Introvert has tried everything to tell boyfriend she needs time to herself!

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Dear IntrovertZone,

I am an introvert girl and I’m currently dating an ambivert guy. We’ve been good friends and have quite a lot in common. However, I’ve had a very hard time explaining to him that I really need time to myself. I’ve spoken to him quite thoroughly over the array of wonders that my ‘recharge’ time does for me. I’ve also explicitly explained that my alone time does not translate into “I don’t care about you.”

To him, showing that you care for someone is shown by spending time with them. I’ve tried multiple things at least once, ranging from bringing a book or my laptop to our outings, to taking 2 hour naps at his house, calling and texting him as much as I can, and even sacrificing study time or time spent with my family to ready myself with an evening with him.

I’ve read much of the advice on here and usually the ‘extrovert’ half of the couple has other activities they can pre-occupy themselves with while their introvert partner rests… but the things is: I -am- my partner’s activity. He has cleared out nearly his entire life to make time for me. He literally waits for me at his house after work for me to call and say whether I’m coming over or not, to which I’ve rarely said that I’m not. I’ve told him that he didn’t have to give up his friends or hobbies for me, but he insists that I’m his “number one priority”. Maybe girls are supposed to be flattered by this, but I don’t know if he realizes how much pressure this actually puts on me. He has also said that he has become emotionally dependent on my presence. If I don’t see him, his day is shot.

I like everything we do. He’s brought me out of my shell in a lot of ways. I also know that he truly cares for me. But this one thing has been an issue for me ever since we first began dating four months ago. If I want to go home, he thinks that something is wrong, no matter how I might reassure him that nothing is wrong.

Please help me shed some light on this situation. This has become a near daily issue for us. I’ve tried my best to stretch myself as far as I can manage and then some, but I’m afraid that I’ll snap if I go any further.

Photo credit: Leland Francisco

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42 Comments

  1. Okay, I’m gonna leave the tough love comment – this situation isn’t about your introversion. It’s about your boyfriend’s extreme expectations for hang-out time. He’s said himself that he’s emotionally dependent on your physical presence, that he has to see you every day to feel happy about the relationship. That’s an issue completely separate from your need to recharge. My guess is that the same conflict would come up even if you were an extrovert, since you wouldn’t get time to maintain your existing social life.

    I think you guys should have a conversation about what’s going on, but it shouldn’t focus on your needs as an introvert. The discussion should be about his need to feel connected to you daily, and about any ways you might satisfy that need without actually hanging out every evening. If the conversation is a dead end, then there may be something more serious to address. But the problem isn’t you, and you should feel confident in that! Don’t stretch yourself further than is healthy.

    • Thank you for the reply, I truly appreciate it. I knew that if I wrote to a place like this and described my situation in enough detail, that somebody somewhere could put an appropriate name to it. One of the names is ’emotional dependence’, as you said, but as I read the other comments, I saw that other people were seeing even deeper issues.

      You’re right, it wasn’t about my introversion, it was something different altogether. We have since broken off our relationship. It is better this way and we are both better for it (or at least I can speak for myself).

  2. In a way i am like your boyfriend, i know how he feels,how he thinks…so i think i can help you even if just a little.

    From what you said,he is like me,and if he is like me he likes to talk about everything too…from feelings to..what you ate at diner.
    The best thing you can do is go to his place,sit down,and have A Talk…THE TALK…tell him that you appreciate that he made you his top priority…but you need time alone..he needs time alone or with friends.Try and talk him through this step by step..and from time to time reassure him that everything is ok,and that you care about him too.

    • Thank you for replying. I’ve talked with him many times about my need for alone time and he flat out said that he didn’t think it was natural/normal/etc. I would speak kindly, but be firm. It didn’t help. We have since split up. Introversion was not the problem, but I wished it was. At least then I would have known what the issue was. I’m glad to know that it’s okay to be an introvert, but I need to have a partner that’s okay with that too.

  3. My advice: set up a schedule. Weekends plus Tues and Thurs, or whatever works out for you. Everyone has stuff they have to get done – laundry, grocery shopping, chores chores chores, and if you are in school you have even more constraints on your time. I think that if you set a schedule, he knows what to expect, you can work around it, etc. And if he knows for certain that you aren’t going to be there on whatever days, he can make other plans with his friends, or whatever he might have going on in his life.

    I’d bet that even though you’ve told him that you need time to yourself, he doesn’t get that you haven’t been *taking* time for yourself. He is not a mind-reader, and it’s not up to him to only invite you when it’s a good time for you. It’s up to you to decline the invitations that don’t work for you. And if you have a hard time saying no to his invites, setting up a schedule can help.

    • My daily schedule went like this: Work at 8:30-11:30 AM (student work), lunch/study from 11:30-2:00 PM, Class from 2-7:30 PM. After that, I would drive 12 miles to his house to spend 3 hours with him. Fridays consisted of going to his friend’s house around 5 PM, spending the night the entire weekend until Monday morning, where I would start my work/school cycle all over again.

      About 85% of the time was spent at his place or at his friend’s houses. I rarely saw my parents, maybe about once or twice a week. The suggestion of trying a different schedule was accepted well enough, but when I would go home (even when I would call/text him about it), he did not like it. The new schedule fell through only after 3 days of trying.

      We have since split and I am glad to say that my introversion was not the issue. I’m happy to be an introvert once again. Thank you very much for replying 🙂

    • You’re very welcome, Rudyanto. I was hoping to share this with others primarily to get answers, but to also share my experience. There are a lot of things to learn about the special traits of introverts and extroverts and inbetweeners, so be sure to continue pursuing them.

  4. I don’t mean to be rude, but he sounds a little co-dependent to me. I don’t think this is an extrovert vs introvert issue, but one about his dependency on you to be his everything. You are not obligated to fulfill his life and it worries me that he’s telling you his day is shot without you. It’s not healthy. I think you need to have a serious conversation about these issues and let him know that he has to got to give you the space you need or he’ll just push you away. I have to say, if it were me, I would probably break it off but I admire you for trying to work things out.

    • Thanks Kathie, really. You aren’t being rude whatsoever; you’re speaking from your instincts and heart, which I admire.

      The relationship was not healthy and I’ve since broken it off. Our conversations, serious or not, were going nowhere with helping the relationship work. I’ve had to learn the difficult way that I wasn’t responsible for his feelings of thinking that I was ignoring him or trying to get away from him, using ‘introversion as an excuse’. It may have been worse had I stayed, so I am glad I made the right decision.

  5. It seems as if you have tried everything under the sun to communicate your needs to him…except for one. Breaking up with him. If a relationship is causing you this much stress and drama, you need to find a way to distance yourself from this person. Because sooner or later your body will shut down (or something will happen that will cause you be on bed rest) due to the stress that your boyfriend causing in your life. You said that he is emotionally dependent on interacting with you. This is a huge red flag to me. All abusive relationships start off like this. The truth is that he is a very insecure man. If he is like this in the beginning, then I am almost afraid of what will happen down the road. Do yourself a favor…RUN don’t walk away from him. If he cleared out his schedule for you he will eventually expect for you to clear out your schedule for him. I think that if you do decide to break up with him, be sure to tell your family, your closest friends, some co-workers that you trust so that they are fully aware of this situation. And don’t mince or hide anything, they need to know everything. Doing this is for your safety. The more people that know the better they will be to help you. I also think that you may need to bring someone with you should you decide to break up with him. someone who is in viewing distance not in hearing distance. and it needs to be done in a public place. Even through this writing i have a gut wrenching bad feeling about this should you continue to be with this man. There is no amount of help that you can give to him. No amount of hints, no amount of books to get him to understand you. you. need. to. leave. him. He will try to pull on the strings of your heart and try to use your feelings (or whatever else he can) in order to get you to stay with him. This is a control tactic. anyone who has co-dependent issues is dangerous to me. please head this advice and take care. people who meant to do harm always start off nice. (i’ve been watching oprah’s life class). and if you have a feeling that ‘something is not quite right’ about this situation then you need to LISTEN TO IT. cause it can save your life.

    • Thank you kgm, your words speak volumes. And by that, I mean very good volumes. I have since broken up with him and I do not speak with him anymore. It truly wasn’t about my introvert tendencies, much less my Autism Spectrum Disorder, which I’m happy to say actually. I’ve always been mostly comfortable as an introvert, and nobody has told me that it was ever a terrible thing, except for him.

      I hope that when others read this post that I made, as well as the answers and my replies to said answers, they can see that there is nothing to be ashamed of if you are an introvert. People just need to understand it and accept you for who you are. Unfortunately, that is not the type of man my then-boyfriend was, and separating myself from him was the best thing for both of us. Thank you again, kgm 🙂

  6. Hi!

    I think you must have a frank discussion with your boyfriend that love is not about falling but about rising. It is about growing and helping your lover to grow. Love is something that unites you but also helps you grow independently. Love is but not something in which we immerse ourselves so much that we are not able to see things realistically. If not this you only need to lead by example.

    I hope my advice helps.
    Rosalia´s last post ..Los alimentos que hacen engordar

  7. Hi!

    I believe that you need to show your boyfriend how personal independence is important for individual growth. One also needs to protect the self respect and dignity in a relationship. Helping him in doing many activities alone. Show him the way you give importance to other things of life along with love. Love is life but one also needs to concentrate on other things in life.
    Steve@Stressmanagement´s last post ..Manage Your Stress Reaction

  8. You know most of the advice here is really going to be helpful in your current situation. This problem is because of him and not you. It would be better to talk to him about it and tell him how this is affecting you. If he really cares about you then for gods sake, I hope he gives you some time to be alone!
    gracia19´s last post ..Should I Work as a CPA or CMA?

  9. Dean@Conversation Skills Core on

    I completely agree with kathy above. Again I don’t want to be rude but it seems to me like he has insecurity issues. Part of him NEEDS you to feel good about himself.

    And it sounds familiar because I used to be in your boyfriend’s place.

    This is a toughy because there’s not much you can do to change the situation. He’s got to overcome his feelings of inadequacy. He should WANT to be with you not need to be with you.

    I do think the advice many others here have given it a good advice. Mostly that you talk to him letting him know you need your space and that it doesn’t mean you don’t love him. But if you’ve done that in the past and it hasn’t worked … I don’t know. I just wish you best of luck.
    Dean@Conversation Skills Core´s last post ..How to Improve Conversation Skills – 9 Top Tips

  10. I agree with people who say this is not your problem, that’s his problem. You have to be yourself, and if he really likes you he needs to respect it. I’m an introverted guy and also cares for my time. I like to be this way.

  11. try to bring up the schedule option….
    my boyfriend is an introvert, i am for the most part an extrovert.
    it is hard for me to handle… but I don’t think that it makes me emotionally dependent. All the relationships I’ve had in my life have always been extrovert/extrovert, and we’ve always spent a TON of time together.
    my boyfriend and I hang out on Saturday night, Sunday all day and then thursday nights. Maybe once a month we might toss in a Monday night just for fun when he’s feeling good about it.
    true, there are times where I WISH he would call me up and ask me over… BUT I really, really care about him, and I want him to be happy. when he explained to me his needs, I was confused at first, but then I started researching on sites like this about introversion and I realized what I needed to do.
    he probably just doesn’t realize what he’s up against… when he really learns about introversion, he’ll realize your behavior isn’t a choice. if not, then by all means, dump him.

  12. Well, i liked your post.. I think we all need that space once in a while, whether some is an Introvert or extrovert or ambivert> I am fully extrovery, but but does realize that i also need some space a t times, and that doesnt mean that i have stopped caring for her..

    Its just that when she needs that space, i try to give it to her, and she does the same! not a big deal!!
    Grant Brookes@Web Site Designers´s last post ..Web Design in the UK

  13. As a girlfriend, I think you have the to tell your boyfriend frankly that you need space. Being introvert doesn’t mean you can hide everything you feel about your relationship. And you have to explain to him that being his girlfriend doesn’t mean that you will be around whenever he ask you to be there. Just try to be more honest not just to your boyfriend but most especially to yourself.
    Jasper´s last post ..Want to bring out the color of your arowana with tanning lights?

    • …I think she sounds perfectly aware of the truth in the situation. Doesn’t sound as though she is hiding – especially if her statement has explicitly stated that she has asked/told him repeatedly to give her space.

      Sounds to me she has been honest with herself, just needs support in handling the situation.

      (Hence her post.)

  14. Hi, I am an introvert lady and was going out with an “extrovert” guy like yours for a couple of years. Please, I beg you, don’t let it get that far.

    He text me 24/7. If I didn’t reply within a sufficient amount of time he would text me again to ask what was wrong. If I said I needed space he would ask if I was going to break up with him.

    We went out for 2 and a half years. I think… I got roughly 13 days alone in that entire period. Can you IMAGINE!

    I HAD to see him every day. If I wasn’t seeing him, I HAD to text him. HAD to tell him I loved him, otherwise any of these things would upset him so much and thus, it would lead to even more communication about his feelings and how I had hurt them. And the last thing I would need is even more communication.

    Run! Well, if you love him, stay, but set boundaries. Tell him that you’ve dealt with his way for thus long but you’re going to do it your way for a period of time, that you can’t give you your entire life just to make him happy.

    He will cry and whinge for a while, but once he realises you’re serious and you stick with it, he’ll come around and “deal”.

    Good luck to you, it’s such an oppressive situation. Smothered by love!

  15. Ambivert is kinda new to me. I didn’t realize that ambivert is both introvert and extrovert. New word learned today.:) I guess it is really a pressure to you that he makes you his top priority but you should tell him that it doesn’t mean you are doing the same favor for him because there are certain situations that you cannot just give him so much time. Just tell him that you will do your best to show him how much he means to you.

  16. Is your boyfriend aware of who an introvert really is? If not, help him understand. Send him links to material that will explain everything, he might just get it. Like Tina and Grant Brooks stated, communication is vital!

    I personally don’t believe in giving up on someone at the first sight of rocky roads. We will always have issues in any relationship we’re in and dedication is another vital characteristic of any successful relationships.

    It seems as if he’s having trouble more than you, have you tried helping him get through his neediness? I think a combination of educating him about introverts and helping him with his issues can be of major help, of course that is, if you feel your relationship is worth the hard work.

  17. I just came across this very appropriate post while searching the internet for empathy using keywords: I don’t get enough time to myself.
    I know what you’re going through, as I am in a situation much the same – except I live with this type of person. My “boyfriend” (I am no longer sure whether to use this term, since calling him my child feels more appropriate) and I have lived together and have been on-and-off (due to my ending and restarting the relationship a couple times) for two years. Even during the busiest of deadlines, he will not willingly leave me be. He is unemployed, does not have local friends, and is financially dependent on family.

    Though there might be a claim that friends exist, there might not be the substance in relationship in that “friendship” of his which allows him to dish on others what he can instead dish on those closest to him. A hunch.

    I cannot wait to get out of the situation I am in, and I should have followed through with each breakup attempt. But, it is doubly difficult if you have few loved ones to help support your decision, or if you have experienced a co-dependent relationship before (ie, parent, etc.). And, yes, this person sounds what one would call “co-dependent”, but other synonyms for that title are: controlling, heavy-handed, manipulative… Might as well just say: abusive.

    If you would like to talk or want help with the situation, don’t hesitate to contact me. I have been trying to get out of my situation for years, and now have high blood pressure as a result of dealing with this person’s inconsiderate behavior. Also, the verbal abuse and emotional manipulation/abuse should not be ignored or excused – no matter how ill or sensitive one might claim to be.

    One last bit: I have tried to stick around in this type of relationship, and I can assure you that things likely won’t change. I am 25 years old and should be enjoying freedom in my life – not dealing with an adult who looks to me to hug him, looks to me to clean the house, and looks to me to say “I love you” in response to EVERYYY “I love you” he says to me (and that is A LOTT). A good partner does not give things in expectation that they will receive – especially not when your giving depletes you (the person they supposedly favor in life).

  18. Wife to an Introvert on

    That made me laugh a little (simply because I COMPLETELY understand) when I read that you are now his “number one priority” and how it doesn’t really comfort you.

    My husband is exactly the same! I am now his number one. It’s like he never leaves my side (literally) JUST IN CASE I might call for him. I have to remind myself how sweet that is, because I seriously could care less if he is near by. In fact, sometimes I wish he would go away. It’s overwhelming to think that he is always waiting and looking forward to the moment when I will ask him to do something with me.

    It’s like what you said, too: It doesn’t mean somethings wrong or that I don’t love him and enjoy him. I just need time alone.

    I wish I could give you advice, though. My husband still doesn’t completely understand but he tries to act like he does. He tries to take all my advice on how to handle me, haha. When it comes down to it, it’s just going to take him time to fully grasp that that is just who you are and how you work. Even if he doesn’t understand why.

  19. a) it’s alway with you introverts like that… we (the extroverts) need to understand how you need to be alone and how you feel…. but what about our feelings.
    I’m sorry but when you say you tried everything I think you try everything by your introverted measurres. But did you try to acctually undestand his need of togetherness?

    b) try to get him to read this web site so he actually have an insight in to how it is being introverted. To actually understand you…well I have an introverted boyfriend and I’m not sure I will ever fully understand him…but I try to learn about him being introverted, I TRY to understand it and above all i try to accept that he is just different than me.
    Hovewer I think it’s very unfair to say I’M introverted and you need to understand what I FEEL and what I NEED. Did you try to understand him the same way you expect him to understand you?

  20. I guess both must understand. Let him know that you need time for yourself. Let him understand your situation and that’s you who really are. He must accept whatever kind of person you are. You may also ask why he really wants to be at your side so you will know also his feelings about it and that you understand him too.

  21. You know what, all people both extrovert and introvert, need time to be alone sometimes. It’s like a personal pleasure for me. But we have to consider also the things or activities we are engaged in. Just be sensitive at all times.

  22. I suppose what I am left wondering after reading your story – which was very articulated penned, by the way – is whether or not your boyfriend is truly more ‘extraverted’ than you or instead, perhaps he is simply a little more co-dependent.

    If you have been friends for a long period of time and, I assume, together as a couple for quite a while now, the fact that you need ‘recharge time,’ should almost be a non-issue for him now. Extravert, Introvert or other, if he knows you and cares about your mental and physical wellbeing then giving you the ‘me time,’ you request should be almost an instantanious response of ‘sure baby, no problems!’

    If he continues to deny you this valueable time then the conversations may need to become a little more assertive on your end.

    Best of luck and please keep us posted on how it is all going.

    Anita x

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