When we consider the types of relationships with which we may be comfortable, we often consider our needs and desires, but do we truly consider what types of relationships might be best for our personality types? The extraversion/introversion continuum popularized first by Carl Jung demonstrates an important aspect of every individual’s personality, but how often do we consider this part of ourselves as an integral part of knowing what types of relationships will be healthy and happy for us?
Extraverts are those individuals who gain energy from being around and interacting with other people. These are the people who seem most alive at the center of a group of people. You’ll hear them as they interact with others and you may even wonder where that high energy comes from. Often, that level of energy comes from the very interactions in which you find extraverts. They draw their energy from those with whom they interact and seem only able to come fully alive when they are engaged with others.
Conversely, introverts gain energy from time away from others. Many introverts find intense interaction with groups of people draining and exhausting. Introverts need privacy and alone time to recharge after they interact with others. Introverts are the ones you often observe at the edges of parties. They quietly observe and interact only with those for whom they feel the expenditure of energy is worth the resulting fatigue.
If you examine this key difference between extraverts and introverts—that of gaining energy either from others or from personal time alone—you can see where the question of polyamory as happy and healthy relationships might arise.
If polyamory is defined as having more than one intimate and loving relationship at a time, you can begin to see where problems might arise for the introvert. Knowing that an introvert requires time alone to recharge themselves after intense interactions with others, a polyamorous relationship can be a drain on the limited resources of an introvert. Attempting to engage deeply and connect personally with many people is the antithesis of what many introverts spend their lives doing.
On the other hand, a polyamorous relationship paradigm gives extroverts a larger base group of people with whom to connect and from which to draw energy. That same group of people can additionally help one another support the energy needs of an extravert without one person being drained by the energy draw from that extravert.
These assessments, however, do not mean that monoamorous relationships are the only healthy relationships for introverts, nor does it mean that extroverts will only be happy in polyamorous relationships. Instead, these assessments are meant to help both introverts and extraverts make informed decisions when they choose to engage in relationships.
For example, an introvert involved with an extrovert might happily welcome a polyamorous relationship with the extrovert because having others in the relationship allows for a balance of energy draw on the part of the extrovert. If there are more people from whom the extravert can draw energy, the introvert is given the opportunity to not only share the energy draw but also to share the time the extrovert might want to spend with people. More people in the relationship can give the introvert more of the time he or she requires to recharge.
Extraverts who have wide social interaction circles can be perfectly happy in monoamorous relationships. So long as there are times when the extravert can draw energy from larger groups and times when the introvert can recharge, the two personality types can be happy.
Problems often arise between introverts and extraverts in relationships with one another when the balance of energy is thrown off. If the extravert draws too much energy from the introvert and does not allow the introvert time to recharge, the balance will be off and the introvert will be unhappy. If the introvert doesn’t allow the extravert the time and energy resources he or she needs to be happy and energized, the extravert will be unhappy. It is in this energy imbalance that the question of monamorous versus polyamorous relationships might arise.
Whether you are an extravert or an introvert, monoamorous or polyamorous, the decision of the type of relationships which work best for you must be based on open and honest communication about your needs and desires. Just remember that your needs and desires must include an assessment of how much energy and connection or alone time for recharging you need to be happy. Being transparent about these needs with your partner will help you build happier and healthier relationships.