Ever wondered how some people are able to just connect with practically everyone they meet? It’s not because of their natural talent or the “vibes” they bring. This may be due to their ability to assess the situation and act upon the situation. For them to do this, they must understand the In-Ex Dynamic Theory, in one way or another.
This theory holds that, in an ideal relationship, there are only two possible reactions to a person’s personality (introversion/extroversion), which are either to compliment or compensate.
It’s easy to misunderstand the term “being an introvert” or “being an extrovert”, as it is usually dealt with as if these are two polar opposites in categorising our personalities. Some also start to use the term “ambivert”, which is someone who doesn’t truly fit in either of the categories; somewhere in the middle.
The truth is, extroversion is a spectrum determined by our social preferences. The categorisation of people towards these labels may have started by the popularisation of the Myer-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) – or more commonly known as Myer-Briggs 16 Personality Test – that is now widely available online. (Myers, 2012) Although its popularity is declining due to many criticisms on its reliability in determining one’s personality, it is still quite popular among schools and job applications.
When it comes to interactions with others, there are only few applicable theories thus far. In layman terms, there are two school of thoughts, which are “opposites attract” and “attract like-minded people”. (Kiesler, 1982) These two are often portrayed as having conflicting views. However, the truth is simpler than it seems.
What determines this response is mainly due to their dominating/submissive nature. People who are in the more extreme ends of either being in control or to be controlled, tend to seek for compensation, where they reach out for someone of their opposite nature. Meanwhile, those who are at the ends of the introversion/extroversion spectrum, usually seek for compliments.
Research has shown that very little seek out for people of differing personalities when finding a life partner. (Markey, 2007) Most people look for someone they can relate to, so they can feel accepted and understood. However, in reality, people are not so two-dimensional.
This is not to say that people can’t connect when they have similar possessive nature. The underlying condition for this theory is that both parties are not willing to put aside their identity for the sake of keeping a harmonious relationship.
For example, to approach a shy introvert, theory states that you must be of similar nature. As an extrovert trying to talk to them, you’d like to tone down your excitement and approach them more calmly. Carry the conversation if you must, because you’re able to do so. Then, assess the situation. If they turn out to be chatty, it shows they are generally more knowledgeable than they seem and want to share it to someone, but doesn’t have the courage to do so. In this case, the introvert most likely have a more dominating nature, which means that we must be more submissive; be quiet most of the times and listen to them, while occasionally giving our own thoughts in a way where we don’t attack their point of view.
As much as I’d like to dive deeper into this topic, there isn’t much proof for me to present. Unfortunately, this is not an easily-studied theory. I thought about this theory as I was reflecting back on how I would act differently towards different people, despite them having similar personalities. An article from Psychology Today covers this topic quite thoroughly, so go ahead and check it out if you want to dig a little bit deeper in this topic.
Do Opposites Attract?... It Depends on How They Interact. (2015, February 2). Retrieved January 22, 2020, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/close-encounters/201502/do-opposites-attract-it-depends-how-they-interact
Kiesler, D. J. (1983). The 1982 interpersonal circle: A taxonomy for complementarity in human transactions. Psychological Review, 90, 185-214.
Markey, P. M., & Markey, C. N. (2007). Romantic ideals, romantic obtainment, and relationship experiences: The complementarity of interpersonal traits among romantic partners. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 24, 517-533.
Myers, I. B., & Myers, P. B. (2002). Gifts differing: understanding personality type. Palo Alto, CA: Davies-Black Pub.