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Introvert-extrovert relationship. How to handle the different social needs?

(55 Posts)
Rezrex Tue 16-Jun-20 12:36:05

Me and my bf have had some problems regarding socializing. It’s a subject that has slowly emerged over the years. I don’t want to use the introvert/extrovert division since I don’t think it describes us accurately, but it seems like the internet likes to simplify it like that. My bf is quite asocial and introverted. I’m more extroverted (i'm a bit more of a mix).

I’ve had a bit of a naïve idea that once I have a boyfriend we would have similar ideas regarding socializing. I kind of imagined a relationship where we would have dinner with each other’s parents, meet up with best friend and their spouse, go to family milestones together, go to brother’s bbq etc. Not all the time, but every now and then. But that image did not become a reality and I fell for a guy that does not enjoy social situations or have any sense of duty regarding them (I have a strong need to show up for people I care about even if I’m not 100% feeling it, then have a recharge day the next day)

I absolutely don’t want to force him into anything he doesn’t want to. I don’t need to be attached to the hip. I’m capable of going on my own. It is just that I have a strong family culture of showing up to certain things and I want to share different aspects of my life with my partner. Also, it just sometimes sucks going to things alone especially when everyone else is with their partner and your partner is at home.

I’ve done a lot of reading about this subject. Seems to be quite a common problem and there is a lot of information about this. The info was very varied but in general it seemed that the extroverted one should understand the introverted one better and leave them be when they need to.

I’m willing to accept that we may have a compatibility issue but not before we have talked about it. I’m mentally preparing for the conversation but I don’t really know about my own boundaries or what is a fair expectation. I do understand that I need to be more understanding and accepting of him not socializing with me. However, I’m not sure I have to completely accept that it is only up to him. If you have been in this situation how have you compromised? Can I have some expectations on going to things together? How do I let go of the idea that we socialize together?

OP’s posts: |
heartsonacake Tue 16-Jun-20 12:41:27

DH and I are like this; I’m introverted, he’s extroverted. I don’t enjoy socialising; I’d rather be at home watching tv.

So we compromise. DH meets friends and goes to the pub, BBQs etc. alone and I go to big events like weddings, anniversary parties, funerals.

If there was an event DH would like me to attend for whatever reason we will discuss it and I would most likely go, because it was important to him. But he would never force me into going to an event; he would never emotionally guilt trip or manipulate me, never nag me.

This works for us and neither of us feels we’re missing out because I’m not stopping him going and he’s not forcing me to go.

It’s never okay to try and cajole someone into attending events they don’t want to. If they don’t want to go, that should be respected.

Cambionome Tue 16-Jun-20 12:45:06

I don't know the answers to all your questions but I will just say that you are letting yourself in for a lonely life if you accept that he will never attend anything with you or make any effort with your family and friends.

It's not all about you compromising either - he should try to be flexible too. If he absolutely cannot bring himself to socialise then you need to ask yourself if you are happy to continue the relationship on that basis. I have to say, I wouldn't be.

LightenUpSummer Tue 16-Jun-20 12:53:37

This is a deal breaker for me now. I spent 17 boring years with xh who never wanted to do anything. Wish I'd realised early on how incompatible we were.

Rezrex Tue 16-Jun-20 12:56:29

I go to big events like weddings, anniversary parties, funerals.
Is this an "automatic" thing. So basically if an invite comes to these big events then it's (assuming you are available) assumed you will come along or is it a discussion everytime if you are up for it? How about visiting family? Do you only see in laws if it's a big event?

If there was an event DH would like me to attend for whatever reason we will discuss it
how often are these? Do you feel like there is a quota on how often he is entitled to ask this?

I don't know the answers to all your questions but I will just say that you are letting yourself in for a lonely life if you accept that he will never attend anything with you or make any effort with your family and friends.
I appreciate this. This is what I'm trying to figure out and therefore preparing for a conversation. The thing is, the more I read about it the more I got curious and it kind of opened my mind to really consider my own limits and expectations.

OP’s posts: |
PersonaNonGarter Tue 16-Jun-20 12:59:10

Sometimes it has to be a direct trade off - he needs to do some things he doesn’t want to do, just to make you and other people he values happy. Not often, but definitely sometimes.

That’s having an adult, mutual respect.

