Stay connected

Enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts.


BRENDA: thank you SO much! Your advice is exactly what I need to do. I am amazed how much you “get” me after only exchanging a few messages!… Again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You’ve helped me more than a year of therapy sessions! – Megan on space2live
Your site has saved my sanity and my life. Maybe even my marriage. I work part time and have two young boys at home, my husband is supportive of me but until recently I thought I was going crazy. … Reading your writing not only inspires me to pick up the pen again, but gives me nourishment in the deepest places. I will fight for balance. Everything you write is spot on… And wellness is so incredibly multifaceted.  I was ready to give up hope, but understanding myself through your words is bring…
You’re so honest in your writing. It’s bold. It’s frank. It’s wonderful. I could definitely see the work you are doing here as a useful book. It could save/make a lot of relationships! — Jimmi Langemo
Jimmi Langemo
That courage and dedication you so generously share with the world, has inspired me to push myself a little harder, persevere at each task a little longer, dig a little bit deeper to where the answers just “feel” right to both my humanity AND my spirit. Your insights have reinforced my direction and given me additional tools that help me clear my path. I’m wired into my creativity as never before and the new music is pouring out of me faster than I can record and produce it; this is the Un…
During one of the harder times in my life I found Brenda’s website
and reached out to her. To say the least it has been one of the best
decisions I have made. Being an extrovert I never quite understood
what it meant to romantically involved with an introvert. Brenda does
an incredible job listening, giving in the moment feedback, and helped
me understand the how an introvert functions. She helped explain to me
that I am introspective extrovert, and this gave something to identify
with and allowed me t…
Evan H.
THANK YOU….. you just summed up my swirling thoughts into something i can read with out everything else in my head meshing with it. I finally feel like i can explain what happens within without getting distracted. I’m an Introvert with ADD and it makes it so hard to explain quite what im feeling sometimes. — M.G. on space2live
Because of your blog, I know that it is possible for me to have the love that I want one day and that I don’t have to be alone.  — Indepthwoman  on space2live
I met Brenda and took the MBTI… I had a fairly good understanding of these types before the meeting but was impressed by the depth of knowledge that Brenda shared with me. She clearly has a passion for this work and a gift in imparting the information. There have been doors opened for me because of our talks… — Alan Hintermeister
Alan Hintermeister
I have been dating an introverted man who I am very in love with for almost 2 years.  Reading your posts have helped me to be more supportive and understanding to him especially during the times when he needs space.  I just wanted to thank you for your weekly posts and let you know how helpful they are for someone who is in a relationship with an introvert. C.M. on space2live
Thank you for all the words. You’ve created the magic drug I’ve been looking for all my life. Your blog has transformed my life, and I feel like I am on the brink of a most satisfying fulfilling journey…You’ve made me see everything in a new light. I now feel calmer, able to care better for my toddler, less hateful of people around, and hopeful for my future. I am not so afraid for our marriage anymore. — Shilpa CB
Shilpa CB

Join us on Facebook

Introvert Relationships: Using Differences to Grow

butterfly emerges

Six or seven years ago when my eyes first fluttered awake, I was drawn to individuals who had similar core values and beautiful ways of expressing them. I reveled in layered conversations rich with introspection and feelings regarding the human condition. I sought safe places to practice being the real me. The old definition of introvert (shy, reclusive) left my vocabulary and a new one (renews in solitude, faceted inner-world) took its place. Guitar lessons and writing classes were my sanctuaries for self-discovery and self-practice. The people who gathered there became my closest friends, confidantes and teachers. Because of them I felt strong and supported enough to grow into the person I am today. I felt brave enough to follow my own energy.

Those friends and influencers are still my intimates, the ones I go to for unconditional acceptance and insight. Even if I don’t see them often, their words and gestures are imprinted on my spirit.

No more safety dance

Wholeness is not achieved by cutting off a portion of one’s being, but by integration of the contraries. 
― C.G. Jung

In the last year, new perspectives have developed. I’ve felt the spark of and learned to appreciate  red apple green appleopposite temperaments and contrary ways of thinking. I’d even go so far as to say, I crave differences.

Ten reasons I crave contrast and temperament differences:

1. The presence of new relationships in my life. I’ve felt the spark and energy of mixing introversion with extroversion or people-oriented with task-oriented. The synergy is impactful.

