Have Girlfriend, Will Travel (Too Much)
September 11, 2009 2:27 PM   Subscribe

How do I express the need for more 'me time' with my girlfriend?

I've been with my girlfriend for seven months, and I love her very much. I'm a recluse, and she is an outgoing opposite. While I need very little attention to feel loved, she drinks affection like water. (She has admitted to abandonment anxiety in her life, which may or may not be relevant.) The standard formula up to now has been any mutually free time that can be spent together, is. This has worked for me because she works two jobs, often requiring her to work nights. I secretly crave these nights, because time to myself always feels like it's at a premium. At the same time, this is a horrible, horrible feeling to have, because I am taking joy in a schedule that is killing her soul and destroying her sanity, and despite the tone of this question, I do enjoy the time I spend with her.

This month, she worked up the guts to negotiate a more sensible schedule with her boss, and to our surprise, got what she wanted. She now has all (or almost all) evenings free. We're still on the old modus operandi, so I've spent almost every minute after my work with her. I realise now I have no ability to express my need for nights alone, because her old hectic schedule made that unnecessary.

Also, I buckle under any perceived tension. I'm a total wet noodle. She employs a number of things, such as a pouty tone, Catholic Guilt(TM), and crying (over anything from 'you raised your voice' to 'I forgot milkshakes have lactose intolerant-unfriendly ingredients'). I try to avoid all that. Unfortunately, I do it to such an extreme that I can't say no to her, and I even propose spending time together when I don't want to, just so I don't look like I'm avoiding her. So in a sense, we're both responsible for my lack of personal time: she wants my time, and I give it unconditionally.

I'm not sure if this is personal selfishness, but from my perspective, if I don't get an evening or two to myself, I'll be the anxious, overworked one in the relationship, not she. This is a highly negative spin on what is otherwise a positive thing in my life, but it's how I feel. Am I wrong to think this way?

If I'm being reasonable, I know I need to say something to her. I don't know what, and I don't know how. How can I express this need for free time in an uninsulting way? And how do I not buckle?

As a mini-question, we would like to move in together when our leases expire in nine months. Hopefully at that time, this question will become moot, replaced with another. I swear I've seen Ask MeFi questions about managing 'me time' with a live-in, but I couldn't find any. Could someone point it/them out?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (34 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Long term, think about whether this relationship is a net good. Seriously.

Short term, go do the things you need to do on your alone time. Tell her, don't ask her. You don't have to be confrontational about it or anything, just say "I'm going to the gym, I'll call when I'm headed out" or "I'm going to X's house for a bit, do you want to go out to dinner when I get back?"

At this point, don't move in together. You'll be a henpecked boyfriend / recluse and you'll both be miserable.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 2:30 PM on September 11, 2009 [7 favorites]

Some of those "things" sound borderline emotionally abusive. Abandonment issues could be a factor, but that's irrelevant. What is relevant is that you want to have more time to yourself. That's the only thing that matters— your girlfriend is (presumably) an adult and can handle something simple like "spending all our mutually free time together was great, but now with the schedule changes, it's more than I can handle. I need some nights alone." Don't be unreasonable about it or send her away when she has already shown up, but if, beforehand, you decide that you want to spend such-and-such a night by yourself, you should feel free to call her and explain this to her. If you can't have your own life within the relationship, including alone time, you should get out of it.
posted by Electrius at 2:34 PM on September 11, 2009

There's nothing wrong with being an introverted person who needs a lot of personal time to recharge. I agree with Inspector.Gadget that you need to tell her you're taking time to yourself instead of asking for it. People don't stay in that attached-at-the-hip honeymoon phase forever. Well, most don't anyway.
posted by scarykarrey at 2:36 PM on September 11, 2009

You are not being unreasonable. The way you say it (unfortunately) is that you just say it.

You take care to make it clear that alone time in general is something you need, rather than that you need time away from her specifically. If you feel the need to justify it you briefly explain that you'll be much better company as a result. And then the way you don't back down is that you don't back down. I know this sounds rather unhelpful, but I think it's the truth.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 2:43 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seriously, do not move in together. At least not yet. If you can't figure out how to establish personal boundaries when you aren't living together, it will only get catastrophically worse when you're sharing a living space.