Shoxfordian Tue 16-Jun-20 13:03:48

It wouldn't suit me to have a partner who wouldn't come to events with me. If it matters to you then it may be that you aren't compatible so shouldn't stay together.

DianaT1969 Tue 16-Jun-20 13:06:46

Dealbreaker for me too. I have experienced this. It's very lonely going to everything alone and you end up feeling single but without the freedom or opportunity to meet someone new .
We should be doing things that make the other person happy sometimes. Not all the time. But to be part of their life.

FieldOverFence Tue 16-Jun-20 13:07:56

Me & DH are like that, and I've come to the realisation that actually, I have a better time at weddings/christenings/birthdays etc if he's not there - if he comes out of a sense of duty, he's uncomfortable all evening, generally talks only to me anyway, and my enjoyment of the evening is less.

heartsonacake Tue 16-Jun-20 13:07:59

Is this an "automatic" thing. So basically if an invite comes to these big events then it's (assuming you are available) assumed you will come along or is it a discussion everytime if you are up for it? How about visiting family? Do you only see in laws if it's a big event?

Pretty much, yeah. A big event like a celebration or a funeral isn’t just about me, but about celebrating/commemorating that event with DH and the other guests. They’re important events so I feel it important that I go out of respect. If I did not feel able to go for whatever reason DH would be okay with that though.

It’s about half and half with the in-laws. I love them; they’re really lovely and respect that I’m not always up for seeing them. So DH might go out to dinner with them or a coffee and I’ll stay at home, but other times I’ll join them. It depends on whether I feel able to be up for it, but they’re DH’s family and I like them so I do feel it important to make the effort.

If DH tried to make me go every single time he saw them, or nagged me/emotionally guilt tripped me about not going, that would not be acceptable. I would resent him for trying to force me and it would in turn sour the relationship with my in-laws.

It’s the respect and understanding that comes from DH, in-laws and myself that makes it work.

how often are these? Do you feel like there is a quota on how often he is entitled to ask this?

Rarely. Years go by without him asking. He’s content with going on his own; he’s with friends/family so why would he need me there? If he was constantly asking/nagging me to go to events with him I would find it draining and resent him, and it wouldn’t work.

But these issues have never cropped up because we respect each other’s side.

You have to work out of it’s a dealbreaker for you. If you are having to nag/cajole your partner, your relationship won’t work because you’ll both end up resenting each other.

LightenUpSummer Tue 16-Jun-20 13:14:15

For me, I felt sad (and I'll admit, jealous) around people whose partners were there with them when I was always alone. I htink I was with an extreme example though, xh wouldn't go out, or on holiday (!) even if it was just the two of us sad

Angelonia Tue 16-Jun-20 13:20:02

Here are my thoughts:

If he has accepted an invitation then he needs to attend unless he is ill or there is an emergency. Anything else is rude and inconsiderate.

If you are having the earlier conversation about whether to accept or not, a big event such as a friend's wedding or family christening would have to be a yes unless he has a really good reason.

If it's something like a dinner party or a BBQ then I'd want him to accept, say, one-third of the time. He may not enjoy them but it's miserable always going on your own.

Visiting family - again I'd expect him to come along say once in every three visits.

More casual or last minute social events are up to him.

AWiseWomanOnceSaidFuckThisShit Tue 16-Jun-20 13:25:30

I am extremely introverted and one of my no go's is getting involved with a man who has a big family, who always has something going on. A christening, wedding, someone's 60th, a Sunday barbecue. It would be hell on earth for me. He's not wrong to avoid these things if that's who he is (it does NOT make him a miserable bastard) but you're not wrong to want a partner who likes that kind of thing either. I think it just comes down to incompatability.

VeryQuaintIrene Tue 16-Jun-20 13:46:44

I'm a pretty extreme introvert married to a sweet, sociable extrovert with a lot of family and friends. Sometimes, I grit my teeth and attend things even when I don't want to terribly, because it's polite and because it pleases her and because it can often be more fun than I anticipate once I've got my head around the idea. It's part of being a good partner. In turn, she gives me plenty of introvert time at other times.

