Social interactions may be the most complex system we face throughout our lives. Any time two or more people build a relationship together, the process is packed with learning, self-reflection and some growing pains—even in friendships. Part of this process is understanding what kind of traits and temperament and how to make sure you continue to click.
For friendships containing one introvert and one extrovert, this can become tricky quickly. What one person interprets as standoffish may be the other sticking to their comfort zone. What the other person sees as intense may be exciting and enjoyable to the other. To strike a balance and ensure a healthy friendship despite different social styles, consider some of these tips.
Tell them what being introverted looks like in a friendship
Whether it’s a preemptive discussion or triggered by a “Hey, are we okay?” confrontation, let your friend know that your comfort levels and communication may differ. Sometimes brief interactions, aversion of gatherings, or feeling “ghosted” can feel like passive aggression in a relationship, but these things also can happen when one person is introverted and the other is not.
Letting the extrovert know your style may be different than theirs, but you still love them with all your heart, saves confusion and heartache. Get ahead of the ball, if you can, and explain that you might prefer to be safe in your cocoon from time to time, instead of waiting for them to come to you.
Figure out how you prefer to communicate
Some people love weekly face-to-face coffee get-togethers, while others prefer the phone. Some might want daily texting while others are more satisfied meeting at the gym every few days. Know yourself and what you’re comfortable with and ask your friends how they operate to find the right balance. There’s no fun in feeling obligated to do something more social or intensive that is over your threshold. Tell your friend what’s up and they will likely be cool with whatever you arrange together.
Established your boundaries (and respect theirs, too)
Keeping in line with the communication theme, speak up if something makes you uneasy and encourage your friend to do the same as well. There’s a difference between gentle coaxing to go on a ski trip with a bunch of buddies that would actually be a good time versus feeling dragged along to an event you are dreading where you will feel miserable and anxious the whole time all because you didn’t speak up. Try to develop alternatives with your friends if you (or any of them) just cannot budge on an idea.
Brush up on love languages
Love languages aren’t just helpful for romantic relationships, but can spell out what people need and crave in friendships as well. Are you a gift receiver? Quality timer? Actor of service? The best way to avoid confusion, disappointment and resentment is to know how the person you care about perceives love.
If your buddy craves quality time, find a way to provide this for them so that you both will feel comfortable and let your pal know that words of affirmation are important to you so maybe they can shoot you a reminder of how they appreciate your friendship from time to time.
Just like any other type of relationships, friendships worth having take hard work. To reap the benefits, communication and dedication are key. Spend some time strengthening your friendships today so you can enjoy more of your time together tomorrow.