ENTER MR. EXTROVERT

Cate-Hogan-Enter-Mr.-Extrovert

Photo by Bond Studio

The first thing I noticed about my partner was his smile, easy in its own outrageousness.

Naturally I was dubious, but after weeks of him acting like it was totally insane for us to not be together, I started to agree. The rest as they say, is history.

Extroverts can be annoyingly magnetic, and by extrovert I don’t mean the loud mouth in a Hawaiian t-shirt who talks at you with dead cat breath. A lack of self awareness is a turn off, a healthy disregard for it…intoxicating in an entirely different way.

My extrovert hums through life with an endless, hypnotic vibration of words and gestures. I use that energy to warm the dark, lonely cave that is my life. The problems arise when his warmth and energy draw every damn creature from the forest, and suddenly my peaceful abode becomes a zoo.

I guess it’s just one of life’s strange little jokes. The very thing that attracts you to someone is often the same trait that drives you to despair.

Enter the universe of Mr. Extrovert, because your world is his world now.

Going to the grocery store isn’t an errand, it’s a product launch. Dinner for two becomes dinner and a show; waiters and drivers, pimps and peddlers: all long lost friends you haven’t met yet. One day you wake up to find that you’ve been burgled. Downstairs your honey sits with the thug, sharing a cup of tea and comparing brands of ski mask.

Step into a shopping mall or an airport and he lights up, walks fast, alert, engaged and plugged in to society’s power socket. If you prefer to melt into the shadows, it’s highly disconcerting. A part of you will want to say: Keep your head down, fool! Drawing attention is the fastest way to get your throat cut. That’s just your crazy coming out. Get used to it; loving an extrovert is a lesson in terror.

Friday nights are a battle zone. You stagger through the door, bury yourself in a novel and try to forget the 50 hour week that is now a luxurious 48 hours away. But your lover needs people, lots of loud, obnoxious ones. You try to convince him that endless friends are to be found between the covers of a good book. He looks at you like you’ve announced an impending move to Mongolia.

But you do have real friends, too!

Your network is a cherished bonsai, destined to remain stunted by constant clipping and a restricted nutrient base, but those mates you see at long intervals for brief, intense interactions? Forget them. His clan spans generations and countries and thrives on continual contact and a web of mutual connections. Larger gatherings don’t invite the discussion of topics like Uncle Pete’s assault charge, or your crippling fear of death; conversations are lighter and more boisterous. You will learn to skim through them, a pebble bouncing across the surface of human experience, too fast to stop and sink to the darker depths.

Of course, it’s hard to hold even the lightest conversation when you notice that the crazy guy straddling grandma is your other half. People will glance at you in pity or envy, depending on whether grandma is smiling or screaming, or worse, spurring him on.

After each party you suffer his cheerful banter about interesting people who sound as boring as mud, and somewhere between complaining about loud music and expensive taxis, you’re tricked into hosting something at home. It becomes a carefully executed production: the menu on draft five, the cast of guests auditioned ruthlessly, you leaning on your bedroom dresser, sick with nerves as you wait for the doors to open.

It doesn’t need to be so stressful; he’d prefer a simple sign on the gate reading Free Food. At some point he will probably resort to that, and to the extroverted inventor of street parties: you have a great deal to answer for.

Worse than socializing is when you lock him in your cave and all is well…then he starts to wither. He is all the sustenance you need, but you are sadly inadequate–a vampire feasting on the object of their attraction. Magic and lust are not enough; at some point he needs to leave the coffin and find a bowl of cereal.

Still, it is magic in a world where that stuff can be hard to find.

If introverts draw the lines, extroverts fill them with color. They envision the Eiffel Tower and 125 years later they’re running around it posing for stupid photos. They drive you to the edge of insanity, jealousy and exhaustion, but their need to chase the sun might mean you catch a beam or two before you meet the long quiet that awaits all of us, for all of time.

Begrudgingly, you will discover people you like and even make new friends of the cherished, bonsai variety. You never would have known them otherwise and they challenge you to grow, making you question things you thought were irrefutable.

Once the terror of that idea has lessened, try to embrace it.

As C. JoyBell says,

Don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.

See my article in its original publication on Elephant Journal and please, add your comments below.

 

14 Comments

  • Reply December 4, 2015

    Steve

    Cate, I got an email from my wife today saying, “You should read this when you get a chance.” You and my wife sound like lost twins, to be honest, and many times we have struggled with my very outgoing, don’t know a stranger, attitude, and her, “why did you say hi to those people” attitude. I wouldn’t straddle grandma, but I do think people, even strangers, all enrich our lives, and being part of a community takes effort that is richly rewarded. I saw a quote the other day that really sums it up for me, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”. I wholeheartedly agree with C. JoyBell, and it warms me tremendously that my wife, Jennifer, was willing to share this with me and let me know that my antics are basically ok. We have helped each other grow so much from where we started, and it looks like you and your partner have as well. Awesome.