SonEtLumiere Tue 16-Jun-20 13:47:48

I also recommend not proceeding with this relationship. Utterly soul destroying when normal activity is only accepted under sufferance and as some big favour where future payment will be extracted. (Leaving aside “can we leave early” and other comments designed to spoil the evening whilst you are still getting dressed).

Obviously as @heartsonacake has alluded to, the assumption is that the extrovert is the one that socialises out and that home is the territory controlled by the introvert. So hosting will slowly (or rapidly) stop happening, because it is an unwanted intrusion on the territory that is no longer a joint space.

Obviously the final bit that you are still struggling with is this. Introverts don’t want to spend time with your family, or more strongly they want not to spend time with your family. And are counting down the minutes to the earliest possible time they can leave where it will be just a touch rude... enough to give the message that they’d rather be alone whilst retaining plausible deniability.

Anyway, it’s up to you, but I would not.

ComtesseDeSpair Tue 16-Jun-20 13:57:29

I think “introversion” is one of those words and concepts which is widely misunderstood and misapplied: introverts don’t typically hide away from company or feel no need to be sociable - they just then “recharge” by being more solitary. And there’s a whole world of difference between being introverted and being rude and antisocial - and frankly, refusing to get involved in your partner’s occasional and perfectly low-key activities such as a summer BBQ, a family dinner or a visit to see a friend is rude. You’re not asking him to be at your side every weekend for a swinging from the chandeliers party or dragging him out to crowded bars every evening.

If you continue this you’ll always be disappointed to have to attend yet another perfectly normal thing alone and feel resentful that your friends simply view his behaviour as weird or rude.

And I’m an introvert!

LightenUpSummer Tue 16-Jun-20 14:14:32

Another thing is that “introversion“ can be due to depression, as in dh‘s case, which is why I hoped one day things would get better.

And yes good point above, it means you can’t have a sociable house with lots of visitors.

It’s really hard but sometimes you have to cut your losses even with a very nice person.

Rezrex Tue 16-Jun-20 15:27:58

As mentioned in my op, I'm not in denial about potential compatibility issues. I just think a conversation needs to take Place before that happens. This thread is mainly about self reflection and hearing from others in preparation to see where I should set my boundaries for when this happens. Then I can work from there. some of the ideas are ones I could totally work with such as @heartsonacake and @Angelonia

I didn't want to use introvert/extrovert cause I think those concepts are misused (and I'm not an extrovert) but I cave in due to internet liking to use these terms wrongly. I also would describe him as asocial instead of antisocial. Also it's not like neverever sees other people. It's just so inconsistant that it stresses me out.

* are counting down the minutes to the earliest possible time they can leave *
I'm not really sure this is a fair statement

it can often be more fun than I anticipate once I've got my head around the idea.
That's awesome. I have a feeling that this is something that happens with my bf. He is nervous about going somewhere and then on the way home he chats about the people he talked with and how it was interesting.

I am extremely introverted and one of my no go's is getting involved with a man who has a big family, who always has something going on
This is great that you know your dealbreaker and can communicate that when you go on a date.

He's not wrong to avoid these things if that's who he is (it does NOT make him a miserable bastard)
Not saying he is wrong or that he is a miserable bastard.

For me, I felt sad (and I'll admit, jealous) around people whose partners were there with them when I was always alone
I sometimes feel jelous aswell. But it seems like this was not due to introversion but more about the depression.Hope all is better with you though!

If DH tried to make me go every single time he saw them, or nagged me/emotionally guilt tripped me about not going, that would not be acceptable.
This comes to an interesting idea on what is guilt tripping. You ask "is it ok if i skip this one?" and he asnwers "I kinda hoped we would have gone together, but if you are not up for it its fine". is this honesty or guilt tripping?

if he comes out of a sense of duty, he's uncomfortable all evening, generally talks only to me anyway, and my enjoyment of the evening is less.
This is the balance I'm trying to have. I don't want him to show up and then be miserable but I also don't want to go alone as a default cause I do want to share those things

it means you can’t have a sociable house with lots of visitors.
This is something that also needs to be discussed. Thus far when a fried has popped over (not a fan of popping over but this was a special case) he puts the kettle on and hasn't complained.

He’s content with going on his own; he’s with friends/family so why would he need me there?
I think the moments I've wanted my bf to come with me are the ones where I only know the host and nobody else. I have mild social anxiety and am really bad at Small talk. I don't need anyone to come with me. It's just nice to have Company and share the moments together.