Me time is important. I live with my boyfriend, and he is very quiet and introverted and I am not, but we both need our alone time to a certain extent. One of the things that has worked for us is learning how to share quiet activities together. We'll both be on our computers or reading in the same room, but we don't feel compelled to talk to each other. I think it's the perceived busy-ness that's key here.

Your girlfriend may see your free time as empty time that must be filled in some way. If she gets the impression that you'd rather do nothing than spend time with her, she's going to feel hurt, so talk to her and make sure she knows that it's not wasted time. If you make clear that your alone time is productive and valuable to you, there will be less chance of hurt feelings. Encouraging her to go out with friends or take up a hobby is also a way to grab a little more me time, but you can't just roll over on this and let her monopolize your time, because it will only get worse.
posted by Diagonalize at 2:46 PM on September 11, 2009

This sounds like a simple (and in my experience common) mismatch between the amount of "alone" time each person needs, combined with some anxiety on your girlfriend's part.

One of the common definitions of "introvert" is "someone who recharges their batteries by being alone," and this sounds like you. If so, it's the way you're wired and there's nothing wrong or unreasonable about it.

The main challenge is that you haven't had to discuss this until now. You certainly should bring it up, and maybe you could explain it something like this: "Some people recharge their batteries by being with other people, and some people recharge them by being alone. I'm the second kind. I need some time to be alone so I can regroup, and you'll benefit because I'll be that much more fun and attentive to you because I'll be relaxed and refreshed. I've always been this way. It doesn't mean I don't want to spend time with you. It means I want to be my best when we're together, and to do that I need some alone time."

And also, importantly, quantify what you mean by "alone time." Do you need Tuesday evening? Tuesday and Thursday? Just an hour after work each day? And I agree that you're not asking permission. You're making a decision and helping her understand it.

Good luck!
posted by PatoPata at 2:47 PM on September 11, 2009 [5 favorites]

You need a lot of alone time. She needs a lot of together time. Neither of you are "wrong". It's merely a problem of compatibility. The pair of you aren't compatible.

You certainly could work together to achieve that compatibility, but if she's going to manipulate and you're going to cave in to that manipulation, then achieving the face-time-nirvana is going to be a long way off.

Work on your ability to stand up for yourself first, and then revisit this question. You won't get anywhere until you can ask for what you want and then see that you get it. Assertiveness training for you, therapy for her. Until you're in a confident, assertive position, nothing you say will make any difference.

"we would like to move in together when our leases expire in nine months"

You are going to make each other miserable if you do this.
posted by Solomon at 2:48 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

If pouty tone, crying over perceived slights and being a wet noodle with respect to your time are showing up after only seven months, you should probably get used to them being part of the foundation of your relationship, as long as it lasts.

Thing is, introverts are often victimized by extroverts. Introversion is cast as selfish, creepy, vindictive, or any number of things, so you need to have ways of protecting your me-time that can stand-up to these classic bullying techniques. And make no mistake, you're being bullied. It may be fine to you that this time it happens to be a bully that you are attracted to, but a bully the same. Stand your ground.
posted by rhizome at 2:49 PM on September 11, 2009 [13 favorites]

This happened to me. I am very happy being alone. My ex always wanted to be around me. I expressed a need to have some time to myself. he took it as an insult and I, loving him, conceded. We are now broken up because, frankly, I can't make concessions on such a huge part of my personality. Neither should you.

You just have to sit her down and explain that this is how you are. She'll understand. if she doesn't, that's a problem. It will start to affect the relationship is very negative ways. Make yourself clear and don't back down, but phrase it kindly.

"I love you and really enjoy our time together, but blah blah blah."

If the guilt continues or she pulls the "If you really loved me..." card, DTMFA.
posted by caveat at 2:50 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Tell her, "If you don't go away, how can I miss you?"

