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.
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?
Admittedly, 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 Introverts, I 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?
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