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04 May 2007

Same as it ever was [More:]
"The happiest people surround themselves with family and friends, don't care about keeping up with the Joneses next door, lose themselves in daily activities and, most important, forgive easily."


I agree with this completely. I always feel the happiest when I'm with friends and family. But, I worry about my husband and I can't help to feel a little resentful of his introverted ways.

I have friends. Husband doesn't have many friends. Husband and I don't have friends in common, and we don't share a social life.

Do you think it's possible to live your entire life without sharing friends with your partner? I know I should "make my own life", but it saddens me that husband and I will never have at least one other couple to hang out with.

I feel like Dolly Parton's character in Steel Magnolias.

I'm not trying to come off as negative, or poor-pitiful-me. My husband isn't a cretin, and I don't have plans to break up our marriage. It's just not the life I thought I'd have. It's such a weird situation. I mean, how hard is it? How hard is it to have a few friends in common?
My now-ex husband didn't have friends, apart from a few drug buddies. If we ever went out with other people, they were always my friends. I didn't like it, but there was nothing at all I could do about it because he didn't see any need to change.
posted by essexjan 04 May | 14:20
My other half and I are in a very similar situation, and it works. We find each other's differing interests and circles mutually interesting though. Also, we don't mind going to events on occasion with one or the other's friends, although there might be Wry Commentary (tm) once we get home.
posted by By the Grace of God 04 May | 14:21
I was in an interesting situation when I came to the USA because I met the future mr. gaspode immediately and immediately became friends with his circle of friends. Thus, all of his friends became my friends too. Five and some years later, it's pretty much the same. When I stop and think about it, it weirds me out a bit, but then, in the last couple of years I have made an effort to make my own friends (mainly MeCha NYers, hey y'all) and I like that. I think it bums mr. g out that I appear to make friends more easily than he does, but it's just not true. People love him, he just doesn't have the confidence to make that jump from acquaintance to friend, a lot of the time. He'll assume he's bothering people if he calls them to go for a beer. Whereas I will just barrel on in, everything else be damned :)

um. Did I have a point?

Anyway, LoriFLA - you have no couple friends? That's sad. I always used to think it was a bit obnoxious but now I really like just hanging with one or two other couples occasionally.
posted by gaspode 04 May | 14:35
Does your husband feel lonely? Does he wish he had more friends? Does he have family he's close to? Co-workers?

That would be a very hard situation for me to endure for a long time, but that doesn't mean it can't work, just that I understand why it might sadden you.

But if he can identify one or two people he actively likes, maybe you could invite them for dinner or something like that - start creating 'couple friends' that you can both enjoy. Is there any hope of that?
posted by Miko 04 May | 14:38
Since I moved to Maine, 13 years ago, I've had a dreadful time making new friends. I met my husband, and he had friends, and all his friends were boring. Now I'm with somebody else, and all *his* friends are boring. Nice enough, you understand, but boring. Not people I would choose to hang out with. But it's proven difficult for me to meet friend people on my own, and my job doesn't help; I have to interact with the same 11 people in the same room all day long and at the end of the day I don't really want to do any more interacting with those people. So after all this time my close friends are still 600 miles away in Virginia. That bothers me, as you might imagine, and it may lead me to move one of these days.
posted by JanetLand 04 May | 14:41
I have plenty of couple friends, but husband and I don't have couple friends together. I have gone to tons of events as the fifth wheel.

If he had his own circle that would be great, but he really doesn't have much of a circle. Unless you count the people he plays poker with. Most of the people that he plays cards with are twice his age.

Husband is introverted and shy a lot of time. Once you get him going you would never think he was shy. I've been with him since I was 21 and I don't think he's ever called anyone to go for a beer.

I long for another couple to hang with. Husband isn't social, he can't shoot the breeze eaily. A lot of times he comes off as arrogant because he is reserved.

I admit to a lot of times not giving him a fair chance. Recently a friend suggested that we should go to the Keys together. Immediately I thought to myself, "Not going to happen. You apparently don't know my husband very well."
posted by LoriFLA 04 May | 14:46
We've had long, tearful talks about this subject. I've asked him, "Don't you want friends?" He answers, yes.