Ok, seriously, just be honest with her. Bite your tongue the next time you want to offer to do something even though you don't. If she questions you about why you don't want to go out or be together, mention the schedule change and how you're seeing a lot of each other and maybe your old plan of seeing each other during all the free time you have is too much now. Mention needing to recharge your batteries. If you don't spend time apart, what do you talk about when you're together all the time? It's totally healthy for people to have alone time and it's healthy to talk about needs. You are very aware of hers, maybe she's not so aware of yours. The bottom line is communication.

Plus, this is a good litmus test for your moving in plan. If you can't find a way to communicate with her about your needs, then you really shouldn't be moving in together.
posted by NoraCharles at 2:51 PM on September 11, 2009

In my relationship, I am basically your girlfriend. I don't directly pout or try to create guilt, but I do cry and get passive aggressive if I'm not careful. My boyfriend needs a TON more alone time than I do, and it may eventually kill our relationship - I'm not sure. (We do live together, and this has made things worse in that way, but it wasn't great before either.)

You do have to talk to your girlfriend about this, and keep talking to her, and keep making sure that you get the time that you need. There is no easy way except to move in that direction and see if she can handle it. If she can't, it's best that you both learn that now. And if she can then, well, problem [mostly] solved.

You can either just start getting your alone time, without saying anything grand - "I'm going to stay in and just read a book tonight" (or whatever it is you do) - which is easy but runs the risk that she'll notice a change and think you now hate her, etc., or you can have the Big Talk first. Just don't expect the Big Talk to change things overnight. You're going to have to push against that boundary for a while, and she's going to pull back against it. That's just how it works.

Good luck!
posted by tamaraster at 3:03 PM on September 11, 2009

I agree with everyone encouraging that you have an honest conversation about your needs. In addition, you can think about how you let her know that you're going to be unavailable. Speaking as the more extroverted one in a relationship (we both crave time alone), I can tell you what makes me feel loved and appreciated even while my boyfriend is telling me that he's taking time for himself.

Define the time you will be spending alone in terms of time spent together. For example: "After we hang out on Thursday night, I'm going to need some time on my own. Can we go to the movies on Saturday? I know I'll be really missing you by then." Also, it never hurts to exceed your girlfriend's expectations. If you say "I need a couple days to rest and recharge, I'll call you on Wednesday," call her on Tuesday to say hello.

Ideally, this allows you to take care of yourself while letting your girlfriend know that she is important to you.
posted by annaramma at 3:08 PM on September 11, 2009 [3 favorites]

You don't need to make it a Big Talk, but you do need to say something. Other people have given some good scripts, but seriously, just say with kindness. You'll have to figure out how much alone time you need and whether the relationship with her can sustain that, but you'll never know unless you just say it. Encourage her to do her own thing, but also take some extra effort to make time you spend with her positive.

As far as standing up for yourself, don't respond to passive-aggressive pouty tactics. Just calmly reiterate your position, say that you're willing to wait til she's calmer to continue the discussion. Then do it.
posted by canine epigram at 3:15 PM on September 11, 2009

I don't remember where I first saw this, but it might be helpful for her trying to understand: Caring for your introvert.
posted by starman at 3:19 PM on September 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

"Honey, I love spending time with you, and I love how outgoing and energetic you are, but I don't think I'm built the same way as you are. I feel like, in order to function in my life and give you and our relationship my 'best self', I need the occasional evening to myself, just to decompress."

I'm similar to you, and my partner is similar to me - I was worried about having "me time" when we moved in together, but it works pretty well, because for us, living together doesn't mean "spending every waking moment at each others' sides" - we do separate activities as well as mutual ones, etc. In a way, living together made it EASY for us to accomplish this, kind of; there's not a sense of separation or loneliness when we're doing our own respective things, so it's easy to chill and take "me time" whenever one of us needs it, with no sense of urgency to get over to the other's place by X o'clock or whatever. So, you know, moving in with someone doesn't necessarily mean the end of one's "me time".

HOWEVER, you seriously need to have a chat with your girlfriend. The two of you are different sorts of social creatures. If she gives a shit about you, she wants to know about your needs, and find a way to accommodate them that will make both of you happy. This doesn't have to be a confrontational discussion; don't think if it like you're denying her something, and don't present it that way. Think of it like you're bringing your relationship to a more sustainable place - because spending all your time with her like you're doing now and not being able to say no to her is not sustainable at all.

