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I have been dating an introverted man who I am very in love with for almost 2 years.  Reading your posts have helped me to be more supportive and understanding to him especially during the times when he needs space.  I just wanted to thank you for your weekly posts and let you know how helpful they are for someone who is in a relationship with an introvert. C.M. on space2live
C.M.
Because of your blog, I know that it is possible for me to have the love that I want one day and that I don’t have to be alone.  — Indepthwoman  on space2live
Indepthwoman
You’re so honest in your writing. It’s bold. It’s frank. It’s wonderful. I could definitely see the work you are doing here as a useful book. It could save/make a lot of relationships! — Jimmi Langemo
Jimmi Langemo
your depth of understanding, and talent at sharing it amaze me. Speechless… and for your sharing of it.. Thank you… deeply. *sigh, its like coming back into my body through acceptance….. Sherrie on space2live
Sherrie
I think I want to print out your articles and hand them out as a sort of relationship waiver form. “You want to be my friend?….You are interesting in going out? Here read this first. Sign here to acknowledge that you have read and understand the enclosed material. Thank you.” Seriously. I think it would work. — Guerin Moorman
Guerin Moorman
Your site has saved my sanity and my life. Maybe even my marriage. I work part time and have two young boys at home, my husband is supportive of me but until recently I thought I was going crazy. … Reading your writing not only inspires me to pick up the pen again, but gives me nourishment in the deepest places. I will fight for balance. Everything you write is spot on… And wellness is so incredibly multifaceted.  I was ready to give up hope, but understanding myself through your words is bring…
J.K.
For the first time in my life I could truly explain, through your words the way in which I experience life and myself. Brenda… It all fell into place. I had found myself and had such a moment of clarity. It felt like such a big weight was lifted off of my shoulders. Finally I felt like it was ok to be me. I was not the only one. I had found people and a little space where I fit in. … I was at work and crying on the inside. Emotions ran wild inside me. I was ecstatic, sad, confused, motivated, i…
Niko
I met Brenda and took the MBTI… I had a fairly good understanding of these types before the meeting but was impressed by the depth of knowledge that Brenda shared with me. She clearly has a passion for this work and a gift in imparting the information. There have been doors opened for me because of our talks… — Alan Hintermeister
Alan Hintermeister
THANK YOU….. you just summed up my swirling thoughts into something i can read with out everything else in my head meshing with it. I finally feel like i can explain what happens within without getting distracted. I’m an Introvert with ADD and it makes it so hard to explain quite what im feeling sometimes. — M.G. on space2live
M.G.
This is me. This is me from the day I was born. For so long I felt misunderstood and rejected, even by the people closest to me, because they could never understand my need for solitude, and I had no idea how to explain it to them. Even now that I know more about Introversion and have a more informed understanding of my hard-wired need for solitude, it’s still very difficult sometimes to help my loved ones understand this profound craving for time and space all to myself. This is one of the best…
Sharon

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Sensitive Introverts and Confrontation: Owning Your Part and Creating Mature Relationships

Calvin and Susie arguing

Calvin and Susie

I’ve been exploring confrontation lately, both confrontation with others and self-confrontation. It seems to move forward in your career, relationships and personal development, you have to learn how to resolve conflict and own up to your contribution to it.

It is only through a vast amount of experience and a lengthy and successful maturation process that we gain the capacity to see the world and our place in it realistically, and thus are enabled to realistically assess our responsibility for ourselves and the world.

— Dr. M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled

Authenticity invites confrontation

In order to be truly authentic, I’ve found I have to learn how to express my feelings and ideas. I have to outwardly share my inner world. This sometimes causes discord with others. They don’t have the same priorities or values. They are not as sensitive as I am. They feel hurt, annoyed or frustrated by my words and ways.

Space2live Photo by Rona Keller

Space2live
Photo by Rona Keller

I think many of you understand how uncomfortable disagreement is to a deeply feeling and harmony-loving person. Leaving yourself wide open to criticism or judgment is nerve-wracking. My heart skips a beat every time someone disagrees with something I write, but yet, I can’t stop telling my story. I have this strong desire to connect with and help others. That desire and yes, the positive responses I receive, overpower the fear.

