I recently realized that one-on-one time with my significant other is as vital as time to myself. I need and crave both. They are on equal footing. I used to worry about asking a partner for alone time — so many still don’t understand that need for quiet internal recharging. But now I see that I also have to request alone time for the two of us, and not just time to run errands or have sex. Time for exquisite soul connecting where the core of me touches the core of him.
When an introvert cares about someone, she also wants contact, not so much to keep up with the events of the other person’s life, but to keep up with what’s inside: the evolution of ideas, values, thoughts, and feelings. — Laurie Helgoe author of Introvert Power via Introvert, Dear
In, If You Love an Introvert, a beautifully useful post by Jenn Granneman of Introvert, Dear, Jenn states, We crave ‘you’ time. This means we want to spend time with you and only you — no friends, family members, or kids around for a while.This deeply resonated with me. Having my own children and having been in relationships with men who have children, roommates, demanding jobs and extended family in the area, I know it is difficult to find time to stare into each other’s thoughts, dreams and fears. But the best mates were the ones who lived for the connection just as much as I did and who were willing to protect our sacred space.
Emotional intimacy sustains the introvert relationship
The last seven or eight years of my marriage offered very little meaningful engagement between my husband and me. I believe this is a common occurrence when children become the focus of a family. We rarely shared those warm deep discussions wrapped in each others’ arms that light you up on the inside. Sure, we tried weekly date nights and locking our bedroom door on Saturday mornings, but we couldn’t get to that man/woman spirit connection. Most of our time was spent talking about kids, the house, extended family and his job. There wasn’t enough time to review the muddied, surface topics AND dig deep into the pure enduring subjects of love, encouragement, feelings, humanity and ideas. The lack of connection led to a lack of vulnerability and intimacy. Lack of intimacy is especially poisonous to an introvert relationship.
As I said in, Emotional Intimacy: An Introvert’s Ultimate Turn On?, the only thing equal to delicious solitude in its ability to rejuvenate and nourish the introvert’s internal living is emotional intimacy.
Solitude and intimacy create energy
After my ex-husband moved out I took a few months to be with the kids and be with myself. I needed to breathe big gulps of silence and to drink a million beautiful words off pages and pages. I needed to catch up with myself, hear what I was thinking and figure out how to proceed in my new life.
But… all the while a flame of desire for companionship, passion and engagement burned inside as well. This desire could not be satisfied by attending social functions or gathering with friends. I needed the raptness found only in a sole (soul?) intimate relationship.
The only catch was my energy flagged with many potential mates because the emotional and mental engagement were not there. They would want physical affection and I would want them to kiss my mind first. They would book up our calendar with doing and not a lot of being (extroverts) or take off for spontaneous weekends by themselves (introverts) and expect me to feel connected and loving when we were finally alone. I enjoy socializing and definitely appreciate the occasional weekend to myself, but often their level of activity or number of absences strained our connection. I am in no way stating there was anything wrong with these men or anything unusual in their behavior. There wasn’t. They all had lovely traits. I just need a high-quality level of intimacy in order to maintain enough energy to juggle everyday tasks and a healthy relationship.
A few ways to cultivate meaningful one-on-one time
1. Go to bed early together. Not for instant sex but for soft re-hashing of the day and positive sharing of the possibilities of tomorrow. This may well turn into the most beautiful seduction and foreplay.
2. Linger on the couch together with the TV off. Intertwine legs. Ask about the best part of your partner’s day.
3. Go on a date to an intimate and quiet restaurant. Get away from your house and its responsibilities. Hold hands across the table. Ask questions and listen with your eyes.
Advice for introverts and those who love them
I have found the times when I am the most stressed about a relationship are when my partner is asking for my time and physical attention but not making space for true intimacy. My advice for introverts is to take your relationship’s intimacy temperature. When was the last time you talked for hours? Non-judgmentally listened to each other’s ideas and feelings? Shared music lyrics or passages from a favorite book? Really slowed down and saw your significant other as a faceted human? Do not be afraid to advocate for closeness. Put in place one of the above one-on-one settings. You will both benefit.
My advice for anyone dating an introvert is to expect a need for personal space but a high level of beautiful intimacy when you are together. Sure, there are many times when life moves fast and requires work, socializing and attention to things outside of your little couple world but when possible make an effort to engage deeply with your introspective partner. Inviting our inner world out to play and sharing your own internal realm are two of the most incredible gifts you can give. I believe our appreciation will astound you.
What fills you up enough to handle daily work and give generously to a relationship? Do you have a hard time maintaining your energy within a relationship if deep intimacy is absent?
If this piece resonated or affected you in a meaningful way, I would truly appreciate it if you would share it with others who may benefit.