She sounds a bit immature, to be honest - though if she has serious abandonment issues, that's kind of understandable. She may feel like the only way she can get people to stick around is by making them feel needed. She may feel like anyone pulling away from her is automatically an indictment of herself, her personality, etc. You may need to reassure her that these things aren't true - and then back that up with your actions, and see how she responds.
posted by ellehumour at 3:20 PM on September 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

The problem may be clearer if it was analogized to sex. Imagine that you want sex every two weeks; she wants it every day. It's pretty obviously a huge incompatibility, and one that no one would expect not to kill the relationship unless both parties find a compromise that they're sincerely happy with. But no one would blame either party for saying "we're just too incompatible".

So, you two have a massive incompatibility to address, and from the way you characterize the behaviour of the two of you, you need to ask yourself sincerely whether or not a sincere compromise is possible. It doesn't sound like it is. You can try, and the only way to try is to sit down and talk in a straightforward way about it. Keep the discussion in 'incompatibility mode', avoiding blame. This sort of problem needs a clearheaded discussion to resolve. And if you two can't do that, then the incompatibility will have to decide for you.
posted by fatbird at 3:20 PM on September 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

Instead of springing your plans for "me" time on her after she gets off work (I'm not saying you do this), plan things out a few days in advance so that she can also plan to do something else during that time that will fulfill her need for attention. I know that while I'm at work, I look forward to seeing my boyfriend afterward. If I've been looking forward to it all day and he suddenly brings up plans that didn't involve me, I might be a little upset...not necessarily at him, but because I cannot have something I had been looking forward to. We solved this problem by planning our time together in advance so that I'm not gearing myself up for something that may or may not end up happening.
posted by Gonestarfishing at 3:29 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

A friend of mine was seeing this cute girl, and it came up in conversation that he had a rule - they could only see each other two nights a week.

I thought he was crazy to be stomping all over the organic balance of a relationship (to say the least), but since then, was involved in a relationship myself where we struggled to meet in terms of needing time apart/together, and suddenly the crazy started seeming... to make a crazy kind of sense.

But to cut to the chase, either you are able to stop being a wet noodle and act in your interests as well as hers, or you are not yet mature enough for a relationship. It's that simple. You must be a fully functional person for a relationship to thrive.
(This goes double if you are to successfully live together.)

So grow a spine, and yeah, you'll probably sometimes be clumsy, and tactless, and say the wrong things, and pick the wrong battles, but you'll also be learning from your mistakes, and becoming a tactful, thoughtful, functional person, who does what is best, not simply what is requested.

Your real problem will be if she is not a fully functional person - defining her life around being with you, for example. In that case, you both have some growing up to do, which means the likelyhood of it happening before the relationship gets mangled, is lower.

Encourage her to spend most of her newfound free time with her friends, sports, and other activities. She shouldn't need to be spending it all with you.
posted by -harlequin- at 3:38 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

If direct, honest communication isn't possible in a relationship there will be problems. Recognising what the other person needs to stay happy and well is part of caring for someone. Pouting, "guilting" and crying to get your way are not acceptable as far as I am concerned. Relationships succeed when two people love, support and respect all aspects of the other person. Needing time alone is a reasonable need. On your part, avoiding confrontation only makes things worse in the long run. Suck it up and have the difficult discussion. The time you spend together is valuable to you but time spent alone is also valuable. You need it to recharge and gather your strength to go out and face the world. If she isn't able to understand this then maybe she isn't the person for you.
posted by Wendy BD at 3:46 PM on September 11, 2009

I have been the needy girlfriend (and platonic friend!) in the past. It took me years, and a few ruined relationships, before I learned that my desperate attempts to maintain a death grip on affection were exactly what drove things into the ground.

The sooner your girlfriend learns this, the better. It would be good if she could learn this while in a relationship, so she can see how the quality of the relationship improves as she slowly eases her grasp, but it's not your personal responsibility to teach her, either.

I agree with the above comments that you need to talk to her about this, the sooner the better. Two ideas/themes to communicate that might help put her at ease are "I will come back if you let me go" (because that is most likely what's she's scared of) and "I need breaks from even my favorite people from time to time" (in other words, this doesn't mean you don't love/like her).

