Type A from another planet?

Originally Published: March 24, 2006
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Dear Alice,

Okay, I'll admit it, I'm a very Type A personality, who's committed to the bottom line. Very action-results oriented, with schedules, deadlines, what's-going-on out to infinity. And I've noticed it tends to drive other people crazy, since most of the world is supposedly Type B. And according to them, I can't relax. They're probably right, since I'm 28 and haven't had a boyfriend since 18, and that was for a month (forget about sex, cause it ain't happening). There really isn't anxiety, since I've done all sorts of things (skydiving, scuba diving, working in a cubicle) that others would consider frightening, but I rather enjoy. But it's just how my brain is wired. So now what? Resign myself to a life of loneliness and celibacy? (Okay, that's scary.) How does a Type A interact with a world of Type B's? It's really hard, and lonely sometimes. Please help. Thank you for your time and attention.

Terrified Type A

Dear Terrified Type A,

Being action-oriented, good with schedules and deadlines, and enthusiastic about adventure are character traits that many people envy. You might reconsider your evaluation of those qualities - they can be strengths! It definitely can be hard to find compatible friends, or a special someone with whom to share your life.. But, don't feel doomed to a life of loneliness and celibacy.

Some things you might consider: Even if many people in the world are Type B's  there are also many Type A's out there. It seems you may have ended up in a cluster of B folks who have a hard time with your style. You may want to look for ways to meet some other A's for friendship or romance who share your drive and discipline. Skydiving, scuba diving, and cubicles could all be places for the kind of challenge you enjoy, but they are mostly solo endeavors. Perhaps you might try some intense, group-oriented activities likely to appeal to other Type A's like yourself such as competitive team sports, political campaign work, debate team, fundraising or community service projects, to name a few.  Forming relationships takes time. Having support from close friends and family might help you feel less lonely while you work to find a partner.

Sometimes opposites do attract, and you may find a B that really floats your boat. In that case, it's important to communicate openly about preferences for pace and perfectionism. There's nothing to say it couldn't work, but it would help if you were both able to articulate your respective needs for scheduling or spontaneity, and vigorous activity or relaxation, and both make compromises. This is true for friendships or romantic relationships. What is it that makes you think you drive people crazy? Have people you trust told you specific behaviors that may be turning people off? Talking with someone who supports you and knows you well may help you think about ways you could adjust certain behaviors to make it easier to get along with others. Even if you like being a go-getter, it might feel good to you too if you practiced relaxing, giving up some control, or being more spontaneous. Think if it as a challenge! (Just what Type A's like…) If you think you might be depressed, or want an outside perspective on how you interact with others, a counselor or support group could help.

Aside from finding people who connect with your personality and interests, there are other things you could do to help build a satisfying romantic relationship. Check out these ideas from Alice about relationship-building: Dateless despite great looks and personality [Classic Alice!] or Finding a partner. Consider the positive aspects of your personality type, and seek out people who share and appreciate them.

Alice