Self-confronting, you gotta do it

Marriage therapist, Jayson Gaddis, says three key elements to a healthy relationship are:

1. Having each other’s backs

2. A growth mindset

3. Staying true to yourself within the relationship

It took me a while to fully own up to my contribution to the breakdown of my marriage. I put the majority of the blame for our divorce on my ex-husband. We have been divorced almost four years and only in the last year could I say I didn’t work hard enough to understand/accept/love him.

I talked contemptuously about him with my friends and family. I didn’t have his back.

I was not open to fostering his growth unless he understood and supported ME.

I wanted to stay true to myself but not within the relationship.

You are responsible for your happiness and the health of your relationship

Woman Looking At Self Reflection In Mirror..

Two of the major things I have learned through my current relationship, thousands of hours of research and countless hours of self-examination, are: it’s up to me to acknowledge my contribution to the conflict in a relationship and to work toward resolution with my partner. I can’t just plan to change my partner or change the relationship. I have to be open to changing me. 

You’re supposed to struggle in a relationship

Psychologist and author of Passionate Marriage, David Schnarch, says that all couples go through heated tension and tough times. We are supposed to. It’s part of our personal development. Our relationships help us become better people if we work at and learn from them.

Think about that. It’s not necessarily that you aren’t loving someone enough or your relationship is fundamentally flawed. It’s all part of the process.

You are not alone. All couples have to overcome obstacles.

Your struggles are a catalyst to growth.

How are you going to tackle them?

 

The best way out is always through. — Robert Frostnature-470325_1920

 

Outwardly engaging in conflict is new to me. In my marriage, we often absorbed tension and didn’t argue or talk about it. We thought we were good spouses because we rarely fought.

Nope.

We simply perpetuated the problem until it was out of control. Inside I seethed and mostly blamed my husband for our unhappiness. I’m sure he did the same, only pegging me for the problems.

If we did talk about our relationship, it was emotional and primarily about each of us presenting our case. We didn’t concede or work on long-term solutions,

According to the article, The Art of Confrontation: How Conflict Can Improve a Feeler’s Relationships, research from Baylor University’s College of Arts and Sciences,  found that withdrawal is far more prevalent in distressed relationships and has a negative impact on a couple’s ability to resolve an issue.

I’ve written about introverts and withdrawal, why we do it and why we should limit it. It’s not a long-term healthy solution to conflict.

Confession

I didn’t try very hard to teach my husband what being an introvert and highly sensitive person meant. I was angry I had to explain myself in the first place. Why didn’t he understand and support me? I felt shame and guilt for needing time away from my family. I didn’t know how to own my way of being and ask for respect. I took the non-confrontational way out. I found validation and understanding from others.

We attract those who help us grow

In my current relationship, we do things differently. We put our issues out in the open. If I get upset about something my man did, I tell him. If he feels misunderstood or frustrated, he tells me. Neither of us have ever had a partner stay in the situation until resolution is achieved. I think we both feel mad, sad and worry about our viability at times, but we feel pretty darn happy when we slog through the tough stuff and come out the other side stronger.

pinky holdWe get back to a solid place in our relationship by each owning our portion of the problem and committing to making us work long-term. Sometimes it takes a while. I can be stubborn and we both have our ideas of what is ‘right’.  As I mentioned in, Ms. Deeply Feeling Loves Mr. Intensely Logical: How to Make a Thinker/Feeler Relationship Work, he tends to take a logical, no bullshit, more factual approach. I want openness, tact and good intentions above all.

I should mention, we have a thoughtful, loving and engaging relationship most of the time, which helps us go the distance. His patience, caring and generosity make me want to be a good partner. That foundation gives me the energy and willingness to work through the times when we aren’t on the same page.

