You fell for him because he's a comedian, the clever and self-deprecating class clown. The one who joked that because both he and his younger sister were adopted, he could never engage in that favorite pastime of biological siblings: telling your brother or sister that s/he was an accident. "I couldn't be like, 'Our parents thought they were applying for a car loan and got you instead.'" He earns the prefix "Fun" tacked onto his first name, because he is. He makes you laugh and is adored wherever he goes. (Once he sat down at the wrong table at a wedding, made friends within 5 minutes, and when a server directed him to the correct table, there was a collective protest from his new friends.)
You fell for him because he is endlessly comfortable in his own skin. Because he is compassionate. Because he wants you to be happy. Because he says I love you every chance he gets, even when you're both angry. Because every time you sneeze he says gesundheit.
But sometimes his extroversion and your introversion prickle up against each other. Like when he's hyped up on good company and good beer and is at his peak intellectual capacity for philosophical arguments. Meanwhile, you're slowing down after one drink and would be withdrawing if you could from the bright lights and noise and even the sound of his keen insights simply because it's time for you to sit by yourself and recharge; you are spent and blanched, an overexposed photograph bleeding out. Other times you feel less passive, more like a water balloon that will pop with one more prick of the senses, drenching everything around you.
You do better one-on-one than with a crowd but driving home with him after a night out is like sitting in the dark beside a solar light positively buzzing with the energy of others and sometimes you just want to toss a blanket over it, just this once, just so you can rest. (You'd never want to extinguish his light forever. It's why you love him. Opposites and all that.)
So you communicate your different needs over the years, and try to construct a system of smoke signals and solutions:
1. At home, he gives you ample space and time and quiet. You both have prided yourselves from the beginning on being a couple very independent from each other. (You've dabbled in codependency before, and it was stifling.)
2. After you've spent time by yourself, your energy rebounds and you have a lot of ideas to share. He puts down his phone and listens to you.
3. He takes pains to reign in the velocity of his thoughts and speech to avoid interrupting you. He wants you to be part of the conversation and knows that, to you, interruption too often feels like silencing. You both come from families of interrupters. He's used to it and doesn't mind; you've always hated it.
4. Out, you check in with him. Touching his hand proves too subtle. I'm getting tired, you say. Because it's just as important to communicate your own needs as it is to value his. He measures time in bottles: One more beer and we'll go? Compromise.
5. Out, he checks in with you: How you doing? Do you want to go soon? Sometimes two hours go by and you haven't spoken to each other, which feels like an egregious amount of time to you, the social skin you wear for company wearing thin, but he is speeding through space and time surrounded by his favorite people. You recognize the difference, know not to take it personally. Sometimes you still do.
6. Sometimes he is the one who wants to go home first. Sometimes he feels his age. And even though you're enjoying the music, you go. Compromise.
7. You stay home and he goes out. (You, to watch Grace and Frankie; he to a Game of Thrones party.) Sometimes he has a lot to say when he gets home. You listen.
8. He makes a bracelet using the letters of the nickname he gave you, and wears it to remind himself to check in with you. He intends it more as a reminder of your anxiety than your introversion, but it serves the same purpose. He can't relate to either. But he tries his best to understand.
9. You find things to do that you and he will both enjoy. And if it's been a while since you've had a social interaction, you actually do derive some energy from it. For those few hours, you are on the same page with him, both buoyed by the company of people you love. The next time you don't feel like going out, he reminds you that you actually do like your friends.
10. And then there are the times when even your loud, gregarious, and hilarious extrovert is too tired to go out. You curl up on the couch, he leans back on you for a pillow, and falls asleep, your hands in his hair. You sync up, in your comfort zone, and appreciate the balance.
Above all, you both try to practice kindness, learn to appreciate the ways you challenge each other. You recognize that relationships are a lot of work no matter who you're with, no matter what the similarities and differences may be between you. You learn how to care for, and take care with, each other. And this practice you construct together, this significant thing, as it turns out, is the most important thing you have in common.