, but if she is there it gives me an out in a sense. I already know someone there so I can hang around her all night and draw off her social interactions.
Does that make sense? Imagine being at a bar or some kind of situation where interaction is expected. Rather than being forced into these interactions and having to make small talk *cringe*, I stick with her, which is socially acceptable, and have a small role in her conversations. It’s not awkward or uncomfortable for me because I don’t have to keep the conversation going; I can speak on occasion when I have something to say and the rest of the time I can absorb everything going on without any expectation of contribution.
At the same time I might not be willing to go out as much as she wants, which is most of the time. We are ok not doing everything together. She can go out and have fun at the club and I can relax at home by myself and we both get the recharge we each need. Balance. She comes to me when she is upset seeking advice on how to handle the situation and I go to her to figure out with the social expectations are.
I know there are a lot of men who say that they got so lucky with their significant other because she can do so much better than them. Not to sound too arrogant, but that’s not true. She can’t do better than me. I am not saying that there is not a better man than me, but they wouldn’t be what she needs as much as I am. Just like there is no other woman who could be what I need. A friend of our told us that we have ruined each other for anyone else. Which brings me to my next point.
By the way, if you need relationship advice, this is what I have. I don’t believe in “true love” in the traditional sense. There is no finding your soul mate and everything is perfect. I don’t believe that Michelle was “destined” for me. Over the past five years we have shaped each other into what the other needs and we have changed our needs to fit the other. The “only one” theory is nonsense. She is my other half, not because she was made that way, but because we have worked our asses off over the past five years to become each others other halves.
So my advice would be this: Don’t expect to find that perfect person. Expect to find an imperfect person. Understand that your are an imperfect person. Plan to compromise. They are not going to have the same interests as you. Most importantly, realize that people change. They will change. You are going to change. You are both going to grow as people and you have to grow together. You are going to have to make changes for them. But you HAVE to expect them to make changes for you. The only reason we have stayed together is because our relationship is give and take. Compromise. Sometimes it may get one-sided and one person takes more than they give. When that happens it is up to the other to make it known and not accept it.
Actually, this is the most important advice anyone can give: COMMUNICATE.
Communicate when you are not happy. Let them know what you need from them. Let them know when they make you angry. Let them know what you love about them. Let them know when they make you happy. Talk to them about your day. Ask about theirs. Communicate through silence, through a look, or a touch. Don’t just tell them you love them. Make them feel that you love them.
Lastly expect the most from them. The biggest and most important change that I have undergone because of Michelle is expressing my feelings. As an introvert I need time to process my feelings before I can communicate them. (One of Michelle’s biggest changes is being able to give me time to process.) What would often happen is that after processing I would let it go. Not anymore. If she makes me angry, I explain to her what she did and why it upset me. I can communicate what I need from her and she does the same. It is important to let them know what you need.
This next thought makes me smile and chuckle just thinking about it. One of our biggest accomplishments in our relationship is the way we “argue”. We never yell and we never attack each other. There is no attempt at making the other person feel more upset or hurt. We never call each other names or use derogatory language. We have a rule that we don’t swear when we “argue”. We may not always follow the rule, but when it gets broken we let the other know that it’s not ok. Your relationship is a team and you will never get stronger by breaking the other down.
Let me end with this, I hope you find love if you haven’t already. Just be willing to give an unexpected person a chance. Even if they have conflicting personality traits. They just might bring the balance you need.