OP’s posts: |
Rezrex Tue 16-Jun-20 15:32:20

Me & DH are like that, and I've come to the realisation that actually, I have a better time at weddings/christenings/birthdays etc if he's not there
I'm curious about the acceptance process. Were you sad about going alone at first? Was he willing to attend? How did you move on to embrace going on your own?

I appreciate all the comments I've gotten!

OP’s posts: |
heartsonacake Tue 16-Jun-20 15:48:58

Obviously as heartsonacake has alluded to, the assumption is that the extrovert is the one that socialises out and that home is the territory controlled by the introvert.

@SonEtLumiere Yes, that’s also true. I don’t allow anyone popping over unannounced and having people round is a very rare event; family or otherwise. My home is my safe space and having others round intrudes on that. Luckily, this isn’t an issue for DH.

Introverts don’t want to spend time with your family, or more strongly they want not to spend time with your family. And are counting down the minutes to the earliest possible time they can leave where it will be just a touch rude... enough to give the message that they’d rather be alone whilst retaining plausible deniability.

This however, along with being exceptionally rude and ignorant, is a load of bullshit. I don’t “count down the minutes” to leave, I don’t not want to spend time with DH’s family; that’s not how it works. I also don’t make snide comments about leaving nor I do anything to “send a message I’d rather not be there”.

Whoever you’ve encountered that does that is a rude arse, and it’s nothing to do with them being an introvert.

This comes to an interesting idea on what is guilt tripping. You ask "is it ok if i skip this one?" and he asnwers "I kinda hoped we would have gone together, but if you are not up for it its fine". is this honesty or guilt tripping?

OP If you said that every single time, yes it would end up guilt tripping, particularly so if you don’t actually mean “it’s fine”.

But what I more meant was repeated comments of “oh there’s going to be a DJ”, “oh Benny’s going to be there”, “Laura said it’s going to be a night not to be missed” which are designed to try and get the other person to acquiesce to going.

Aussiebean Tue 16-Jun-20 15:51:18

I am happy to stay home and dh likes socialising.

Luckily he has a job where he is paid to socialise and when it’s important for me to show up I do.

I am good at socialising and I enjoy it. I just don’t love it and like alone time.

Nacreous Tue 16-Jun-20 16:07:14

I am not a person who likes loud bars or clubs. I do however love having friends over for dinner and catching up over food and a bottle of wine. I love cooking. I would find a relationship where my hosting friends was broadly unacceptable a complete disaster.

For those who do prefer to be at home alone to recharge, would you feel the same way about guests if there was a snug or somewhere else comfy you could settle down and not be expected to join in the socialising?

heartsonacake Tue 16-Jun-20 16:13:36

For those who do prefer to be at home alone to recharge, would you feel the same way about guests if there was a snug or somewhere else comfy you could settle down and not be expected to join in the socialising?

Nacreous Yes, I would still feel the same and I would not be okay with being relegated to another room to accommodate guests. There would still be people in my house restricting my access and making me uncomfortable in my own home.

Rezrex Tue 16-Jun-20 16:13:37

OP If you said that every single time, yes it would end up guilt tripping, particularly so if you don’t actually mean “it’s fine”.
--- which are designed to try and get the other person to acquiesce to going.
This is not something I do. But this peaked my curiosity. Reminds me about a conversation I had with a friend about when to stay quiet and when to share feelings (it was about parents wanting grandkids). What if the person is not completely fine with going alone but it's not important enough to pull the "it's important to me card" (this is a situation that comes up in relationships regardless of introvert/extrovert differences). Is it better to keep quiet and just say "cool" or tell how you feel? Those examples you gave are interesting cause I wouldn't necessary consider those guilt trippy (and not something I'd say or do anyway).

OP’s posts: |
heartsonacake Tue 16-Jun-20 16:16:14

What if the person is not completely fine with going alone but it's not important enough to pull the "it's important to me card" (this is a situation that comes up in relationships regardless of introvert/extrovert differences). Is it better to keep quiet and just say "cool" or tell how you feel?

I always want to know how my DH feels because his feelings are important to me, but if this was a situation that kept cropping up it just wouldn’t be viable.

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