Ask Millie: Empathetic Extrovert


Dear Millie,

How can I communicate better with my significant other? I’m very extroverted and need to process things verbally, and they are introverted and need time to process things internally before sharing with me.


Empathetic Extrovert


Dear Empathetic Extrovert,

Communication is the most important element of any relationship.

Positive communication can benefit any relationship, just as poor communication can harm even the strongest relationship.

I think each of us can remember a time in our lives where we had something small come up in the relationship that bothered us. Maybe it was something like forgetting to text the other person after class or watching another episode of that Netflix show you and your partner promised to watch together.

On their own, these things may not mean very much to you. You’ll address the issue with your partner and then do better next time.

But sometimes time passes between this event and the next time you talk. Your partner may have forgotten about the issue, thinking it was not as important as you believed it to be.

I think it is great that you know how your partner needs to process challenges. That knowledge will help you know how to be the best partner you can be for them.

You and your partner should have a discussion about the kinds of things that are important to you. It is important not only to discuss your feelings surrounding a challenge but also how you want to discuss those challenges as they arise.

In most relationships, we do not have the same perspective of events that take place in our lives. You and your partner did not come into this relationship with the same experiences in life, and you may need different things to cope with challenges or new experiences in your relationships.

My first suggestion to you is to consider the issue internally before beginning the conversation. Make sure you understand your own thought process in order to share that with your partner.

Your partner is introverted, which means they may want more introspection before they are ready to talk about a challenging event or a big decision.

Take this time to be with yourself. If it helps to talk it out with a friend or a loved one while your partner is processing, try doing that.

You might find that talking through issues with more than just your partner will give you the ability to understand what you want to say when the time comes to discuss.

If you explain to your partner why you feel this way, perhaps they will be willing to discuss the topic with you sooner.

If I can give you one more piece of advice, it would be to avoid ruminating. Do not continue to torture yourself by thinking about the issue until you no longer want to talk about it. This will not help your partner, and it certainly will not help you.

Remember that just because the two of you process situations differently, that doesn’t mean you do not both want to fix the challenge you face. Giving your partner the time and space for introspection they need will help the two of you with your discussion later on.

Yours truly,