My partner is shy AND introverted. I'm suddenly finding myself terrified by thought of spending the rest of my life with the person I know and love because I'm tired of being the "entertainer." I'm exhausted. More inside.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (37 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Anonymous because my partner knows I read here. My question was sparked by this post, which really opened my eyes to the dynamics of my own relationship: http://ask.metafilter.com/176367/Hes-Just-Not-That-Into-Me
I've been with my boyfriend for 1.5 years, and we've known each other for 2 years. Everything is great outside of this problem. He is incredibly shy AND an introvert.
I knew this when I met him and made an effort to bring him out of his shell. He seemed like an attractive, nice, intelligent guy so I wanted to know more. It was like pulling teeth, but I made it happen. Prior to dating me, he hadn't dated or had sex with anyone for 10 years. Everyone who knows him/us has commented on how much he has changed. He's more confident and outgoing (this is relative), he's done some self-improvement in the physical sense, etc. He's basically a new person and often thanks me for this. I'm happy for him. All of our friends & family are happy for us. He is 10 years older (I'm in my mid-20s, he's in his mid-30s) and marriage is in the future.
Lately however, I've been feeling panicky... smothered. Terrified.
I used to be painfully shy as a kid. So shy my whole body would tremble in public situations. Teachers stopped talking to me because they knew I couldn't speak. I didn't have friends growing up. When I was 20-21, something changed. I somehow got the affirmation that I'm hot and intelligent, have many good qualities, dress well, etc. I no longer consider myself shy, but I am an introvert in that I need alone time daily to re-charge. But as far as speaking to people, I no longer have any problems. I believe my history of shyness is what initially attracted me to my BF. I saw a part of myself in him.
My BF says he no longer feels shy around me and that is very apparent. But he's still not much of a talker. And I'm coming to realize I'm really frustrated by this. I ALWAYS have to initiate conversation. We went out to dinner last night and I noticed I was doing all of the talking-- and it's not nervous chatter. He will respond with thoughtful answers (whereas when I met him, he might just say "yeah, that's cool" or something), but I'm still the one who has to facilitate conversation. Over the summer we went to a dinner party with another couple who are his friends. I hadn't been feeling well all day so I didn't do much talking. The next day, my BF was mad at me for acting "uninterested" and not talking. I reminded him they are HIS friends, not mine. I didn't have the heart to say he could have talked some (he was his usual shy self, and the couple knows he's like that).
My point is, I feel like I always have to do the 'entertaining' and it's exhausting. As of 2 weeks ago, I've come to dread the weekends. This has been an immediate change for me.
I always considered him shy until I read that caring for your introvert article last week. Then I realized he's actually an introvert. He likes alone time, which is fine. He's not the small talk type. But after dinner last night, it hit me that he's both shy AND introverted. He wants to hang out every weekend (we don't live together), have me sleepover once during the work week, and go out for lunch 2-3 times a week. If we go 2 days without seeing each other, he starts to text me saying he misses me (we never talk on the phone, ever, which is fine). But when I see him, it's back to me facilitating the conversation. He is perfectly content with me lying in bed next to him, reading a book or using my computer, while he watches television or also uses the computer... with NO conversation whatsoever. I did a test last weekend. I purposely didn't bring things up to talk about because I wanted to see how often he does it. He doesn't. Aside from talking, he's fine. He has no problem joking around, being goofy, singing in the shower, etc. He shows his love for me physically. He's very affectionate, we have sex frequently (which is great), he loves being around me physically-speaking.
I love quiet time. I love alone time. I don't mind that he likes those things too. But he's seemingly content ALWAYS being quiet. He loves to go out for drinks, go out to dinner, etc. which are social activities, but again, it's me who's doing the talking. I even try to "practice" with him by encouraging him to flirt with the cute bartender, for example. I tell him to use her name, ask her to make him a random drink, leave his phone number on the receipt, etc. (I know this sounds weird but I'm not encouraging infidelity. I just want him to see that he is an attractive guy and if put himself out there, many women would be happy to date him. There's no reason for him to be insecure. He's very intelligent, went to great schools, does very well for himself financially, has a wide range of interests, dresses nicely, is athletic and has a great body, he's a generally kind person, etc.)
Has anyone else been in a relationship like this? Last night we saw a movie and I had an anxiety attack because I started thinking about the future. I can't spend the rest of my life doing this. He's changed a lot, but I still need him to step up.
FTR, we have talked about this. I've never told him I feel like I'm always the one facilitating conversation, etc. but we have talked about his shyness. He told me Saturday that he feels bad for missing out on a lot of things when he was in his 20s because he "used to be" shy.
What is this? It's not shyness (around me, at least) because there's no nervousness or self-consciousness. He's said this explicitly and I can see the difference myself. I'm not even sure anymore if this is introversion. He wants me in his company (he never wants to take a weekend off to re-charge, while on the other hand, I'd love a weekend off because I need that alone time to re-charge), but yet he rarely has anything to tell me.
Advice? I don't want to end the relationship because I love him, he's a great guy, very intelligent, attractive, and funny (I encourage him when he's funny because I want him to be more like that), but the thought of spending the rest of my life in this role as the entertainer terrifies me.
Advice? Experience? He's not into therapy, so is there any way I can explain this to him? I have no problem working with him and being patient. He's already changed so much since he's been with me that I'm hopeful he'll come around, but at the same time the clock is ticking... if things don't start to change, I will have to end the relationship (explaining to him why exactly) which saddens me and I know will devastate him. Everything is great otherwise so I hate that this has to be the issue that drives us apart. We're best friends, so aside from our romantic relationship, I'd be losing a friend too.
I forced myself to overcome my shyness in my early 20s, and I was worse than him... can't everyone do this? Can I help him do this more than he already has? Has anyone helped their partner do this or has been helped by their partner?