Staying true to yourself

Unlike in my marriage, I have been clear about who I am and what I need to be my best self (including best mother, personal coach and partner). I am more self-aware and better at expressing myself now. If I do struggle to explain my feelings verbally, it comes out sooner or later in my writing. I had to go through some shit in order to do that. I had to learn to confront myself and not just blame others. I had to work on taking the other person’s perspective. I now (eventually) own when my emotions and fatigue get the best of me due to over-stimulation. I have to own my limitations and tell my man directly what I want or feel. The directly part is my challenge but through practice, I believe I’m getting better.

An eye-opening realization has been that my man is staying true to himself within our relationship too. I have to find ways to understand and honor that. That’s part of the deal and part of the reason we have confrontations sometimes.

It’s easy to complain, harder to praise

I’ve had some long talks with my friends and family about my relationship with my man. I’ve spoken honestly about our differences. I’ve tried to eliminate contempt and primarily seek understanding. I’ve made it a point to show them his positive attributes. I have his back.

Journeying together

How are you about self-confronting? Can you own your contribution to conflict? Are you maintaining your integrity within a relationship? 

 

 

 

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9 Comments

  1. virginiacyclist February 8, 2016 at 6:40 am - Reply

    OMG, I just lost my last post. So let me try again. I read that introverts need time away alone from loved ones, have push-pull relationships, get grumpy when they don’t get alone time, and can feel assaulted by the more aggressive world out there. Me too, big time. But I continue to not see how these are positive traits in our world. Indeed one definition of mental health is functioning well in the world. I gave paid a huge price for being introverted: Been labeled weird and antisocial, gone through a divorce, been told I’m overly sensitive, and treated as the odd man out. This is so much so, that I have in fact developed a huge chip on my shoulder as a defense mechanism. And then when pursuaded to see a therapist by partners or friends, I’ve been made to feel even more pathological than I already feel, otherwise why go see a shrink? And yes, I have gotten some bad diagnoses, that make me feel really alienated and, frankly, bad. After years of this, how does one know one is not in fact really ill, selfish, narcissistic? How does one prevent feeling as if one lives on quick-sand? How does one know who one is when even the so-called experts can’t agree? Normal or selfish-withdrawn-cold-narcissitic? Even when people say, NORMAL, frankly, I trust them not. And when the docs say to get on meds….ok, obviously Not Normal. I am really physically fit and you know where this is going; right, I have called an exercise addict. How on earth does one get out of this cycle? And I’m way too old to feel like this. Really. This feels like teenager identity crisis stuff. Really, really silly–but not, not at all.

    • Brenda Knowles February 13, 2016 at 9:11 am - Reply

      Do you know, accept and love yourself? Can you get out of bed each morning? Do you have any meaningful relationships? Are you capable of fostering someone else’s growth? These are questions I would start with in order to determine your mental and spiritual health. Dr. M. Scott Peck of “The Road Less Traveled” says that patients seeking psychiatric help are often either neurotic or have character disorders. Neurotics feel they always fall short and ‘ought to’ do this or that. They take responsibility for too much. Character disorders often blame any problems on the external world. They use phrases like ‘I can’t’ or ‘I have to’. They act like they have no power or choice. They feel the world has to change, not them. Neurotics are easier to work with according to Peck. They admit they have a problem and take responsibility to work on it. Do you fit either of those descriptions? Even if you do need psychological help, I wouldn’t say you are abnormal. Therapy (possibly even medication) is just part of your personal development. I’d say your willingness to self-examine shows maturity and potential for a healthy mental existence.

  2. PeggySu January 17, 2016 at 3:33 pm - Reply

    Hi Brenda,

    I have some disagreement with this post so let me start with saying that I’ve followed your blog for a year now and it’s hard to put into words how much help it has been to me and how grateful I am to you for all your work. I understand my need for and, especially my right to, solitude in a much better way.

