(I have slightly modified this old post)
My wife is Filipina and she comes from a culture that is all about pakikisama, a Tagalog term for togetherness.
I, on the other end, need, cherish and actually crave plenty of solitude and prefer associating with few selected individuals to having a lot of friends and going to large social gatherings.
I love solo hikes and I also love sitting alone on park benches or simply being shut away in my room to read for hours on end. And I love going to a cafeteria or a restaurant with maximum one or two very close friends and engage in deep conversation.
The Filipino culture is, on the other hand, all about large social gatherings, music, dancing and karaoke, chit-chatting and sharing.
The Filipino idea of togetherness fosters a spirit of bayanihan, a spirit of communal cooperation and help which is such that the whole community helps when of its member needs practical help.
So how can I, a very strong introvert, sit well with a Filipina who comes from a culture that is strongly oriented toward connecting with a lot of people?
Well, not only have I discovered that an introvert man can sit well with a woman who comes from a culture that encourages much togetherness but I have also found out that an extrovert person actually needs an introvert partner and that an introvert and an extrovert complement each other rather nicely.
Here are some reasons why I think an introvert like me can thrive in a relationship with an extrovert and make it work rather well.
Introverts are not hermits, they just prefer few and high quality relationships to many shallow ones
The Filipino idea of togetherness has a lot of great aspects to it, like the spirit of bayanihan that I have just mentioned.
On the other hand, because Filipinos definitely prefer large social gatherings to socializing with one or two people at a time, relationships tend to be rather shallow.
In my life I have always had very few friends but those people have been my friends for decades.
I have always preferred fixing misunderstandings and working on improving my relationships with those few people to running away from them when things don’t work out
There are people who seem to have plenty of options because they have plenty of shallow relationships with a lot of people so they always have someone else to turn to when they get upset with a particular person.
I prefer to maintain my relationships with the people whom I care about and make them grow to turning to other people when things don’t work out and this personality trait has stood me in good stead in my marriage.
I have been through a lot of misunderstandings and conflicts in my relationship (like all those who are in a marriage) but I have entered this relationship with the idea that there is no plan B. My wife is my best friend and the relationship has to work and I am committed to raising the quality of it every single day.
And, because I have very few friends outside the relationship, I can focus on my marriage without too many distractions from a lot of people who claim my time and attention.
Introversion Breeds Peace Within and Without
Because I need and cherish solitude I can easily leave the scene of a heated discussion without suffering too much because I can be just as fulfilled while alone as when I am interacting with my wife (or with any other person).
Also, choosing to deliberately isolate myself on a regular basis, by carving out moments in which I write in a journal, gives me the opportunity to reflect on what’s working and what’s not working in my relationship and come up with solutions I couldn’t come up with if I were always socializing.
Contemplation and inner work breed more self-control and peace of mind in general and create an internal environment that can hardly coexist with conflict.
An Introvert Gives Space
Because an introvert needs space he is also more likely to give space and giving space is vital in an intimate relationship.
I need a lot of space and I am willing to give my wife space, to the point that I am willing to allow her to spend even one or two months in the Philippines while I stay here (and this has already happened three times since we got married).
An Introvert is Rich Internally and Therefore is Less Clingy
A strong introvert doesn’t enter a relationship because he is desperate about finding a spouse.
As I have already mentioned, during my moments of solitude I can be just as fulfilled as when I interact with people, or, more accurately, I feel even more fulfilled.
I fully enjoyed my almost four decades of singleness (I got married at age 36) so I was not really clinging to the idea of finding a marriage mate, I could perfectly function alone.
And, because one of the hallmark traits of a thriving marriage is giving, those who don’t enter a relationship because they badly need companionship have more to give, or, at least, have less to take.
The Downside of Being too much of an Introvert
So, being an introvert has, without a doubt, stood me in great stead as far as my marriage is concerned.
Yet I must admit that sometimes I push my need to be alone too far and my being too much of an introvert borders on selfishness.
Not only does my wife connect with a lot of people to just socialize with them: in so doing she actually helps a lot of people in many practical ways, which is something that I definitely need to work on and that I am learning from my Filipino wife.
So I think that an introvert and an extrovert can definitely learn from each other and not view each other as incompatibile.
I am the most introverted person you can imagine, I am, in fact, the peak of introversion while my wife comes from a culture that is the polar opposite of it and yet we manage to function rather well.
My experience shows that a relationship between an hyper-introvert and an extrovert is possible and if I can be in a relationship with an extrovert everyone else who is in a similar position can.
So, yes, a strong introvert can perfectly be in a relationship with an extrovert and my experience is the evident demonstration that this is definitely the case.