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Dear Wendy

My new partner doesn’t have a life outside the relationship

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  • #1101582 Reply

    Long story short, after a long time of incredibly disappointing dating experience I finally met a guy who is super nice, giving, caring, adoring, will do anything to make me happy, doesn’t play games, is serious about the relationship, etc. For all of this and more, I fell for him imediately, we got along very well from the start, we share many of the same values and views in life etc. We’ve had some fights, like any person he has his personality pecularities, and so do I, we’re human, this doesn’t worry me.

    One thing that began to worry me for some time is that he doesn’t seem to have any life aside from .. me. He used to be married to a woman who was also introverted so both were very happy to live together without having any friends, apparently they truly never hung out with anyone else. Since his divorce, he started to talk to people and has become friendly (even friends?) with a couple of people from his job, but they don’t meet outside of work. I have to say that he is very busy with work but it seems things have always been like that for him even before he had such crazy working hours. Apparently he used to do some sports before, he doesn’t anymore because he says he is too busy. His entire life and world view seems to be shaped from reading stuff online, not interacting with people in real life. I have taken him to meet my friends, but when I do, I always worry because he seems very uncomfortable and not easy to talk to, so I worry he is not having a good time and I have to always be around to manage the situation (although I see he is making efforts to change that as he doesn’t want me to feel uncomfortable introducing him to friends). With me he has been very chatty and funny and relaxed from the start pretty much, but I guess with other people it is taking him some time.

    Right now this doesn’t affect our relationship much, because I am at a hermit stage of my life when I am finishing my studies, I rarely go out anymore, 80% or more of my time I spend with him (when we are together since we met we spend most of our time doing work, sometimes we watch something or go out for a meal). However, the normal “me” is pretty sociable, taking part in sports activities, often hosting dinners for friends, meeting people for a drink and dinner. In recent years I limited my circle only to people I truly value and enjoy spending time with, and even so I easily could have 2-3 “friend dates” every single week, and I can’t wait to get back to it after I am done with my degree.

    His lack of life outside work and me is starting to be slightly off putting, as I am starting to feel it is a bit tiring to be someone’s “everything”. We are both quite sensitive and get upset about things easily, and anything I say during an argument he interprets as me trying to break up and I see he is horrified of this thought, I have to reassure him quite a lot. Lately he keeps repeating all the time how much he loves me, I think his very strong attachment is likely because he doesn’t have anyone else and is used to having one person be everything for him, and this is putting pressure on me and beginning to make me feel uncomfortable. We are in our late 20s and I worry what our life would be like when the honeymoon periods ends, I get back to my old routine and the dynamic changes dramatically. I honestly think if we had met in a different stage of our lives (one when I am not a hermit), the relationship would not have lasted as long as it has.

    To make it clear, I am a relationship kind of person and I can adjust and compromise for the right person to make it work, this isn’t a big problem for me. I have always been happy with this comfort of a relationship, I don’t mind spending 5 out of 7 evenings at home watching movies with my partner. But it still boils down to the fact I feel a bit overwhelmed to be his “everything” and I am not sure if it’s something that goes away. I try to encourage him to do more things when I am not around, but it seems he really doesn’t feel the need to meet anyone or go anywhere, he just seems very sad every time I go to my own apartament. I know we are fully formed adults and I have no illusion he will change at this age. On the other hand, I really don’t want to throw away the best thing that has happened to me for the last few years just because the person is more introverted than me. I also get that a lot of his devotion and loyalty to me stem exactly from all the things I mentioned above that bother me – do you have to choose one or the other?

    Has anyone been in a similar situation, how did you overcome such differences, am I being an ungrateful brat for meeting someone great and looking for problems ? 🙂

    • This topic was modified 1 week, 5 days ago by Dear Wendy.
    #1101610 Reply
    Dear Wendy

    I hear a lot of concern about how things *might* be in the future – when you’re done with your hermit stage, when the honeymoon period is over. I can’t tell if you’re worried about being turned off by him or if you already are. If you already are, I think that’s one thing. but if you’re worried about something happening in the future, why not wait and see if your concern is justified? You might find you actually like going on out your own to see your friends as much as you like and he might really enjoy having alone time while you’re out. Extroverts and introverts have been making relationships work together since forever; you all certainly wouldn’t be the first.

    If, however, you’re kind of turned off by your guy because you think he’s too needy or dependent on your, it’s worth communicating this with him (not the turned off part – just the part about how you feel like you have different lifestyles and different needs and want to check in with him about how he’s feeling about it). You’re assuming a lot here without actually discussing those assumptions with him. You say he “seems sad” when you leave his place, but is he? And for how long? Does he ever express desire for you to stay in more, stay with him more or are you just inferring what his desires are?

    Really, so much of what your concerns are here can be handled with communication and honesty. You need to be honest with yourself about what you want and what you need, and so does he, and then you need to communicate honestly with each other about those needs. It may be that you aren’t a match for each other but simply being an extrovert and an introvert isn’t necessarily what would make you mismatched.

    #1101615 Reply

    You’re taking on too much responsibility for his social life.

    Be with him when you want to be with him, but if you need a night away, it’s not up to you to arrange “play dates” for him. He’s a grown person. If he needs other social outlets, he can arrange it himself.

    Some people need lots of friends, some people don’t. He may just be someone who doesn’t need to have a lot of social contacts. But that doesn’t mean you need to be the one to fill his social calendar to keep him from being bored. If you don’t want to be together as much as he does, either he’ll find other ways to entertain himself, or you’ll break up to find people who match better with each other’s expectations.

    #1101618 Reply

    My step dad was a gregarious and really outgoing guy, but he wasn’t the type to call up friends and make plans. My mom was in charge of their social life. Once they both retired, she would push him to join a bike club or meet the guys for poker and he’d always have a good time. But it just never occurred to him to make plans. He was fine with plans or without plans. She pushed him because she had no plans to stop doing things with her friends to sit home with him.

    Ultimately you need to do you. If you want 2-3 friend dates a week, take 2-3 friend dates a week. If he doesn’t want you to be so social, that’s a conversation and maybe a showstopper. He doesn’t get to dictate how social you are. Don’t hold your needs at bay to make him feel more loved. It will only end in resentment.

    #1101624 Reply

    If he isn’t asking you to compromise your needs to meet his (e.g., asking you to stay in with him more), then I think you are creating a problem where there currently isn’t one.

    Some people have lower social needs than others, and I’ve met introverts who have jobs that require enough people time that they prefer to decompress alone after work to rejuvenate. You don’t mention if he has any hobbies he enjoys solo that fill up his time in a way that is enjoyable and meaningful for him. I’m an introvert dating an extrovert and it has been fine. My boyfriend has a solid group of guy friends and it’s a non-issue when he goes out with them and I stay home. I’ll read or watch a movie or otherwise enjoy a night of solitude. I have my own social outlets and hobbies, but have lower social needs overall. It works for us, but I’d say we’re a more independent couple. All this to say, simply being introverted shouldn’t be a red flag.

    From what you wrote, the two things that would make me pause are: 1) that he needs a lot of reassurance (I dealt with this when I had an insecure boyfriend in my early 20s… never again), and 2) that he doesn’t mix well socially (introverted does not mean socially uncomfortable).

    • This reply was modified 1 week, 5 days ago by Copa.
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