Really, I felt like a jerk bringing it up because I could imagine people have been talking to her about this her whole life. But having a silent girlfriend at a dinner party is a really awkward situation for me, and I just couldn't leave it alone anymore. This is basically what I got from her: To me, this sounds like she's insulting herself, but I get that some people just aren't into small talk.
But she's known most of my friends for longer than 6 months, and still doesn't feel comfortable around them? She'd like to be able to go to a dinner party at a restaurant and make conversation with people. But at the same time, she hinted that shyness is a part of her personality, and that I need to accept it.
This is difficult for me, because I see shyness as a mostly-negative personality trait, or at least something to overcome. The last month has been kinda rough; neither of us are fighters -- we've never had a fight -- but we've had an increased number of "I'd rather you didn't do that" conversations. When she sends me sappy text messages now, I feel disingenuous replying. Even more, when she talks about wanting to be with me "forever", part of me kinda winces inside. She's noticed a change in me; or at least, she's acknowledged that the last month "has been kinda weird".
Anyway, there's no need to post a link to the Introvert's Manifesto, or any of the online discussions or articles where introverts explain that their minds just work differently. Trust me, I've read lots of that stuff. The question here is not "what is an introvert? Right now, as she is, do you want to keep dating this person? They may be awesome and great, but if they aren't scratching that certain itch, while actively pushing negative buttons on you, it doesn't sound promising.
Based on what you've written here, she's not what you want in a partner. It's okay to move on. I am much more extroverted than my husband I wouldn't go so far as to call myself truly extroverted, though he is truly introverted and we make it work. Basically, I have to be okay with him not accompanying me to many, many things and he has to be okay with coming out with me when it's important to me.
It sounds like you're very compatible in every other way and it is not realistic to expect that someone who is exactly like you is out there waiting for you to find her. Do you love this girl? If this one part of your relationship was better, would you want to be with her? If yes, make it better - but understand that she's never, ever going to be an extrovert.
If no, move on. I don't think any relationship is perfect. You might find another extrovert who is incompatible with you in other ways, for instance; I don't think that there is anything that has to automatically doom a relationship between an extrovert and an introvert.
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The question really is whether the trade-off of you dating someone who isn't really going to be keen on some of the activities you enjoy is worth it, given all the other ways in which she makes you happy. This is really a question that is fundamental to ANY relationship, and I honestly don't think it is something that can be answered by the internet crowd, unless you like having strangers simply vote on the future of your relationship.
Why do you want her to be more like you, why can't you accept her the way she is? I get along fine with people who don't mind my need for alone time. You sound like you want to break up. However, I bet that you'll regret it later on. Someone who is fun to talk to, has a suitable approach to sex, is smart, doesn't want kids, etc etc - I think that person is going to be very hard to replace, much harder to replace than you think.
Especially if you're adding a new requirement. Sometimes it can be a real misfortune to meet a good partner early in one's dating career - it's easy to imagine that the sea is full of attractive, smart, non-child-wanting people who like sex and have active social lives who will also be attracted to you, when unless you yourself have the advantage of wealth, fame or unusual good looks this is generally not the case. Do not stay with this girl simply because you detest the idea of being single again.
I was about to say that you sound like my husband and I sound like your girlfriend.
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But that's not quite right-- my husband respects the fact that I'm an introvert and doesn't think that it's uncool that I'm this way. You don't really sound like you respect who your girlfriend is or what her preferences are. You talk about how it's awkward for YOU that she doesn't talk to people, that YOU don't understand why she hasn't warmed up to your friends, etc. I feel kind of bad for your girlfriend because it seems like you haven't really tried to understand her or see things from her perspective. Honestly, it almost sounds like you don't really believe her and think she's being intentionally difficult!
