10 Things I Learned From Dating An Introvert

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The hardest part about a new relationship is when the initial excitement wears off and the reality of your differences creeps in. Sometimes these differences balance the two of you out and make you stronger, but sometimes they're deal breakers and can tear you apart. I’ve always been very outgoing and when I started dating someone who is an introvert and didn’t enjoy loud and crowded social situations as much as I do, I was caught off guard. It took a bit of work to figure it out if it was going to bring us closer or tear us apart.

1. I was mad at him for being introverted at first

It’s hard to understand the perspective of other people sometimes and I just couldn't understand how someone would not want to enjoy a loud band or hoot and holler with their friends in a club. I got mad when we went to a milestone birthday party for a close friend that I'd really been looking forward to and he ruined it because he was so uncomfortable and miserable.  I was so angry and I had no idea what to do about it.

2. I worried people would judge me because of his behavior

At first, I was so worried people would think he didn’t like me or didn’t care enough about me to show up. I was concerned about what they would think about my relationship and how it was going. It gave me anxiety thinking about being judged for something I couldn’t control.

3. I thought he just didn’t like my friends or family

I made a big effort to spend time with his friends and I was really upset thinking he just didn’t want to spend time with my friends. Didn’t he like them? He assured me that he really liked my friends and family, but just couldn’t spend time with them in a place that was so noisy and crowded.

4. When the anger and anxiety subsided, I got really curious about the cause

I grew up with a family that was loud, had parties almost every weekend, danced and sang and were extremely social. I’ve been to concerts that were so crowded, I couldn’t put my arms down because people were packed in there like sardines. So it occurred to me that his introversion might be to do with how he was raised, or maybe it had something to do with his childhood or an incident that caused it. So I started asking questions to learn more about why he was so introverted.

5. I dug deeper so I could understand it from his point of view

I started asking questions randomly about why he didn’t like loud crowded spaces. I asked about his childhood and his teenage years. I learned that he had an illness in his twenties and didn’t go through the bar phase that most of us go through when we become legal drinking age. He had a much different family life than I had, which in turn made him very shy and quiet for his entire life up until about age 20, which is when he was diagnosed with the illness. His entire social upbringing was completely different than mine, so it’s no wonder he handles social function differently than I do.


6. I observed his reactions in social situations and was surprised

I started paying attention when we were in social functions to his reactions, to the noise, the chaos, and when it was quiet and calm. I learned something very surprising. In an effort to avoid the chaos of a bunch of adults talking, he would get on the floor and play with the kids. I learned that he is fantastic with children and treats them like their problems are as important as they think they are. All the kids fell in love with this awesome adult who didn’t treat them like a kid. I also noticed that he really thrived in more intimate settings. He always had a blast when we went to dinner parties or had a small group of friends over.

7. I discovered what social functions he actually enjoyed

Over time I learned what events he enjoyed, which ones caused him anxiety and which ones he was neutral about. I would pick his brain about each event after it was over so I could get a better understanding of how he felt about it and why. The process of discussing it also gave him a better understanding of what functions were my favorites and which I detested (hello stuffy work functions).

8. We got clear about expectations of eachother

After some time, we set some expectations for each other. I decided to let him off the hook for certain parties and we decided we would both be very clear about which ones were non-negotiable. We came to an understanding of how to handle each one. If it was something I needed or wanted him to go to very badly, he didn’t hesitate to go, but I always made sure to evaluate how badly I wanted him to be there and if I was putting him through an anxiety-inducing night for no reason.

9. I decided the good outweighed the bad in the relationship

I figured out that we balance each other out. I pull him out of his shell a bit and he keeps me from getting too loud and rowdy. I’m a very independent person and so is he. I actually didn’t want someone tagging along to every single event. I’ve had that sort of relationship before and sometimes I just want to go out with my crew and do my own thing, and so does he. He goes out with his buddies sometimes and in this process, I decided not to ever be mad about if he says he’s coming home by a certain time and doesn’t. I always set my expectations that he will end up having too much fun and lose track of time, and since that happens 99% of the time, I’m never disappointed. 

10. I learned to pick my battles and avoid unnecessary arguments

There are so many things we can get mad at in relationships. I’ve dated people who had much bigger issues than this. I could nitpick every time there was an event, or I could force him to go and he’s so sweet he definitely would, but I decided to pick my battles and this just wasn’t worth fighting over all the time. 

This whole experience brought us much closer together and it turns out sometimes I prefer going to events by myself because I would much rather go by myself and have a blast than worry about whether or not he’s having a great time. We came up with some expectations on both sides and communicated very clearly about what we need from each other. It was a fantastic way to get to know each other better and taught us how to compromise.

Written by Kristi Durham

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