He doesn't make an effort though, and I've given up. It sucks.
posted by LoriFLA 04 May | 14:51
Two of my sisters married friends of ours, so my friends are my family. That's kind of nice. And another of our friends is engaged to marry a girl I worked with for years, so that was an automatic "couple friend" right there. It's all rather incestuous and weird, but convenient. Beyond that, we both have our "seperate" sets of work friends and college friends and I've managed to befriend some other moms along the way. But we socialize in those groups both apart and together.

You don't have any friends to whom you can say, "Hey, let's grab our spouses and go out for a drink?" Kind of like setting up a little hubby playdate?
posted by jrossi4r 04 May | 14:55
Oops. Just read your latest post. Does your husband have any interests? Maybe if you got people together to do something he wants to do it would be different.
posted by jrossi4r 04 May | 14:57
My husband and I have very independent social lives. We don't hang out with couples or anything (though most of our friends are single). No pressure on either one of us to do anything or attend any function we don't want to. On the other hand, we generally like or at least understand the appeal of each other's friends.

We do, in fact, have the same best friend. That's probably wierder, from a bunch of angles.
posted by rainbaby 04 May | 14:58
When I was married, I shared a lot of my wife's friends - they were fun, cool people and many of them took sides when we split. But the more I got into my acting thing and wanted to be around more peripatetic, extroverted people, the more I realized we were compatible. My friends tended to make her nervous because of their boisterous extroversion.

I haven't made any friends on my own here yet, but some acquaintances are on the verge of becoming better friends. So we'll see.
posted by Lipstick Thespian 04 May | 15:00
My husband says in his line of work he can't have friends other than work friends because everyone has work they'd like for him to do. He's gotten good at saying no in a nice way but he's tired of having to do it. Even our child can't have friends whose parents don't have something they'd like him to look at. We're going to start telling new people he works for VanDeLey (sp?) Industries.
posted by auntbunny 04 May | 15:02
Does your husband feel lonely?

Probably not as much as I do.

Does he have family he's close to?

Yes. He's very close with his parents, his uncle, and a cousin.

I need to make a better effort, or find some way to be content with the situation. This is our biggest problem. It's not the worst thing I suppose.
We used to hang out with my sister and her husband, but they're divorced now.
I think I need to vary my friends a bit. A lot of my friends' spouses are type-A extroverts. They're workaholics that belong to the country club. He's been to a few outings over the years with them and he's never hit it off with any of the guys.

What we need is a dorky couple like us. A couple of our own ilk. :)
posted by LoriFLA 04 May | 15:11
Personally, I'm an introvert, and I usually feel I need a few friends and my family. Usually I have one really close friends and then some acquaintances. Since I've got married though, my wife has been my best friend.
posted by drezdn 04 May | 16:26
That is so nice drezdn.

Thanks for letting me complain bunnies. I really appreciate the comments. This is something that is on my mind a lot. I'm not sure what to do about it, or how to make friends that we both enjoy.

This is embarrassing, but I've even written to Dr. Phil (via Oprah magazine) about this issue, and I don't even watch Dr. Phil. Oprah magazine published my question. I wouldn't have even seen it unless I picked up my sisters issue. I almost died when I saw my question. Dr. Phil suggested that I get out more and meet people through clubs and church.

I am going to put forth a better effort.
posted by LoriFLA 04 May | 16:45
I think I make friends more easily than my fiance, AND I have more opportunities to make friends, so in general my friends are his friends.

However, most of our friends are either single or dating people who aren't friendly with us, so we have no "couple" friends except back in LA. I miss having couple friends!

And, I just got a papercut.
posted by muddgirl 04 May | 17:16
I will speak from the other side of the fence.

I was basically in your husband's shoes with the first girl that I seriously dated. She had a huge circle friends, I had maybe one close friend and a few acquaintances. Her friends became my friends. I had a small circle that I would hang out with independent of her, but otherwise I was with her friends if we went out together somewhere.