2. The introduction of the Myers-Briggs inventory and its framework for explaining how mental processes and personal development occur.

3. I am burned out on myself. I’ve written, noodled, experienced and stressed about every nuance of being an introvert and sensitive. I want a reprieve from my own conscious experience.

4.  Introverts, extroverts and sensitives come to me with questions and uneasiness about their relationships with someone who is their opposite in some way (ex. introvert/extrovert, thinker/feeler). I want to learn other ways of thinking and being in order to help others.

5. Within my own home there are significantly different personalities. In order to find peace I need to learn how to create common grounds and sensitive solutions to everyday confrontations.

6. I find myself more and more interested in helping others in person instead of sitting, reading and writing.

7. I want to taste the other side. I want to experience the electricity of going out of my comfort camp.

8. I want to meet more people and build relationships.

9. I want to learn from extroverts, left-brain types and leaders.

10. I want to allow my unconscious, less mature abilities to emerge.

Friends and lovers

The other night I met with my group of writing sisters. This is a group of women I cherish, admire and from whom I receive validation. I would do anything for any of them. Our temperaments are all similar but one thinker with a lot of common sense in the group repeatedly blows my mind with her logical clarity. My own way of being is short on logic (full of dreaminess, possibilities and people empathy, but short on logic). Her friendship adds another facet to my personality. She’s taught me how to prep a house for sale, look at my divorce differently and get objective about child rearing. I appreciate her opposite approach to many things.

After writing group I planned to make a call on the drive home to someone new I had never met or spoken to before. Dating is one way I push myself out of coziness. I figured the conversation would be rather anti-climactic and maybe even tiring after the prime affirmation and sharing time I’d just experienced with my women friends. I was more than pleasantly surprised. My new extroverted friend with a big bass voice had me laughing within five seconds of the conversation’s start. We talked about serious matters (his father recently passed away) but also had plenty of joking and levity. I contributed equally to the banter. I rose to his level of energy and it felt amazing.

Retro CoupleA recent New York Times article about marriage included this line, Americans now look to marriage increasingly for self-discovery, self-esteem and personal growth. We’re not just looking for care and comfort anymore. We have the luxury of choosing partners that help us grow.

Tolerating is not the same as appreciating

C.G. Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist whose personality theory is the foundation of the Myers Briggs inventory, said we choose partners to expand who we areHe also said we bring more and more of our unconscious into the light as we expand.

The Myers Briggs philosophy is based on self-awareness and appreciation of differences. Last week I watched a webinar on Type (Myers Briggs way of categorizing personality patterns) and Relationships. The speaker said that we are often drawn first to people who have similar personality preferences because it’s easy to be with them. It requires less effort and energy to be around them, but the real sparks occur when we meet someone who has one or more different ways of seeing the world, making decisions or getting energy. These are the people who help us expand.

The speaker also made it clear that merely tolerating a friend, child or lover’s differences is not enough. This will eventually lead to resentment. We need to appreciate each other’s differences in order to expand. Two-way respect is the perfect soil for growth. Appreciation comes with awareness, practice and the ability to laugh at yourself.

When you stop growing you start dying. — William S. Burroughs, Junky

Bottom line

The bottom line is I want to do something meaningful and I won’t be limited. My curiosity needs feeding and my fascination with relationships provides the learning path. I’m joining professional organizations, sitting on panels and networking. I’m asking questions and requesting feedback. It’s scary but good. I am in between comfort zone and complete foreign territory and I like it. As I appreciate other’s differences my own less developed skills emerge and dare to spread their wings. In the end, I’m more able to help others expand as well.

Are you willing to be a little scared? Have you grown from knowing someone completely different from yourself?

If this post spoke to you then you may also like:

I’m Sick of Myself and Other Things I Never Thought I’d Say

The Introvert Survival Kit: The Must Haves for Meaningful Living as an Introvert

Introverts Not Meant to Live the Cookie-Cutter Life?

Solitude: What It Takes to Complete Work and Complete You

About the Author:


  1. Contraries | The Practice Blog November 1, 2014 at 3:21 pm - Reply

    […] Brenda Knowles […]

  2. scottmnc February 26, 2014 at 7:03 am - Reply

    Reblogged this on scottmnc's Blog.