    • Reply December 5, 2015

      Cate Hogan

      Hi Steve, thank you for your wonderful comment; it really brightened my day (can get dark in the cave, lol). You’re totally right; your antics are completely okay, in fact they’re essential for an introverted partner who needs to be pushed sometimes to really experience all the world has to offer. The world would be a lonely place without extroverts; you and Jennifer have clearly struck a good balance. Wishing you guys all the best, and thanks for reading. 🙂

  • Reply November 28, 2015

    V

    I remember learning of the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) during my first year in college. I was fascinated by the depth and accuracy describing my type (ENFP- https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/ENFP). I’ve found that as time goes on, I fluidly move between introversion and extraversion. I have a small group of friends that I see sporadically, as balancing life with two children, school, a relationship, and family obligations tends to take up much of my time. I enjoy the quiet and solitude that seems only to be found after dark when the children are sleeping, the TV is off, the phone isn’t ringing, and the only noises to be heard are the quiet rumbling of the cat purring next to me, and the quiet hush of the passing cars. It’s like being in another world somehow… One in which there are no expectations and the possibilities of tomorrow seem endless.
    My partner is an introvert. No close friends that he speaks to on a regular basis, need for solitude with varying frequency, and is terrible with communication. Stir that up with my need to discuss feelings, or have some type of reassurance, and the fact that I’m quite sentimental and he is not… It’s a recipe not so much for disaster per se, but plenty of unnecessary disagreements that a little bit of communication could’ve prevented.
    The positive side is that we care deeply for each other. We each have strengths that the other does not, which I keep trying to find the right way to utilize this to help balance each other out. Like his tendency to be prompt and my tendency to be late, or my willingness to talk about anything while withholding judgment, and his tendency to just wish things away or sweep it under the rug.
    I try hard to respect the need to have that time alone, but wish that there was more of an effort to meet halfway. I’ve long felt that I was the one who was willing to put in 100%, only to be met with half of that in return. Like Valerie accurately described as “the withering”… That couldn’t be more true.
    Thank you for the article, Cate. Beautifully written.

    • Reply November 29, 2015

      Cate Hogan

      Thanks for your beautiful and insightful message Valerie. Intro/Extroversion is definitely a spectrum, and where we fall on the line tends to shift throughout time. Have you read that famous book about the 5 love languages? I found this really deepened my understanding of my partner. One of my love languages is physical touch, and I used to feel that I was always the one making all the effort to hold hands, be affectionate etc. I would always tell him I loved him, but he rarely said the same to me (words of affirmation). After reading that book I realised that my partner simply had a different love language – based more in cooking, or doing the dishes (acts of service) and hovering around me in the same room (quality time). You might find it interesting, if you haven’t read it already. Thanks again for sharing.

  • Reply November 16, 2015

    Pat Hatt

    haha I would go nuts. Need my quiet time, but at least he can keep burglars talking until the cops arrive lol

    • Reply November 18, 2015

      Cate Hogan

      Pity the burglar! 😉

  • Reply October 28, 2015

    Valerie

    Well this is the very best description of what it’s like for an introvert in a deep love relationship with an extravert. Thank you :). I love my Leo extravert and I know he loves his Pisces introvert, but man o man are we different. I love how you captured the beauty, complexity, wonderment and magnetism of such a relationship. Like you, I also see the education such provides. For me it’s the Lion and the Fish. The Sun and the Moon. We speak very different languages often. The expansive & dynamic shallows and the coddled narrow depths. And the withering. It happens on both sides when care isn’t taken. But oh the unimaginable joy, love and wonder. You lit the corners of complexity here so lovingly. So compassionately. Beautiful.

    • Reply October 30, 2015

      Cate Hogan

      This comment puts my article to shame Valerie! Thank you for your beautiful words. The push and pull of a dynamic relationship is exhausting, exciting and redemptive. After 13 years with one man I find myself rolling my eyes in frustration, and smiling in gratitude, each and every day.

  • […] ENTER MR. EXTROVERT […]

  • Reply August 25, 2014

    Paulina

    Hi,
    I’m an introvert, my partner is an etrovert… Finally, someone who understands me! Thank you for this work.

    • Reply August 25, 2014

      Cate Hogan

      Thanks Paulina 🙂 Extroverts – can’t live with them, can’t live without them…But then they’d probably say the same of us!

  • Reply February 1, 2014

    Eliane Helsen

    You’re wonderful darling, food for thought, and you have your grandma’s genes showing out in your writing. Love you darling, Eliane

  • Reply February 1, 2014

    Eliane Helsen

    Loved that, you are so like your granny!!! Love you darling

    • Reply February 1, 2014

      Cate Hogan

      Thanks Eliane, I see so much of myself in Mim also – we’re the two biggest romantics in the family. x

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