Good luck!
posted by Metroid Baby at 3:46 PM on September 11, 2009 [3 favorites]

Ooh yes! I second Gonestarfishing. Letting your girlfriend know when you'll be doing your own thing not only helps with the disappointment factor, but it lets her make her own plans. Then she has her own fun time with friends (or without) to anticipate and enjoy.
posted by annaramma at 3:46 PM on September 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

This might just be me, and perhaps you are only accurately describing manipulative techniques employed by your girlfriend, but I do have to note, sincerely--the way you talk about your girlfriend and her behavior sort of drips with resentment. Even if you love her. It might be worth examining if your frustration is starting to fester, and if it's healthy to have such bitter feelings after only seven months.
posted by teamparka at 4:45 PM on September 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

Set your boundaries. NOW. Demand that she respect them. You don't have to be confrontational about it. Just state your needs, and stick by your guns. Be respectful of her. She is entitled to be who or whatever kind of person she is, and you cannot change her one iota.

Trust me. I wasted 16 years trying to please a woman who took my loving but stoic appeasement of her as weakness and acquiescence. After years of this I descended into a suicidal depression. One night she picked a very bad time to push me and I exploded. It was not pretty, and I went to jail. It was only after several months of court ordered therapy that I figured out what had happened - I had always attributed my simmering anger from work and financial stress. I literally had no idea what was going on.

You both need to establish boundaries and respect them. If she plays head games with you, I can absolutely guarantee you that the relationship will not end well.

Boundaries. NOW. If she doesn't work with you on this, GET OUT OF THE RELATIONSHIP.

There is no third option.
posted by Xoebe at 5:08 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Well, I'm an introvert, and my husband is definitely extroverted. We work really well together (and yes, gasp! live together like this). He's very understanding, and uses our 'apart time' to go take photographs, or see a band that I don't care for with his friends. Just because you want alone time, doesn't mean she has to be alone during that time. I also have a 'fortress of solitude' in the basement (I have my computer down there, and retreat when I need to play games and just be alone.)
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 5:14 PM on September 11, 2009

I'm an extrovert and my husband is an introvert. We work together really well, but we're really familiar with the two different ways that everyone re-energizes.

Some people re-energize by being around other people. That's me. Being around other people charges my batteries. If I go on vacation, I want to travel to foreign cities, and meet interesting locals, and sit in coffee shops. If I don't get time with positive, interesting, funny people that I "click with" on a regular basis, I get irritable, anxious, and depressed.

Other people re-energize by spending time alone. That's my husband. Being around other people draws down his energy reserves and he absolutely needs to time alone (reading, sitting, playing video games, researching things on the computer, sailing) to recharge his batteries. If he doesn't get time alone, he becomes exhausted, irritable, stressed out, and anxious.

In order for this to work, I have to find people OTHER than my husband who I like to be around and schedule time to be around them. He has to be cool with that, and he is. I have to respect his need for alone time, especially after tough work days, and give him space at home to recharge. Not take it personally if he needs to spend time to recharge. I know that if I give him that time to recharge, I get a happier husband who is able to give more energy to me when I need it.

Unfortunately, the spectrum of how we recharge our internal energy was labeled as "introversion" and "extroversion" by Carl Jung. And those same labels were used by Hans Eysenck to describe the behavior of someone towards other people. So, by talking about introversion or extroversion, you will need to specify to your girlfriend that you are specifically wanting to talk about the differences you have in how you need to re-energize. I know this can sound kind of touchy-feely and weird, but just think about it. You both go to a party for an hour. When you leave, are you exhausted? Is she energized, possibly wants to stay? It happens. People are different. Look after your needs. If she isn't willing to accept that, you might need to find someone else to help you meet those needs. No one should have to spend their lives exhausted and irritable.
posted by jeanmari at 6:04 PM on September 11, 2009 [4 favorites]

I really understand your frustration, but I'd probably never tolerate someone who cried and guilted me into paying attention to them when I got that clawing anxiety to just be by myself. There's plenty of great advice in this thread about expressing your desires to be alone, and your girlfriend would have to respect your need for space in order for you both to grow confidently in the next nine months into co-habitating folk.

