Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The marriage of opposites

Shakespeare begins Sonnet 116 with the declaration, "Let me not to the marriage of true minds/ Admit impediments." In real life, some marriages may not be based so much on the coming together of minds but on the attraction of opposites. That's the case for introverts who marry extroverts, as was the case of each of the three authors featured in perspectives-on-introversion.
The two could complement each other, and come, potentially, come up with a better balance than a couple consisting of two social butterflies who always seek out a crowd or two introverts who end up staying home all the time. On the other hand, the two might clash when it comes to deciding how often to go to parties, entertain others, and how many guests to invite. 
The extrovert may push for more social opportunities, which recharge his/her energies, while the introvert may feel stressed by having to constantly make small talk at such gatherings. Is it inevitable that they end up citing irreconcilable differences in divorce court?
Not necessarily.
In her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop TalkingSusan Cain, who admits to being an introvert happily married to an extrovert explains that being married to one's social opposite can work quite well. The key is to understand the other's point of view and arrive at a compromise that will be a win-win for both. She offers the example of such a couple in conflict over the gregarious husband's desire for weekly dinner parties. His introvert wife dreaded such social situations and wanted to be absent from them, a solution that did not appeal to him. The winning solution was one that cut back the parties to twice a month and that changed the format to a buffet style with flexible seating that allowed the shy wife to select a seat at an edge or within a smaller group that would allow her to opt out of small talk and opt into more meaningful, intimate conversations. Other conflicts over public versus private outlets could be resolved in similar ways.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Views on Boundaries

Personality types and introversion recently came up on one of the online boards I comment, which
made me consider another aspect of the difference between introverts and extroverts. It's not just a matter of people who need to be alone to recharge in contrast to those who need to be around other people to feel energized. There are real differences between the two in how they view the way people should relate to each other, and that can give rise to misunderstanding or the wrong assumptions, and, yes, I'm thinking of a particular incident.

From what I've observed, introverts assume that boundaries should be in place unless otherwise specified, whereas extroverts are more likely to assume the opposite.  Consequently, while an extrovert would assume it is neighborly to drop in on someone, an introvert would rarely do so unless s/he is expressly invited to come at a particular time. That doesn't mean the introvert doesn't like his/her neighbor but that the assumption is that people want to be left alone unless they tell you otherwise.

Now to get to the particular incident of different assumptions of what constitutes polite behavior, here's the example. I had a friend who stayed in the empty house of a neighbor of a relative once. Said relative told me afterward that the friend was shocked at what the friend did. I was imagining all sorts of horrific scenarios and then was told that the really shocking thing was this: the friend did not pick up the mail that was put through the door slot. Now if you're an introvert, your assumption of boundaries would tell you to leave as much of someone else's stuff alone as possible. That would extend to handling someone else's mail that just happened to be delivered through the door. It takes an extorverted mindset to assume that showing such respect for someone else's privacy is a lack of courtesy.

I'm now adding one other example about circumspection with respect to boundaries, as it just happened. I commented on someone's post and referred to a Talmudic story to make my point. Someone else said I was misrepresenting it and said I got the name wrong. In truth, I would do the same, but only if I were 100% surethat the other person got it wrong.In this case, the name I had writen was correct. I ascertained it again for myself by getting out the primary source. When I pointed that out, the woman who had disagreed with me had to concede that point and then made excuses for herself that she had just been on a long flight, etc., etc. I understand making mistakes when tired. I do that myself and have even been guilty of making typos I would normally spot. However, I would not ever challenge someone on the basis of at hazy recollection, and then say, well, what do you want from me, I was tired.. That's also part of introversion: being very prepared and very sure before speaking up, particularly when publicly contradicting someone.

Related http://uncommoncontent.blogspot.com/2013/11/public-or-it-didnt-happen.html