Relationships between introverts and extroverts can and do work. My husband and I balance each other out. But that's because he understands why I am usually quiet at dinner parties and he doesn't look down on me for being shy or for not bringing new friends into his life. If these are things you cannot do in your relationship, then you two aren't a good fit. Sometimes relationships between extroverts and introverts work out really well - my parents, for example, who balance each other out quite well. Your question doesn't really seem to be about whether an introvert and an extrovert can be in a relationship though; it's about whether the two of you can be in a relationship.
And I think you hit on the crux of the issue here: Try that for a while, if it works, great! If it doesn't work, you have your answer. Move on and find someone with whom you are more compatible, because if she ends up feeling like she HAS to change or lose you, there will be endless resentment if you stay together.
Based on what you've written here, I don't think she's the right person for you. I'm an introvert as well, and few things drive me up the wall as much as when someone asks me why I was so quiet or why I didn't have anything to say in a given social setting. It's a complex issue that has to do with comfort levels, shyness and a ton of other factors, and it's not something that can be fixed by going mentally "oh, I'll just talk more next time".
Flip it around, what would your response be to "why did you do so much talking last night? If you can chill out and actually do it, not make an effort while you hope she changes and she might, but she'll change by degrees, doubtful she'll ever become an extrovert go for it. Otherwise you'll just get more resentful so you might as well cut your losses now. I'm an introvert and I'm in a 5 year relationship with a fairly extroverted person.
She needs people around to recharge. I need a lack of people to recharge. There is no reason she needs to suffer through your personal life. She can do her own thing, whether it be reading, yoga, painting, etc. You can go be a social butterfly. You do not have to spend the majority of our social lives together. If you require, and I do mean require, that of someone, then you need someone else. You seem to be unwilling to let her be her.
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If she's not comfy around your friends after six months, bitching to MeFi won't change that. And neither will confronting her about it. Now she'll sit there quietly thinking "these are the friends I have to be OK with" the entire time. In short, let her be her and you be you. If flying solo the majority of the social time is not for you, then you need to find someone else who wont' be miserable tolerating your social life.
You'll both be happier for it. For someone who claims to be so well read on introverts, you sure do seem to think "why can't this person just be like me for a little bit? You consider an intrinsic part of her personality to be some sort of character flaw. I think this makes you incompatible with her. Be kind and end it. I can see where it could be awkward for you if your girlfriend doesn't talk at all in social settings, but this is a two-way street. Do your friends try to engage her in conversation one on one, or make the conversation about things that she'll be able to follow?
I am by no means an extrovert but more so than my boyfriend; he is quiet with my friends but certainly talks to them when they talk to him. I do feel like you sound a bit contemptuous of her social style though. I think shyness, in the form of anxiety, is something to be worked through; but I don't think being an introvert is the same as being afraid of interacting with others--it's a lifestyle, not a deficiency.
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If I knew my partner was wincing at my loving text messages, I wouldn't want to be with him. I see shyness as a mostly-negative personality trait, or at least something to overcome. I missed this until xingcat pointed it out. Yeah, it's not a character flaw or something to overcome. If you can't accept that she's probably going to be quiet when you go out, maybe you do need to end it. But I would, if I were you, evaluate why you felt that way and why you think you need someone to be the life of the party with you.
Everything else about her seems almost perfect for you. I assure you that isn't the case. Look, I'm on Metafilter. I've read many accounts of social anxiety. And I love my girlfriend. It isn't an issue of respect. When I'm at a party and she spends the whole time sitting next to me and feeling silent, I feel I feel like I'm taking something away from her, or being the loud obnoxious brute who's monopolizing the conversation. I feel kind of bad for your girlfriend because it seems like you haven't really tried to understand her or see things from her perspective I could see how you'd get that impression, but I assure you that isn't the case.
It's much more the case of me being at a social event with her and thinking, "gee, it'd be nice to be with someone who was more of a help in a social setting" or going to a social event by myself and thinking "gee, it'd be nice to have a girlfriend who liked to go to these things" Do not stay with this girl simply because you detest the idea of being single again. I've spent most of my life single; I can guarantee this isn't an issue.