    I agree with your current post that it is important to make sure one has a realistic appreciation for one’s role in a conflict. However, in my opinion many if not most women are too likely to try to take equal or even greater responsibility for a relationship problem whereas I have come to believe more than ever in the past that in a heterosexual relationship the male partner is much more likely to be the main source of any problems. This could of course be partly my age; I turned 75 last August so the majority of men around my age were already working and married and becoming fathers before the Women’s Movement had a big impact. I know that back when I was still working in a scientific field, I found younger men in general to be more accepting of me as a peer.

    Please note that in what follows I am not addressing very serious situations that require special expertise such as where a woman is in physical danger from her partner or where substance abuse is a major factor. My interest is in relationships where the woman is depressed and not functioning optimally because of how her partner is treating her and nothing she’s tried has made much difference.

    The less serious of the two situations is where the husband is a normal responsible man but one who has bought into what you might call the male myth and fails to treat his wife with the respect, consideration, and connection she deserves and needs. This situation is wonderfully described in Robert Mark Alter’s book “Good Husband, Great Marriage: Finding the Good Husband … in the Man You Married.” I highly recommend this book, which is a quick read for women. The book is addressed to husbands but with the awareness that their wives are likely to read it first and then ask (or beg) their husbands to read it. There is also a great chapter near the end about what choices women have if their husbands refuse to change.

    The more serious situation is where the husband engages in verbal abuse. Patricia Evans has written a number of excellent books on this topic. Many people think her “Controlling People” is the best one to read first. I think “The Verbally Abusive Man, Can He Change?: A Woman’s Guide to Deciding Whether to Stay or Go” is also a good one to start with.

    Brenda if you’ve found a man who doesn’t have the flaws Alter describes and who doesn’t stonewall but continues to engage when you feel a situation hasn’t been resolved you are very lucky!

    Thanks again.

    • Brenda Knowles January 17, 2016 at 4:22 pm - Reply

      Thanks Peggy Su for sharing your insights and thank you for being a longtime reader. I always like to hear other people’s perspectives. I agree, we, as women, must be careful about conceding too much in order to keep harmony. If someone is not mature and showing integrity (all ego) in a relationship, then something has to change. Verbal abuse and refusal to take ownership for his part of conflict are definitely situations that should sound alarms in our hearts and minds. So far, my man seems to be willing to engage and work through our differences, with both of us learning to be active listeners and taking responsibility if necessary. I am easily triggered when I sense controlling behavior. Always looking for it may put me unnecessarily on guard but letting it happen and falling into an unhealthy relationship is really bad news too. I will continue to stay awake in this relationship. Thank you for your suggestions. I will check into the books you mentioned too.

  3. Morena January 15, 2016 at 10:33 pm - Reply

    Hi Brenda,

    When I confront people, they act like I’m the wrong one for saying anything. When I tell people how I am, because I know myself, I’m met with harsh criticism. I get told i shouldn’t be this way, I get called anti social, selfish. Because I’m not extroverted. But these are people that have no idea what introversion is. The next guy I decide to be with, I feel like he’s going to need a manual to be with me, lol or I’ll just refer him to your site. A friend of mine ,one day we were talking and he was taking notes on me, lol and even though we laughed about it, he wanted to better understand me, so he can be a good friend. I do that a lot with mental notes with people.

    I can’t write about everyone I know, I can’t keep up with my thoughts, as they come to fast for me to write them down, lol. It’s so true, quiet people have the loudest minds. Theres a constant flood of information coming in and being processed and downloaded. I have “hyperthesmia” too. I found the term for it, by Mari Lou Henner. I can recall everything and I’m very meticulous too. My mom was this way but this is the way my brain is, I’ve always been this way and consider it a gift. I can give exact dates and times and know where I was and everyone there. What they did and what they said. I absorb a lot. It’s the reason why when I write, my writings have a tendency to be mini novels because I am very detailed. I’ve been told by people, particularly my father and family that I know to much, or I think I’m all that. I’ve been called a know it all and show off. And it’s said with such a negative tone.