When we went to college... well, let's say I was at fault for the breakup. That ended not only my relationship with her, but with pretty much everyone I knew at home. I don't really speak to anyone I knew from high school anymore.

There might be a point there, I'm not really sure. *pops another beer*
posted by backseatpilot 04 May | 17:43
I'm pretty introverted and whenever my partner wants me to hang out with his friends, this is what goes through my mind:

-- I'm going to be on the spot -- everyone's going to be watching how I act.
-- He and everyone else will expect me to be involved in the conversation, say interesting things, etc, even if everyone's talking about stuff I'm not interested in.
-- If I want to leave all of a sudden I won't be able to -- I'll feel trapped.

And so on. This has led to one or two occasions of me getting embarrassingly drunk in front of his friends. Which just made the whole cycle worse.

He's finally starting to accept the way I feel, but he doesn't really seem to understand it. We've had countless conversation where I try to explain to him that I'm introverted, highly-sensitive, etc., that it takes a lot out of me to be around new people and feel like I'm on the spot, but he still takes it personally. Or at least he used to -- it's gotten a lot better over the past year or so, actually. But for awhile, it was a Major Issue In Our Relationship, and a very, very painful one for me -- because every time we'd talk about, I'd feel even more like an social retard who didn't deserve to see the light of day.

Now that he's cut me some more slack, put less pressure on me to be social with friends of his, I've been a little more open to socializing.

I'm not saying this to vent, but rather because I wonder if there's a similar dynamic going on . . .
posted by treepour 04 May | 18:03
((((LoriFLA)))) ((((treepour)))) Mrs chewie is an off-the-charts introvert. She scored a 1 out of 25 on the extrovert scale. I have more friends than she does, and hers are mostly work related. But she also has hobbies, like birding and photography. Lots of times I'll go meet friends for a beer or two at happy hour, or got to planning meetings for projects here and there. She is perfectly content to nest in our cave - I'd rather have her be there than miserable and uncomfortable with a bunch of people she doesn't feel like talking to! And she'd rather have me get out an be social than be home bored and antsy. We learned that about each other fairly early on in our relationship. As I get older I've gotten more introverted and content to be home with her. We dont' have to be in the same room, or even talking to each other - the company is enough. There are still times I get the urge to get out and talk with friends, but I usually burn out after a couple of hours and want to retreat to our cave. So I can appear extroverted but I'm really introverted.

I can see how it could feel like a gap - and a potentially widening one and source of contention - maybe there is something deeper going on, maybe not. I dunno - maybe it's that just because we're married we don't have to be identical twins, and it's ok to give people room to be themselves, married or not.
posted by chewatadistance 04 May | 19:40
treepour, yes! This is exactly our situation. My husband has the same feelings about being out with my friends. I used to be very nervous for him. I would take it personally that he couldn't socialize like a "normal" person. I couldn't understand how difficult it was for him to just make small talk. It's maddening still, at times.

chew, I wish I could let it go. There will be months and months where it's not on my mind and it isn't a problem. Then there are the times, like now, where I feel incredibly frustrated about our social life.

Going to baseball games and other outings where there are lots of people around help a little bit. Even though we're not out with "friends", we can make small talk with people. Husband can (briefly) talk about baseball, and I can get my fix of being social with him.

His parents are very friendly people that don't have a problem with making small talk, but they don't have any friends. They enjoy being with each other, and that's enough. I find it a little strange.

Anyway, thanks again bunnies. I feel embarrassed about spilling my personal life here, but it helps to talk about it, and I appreciate the feedback. Either I'll get over it, we'll make some mutual friends, or I'll snap and stab him with a fork. :)
posted by LoriFLA 04 May | 22:40
I don't have friends, that's why I post online.

But the friends Mrs. Doohickie has are pretty interesting folks.

Honestly, I think women are more into longterm relationship maintenance than men. Whoever's around is good enough, as long as they're not a jerk. My wife wants the friends she knew in 5th grade and puts a lot of effort into those relationships. That's fine, they're nice people, but me, I can't see putting that much into keeping up with someone you haven't seen in 10 years. Hell, I don't even keep up that well with all of you (most of whom I've never seen!)