As your relationship progresses alongside your gentle confrontation about needing "you time," also be sure to note if your girlfriend not only A) respects your needs to be alone as much as you respect her need for reassurance and affection, but also B) is able to exist around you quietly without demanding interaction with you. For recluses like us, B) is a key component for living with extroverted, affection-loving people. Can you and your girlfriend quietly read side by side in bed without her poking you in the ribs every 10 minutes to talk about something? Does she have to know where you're going every time you leave the room? Does she give you space when you're on the phone? Does she expect to share a house computer? Does she willingly embark on errands without making you come along? Will she want to throw dinner parties every weekend? This really matters in the long run when you agree to share your domestic space with someone and can no longer retreat to your bedroom when you've had your fill of couple-y stuff.
posted by zoomorphic at 7:06 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

So...does she have friends? Most extroverts do, and can turn one man's "me time" into another girl's "friends time". Some people might welcome the extra free time from a schedule change as time to spread themselves out a little bit, socially speaking, without feeling like they are neglecting a significant other who might have sucked up any available free time that a more limited schedule allowed.

If she doesn't have friends, that makes the concerns other people are raising a little more concerning, in my opinion.
posted by padraigin at 9:43 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

My husband is like your girlfriend. I go crazy without alone time. We've been living together for almost three years now. So this scencario can have a happy ending. Here's some practical advice for getting started:

"Hey, darling, I'd really like to hang out tonight, but I'm just overwhelmed and exhausted ... Why don't we do XX tomorrow at YY?"

There are two parts to this message:

1) The "I need some time" part.
2) The "I still love you so let's do something FUN TOGETHER SOON."

Be very firm about both parts! You will probably have to go through this scenario a few times before your girlfriend realizes that all of the pouting and guilt in the world won't get you over to her place tonight.

Don't be all angry "Respect mah boundries." This isn't about respecting boundries (yet), it's about a miscommunication. Your girlfriend doesn't understand that alone time is a vital part of your character. She's going to be all like "What? Don't you love me?"

You may have to start out GRADUALLY (we did). Instead of meeting at 7pm, meet at 9pm. Instead of spending the whole Saturday together, meet at noon. It helps to have plans. "Sweetheart, I have XX at 3pm, but why don't I bring over dinner afterwards?" etc. Don't forget to call and tell her you miss her!

Good luck!
posted by asnowballschance at 2:03 AM on September 12, 2009

This was a problem for me (the introvert) until a few years into our relationship when, like every relationship, we became less attached-at-the-hip. Even extroverts stop wanting all of your attention. And getting dragged out of my shell was good for me, even if I resented it at times. So, I say bollocks to the people calling DTMFA. In AskMe, that will be the answer a not-insignificant portion of the crowd will give no matter how trivial the problem.

The problem here isn't this incompatibility, it is the emotional blackmail. This is what you need to address, as it is not an appropriate way of handling a disagreement. After 8 years me and my girlfriend don't see eye-to-eye on a million things, but we solve this issue by not trying to make each other feel like shit about it. I don't know all the particulars of your interaction but it sounds like you are passive-aggressive, so your first step is to stop being a "wet noodle" and actually stand up for yourself about this issue. If you are caving on it without saying anything it is understandable she reads more deeply into the times when you avoid her. What else does she have to go on?

Just say everything you said here, as it was 100% reasonable. Just straight up say: hanging out every single day drives you up the wall because you like to be alone and it has nothing to do with her, there's no girl in the world that would make you feel differently. Work out some times to hang out, such as the weekends, and ask for the weekdays to yourself -- make up for it by talking on the phone at night about your day, etc. If she can't or won't accept this then yeah, maybe you aren't "compatible", but it seems to me like you haven't even staked your ground here yet. That is absolutely the first step before dumping someone.