    But this is coming from people that don’t use their brain and are insecure, because whatever it is that i’m saying is true. Some people don’t like it when you tell them something about their behavior. But they are quick to judge you. I was writing a friend about something, and I was quoting his email that he wrote me, verbatim. I did that and I do that, with people so they know i’m paying attention but I find that people don’t like hearing, what they said being repeated, thats because they say things and don’t do it, then when I call them out with love or ask what happen, they take a break from me. They don’t want to be held accountable for what they said, that they didn’t do. I don’t like to argue, so I feel that if I can communicate effectively and get to the root of the problem it can be solved. But these people don’t only want their side understood. They don’t care about the other parties feelings or where they are coming from, because they are so focused on being right and their ego mind gets in the way.

    My last relationship, he wanted me to see everything his way, but when mentioned anything about me or what I didn’t like it was a build up, especially about my finances. I was carrying the relationship and it took it’s toll on me. This person had a horrible relationship with money and I felt trapped and he knew it. Whatever moves I didn’t make, during the relationship, I blame myself. But this person knew the more he didn’t help me, I couldn’t go anywhere so I was not being helped on purpose. Until I let everything go. I wasn’t being supported by this person who claim to love me, I was just a convenience for him. It wasn’t always that way, but when I decided to do something different after a layoff thats when his plan was devised.

    This guy quit his job, lost his place and slowly moved in on me while I was going through a difficult time. He tried to trap me. He knew that I would find a way and I had my unemployment coming in, so he stayed close to me, just so he could keep tabs on me and have a place to eat and lay his head. I was never able to depend on him, the way he did me. When I would argue with him, he would stay away for a few days or weeks. This person always eft when things got rough. But when things were fine he was around. He knew that I would land on my feet because I had nowhere else to go. My independence also backfired on me too. Because he saw me doing everything before we dated, he knew me since I was a teen and saw me taking care of the house, and my father and two brothers. My father threw all the responsibility on my when I was 14 while he did nothing.

    So once I left home at 18, and got on my own this guy knew that when faced with a difficult situation, I would find a way, so for example if I was paying my rent already, why ask him. He snooped through my finances.The man was living a double life with another woman, thats why he couldn’t contribute, I found out later after I put him out.
    If I didn’t, end it, I probably would have had a heart attack. I felt suffocated and violated how this person just moved on me and was around me everyday, eating up everything, watching tv, using my gym, everything annoyed me, when I spoke about moving to LA, he said he wanted to go to but had no plan. He just wanted to tag along and have me take care of him. I had to come up with excuses just to get him away from me. I had to have friends come over just so he could get out the house. I had a studio and no privacy. I couldn’t think and I never wrote. I had dead weight on me.

    This man was blocking all areas of my life and I didn’t even see it. Confronting someone about their behavior is aways tricky unless this person has an open mind. when someone intrudes on my space, I shut down. I don’t like when people try to get me to do things I don’t want to do. When I’m not being respected.

    • Brenda Knowles January 17, 2016 at 8:27 am - Reply

      What I’m learning about confrontation is that delivery matters. We have to express ourselves with a mix of diplomacy, tact and intelligence. We have to be specific, direct and face-saving (theirs not ours). If you respect yourself, then it is easier to tell others what you need and where your boundaries are. It sounds like you have a hard time enforcing your boundaries. Are you extremely empathic? It also sounds like you are learning how to reinforce your boundaries now. No is a complete sentence. If you offer a lot of words, even if their negative, many people feel that as attention and assume you still have some attachment to them. Good luck Morena filtering out the heavy weights in your life. You got this!

      • Morena January 17, 2016 at 1:37 pm - Reply

        Hi Brenda,

        I do enforce my boundaries. People think because I’m quiet that I’m weak. So when I call people out on their b.s when I’m not being respected, thats where the problems ensues and people start playing the victim, as if I did something. For example, I kept telling a friend of mine, I don’t want to go out, when the weekend comes I’m busy relaxing, reading, cooking after a long week and she kept asking me to come out shopping with her. I stop going to the store with her because she would be out for 6 hours plus, as if I didn’t have a life. She’s wasn’t respecting my time. She’s extroverted, she can’t sit down for nothing. So since she wouldn’t take no for answer, I stop talking to her for a month. Then when I moved next door to her, I didn’t go out with her for a whole year. She doesn’t WORK, because she doesn’t do anything. She does things when she feels like it.

