Co-living means adapting to another personality for your mutual benefit. Living with someone who is unlike you isn’t just great for a compatible roommate relationship (finally that “opposites attract” thing makes some sense), but it’s also an awesome way to learn more about yourself. Whether your roommate is a self-proclaimed extrovert or they have some obvious extroverted tendencies that don’t quite match your more introverted ones, you can still find harmony at home. Our experts break down what you need to know to co-live peacefully with an extrovert roommate.
1. Understand Extroversion
Extroverts are generally outgoing, enthusiastic, spontaneous and overtly expressive, says Dr. Patrick Wanis, psychotherapist and human behavior expert. They usually break the ice when meeting people and tend to have outward confidence — you can rightfully call them the “life of the party.”
But the hallmark trait of an extrovert is their tendency to feel their best when surrounded by people — a complete opposite to their introverted counterparts, who regain energy in solitude.
“We all need a certain amount of alone time to recuperate, regenerate and relax,” says Wanis. “However, the extrovert is going to get a higher buzz and actually get more energy and become more empowered by being around lots of people.”
In the same vein, social relationships are also very important to extroverts, says hypnotherapist and self-proclaimed extrovert, Lainie Naugle. Surrounding herself with friends can be the perfect pick-me-up on a rough day.
“If I’m feeling stressed or burnt out, something as small as catching up with a friend over lunch makes me feel a lot better,” she says. “Because of this, social relationships are a high priority for me.”
But don’t be so quick to assume your extrovert roommate is going to be hosting parties every day. Extroversion falls on a scale, and an extrovert may sometimes feel more introverted. Wanis says there are different extroverted personalities, such as the “talker” and the “doer.” The talker seeks praise, while the doer seeks power. Talkers want to be the center of attention, are great storytellers and always have something to say. They also tend to make light of serious problems. Doers tend to be great leaders and love to tell people what to do and how to do it.
2. Check Your Misconceptions About Extroversion
While they may love to be the center of attention, one common misconception about extroverts is that they need constant attention. They aren’t “on” 24/7 and also need some down time.
And even though extroverts exude confidence through their outgoing personalities, it’s important to remember they’re not immune to hurt feelings. Naugle admits it’s a challenge not to take it personally when someone doesn’t want to hang out.
“Because I prioritize social relationships over time for myself, I can get my feelings hurt when I don’t feel like it’s reciprocated,” Naugle says. “I had to learn that people have different priorities, and that it’s not a bad thing.”
Another very common misconception about extroverts is that they can only get along with other extroverts, Wanis says. But while an extrovert can get a “buzz” from spending time with other extroverts, it can also be draining and lead to competition — in fact, it’s one of the main reasons extroverts and introverts make great roommates.
“If you put two highly extroverted people together, they’re going to be competing for attention. One or both of them are going to want to be the boss,” Wanis says.
“However, a complementary relationship is when you have an extrovert and an introvert who complement each other because the extrovert now has an audience, and the introvert who likes to watch and think, can watch and analyze the extrovert.”
3. Accept Their Different Needs (And Communicate Yours)
Respecting your extroverted roommate means accepting that their needs may be different from yours. They might need to come home and tell you about their day, then turn on the TV and invite friends over to unwind — so be a friend, and humor them.
“An extrovert might get mad and disappointed if you come home and you just close the door and don’t talk and share.” Wanis says. “Give them some time and some attention. Hang out with them, ask them some questions, and show interest.”
But while you’re trying to be a good roommate, you should know it’s also totally OK (and recommended) to pay attention to your own needs.
“If they’re around when you need space, the best way thing to tell them is, ‘I just need some time to myself right now, but let’s grab a bite to eat later?’” Naugle suggests.
“Making it clear that you’re OK with spending time together later lets them know that nothing is amiss in your relationship, as they can be very sensitive to social rejection.”
And who knows, eventually you may find yourself rubbing off on each other and developing skills you never had before?
“Extroverts have the strength of communication,” Naugle says. “They bring people together and they turn strangers into friends. They can become close friends with their roommates and bring them out of their shells. It adds warmth to the home.”
4. Set Clear Boundaries
Even though they’re talkers, extroverts also tend to beat around the bush when discussing something important, Naugle says — something that could seriously get in the way of a co-living situation, unless you’re upfront about having clear communication.
“When it comes to setting up basic house rules, it’s best to have that conversation early on and to have it clearly written down where you both can see it,” Naugle says. “It might not always help them keep up with their side of the chores, but it will keep you from arguing over what the expectations are.”
Know that extroverts who are doers will tend to dominate and make all the house — which is fine if you can both agree. But the best thing to do, Wanis says, is to make the rules together so you get a say from the beginning.
“Don’t just think that problems are going to go away,” Wanis says. “If you’re dealing with an extrovert, they’re going to tell you what they like and what they don’t like. You must understand that, depending on which form of extroversion they have, they’re going to want to dominate or they’re going to want to be much louder than you.”
Good communication requires knowing yourself as well. If you have a quieter personality, be clear about what you don’t like and also what you need and what you’re willing to be flexible on. For example don’t say, “I don’t like loud noise” when you can say, “I need peace and quiet,” recommends Wanis. Then you can make the rules together based on your respective needs. For example, Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays might be “no visitors days,” while visitors are fine on other days.
“It’s not just about understanding other people that leads to successful relationships; it’s also about understanding yourself,” Wanis says.
Ultimately, empathy and mutual respect are what holds every co-living relationship together, so avoid putting your needs first — regardless of where you fall on the introvert-extrovert scale. Either way, you should be ready to step back and make some compromises for the benefit of your relationship.
“Yes, your priority may be your social life, but you can’t push your responsibilities aside at the expense of the person you live with,” Naugle says.
Live with an extrovert? Drop us your tips on how you make your relationship successful below!