You haven't mentioned that she as any trouble with you being an extrovert, so it's all on you. You really need to sit down and ask yourself how absolutely important is it to have an extroverted partner. Are you going to be miserable if your partner isn't a social butterfly? If you are, then it's time to move on. Maybe some sort of compromise. Can you live with the fact that she's fine in small groups of people?
Maybe focus your bonding in social situations on the small groups. Please stop looking at her shyness or her inability to make small talk as a negative trait or negative implications of your friends. She's not judging you or them. If she's anything like me, she's probably interested in listening to what your friends have to say, but don't know how to relate that to herself and speak up. Especially if your friends are extroverts. Is she nodding her head, making eye contact, giving expressions? If so, she is talking, just nonverbally.
If she's just staring down at her food and pretending to be as small as possible, she is seriously uncomfortable and doesn't want to be there. In which case I'd give her hugs when you get some alone time and mention that she looked really uncomfortable and ask what I could do to make it not uncomfortable next time If you want to save this relationship, communicate more!
Not in a blaming fashion, but in a more: I'm an introvert, my husband is an extrovert Do your girlfriend a favor and end it, so she can find someone who loves and accepts her entire personality. Just for the record, there are shy people who aren't introverts and introverts who aren't shy. So it takes her more than six months to be comfortable joining in a pre-existing group of friends. This isn't some huge flaw. It might be a dealbreaker for you it sounds like it , but it's not a flaw. She isn't going to be a "help" in social settings, and she isn't going to start to want to go big parties or big meals and she isn't going to change this.
If this irritates you so much you are cringing at her text messages, just break up with her. Also, I see a lot of you are zeroing in on the part where I said, "I see shyness as a mostly-negative personality trait, or at least something to overcome. Everyone has character flaws, including me. I'm beginning to wonder if I phrased the question poorly; I'm not really asking for an "up or down vote", I'm really mostly looking for others who have been in similar situations and am interested in how they dealt with it. It's much more the case of me being at a social event with her and thinking, "gee, it'd be nice to be with someone who was more of a help in a social setting" or going to a social event by myself and thinking "gee, it'd be nice to have a girlfriend who liked to go to these things" Then your current girlfriend is not the girlfriend for you, unfortunately.
Unless you are both in your mid-to-late teens, it is unlikely that her inherent introverted nature is going to change dramatically enough to fully meet your needs. I mean, sure, she might be the life of the party if she developed a drug or alcohol dependency, but that's not exactly the best way to heal a troubled relationship. For me, I read multiple times that you aren't happy.
You wince at her sappy messages, you fantasize about dating other people, you are hoping that if you wait it out, she'll change. If this statement isn't you settling, I don't know what is. Here's a question she or someone in her position could write: I'm a big 'ol introvert. I have a lot of hobbies and close friends I enjoy, and I like arranging my life so that I have quiet time to think and dream and do the things I like. If I don't get time to do those things on a regular basis, I start to feel overstimulated and stressed out.
More than that, I just don't value the sorts of vapid, shallow conversations that people have at big parties full of strangers. I prefer to spend time with a few close friends with whom I can be myself and have deep relationships, even if a lot of our interaction takes place virtually. I am not willing to give up my rich inner life to spend more time making small talk with strangers. My boyfriend is an extrovert.
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He doesn't like being alone with his thoughts. He needs constant noise and stimulation to function. Frankly, I think he's afraid of silence and being alone because it forces him to confront his own feelings and thoughts, and he'd rather be distracted so that he doesn't have to think deeply about things. He's not opposed to quiet dinners with just a few people sometimes, but he insists on constantly distracting himself from the things that really matter by pursuing noise and activity and shallow small talk with people whom he doesn't really let get to know him.