        This is why I’m single for many reason because my last boyfriend, was operating on ME time. He did things when he felt like it and not when I asked. if I only asked for a favor, twice a month to get to the market, when they first open, why every time you take me, its during lunch time or rush hour, then i’m sitting in traffic, I have perishable groceries in the car, I have other stores to go to but yet , you take me when you want to take me. But when you wanted something and needed help, it got done when you wanted it. I can’t be with selfish people. Where I live now Brenda, no one can get to me, unless they drive. I don’t have to worry about people popping up at my apt unannounced. Bothering me while I’m sleeping. My weekends are for me to relax but then people still want my time. When the weekend comes, they want to escape form the kids an their husband. I want to relax and write. I can see if I was out for about an hour with my friend, thats ok, I don’t mind but 6 hours, shopping and it was in the dead heat of summer. I do things on a schedule, my workout, when I cook, and for someone to interrupt that when I’m discipline, bothers me. if I change something in my schedule to accommodate you, why can’t you do the same, since I never ask. Now my friend is getting a dose of her own medicine because she’s meeting needy, clingy people and she’s complaining to me about it, but she did the same thing to me, when we first met.

        Now that she wants a gym buddy, she’s realizing that people want to work out on their time and its not consistent. Nor are they disciplined. She did that to me, when I wanted to work out, she never went, so I went alone. I don’t wait for anyone. So now she goes alone, because she wants to go at a dedicated time and the people she’s knows don’t, its a lackluster attitude of, I’ll get there when I get there. Nows she’s missing me living next door, she’s trying to find people like me, lol. But this is nothing new to me Brenda, people don’t appreciate me when I’m there, or the things I genuinely do, then when I stop, they are looking for me or people like me. Like with men, they want to play the field, then after they are done, they are like let me see if whats her name is around and single. I don’t think so! I’m so simple and easy to deal with, but it needs to be both ways.

        I’m quiet and I don’t like noise and people not respecting my home. I don’t like peoples kids touching my things. But people act like I shouldn’t get mad if something breaks. I don’t even have a phone, LOL. I cut a lot of people off in 2015 and prior to that. I got tired of not having people in my life that genuinely support me. Yes, they are nice but my life or conversation, doesn’t revolve around material possessions. Or the next sale at Khols, LOL. Life is so much more than that and money is fleeting. It must be nice for them to wake up and not have a care in the world.

        Because someone else is taking care of them, sorry but thats not my life. One of my friends got offended because I mentioned people not reading and writing and she doesn’t have any books in her house nor does she do anything with her free time, except gamble and shop and return things and hoards. All of that to void whats really going on internally. I been there, except working was my addiction. Then when I got laid of, I was forced to deal with things that I had suppressed like my mothers passing. And it hit me like a flood. I know who I am. In stillness, and reflecting and going deep within. if I asks the people I know who they are, I will hear birds chirping. Because they have no clue who they are. Their idiosyncrasies revolve around things and not their character.

        • Bree January 18, 2016 at 2:24 pm - Reply

          Morena – Can I be your friend? LOL 🙂 You are writing down so many things that have been going through my head regarding a current friendship that I just don’t know what to do with it. My friend sounds a lot like your friend. Thank you for writing what you wrote. I’m going to come back and review it again after I’ve processed for a bit.

          • Morena January 20, 2016 at 10:38 am

            Hi Bree :),

            Of course we can be friends :). It’s nice to know that what I said resonated and that I am not alone. It has been a blessing finding this website with Brenda. I thank God for her :). I was just at a transition in my life and felt alone and needed answers. I know my comments seem to read like mini novels, lol.. yes I’m very opinionated and meticulous but I’m so grateful, I found a space, where I can express myself and not be judged, with like mined individuals. I’m a woman with a mind and I speak it.

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