Take a large, black, permanent marker and strike the words “Attention Whore” from your vocabulary. Realize that the person you love may love being around people, may love the din of friendly conversation, may want to go out on a night you’d stay in, but they are not selling themselves out for any morsel of indiscriminate human contact. Learn that that name, among many others, has been used to shame them back into their rightful spot on the sidelines, to dampen the spirit inside them which is always saying “Go. Meet. Explore. Do.” If you should wield it against them, it would be more painful a punishment than any common disagreement could merit.
Ask yourself what we have always thought of when we thought of these “attention whores,” these “needy” people whose love of being out and doing new things seems to trump all other sources of happiness in their life: What is their flaw? What is their crime? Begin to think of what “extrovert” really means, and understand that, aside from simply being “outgoing,” these people actually draw their energy from being amongst other people — a need which is often easily categorized as “desperate” because we imagine there must be something they fundamentally dislike about themselves. “Why can’t they be alone?” we ask. “What are they trying to escape?” Let them teach you that they are not escaping anything, they simply want to share what it is they already love.
Show them that you are willing to accompany them on new adventures, new outings, new dinners with groups of people you may never have interacted with before. Know that the joy they draw from being able to share their life with you, to have you participate as so many others never have, is amongst the most profound they can experience. Their most pure pleasures often come from facilitating, from introducing one group to another, from hearing that most pleasant buzz of conversation when the party is going just right and everyone is having a great time. Do your best to participate when you can and to make yourself a part of the worlds they are always struggling to integrate.
Stand up, though, when they attempt to drag you around. Realize that it is a natural impulse for an extrovert to believe “the more the merrier,” or to not want to miss an opportunity for a bit of fun with friends. Though you can see how their knack at “rallying the troops” and “getting everyone together” is based in good intentions, let them know that it can wear on a partner to always feel like they are keeping up with someone else’s life. Help them to find the balance between the things you both want to do, and do it without making a judgment about who they are as a person.
Imagine how many times their genuine desire to talk and laugh and meet new people has been (willfully or otherwise) misinterpreted as flirting. Imagine the terrible situations it may have put them in in their life. Imagine how cruel people can be when they interpret outgoingness for sexual availability and then are turned down when their ego is most easily bruised. Remember not to make that mistake yourself, and to learn the very human differences between wanting to start a conversation and wanting to start a courtship.
Learn that, though extroverts have always been regarded as the more socially agile and resilient of the personality types, they can be just as fragile and in need of care as anyone else. Though they may go through life with a quick comeback or a “Hell yes!” to the proposition of doing something new, there will always be times when they just need to curl up with a movie or lay their head on the chest of someone who loves them. Because extroverts know better than anyone that, when the music has stopped and the party is over, it’s always good to know that there are some people who simply love you for you.