  3. scottmnc February 26, 2014 at 6:48 am - Reply

    I am an INFP with a lot of extroverted tendencies. I have learned a great deal about myself this year after being in a relationship with an INTJ. I’ve learned that intentions are not the same as results, nor do they qualify as excuses. I’ve learned that some people are deeply hurt by failures to keep promises, regardless of my perceived “size” of the issue. Things that I sometimes see as no big deal can mean a great deal to someone else. Failure to follow through on any type of promise can trigger feelings in others about major betrayals they may have suffered in the past. Close attention to integrity in the present helps one avoid paying for the past crimes of others. I’ve learned that solitude can be revitalizing, and that being by myself does not mean that I am lonely. I’ve learned that I can be content without a steady stream of positive feedback from my mate. I’ve learned that some people value independence as much as interdependence, and it’s not my place to judge which is better. I’ve learned that there is nothing I treasure more than intimate sharing during quiet times. I’ve learned, after 20 years of guarding my heart, that I can fall in love and offer myself without reserve. I’ve learned that the best answer to the question, “Am I really worth the effort?” is not “Yes” or “Absolutely!” Despite all the intricacies, nuances, stops, starts and cycles involved with being in a relationship with an Introvert, I’ve learned that loving her actually required no effort at all.. It was what I enjoyed doing most in my life. Sadly, it didn’t last. Due in part to life circumstances, but mostly due to my blunders along the learning curve, I lost the woman I loved most in my life. But at least I learned how to love, and I can try again.

    • Brenda Knowles February 26, 2014 at 2:51 pm - Reply

      Scott you have become so wise! As a fellow INFP I understand the tensions/frustrations that may be caused by our numerous intentions and (slightly?) fewer results. INTJs require more structure and logic. They like to mastermind and plan. These can be great additions to our more flexible and people centered nature. But there has to be a two-way appreciation of the differences in order to grow and sustain a nourishing relationship.
      I’m so proud of you for going “all in” and being open to falling in love. It’s not easy to be that vulnerable. I think you would agree that it is worth it.
      Just out of curiosity, what is the best answer to,”Am I really worth the effort?”
      It sounds like you worked at and reveled in a beautiful experience. I am so sorry that it didn’t work out. Please don’t beat yourself up about mistakes made along the learning curve.Brenda Ueland, my favorite writer, always said if you’re going to make mistakes make them doozies.;)You will carry this new growth and knowledge with you into another lovely relationship, I’m sure. Thank you for sharing with us on space2live. Your insight may save other relationships.

      • scottmnc February 28, 2014 at 3:13 pm - Reply

        Thanks again for your insight! To answer your question about “worth the effort”, to me it would be, “Loving you is the greatest joy in my life. By keeping you in my thoughts and doing things for you, I feel like I am creating moments of happiness for both of us. I am responsible for how well I treat you and for being fully devoted to you, but I consider it a sacred privilege, and not an effort at all. “

        • Brenda Knowles March 1, 2014 at 8:53 am - Reply

          Wow! That’s an amazing and lovely response. If those are your genuine feelings then your relationship must have been incredible, mature and expansive.

          • scottmnc March 1, 2014 at 9:06 am

            I still love her with every fiber of my being

          • Brenda Knowles March 1, 2014 at 9:31 am

            Damn Scott! 😉 My instincts say you should fight for this one.

          • scottmnc March 1, 2014 at 9:38 am

            It’s not my choice. I told her that all she has to say is “be mine” and I will be hers any time. She knows exactly how I feel, so I cant do more without venturing into “creepy-ex” category, and I would hate to be that!

  4. susipet February 22, 2014 at 2:06 am - Reply

    ah yes
    enjoyed this

    just written my perfect introvert day for the daily challenge

    wonder what yours would be like?

    • Brenda Knowles February 22, 2014 at 9:41 am - Reply

      Mine would have blocks of time to myself for reading and watching meaningful movies. I would at some point be joined by a significant other who relaxes me and feeds me energizing conversation. Many more ideas but those would be important ingredients.

      • susipet February 22, 2014 at 9:46 am - Reply

        Sounds good… Books and movies, time for yourself and a significant other…all essentials!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: