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Is It Possible to Be Steadfast In an Introvert Relationship? Trading Alone Time for a True Partnership

kissing at the airport

I once read an article in Elephant Journal about a woman who claimed all she needed was a good f*ck and someone to pick her up from the airport.

Now that, is keeping it simple.

I think of her every time I park my car in long-term parking at the airport.

Practical and helpful equals dull, not deep, right?

As a freedom-loving, meaning-seeking, romantic introvert, I tend to not focus on the practical side of a relationship. I think because my marriage was the epitome of practical I subconsciously diverted my post-divorce attention toward men interested in dazzling conversation and sensual living. These men have grand ideas and sexy grins but they don’t make plans more than a week out. They don’t freely offer to get involved in child-rearing or home maintenance. They don’t pick me up from the airport.

 I can date casually.

No I can’t.

After a couple of disappointing relationships this year, I decided to accept my fate as a permanent team of one. I continued to date because I enjoy going out and meeting new people. I figured I could play the just dating game as well as the men I encountered. I told myself it was all about the experiences and conversations not about building a long-term relationship.

I went cycling around lakes, visited wineries and ate delicious exotic cuisine in hole-in-the-wall restaurants. I was alive and thriving and not looking too far down the pike.

what you need

So when, over a bowl of Tom Yum soup, my male companion mentioned us traveling with my children in the future I was taken aback. He involved my children AND spoke of the future. Two taboo subjects in one sentence. This, unicorn of a man, surprised me. He wasn’t playing by the rules I had come to accept. This willingness to participate in my whole life, while on the surface not all that wild or brilliant, felt extraordinary. My shoulders and body un-tensed. A small sense of relief manifested in a genuine smile.

What I really need to be sensual is…

For what I had learned was that I need help with child-rearing and home maintenance in order to live sensually. Introverts and extroverts alike get weighed down with everyday tasks and forget what it’s like to have stimulating conversations and stimulated bodies.

Introverts are especially cognizant of their energy gains and drains. Our spirit flows outward with each interaction. We make our own energy, so any contribution to the reduction of our workload grants us more vitality to place in a relationship.

OK, what do you want from me?

200411564-001Admittedly, I was a little unsure initially about the sincerity and intentions of Mr. Tom Yum. We continued to see each other and he continued to express interest in our future and seemed to love doing household projects for me.

Do I trust his interest in my everyday life? Is he just trying to get me naked? Could someone be this good?

Then my disbelief turned to fear. Do I have the energy to reciprocate in kind? What acts of service do I need to complete for him? As I mentioned in, Nurturing and Caretaking in a Relationship: Sword and Shield or Energy Drain for IntrovertsI was remiss in the caretaking of my former husband. I put most of my self-less nurturing into our children. I had very little oomph left for him.

The quintessential introvert dilemma

In turns out that Tom Yum’s love language is Quality Time. Given I lust for meaningful discussion and loving interaction this works for me but there is one trade-off… alone time. In exchange for steadfast companionship (through medical scares, family drama and trips to Costco) I offer up time to myself. Yes, the quintessential introvert dilemma is upon me.

I thought I was fine with the tradeoff. Being in a relationship is so satisfying I don’t need as much solitude. Then I hit the wall. I traveled over Thanksgiving and returned home to a long to do list and a full kid/relationship schedule. Mix in a few bad nights of sleep and my emotions swelled. I needed regenerative time alone. I didn’t ask for it.

Tom Yum came over. I was on edge. He could tell. We sat on the couch and I explained the reason for my state. He is an introvert too but gets plenty of time to himself. He genuinely offered to leave. I said no.

It was my turn to be steadfast.

We talked more, had a glass of wine and made a delicious dinner together. He rubbed my shoulders. I calmed down.

Steadfast. Communicative. Sensual. Both of us.

It has been my experience that time will tell how a relationship develops. For now, I am enjoying the true partnership and rides to and from the airport. 😉

Is there anything besides alone time that gets you through overwhelm or overstimulation? How do you juggle a relationship and your need to introvert? Does help with everyday tasks give you more energy?

If you enjoyed this post, you may also love: 

Introvert Relationships: Love Me or Leave Me But Please Don’t Need Me (Too Much)

The Introvert’s Love Affair with Solitude: Will It Always Be Taboo?

How to Protect and Liberate Your Energy:A Guide for Introverts and Anyone Who Feels Drained

Are You Someone’s Priority? Do You Need to Be?

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12 Comments

  1. November December 13, 2014 at 5:47 pm - Reply

    My soon-to-be-ex-husband pretty much refused to help ME with housework and homeimprovement projects on HIS house. We had pets but no kids. I get a lot of self-worth through work, so it was ok for a while, but I got so burned out, constantly picking up after him and getting little effort from him. I was taken aback by your post…perhaps it is an introvert trait to desire someone who helps us physically. I don’t know whether my husband is an introvert or extrovert (although he is quite handy, just unwilling/lazy), but my introvert girlfriends are all HUGE fans of the handy male species. (But we’re also small, not mechanically inclined, and not terribly strong.)

    • Brenda Knowles December 14, 2014 at 2:13 pm - Reply

      I can definitely understand the weariness of picking up after someone else. All of those details and loose ends to take care of. I feel the same way about picking up after my kids. The work is tedious and making them do it themselves takes a lot of energy as well. It is a common complaint and just one more thing for an introvert to have to monitor for energy saving reasons. It is nice to have a partner who can pick up the slack with you.

      For me, it takes a lot of mental energy to figure out how to fix something. I can do it myself but it will take longer and will often be a subpar result. If someone can do it easily for me, I am thrilled.

  2. Brett December 8, 2014 at 2:34 am - Reply

    What would Anaïs Nin do?

  3. Agatha December 7, 2014 at 1:16 am - Reply

    Answering your 3 part question:
    A/
    – a 30min hug in bed with my introvert husband. It recharges us.
    – putting things in perspective by remembering that i’m a small part if God’s world
    – listening to spiritual lectures
    – a bath – alone. but this alone time.
    – draw or write in a journal

    B/
    – i am very lucky to have a husband that has exactly the same needs for solitude. we are both about 80% introverts according to the Myers Briggs personality test. We decided to go on solitary getaway weekends once a month. He goes away one weekend of the month and i leave home the next month. We come back refreshed and very happy. It’s a blessing to be with someone that understand my need for space and values it. We even joke about how happy we are to go away. Because we know it’s not personal. We know what it is. I never met anybody before who understood it so well. Lucky me!

    C/
    it makes me happy. But doesn’t give me more energy.

    Lastly i want to thank you so much for this blog. I found it a few month ago on one of my solitary weekends. It’s so validating and soothing. I find myself going to your blog on those solitary weekends.

    • Brenda Knowles December 14, 2014 at 2:07 pm - Reply

      Sorry for my delayed response. Time has gotten away from me this holiday season. You ARE a fortunate woman! I love that your husband is so in tune with you and you get bi-monthly getaway weekends. Wow! I like that a 30 min. hug with your husband recharges you. I do think there are some people who give us energy. That lovely intimacy breathes life into us.
      Thank you for sharing your insight and for your kind words about this blog. I’m thrilled it resonates with you.:)

  4. Orange Rhino December 6, 2014 at 12:33 am - Reply

    A few steps beyond introvert, no—perhaps way beyond introvert—- lies the magic world called “schizoid.” Here you don’t need anybody, ever. If you think introverts don’t get lonely, multiply that by 1000. I’m totally happy alone, work out ferociously to fill my body with endorphins (an opium-like substance produced by the brain as a reward for heavy exercise), and see a friend for platonic conversation sometimes when I am not working on my job or training physically. I suppose I’m happily on the road between intro and schizo. As such, I’m the luckiest guy in the USA. I’m not a hermit; I interact with 150 people several days a week. It’s friendly but purely business, and it’s way more than enough. The thought of a relationship does not appeal at all, because I’d lose my oceans of mind and body-charging alone time. And Brenda, the only agonizing I ever do is over getting my work done well enough to get an annual raise and getting enough sleep and exercise to make my lifts go up. If a hot babe entered my life, I wouldn’t reject her, but I’m not sure how she’d fit in more than once or twice a week. Sorry you have to worry so much about finding somebody. It must waste a lot of time and energy. Wish you had my gift.

    • Brenda Knowles December 6, 2014 at 4:24 pm - Reply

      Thanks for your intriguing response. I am like you in that I am content most of the time to write/focus on career path and spend time with my children. I am a big fan of endorphins and need to get back into my challenging and consistent workout routine. If I could see someone romantically once or twice a week that would be perfect for my schedule.
      My dating life is sort of a conundrum, even to me. I crave the intimacy and partnership of a steady one on one relationship but also adore my own self-actualizing/alone time.
      I’m curious. Do you know your Myers Briggs type? I’m an INFP and it fits my relationship style to a tee. Thank you for sharing your perspective. I enjoyed your forthrightness.

  5. Ruth Rainwater December 5, 2014 at 5:02 pm - Reply

    My partner is an extrovert; I am an introvert. He takes care of the house, and I take care of the dogs. If I need ‘me’ time, I get it. How lucky I am!!

    • Brenda Knowles December 6, 2014 at 9:05 am - Reply

      I love it Ruth! You have it worked out. Perhaps divide and conquer is the way to go.:)

  6. ilona fried December 5, 2014 at 3:05 pm - Reply

    Great post! I happen to know the woman who wrote that Elephant Journal article, so it was fun to see you reference it. Wishing you the best with Mr. Tom Yum!

    • Brenda Knowles December 6, 2014 at 8:59 am - Reply

      That’s cool Ilona! Her post obviously stayed with me. Time will tell with Tom Yum.;) Hope you are well dear lady.:)

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