I'm more of a "love the one your with" type when it comes to friends.
posted by Doohickie 04 May | 23:22
I have a small number of guys who I consider life long friends, although due to geography, I see very infrequently any more. Two of these guys I've known for more than 30 years. One of 'em, I was business partners with, and introduced to his first wife, who was a previous near-miss of mine. She died horribly over many months, and I helped him bury her. It was too painful for us to see much of each other for several years, but he eventually re-married, had a son, and we've moved on, although there are some subjects we don't discuss, because doing so makes his wife uncomfortable.

The other guy has seen me at some of the lowest points of my life. He was an employee of mine for a while, when he really needed a job, and wasn't catching on elsewhere. We rode motorcycles together for many years. We've been blind, knee-crawlin', preacher cussin' drunk together. We've taught each other quite a bit, and made fires in each other's fireplaces. There's no pretense in any room we occupy.

Men don't get those kinds of relationships by showing up on alternate Thursday evenings for potluck group dinners. I suspect women who have similar things don't either.

But, I've been to plenty of group social activities where I drank 1.2 cocktails, ate a handful of canapes, discussed the weather and car prices, or played a few hands of bridge. If spending 3 hours with the Fosters, Lyles, and Gibsons on a Saturday evening is what it takes to avoid a week's worth of sullen, I've generally been willing to act my part. I've cleaned up after dozens of such gatherings in my own homes, for the same reasons. It's just better and easier to do that, than to argue about it.

But I've got to tell you that generally, Mr. Foster, Mr. Lyles, and even that nice Bill Gibson couldn't give a fig about me or my life, any more than I do about theirs. And for what it's worth, Jim Lyles is a political twit, that Ron Foster has privately told me he's going to kill, the next time he brings up the flat tax for discussion, again. Just so you know.

Men of my generation don't "hang out." We play golf, we sail, we fish, we cut brush together, we meet for political discussion, or we have drinks. But anytime we do meet, there's a purpose to it, and an expected result, that measures the success of the gathering. You and your husband are younger by far than I, but I bet his idea of a good time isn't "hanging out," either. But he might take to focused activity, a little more easily. Try joining a mixed doubles bowling league, a mixed doubles tennis league, or a softball team. Find an investment club to attend together. Go to the races, 5 or 6 weekends a year. If there is a point to the activity, beyond being in the orbit of others for a specified number of hours, he yet may surprise you.
posted by paulsc 05 May | 00:14
"Men of my generation don't "hang out." We play golf, we sail, we fish, we cut brush together, we meet for political discussion, or we have drinks. But anytime we do meet, there's a purpose to it, and an expected result, that measures the success of the gathering... You and your husband are younger by far than I, but I bet his idea of a good time isn't "hanging out," either. But he might take to focused activity, a little more easily. Try joining a mixed doubles bowling league, a mixed doubles tennis league, or a softball team. Find an investment club to attend together. Go to the races,"

paulsc, I am 11 years your junior and I like to "hang out" with people I like and who like me. The things you suggest sound like tedious busy work that I have to do for business purposes.
posted by arse_hat 05 May | 00:31
"... The things you suggest sound like tedious busy work that I have to do for business purposes."
posted by arse_hat 05 May | 00:31

Horses for courses, I suppose. But I'm really sad for guys who don't fish. Pooooooor, poooooor arse_hat. :-)
posted by paulsc 05 May | 01:14
paulsc, don't be sad. I lurves me some fishin but only alone, with family, or close friends.
posted by arse_hat 05 May | 01:20
I ain't no fishin whore. :P
posted by arse_hat 05 May | 01:21
LoriFLA, coming from the other side, I'll give you some tips that may or may not be helpful in your situation - but worth thinking about, and discussing with your husband...

I seem to be an extroverted introvert; I really have no trouble talking to people, and people usually like me a lot, yet I have some of the exact same issues as your husband. My husband is very social, very popular, with lots of friends, and loves to hang out, but to get me to some social functions can be like pulling teeth. This is one of the few aspects of our relationship that has caused us some trouble because though we both try to compromise, sometimes it just has to end up being disappointing for one or the other of us.

