Here’s how dating the opposite of you can work.
By Nicole Weaver — Last updated on Aug 26, 2023
Photo: NDAB Creativity | Shutterstock
A lot of people talk about the differences between introverts and extroverts, but what happens when two people with opposite personalities start dating? Are they able to balance each other out — or do their differences inevitably tear them apart?
Research says introverts should date extroverts, and vice-versa.
David Sack M.D., the CEO of Elements Behavioral Health explains to Psychology Today that of course a relationship between an introvert and an extrovert can work out — it just takes a little extra effort!
Figuring out how to spend time together can be tricky since extroverts believe “the more the merrier” when it comes to socializing, while introverts tend to get overwhelmed by too many social situations. The reason for this has to do with the hardwiring of our brains.
A study found that extroverts’ brains release more dopamine when responding to food, intimacy, social interactions, and earning money. Introverts, on the other hand, don’t get the same dopamine boost and therefore don’t get a “reward” from such interactions.
“Dopamine also facilitates memory for circumstances that are associated with the reward. Our findings suggest this plays a significant role in sustaining extroverted behavior. The extroverts in our study showed greater association of context with reward than introverts, which means that over time, extroverts will acquire a more extensive network of reward-context memories that activate their brain’s reward system,” says Richard Depue, professor of human development in the College of Human Ecology, who co-authored the study with graduate student Yu Fu.
The study happened over the course of a week, with the researchers studying 70 young adult males — all of them, a mix of introverts and extroverts, — in a set of laboratory tasks that included viewing brief video clips of the lab environment. In the first four days, some participants received a low dose of the stimulant methylphenidate (MP), also known as Ritalin, which triggers the release of dopamine in the brain, while the others received a placebo.
The team tested how strongly participants associated contextual cues in the lab presented in the video clips with reward, AKA a dopamine rush, by assessing changes in their working memory, motor speed at a finger-tapping task, and positive emotions.
The extroverts strongly associated the lab context with reward feelings, whereas the introverts showed little to no evidence of associative conditioning.
So … is it wise to date someone the complete opposite of you?
Yes. Yes, it is.
Dr. Sack insists that you shouldn’t rule out someone with an opposite personality type for several reasons. The first is that everyone falls somewhere on the spectrum, so chances are the person isn’t as different from you as you may initially believe; you’re still going to be able to relate to each other on some level. Secondly, Dr. Sack says that personality differences can usually be smoothed out with effective communication.
Plus, there’s nothing like having a yin to your yang! Balance, people — it’s all about balance.
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Nicole Weaver is a senior writer for Showbiz Cheat Sheet whose work has been featured in New York Magazine, Teen Vogue, and more.