During high school breaks, my youth club would organize hikes through the beautiful English countryside. We would pass golden fields, push our way through thick woodland, follow flowing rivers, and watch glorious sunsets. I loved nature and was with good friends, so I should have loved these excursions.
But I didn’t. I was tired and bored most of the time. I just wished we could have slowed down. For me as an introvert, enjoying nature meant sitting and watching. Listening to the sounds of the forest.
As we passed ancient landmarks, such as the ruins of a medieval castle, a crumbling monastery, or an old church, I would imagine how it was when these crumbling buildings were bustling with people. Kings and queens, bishops and priests, monks and nuns, lords and peasants, all living the drama of their everyday existence. But no sooner was I beginning to enjoy the ghosts of some ancient era when the group was on its way again.
You see, most of my friends were extroverts, constantly searching for the next adventure, while I, the introvert, wanted time to savor the experiences. I never really understood why I wasn’t having a good time. It would be many years until I understood introversion and realized why I couldn’t enjoy the experience the same way as my friends.
The issues raised on those teenage excursions are exactly the same ones I face today when I go on vacation with my extroverted partner. Here’s how I’ve learned to survive — and actually enjoy — our time vacationing together.
Stop Feeling Guilty About Ruining Your Partner’s Fun
All good relationships are about compromise, but when you’re introvert-extrovert couple, open communication becomes even more essential. In the past, I would come back from vacations absolutely exhausted, hoping to rest from the exertions of the holiday, while my wife would come back refreshed and invigorated.
I felt guilty that I was ruining the fun, so I never even asked her to slow down. I really did think that the problem was I just didn’t know how to have a good time. It took me a long time to realize that I do know how to enjoy myself — it’s just that I need to have fun in a different way. The truth is, I am ruining the fun a little bit for my extroverted partner, especially when I get worn down and exhausted.
But it cuts both ways, because on some level, she is ruining the holiday for me. So what’s the answer? Compromise.
Plan a Vacation You Can Both Enjoy
The secret to a great vacation is communication and planning. In many ways, a vacation can be a dress rehearsal for what else is going on in your lives. If you can tell your partner how you feel — stating your desires for your trip — that can be a first step to getting a good balance in your relationship when you’re back home.
You should find something that you can both enjoy, but that’s easier said than done. Here are three things I’ve learned to make an introvert-extrovert vacation more enjoyable.
1. Invite friends to join you.
As an introvert, asking another couple to accompany you on your vacation might seem like a very bad idea, but surprisingly, it could give your holiday a real boost. Consider this: If you’ve had enough action for one day, you can retire to your hotel room, and your partner can continue with your travel buddies. The guilt that comes with “abandoning” your partner is dissipated by knowing he or she is continuing to have fun in your absence.
However, I suggest doing this with just one or two close friends. Avoid large groups on vacation. For many of us introverts, getting our partner to understand us is challenging enough, but explaining it to a group of excited holidaymakers — forget it!
2. Choose a static vacation.
In my experience, when my partner and I have gone on a road trip, or hiking through the hills, or explored the sites of an unknown city, there has always been the problem of pace. Like on my youth club hikes, I need more time to enjoy the experiences. So when planning the perfect introvert-extrovert vacation, I strongly advise going for what I call a static vacation, where you are in one location, and there is plenty to keep the extrovert partner occupied with opportunities. Here are some examples:
The sea and sun experience can be perfect for the introvert-extrovert couple. While you lounge by the pool with a good book, your partner can wander off and take part in one of the many social and sporting activities that are organized day and night. What’s more, hot tubs, saunas, massages, and spa pools are the type of activities both introverts and extroverts can enjoy.
If you’re a music or culture fan, vacationing at a music festival could be the ideal getaway for you both. My partner and I are both music, theater, and folklore enthusiasts, so we can both enjoy the performances, and there is no problem of her rushing off to the next activity too soon. If your partner wants to stay and enjoy the after-concert socializing, no problem. You can slip away to the hotel room to recharge your batteries and meet up again later.
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3. Enrich your partner’s experience.
If you’re visiting a museum or art gallery, looking at beautiful scenery, or just sitting in a street cafe people-watching, explain to your companion what you are seeing, imagining, and feeling. You might even help them to appreciate things a little more.
Recently, I was due to attend an overseas conference. I was discussing with my wife what she could do while I was busy with my professional colleagues.
“You could visit some of the local museums,” I suggested. “That is something we always enjoy when abroad.”
“No,” she replied. “It just wouldn’t be interesting without you. It’s your insights that make it worthwhile.”
So you see, we introverts can enrich the lives of our extroverted partners, on vacation and at home. We just need to overcome our fear of explaining what we are experiencing, as it happens. Help your partner see what you see. They might just like it.
And whatever your destination, bon voyage!