At the heart of it is something you probably already know about, since you read AskMe: extroverts are energized by being around other people, and introverts are drained by it. Keeping this in mind, and trying to organize things to maximise your husband's comfort zone could help a lot. I'll give you a list of things that make a huge difference to me, and maybe you can see if some of these resonate with him, as well, and if you can address them while putting together something social, you might find that things can become much better.

First of all, those Type-A extrovert achiever types? Ugh. I would probably just totally shut down on the whole social question. With extreme prejudice. These are exactly the sort of people who bore me to tears, while annoying me in equal measure. I almost always find them boring, shallow, and just plain irritating. Five minutes with these usual suspects is like torture, so you could imagine trying to get someone like me to commit to spending several hours with same. So! Forget about them, it's never, never, ever going to work; if you like them, you hang out with them, and look for different character types as shared friends. Almost all my friends are creative types of every stripe, in all media, as well as tech types, academics, doctors (psychiatrists - make of that what you will :)), scientists, architects, teachers. They don't all fit neatly into these generalized baskets, but they have one reliable thing in common - they are people who look under the surface of things, and are interested in what they find there.

Even these people, though, as much as I like them, tend to exhaust me if I have to spend a lot of time socializing with them... so, there's more! Yes, more!

The idea of feeling "trapped", as treepour mentions is major. I almost always opt out of situations that I can't easily escape if I want to. Gatherings close to where I live, or easily accessible by taxi or public transit, okay. Somebody's country house? Not so much. And I need to have an understanding with my husband that I may leave before he does. This is critical. There are few things more likely to create a sense of dread and anxiety than knowing you don't have an escape route, or that your partner will be angry if you leave. Our friends know that I might leave earlier, because that's just how I am, so it isn't a big deal. But you might have an excuse in place until he knows people well enough to just be frank about his limits. He has an early meeting tomorrow, he's recovering from a cold, he has to take a late trans-Atlantic call, he's taking a break from the project he's working on to join the party, whatever. If he ends up staying for the whole thing, fine - he's just blowing off the other thing, but if he wants to leave, he doesn't have to feel like a freak.

Until he knows and likes the people in question better, try to organize shorter, less physically restricted activities. For instance, instead of a sit-down dinner, maybe bowling, or a barbecue, or picnic. Being able to move/walk is very helpful. Stuck sitting for four hours in one place = not fun for me.

Don't urge him to talk to everyone and mingle more. If he finds one or two people to have an interesting conversation with, that's great!

Space the social engagements that you want him to attend with you! Remember, for an introvert, it's very important to "recover" from social activity. More than one social thing a week makes me cranky; more than two drives me to sullen revolt.

Be careful about hosting events. Either make them fairly short - an informal brunch, cocktails before an event (in which he may or may not attend the event), or something with a definite time-limit. Being stuck in your own house for hours on end without the option to get off on your own can be particularly frustrating. After you two find people he's really comfortable with, it will be easier to do more extended things at home. If you do have something at home, it might be helpful for him to have a specific activity that he's in charge of, like barbecuing, or making cocktails or something; this means he can gracefully be a bit separate with something to do that demands his attention, instead of being expected, as the host, to be always be moving around meeting and greeting people and making small talk with everyone.

Trying to find a compatible "couple" is going to be harder than just finding friends that you both like. We have a few "couple-friends", but many more single friends, or married friends whose husband or wife does not hang out, for whatever reason. We often do things with a third person we both like.

Finally, you have to have a quiet pride and assurance about your husband. So, he's not social. He won't be wowing the crowd with his jokes and anecdotes and latest dance steps. But you love him for many, many reasons, and other people (the right people) will, too. Don't panic! And never apologize for him. If I felt that my husband was complaining about me to his friends, or feeling embarrassed, I would just never attend anything. Ever. In fact, I'm lucky, because all of his friends that I meet always mention how proud he is of me, and how much he praises me. Not having to walk into a social situation with people thinking that you are some kind of weirdo, and who actully already have the impression that you're someone special is encouraging.

