Me : Extrovert. She : Introvert. Can this relationship survive? Should it?
posted by Sloop John B to Human Relations (67 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
My girlfriend and I have been together for about 9 months. The first 6 were pretty much constant honeymoon period; it's like someone was giving me a new puppy every minute of every day. We fell for each other completely and totally, sappy text messages and everything. However, my doubts set in about 3 months ago, and now I find myself wondering if I should break up with her. I don't know if I'm just feeling the normal letdown everyone feels after the honeymoon period is over, or if it's a deeper incompatibility that we cannot work past.
First, the good : we're very compatible on many levels. Basically, we have a really good time together. We could spend an eternity holding each other and talking to each other and making each other laugh. We love going on hikes, cooking together, going to museums and concerts, discovering hidden parts of the city, or just snuggling up on the couch and watching Mad Men. We have equally high libidos. Neither of us wants to have children. Her family loves me. Although many of our interests are in different areas, I definitely see her as an intellectual equal. Many of our strengths are complimentary; in a lot of ways, we make a good team. I love her, and if she were gone from my life, I'd feel an great aching emptiness.
Now, the bad : the introvert/extrovert thing. Didn't think this would be a big deal, but it's become an issue.
Basically, I'm a big 'ol extrovert. I love going out and being around people. If I don't have at least a certain number of friends that I see on a regular basis, I start to feel lonely and isolated. More than that, I try to always be meeting new friends and going to events where I don't know a lot of people. This is something I'm absolutely unwilling to change. I am not willing to have a diminished social life.
She is an introvert. She doesn't like to meet new people. She doesn't like going to parties where she doesn't know a lot of people. She doesn't like dinner parties at restaurants. She doesn't need or want to have a large group of friends. She's basically said that she doesn't like most people, and feels like she doesn't have anything to talk to them about. She doesn't make friends easily; the last time she had a group of friends was in college, and they all live in different places now. She keeps in touch with them pretty much constantly over Skype and Facebook, but hasn't really made any new friends since she graduated a couple years ago.
This isn't to say that she's completely *opposed* to meeting new people. She enjoys hanging out with some of my friends, and enjoys some social events. For example, going to dinner with one other couple is usually fine. And she seems to do well at house parties where she knows most of the people. However, at a number of social events, she's just sat there the whole time and not said a single thing. This wasn't a big deal at first, but it's become a big deal, and it's come to the point where I'm not okay with it anymore.
From the beginning, there've been nights where we'd go our separate ways : I'd go to a burning man party where I didn't know a lot of people, and she'd go off with a friend to a dance club. However, it seems like the list of "social things we can't do together" has grown somewhat. She's perfectly okay with letting me go off and do my own thing socially. However, I'm starting to wonder if *I* am cool with that.
Ideally, I'd have a mate who's as social as I am, or at least not an introvert. She'd have her own set of friends and events to introduce me to. She'd accompany me to parties and gatherings, and make new friends right along with me. However, I also realize that I could die alone waiting for my ideal mate to come around. I'm a weird, oddball, non-standard person, with an odd (but not unsavory!) past and an odd mindset. I feel lucky to have found someone who isn't totally scared off by that. So, while it may be tempting to shout, "DTMFA", please realize that I have a lot of reasons to want to keep this relationship going.
About a week ago, we went to yet another dinner party where she was silent the whole time, so I confronted her about it later in the evening. 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 :
1) She claims that she's silent around people because "she doesn't have anything to say". To me, this sounds like she's insulting herself, but I get that some people just aren't into small talk.
2) She says that it takes her "a while to warm up to people". Okay, fine. But she's known most of my friends for longer than 6 months, and still doesn't feel comfortable around them?
3) She would someday like to be more social. 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. I've even started to look forward to dating again, even though I *hate* dating, absolutely *hate* it, and am not even very good at it. She's noticed a change in me; or at least, she's acknowledged that the last month "has been kinda weird". Basically, it's gotten to the point where I either need to (A) break up with her, or (B) CHILL THE FUCK OUT, accept that much of my social life will be solo, try to help her where I can, and patiently wait for her to feel more comfortable in social situations.
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?" but "can I stay in a relationship with this introvert?"