How to Navigate an Introvert-Extrovert Friendship

Whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, you know how you enjoy spending time and what types of activities don’t quite light your fire. Opposites may attract, it can feel challenging to find common ground in relationships between introverts and extroverts. However, that’s certainly not a sign to avoid pursuing an introvert-extrovert relationship. 

introvert extrovert relationship tips

According to Rebecca Ruben, LCSW, these relationships can be mutually beneficial and push us out of our comfort zones. “Oftentimes in relationships” she says, “we are attracted to people who have strengths and interests that we deeply admire though they might not be our natural way of being.” In order to make sure these relationships, whether romantic, platonic, or familial, thrive, we just need to be mindful of what the other person enjoys. Try these strategies for maintaining an introvert-extrovert relationship.

Engage in regular shared activities

“It’s important to find balance and identify activities you love to do together regularly versus the stretch activities – ones that take either friend out of their extrovert or introvert comfort zone,” Ruben advises. While you may be opposites on the introvert-extrovert scale, you probably have similarities that drew you to each other in the first place. Look to that common ground for activities rather than arguing about whether to stay in or head out.

For example, if you have a shared love of theater, make a point to go to shows together. If you’re both crafty, sign up for a pottery class. If you both love the outdoors make a habit of getting together for morning walks. Lean into the shared interests that bonded you to begin with, and you’re sure to have a great time.

Communicate your needs

When making plans, it’s important to keep in mind the ways in which you’re different, Ruben encourages. “Extroverts are typically eager to get out and interact with the world. Introverts are more comfortable with individualized and reduced time in highly social environments,” she says. “The time and activities are important to consider when making plans, while being sensitive to each person’s unique needs.” 

Rather than hoping your friend will naturally remember your needs, communicate boundaries proactively. For example, an introvert may be comfortable attending larger gatherings from time to time but might need more mental preparation. Share this with your friend and any boundaries that come along with it, such as not inviting extra people at the last minute.

Similarly, an extrovert might look forward to the occasional night in ordering takeout, but need to spend more time out and about in larger groups. If this describes you, let your friend know that it’s not because you don’t value the one on one time. Rather, group socializing is something that you need to feel refreshed. Respect each other’s boundaries even if you can’t relate, and you’ll avoid disagreements that come from crossing these boundaries.

Compromise

Finally, seek to find compromise rather than face resentment if one party feels they rarely get to do their preferred activity. Balance heading to a party with low key game nights, or find ways to blend your needs into one setting. For example, try planning a one on one catch up that will appeal to the introvert, but meeting in a bustling setting like a coffee shop or bar that will appeal to the extrovert. Find this balance, and you’ll figure out how to spend time with each other – without either party being uncomfortable or feeling drained.

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About Kira Schreiber

Kira grew up in the Chicago suburbs and is passionate about mental health, healthy eating, and sustainability. After spending the first part of her career working for a non profit mental health agency in Southern California, she transitioned to pursue a career in her passion for cooking. Now back in Chicago, Kira spends her days developing healthy recipes for a food tech start up. When not in the kitchen or on her laptop she loves spending time outdoors, hitting up a spin class, or watching home decor DIYs on YouTube.