I'm very popular among the people we know, and I'm sure many have found this to be somewhat mysterious because more often than not, I'll bow out of social things, so I'm not someone who's "on the scene", yet people are always asking for me, and are really happy when I show up. The ones who don't know me know my husband, so they know there must be something cool about me for us to be together, and then, when I meet people I feel simpatico with, and I'm not feeling trapped or completely bored, our conversations are always very interesting and fun. I bet your husband is like this too, under the right circumstances. So just discuss things with him and do what you can to create the proper environment for him to enjoy meeting with people, and see where that takes you. My husband compromises a lot, by not demanding that I attend everything, and not minding if I sometimes leave before he does, and I compromise by sometimes going to things that I don't feel much enthusiasm for, and by sometimes sticking it out for longer than I'd like to. Sometimes he goes more than halfway, and sometimes I do. Other times we're both grouchy about the issue and don't find a middle ground - but this is fairly rare.

Good luck, honey. I think it can be a lot better than it is now, and if you both approach it with love and the sincere wish to see the other one happier, I'm sure you can carve out a much different social dynamic for the two of you.
posted by taz 05 May | 04:23
I heart taz.
posted by chewatadistance 05 May | 07:13
me too chew. Thank you taz. Doohickie and paul too.

I have more to add, but we're late for a soccer game. Be back soon.
posted by LoriFLA 05 May | 07:23
Taz-fanclub member dabitch reporting for hugs and high-fives. yeah!
posted by dabitch 05 May | 08:04
luvs u guyz, too! So much.

Also, I feel the need to add that I'm really afraid of sounding condescending or preachy when I talk about something like this (on re-reading, I do). Mostly, I just keep quiet, but when I think that something - any part - of my own experience might end up being actually useful for someone else, and could possibly help with them being happier, I'm more likely to speak up. I know that every single situation is different, but if the person on the quest gets enough information and the right tools (among the many that may be available or offered), he or she may find solutions. More knowledge, more background, more context = more power, more choice.
posted by taz 05 May | 10:32
100 x 100 what taz said. I'm an extreme introvert who can certainly play at being extroverted quite well (and I do actually like being around people I like) except when I'm around people I don't like or respect. Then I pretty much just shut down and start looking for escape routes.

The other night I was at a work-related event, and was supposed to get a ride home from a co-worker who's one of the most social, extroverted people I know. As soon as I realized that I had exhausted the store of people I wanted to talk to, and that the rest of the people there were just not interesting to me (I'm sure they were lovely people, but the connection was just not happening for me), I was ready to go. IMMEDIATELY.

Which meant I had to watch the clock tick sloooooowly for another hour as my co-worker closed down the party.

It turned what had been a nice outing into an agonizing event.

A couple other thoughts:

* I know you said it's better in large outings, but I often find that I'm happiest with 2-3 other people who I know well, rather than huge gatherings where I can't really talk to anyone. If there are one or two people he kind of likes, maybe having drinks or something with just them, so it's not totally boisterous and superficial? One thing taz touched on was that introverts tend to like long, in-depth conversations rather than "mingling" small-talk, and if that's true of your husband you may be able to find ways to accommodate that better.

* Dr. Phil's advice actually does sound great -- it sounds like you have one big circle you hang out with, who he doesn't like? And that you're not really concerned that he doesn't like those particular people, but just that he's not more social in general? So find other people! For me, too, what taz said about that Type A achiever type holds true: that would be an evening of torture for me. (I feel like I'm just saying, "Find quieter friends for when you socialize together," but... that's kinda what I'm saying!)

* I like maintaining some social life separate from my partner, even if only so that I know we're both allowed to say no to events we don't want to attend without keeping the other person from going.

Also, the fact that his parents had no outside friends reminded me of something I was just reading about boundaries, and how families establish them. They contrasted (I think) rigid boundaries that kept everyone but the immediate family out, and permeable boundaries that let everyone in. Both extremes can be uncomfortable -- you want to make sure the boundaries are soft enough that each family member can interact with "outsiders" and get new energy, ideas, and support from them, but you also want to make sure that the core of the family is defined and protected, that each family member feels a strong allegiance to the family itself and not like just anyone could waltz in and take their place. It sounds maybe like y'all have different ideas of where those boundaries should be -- maybe it would help to reassure him (through words and actions) that socializing with others doesn't diminish that strong, defined bond between you and him or among y'all and your kids? Making sure you all do things together, not just when other people are involved?