I worry that he's incapable of building a close relationship because he's gotten so used to shallow acquaintances that he rotates through constantly as he gets bored of them. He almost never wants to sit at home quietly with me so that we can enjoy being alone together, and I worry that his constant need for distraction is preventing us from really having the sort of close relationship I want.
Ideally, I'd have a mate who is as introspective as I am, or at least not such an extrovert. He'd have his own rich inner life, and we could enjoy spending time alone together without needing to be distracted by activity. I realize that I'm a bit of an oddball and I'm lucky to have found him, but I'm afraid that we'll never be as close as I'd like because of his constant need to find new strangers to talk to.
About a week ago, he dragged me to yet another room full of strangers, then abandoned me to go talk to people he didn't know. I didn't really have much to say and was feeling overwhelmed, so I was pretty quiet. Afterwards, he confronted me and told me that I made the situation awkward for him by not being louder and more exciting. He didn't want to accept that it takes me a while to warm up to people and that these stranger-courting skills he takes for granted are out of my comfort zone. He told me that shyness is a negative personality trait and that I should work to overcome it.
He thinks I have a mental illness social anxiety because I enjoy really getting to know people instead of making vapid small talk in a huge, loud room. The thing is, I don't really want to become like him. I'm happy to have him go off and do his own thing, but I get the sense that he doesn't actually like my personality because I'm not as flashy and exciting as he wants me to be. I also suspect that he might be pretty shallow, and I'm not sure whether someone who feels the need to constantly seek out new experiences can ever actually commit to a long-term relationship with just one person.
So, should I break up with him? Do you see what I did there? I described her personality traits in a positive way and yours negatively deep and thoughtful rather than flashy and loud. I made assumptions about your mental health based on your superficial behavior he must be shallow and afraid to share his feelings because he has so many acquaintances and scorns the desire for a few close friendships. Basically, I did the reverse of what you've been doing to her. I'm not saying that she feels the way I've described. I'm saying that you're being deeply unfair to her, and just as it's not okay for me to do that to you, it's not okay for you to do that to other people.
The two of you are different, and that's okay. What's not okay is your view that your way of doing things is the right way and hers is the wrong way. You say that you're "absolutely unwilling to change" your desire for constant stimulation from other people and that you want her to "overcome" her "mostly-negative" desire for quiet time free of social activity. That's not a sustainable relationship. You need to decide whether you can love her actual personality rather than the hypothetical personality you think she should work towards having.
I'm really mostly looking for others who have been in similar situations and am interested in how they dealt with it. Both sides have to view this as a problem, want to fix it and make and effort to do so. Two nights a week go be extroverted. Two nights you go be introverted. Two nights a week go solo with friends. Flip for the seventh. Like any couple problem, you work together on it and find a compromise that pleases you both. I think if you are out having a solo social life, and simultaneously you think of her shyness as something that bothers you, you might end up cheating at some point.
As an introverted female, when I've dated extroverted guys it often ended up that way. I didn't want to go out to bars and parties, they did, and they ended up meeting other girls who were more like them. I ended up an introverted guy for this reason.
Dedicated to your stories and ideas.
Don't settle for someone who doesn't have the basic things that are important to you. It's not fair to you or her. I'm sure it's just in the way you wrote the question and the fact that you're asking for advice but it seems that in your view of her, "introvert" takes precedence over "girlfriend". If this problem was something that could be overcome, you'd appear more concerned about how she's feeling in a social setting. I'm an introvert with an extroverted spouse and though he thrives on being around people, he also cares deeply for how I'm doing and puts his need to socialize on the backburner if he's worried that I'm uncomfortable.
I do my best to socialize if it appears to make him happy, and he does his best to tone it back if it appears to make me happy. However, just remember you may not be a social butterfly forever. What are your ages? Values regarding friends and social activities can change dramatically. Personally, I became much more of a homebody over the years. My husband is an introvert, and I'm extremely chatty, outgoing and so on.