And I don't buy any of this shit about extroverts walking all over introverts or bullying them. I am sure she feels genuinely slighted by your lack of enthusiasm (relative to hers). You need to try to work this out like adults before you reach this conclusion. IMO passive-aggressiveness is just as selfish and childish as being overtly aggressive.
posted by cj_ at 3:23 AM on September 12, 2009 [3 favorites]

Just explain in simple terms that your personality requires alone time, that it's always required alone time way before you met her and that it always will.

How about suggesting she go do something with her girlfriends (shopping, watching a chick-flick, getting ice cream, mani-pedis, etc) or take a gym class while you enjoy your me-time?

Also, I don't know about you, but if I don't get my me-time, I get tired and cranky and no one in their right mind would want to be around that.
I'd also add that relationships tend to go south in the absence of me-time. That should do it.
posted by Neekee at 5:35 AM on September 12, 2009

I was reading through before adding my own perspective as a fellow introvert, but cj nailed it. Re-read that advice.
posted by Eumachia L F at 7:30 AM on September 12, 2009

Yeah, cj is absolutely right. This isn't an introvert-vs-extrovert problem at all. The two can get along just fine (and "introvert" is not synonymous with "wuss"). The issue is that she's clingy and manipulative, and you're afraid to stand up to her about it. So she always gets her way and you're simmering with resentment, and so there's none of the open communication and willingness to meet each other halfway that any good relationship needs.
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:46 AM on September 12, 2009

Listen, you're going to get unsolicited advice that's a bit away from what you're asking.

I've been with my girlfriend for seven months, and I love her very much.

That's all that matters. No one here is a fortune teller (they're all just projecting from their experiences of mishandling relationships they're all bitter about --I've done this too when I've piped in relationship advice and I think it's wrong of me), so ignore all the advice about never moving in together and stuff and dumping her, etc. You love her very much and that's all there is to it. Stay the course for now.

You should just ask her. Tell her you're kind of introverted and you need time to be alone to just decompress and play boring video games and stuff. Tell her you love her very much and tell her it's a guy thing (when it's just an introvert thing) and she'll be perfectly okay to go along with it. Trust me. (And don't bother with everybody's hyperanalysis of how you two aren't compatible or whatever.)

Also, you're doing really well, you know, just by keeping in mind that you guys are different ppl with different needs. That's very intelligent of you.
posted by anniecat at 12:01 PM on September 12, 2009

I had the same problem you do with my ex-girlfriend. We were together for over 3 years, loved each other, and we both obviously thought we had a future together. She was so cute and sweet and we had so many things in common that I had a hard time telling her I didn't want to spend all my time with her. That lasted for about 2 years. By then she had practically moved into my house, and she would call me the minute she got out of work every day and expected us to spend almost all our free time together.

I have a lot of other interests and friends and stuff going on in my life, while eventually I was becoming her entire life. She stopped spending time with the couple of friends she had in the city we live in (she's not originally from there), and had no other hobbies or things to do while I wanted to spend time doing things by myself or with other people.

Although she rarely said anything directly (she's quiet and non-confrontational for the most part), I would sense that she was offended or hurt by my doing other things, even after I told her nicely that I needed my own time to do things. She would basically pout and say "I'm going home." or something like that and I would end up feeling guilty. Or then she would go do something without me and not so subtly tell me about some guy she met while she was doing it. She is an attractive girl, and if I didn't give her enough attention when we were out she'd have guys hitting on her in no time and be sucking up the attention from them.

Anyway, I ended up getting frustrated with all the togetherness (and losing attraction for her because of it, causing the sex life to go downhill). We got into a heated fight because of my frustration. She wanted to move in with me officially and I told her that now was not a good time because of my work, and that I didn't want her living there at the moment. A few weeks later she moved into a new place, started hanging out with her male neighbor as friends (she tended to have a lot of male friends) and ended our relationship.

It's been a couple months since then and I'm still wondering how I could have saved the relationship, but I don't think I could have. My point is that it is hard to see this stuff happening while you're in the relationship, because you still have strong feelings for the person or are invested. Determine whether you're compatible early on, and it sounds like you may not be, because in my experience I don't think things will improve. At 7 months you're still in the early attraction phase of the relationship, so it's hard to see this clearly.
posted by upland at 12:00 PM on September 15, 2009

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