When we go to events or social occasions, I make a big effort to introduce him to people, point out similar interests, etc. He's not going to tell jokes to 40 people at once, but he does start chatting--he doesn't sit there, waiting for me to carry the whole social load. While we didn't make an explicit deal about this, it's worked out over the years. It would be ungracious of him to be stone silent, and it would be rude of me to leave him to fend for himself.
It's got to be a team effort. Okay, I'm going to leave this thread alone for a while. I forgot that if you ask people for advice, they'll often tell you to quit your job, leave your girlfriend, start a new business, and travel the world. Because they don't have to deal with any of the consequences. Maybe this question is unbalanced a bit. Anyway, if I could request anything of future commenters, I'd say maybe a little less of "you sound like a jerk, break up with her", and maybe a little more of "I was in this situation and we did this" And please do realize that I love this woman.
I really do not want to break up with her. I am extremely extroverted. My husband is extremely introverted. We've been together for sixteen and a half years. The most important thing I can tell you right now is to absolutely ruthlessly root out any sense that shyness or introversion is a character flaw or something to be overcome. It is a fundamental part of who your partner is.
If you can't or are unwilling to love this part of her as much as you love the rest of her, you need to move on, because nobody wants to be in a relationship with someone who is waiting for them to get over their personality. If you stay with this person, then a major part of your relationship is going to be you going out while she stays home, and you entertaining friends in the living room while she reads a book in the bedroom. Examples are illustrative, not predictive.
This is not because she is uncomfortable and resentful, it is because that's what she wants to be doing and it makes her happy. If you need someone who is going to be happy going out with you and doing the things that you do, then this woman is not that person, and expecting her to be will only lead to heartache. I love my introverted husband. I love him because he's an introvert, not despite it, though. You need to be able to do the same for this to work out. The reason everyone is telling you to break up with her is because you seem to want a different answer than that.
I've been the introvert half of that relationhip, and it did not work out. She is the author of Somewhere On A Highway , a poetry collection on self-discovery, growth, love, loss and the challenges of becoming. The cover and theme for my newest book was inspired by the concept of kintsugi.
All that is dark or cracked within us has the capacity to be fixed, to be filled with light. We are never broken. We are always becoming. Nothing terrifies me more than being so close to someone and then watching them become a stranger again. Again, very wise words! I chuckled when I read this: It takes some getting used to, but is very endearing. Very interesting when you say that some introverts give compliments in a way that look very objective and neutral. I am going out with a girl which seems quite introvert, and I am always showing my feelings I cant hide them , and she is very careful to say that she is in love with parts of me, but not with me, and that she wont promise any love, etc… This hurts me, and when I get compliments from her, it sounds always so objective, almost robotic, so i dont really feel it as a compliment.
But as you said, its just their way, and I have to get used to it. We have been dating for 3 months and I never know if she likes me or not. I tried to break up twice because I felt she didnt like me, and on those two times she fought hard to keep me, so I felt that she really likes me.
I think its kinda stupid to have to make such a big drama just to check if the person likes me I dont do it on purpose, it just happens , so I hope that we get mature soon and can enjoy our times together instead of me getting worried. I love her too much to give up, but I have to admit it is very, very hard… sometimes I pray to God so that I dont get crazy on the process!! New to the introvert. If the self professed introvert stops what they are doing, gets up and comes to have a conversation with you is that a sign of interest or just being respectful, especially when they are doing work for you?
Lingering, following you around, and seemingly not in a rush to get back to their work. Going out of their way to help you outside of the SOW. This is one of the rare posts from Michaela where I basically disagree. Guys nowadays are scared to approach women, especially depending on the culture they come from. But it can be easier on an introverted man to have the woman doing more, and the average extroverted woman is not going to mind doing more vs an introverted woman. But I think, in general there are a lot of good reasons for women to be discriminating with men. This is what i find most complexing: The expectation of fulfillment from a relationship.