You may already, of course. That just popped into my head when you mentioned his parents -- it sounds like he doesn't have a model for socializing outside the family so much, and may therefore actually find it a bit threatening.

And (because I haven't gone on long enough), if you're upset because you feel like fifth wheel, can you maybe work on inviting just one half of one couple (or a few couples) out sometimes? They don't always have to socialize in pairs, either! Start a trend. :-)
posted by occhiblu 05 May | 11:14
I seem to be an extroverted introvert

Hah! Me too! I can be very outgoing and chatty, and people tend to like me a lot too, but most of the time I genuinely prefer to be alone or with one other person; socially I much prefer smaller groups over large gatherings, and most of the time I'd rather be with people I already know at least fairly well than surrounded by new people I've got to make chatty-chat/nicey-nice with for the first time (although I'm good at it when I have to do it). I have a small circle of close friends (plus my family), and another circle beyond that of people I'm also friendly/social with, but not necessarily very close.

I tend to illustrate it this way: I'll probably be happy to have dinner with a small group of friends, if A) I know I'll be able to leave when I want, and B) I leave early enough so that I have time to go home and read.

My boyfriend (who's more of a classic extrovert than I am, but he does enjoy his downtime on his own, too) and I almost invariably wind up socializing with his friends over mine (though we do spend time with my family), and that's only rarely in the classic "getting together with another couple" way. He's expressed some hurt that we don't spend much time with my social group much, but...this is just kind of how the chips have fallen. At the end of the day, we love spending time with each other, and we give each other the space to socialize (or not) the way we each feel comfortable. One of the major concepts in our relationship is always being on each other's side, and that's a big way we show it, I think.

Lori, maybe it would help you to think of it in those terms -- concentrating less on the (idealized?) image of socializing that you might have been basing your desires on (which, to extend my metaphor above, may make you feel that you're actually on different sides?), and more on the ways in which you have his back (and he has yours) when it comes to your own personal styles? As taz says, taking pride in your husband, non-socializing desires and all, is a powerful way to boost a sense of closeness and contentment with each other.
posted by scody 05 May | 13:44
I completely agree about taking pride in and having confidence in my partner. I admit to not always feeling this way. More than once I've internally felt that he was socially inept. I don't feel this way any longer. I'm embarrassed and ashamed that I ever felt this way in the first place. It's my low confidence that allows me to worry so much about what others think of him, and me. It's ridiculous, and only makes me look like an idiot. Last year I had a low moment where I expressed my frustration concerning my husband's introversion to a friend. That was a bad idea. Because even though I was letting off steam, she took me seriously and told another friend of ours. I've since explained to my friend that I was only venting.

I have a few circles. Childhood friends, friends from college, and friends from being a parent. Being a mother has widened my social circle through school and sports activities.

I do have an idealized view of how couples should socialize. I've always thought I would have dinner parties, weekend barbeques, and Super Bowl parties, etc. I've only hosted a handful of parties since I've been married. Lately when I have people over, I'll invite the girls over for "girls night out" type of things. It's been ages since I've had a mixed party.

My disenchantment with our social life is relatively new. Before kids we went to the movies and dinner constantly, traveled a lot, and hung out with a few friends we knew from work. We hung around two guys from work that were my husband's friends first. They were intelligent, laid back people, and we had a lot of fun. They've since moved to California.

Since we've become parents, my social group has changed. I don't know how it happened, but I'm friends with a lot of attorneys and other professional types that are kind of shallow. A lot of them are loud, obnoxious, jock types. They're the opposite of my husband. My husband is athletic and successful, but that's where the similarities end. He's also self-employed, has only one employee, so he doesn't have a lot of social contacts from work. I've kind of quietly phased myself out of this social group. I haven't cut off ties, but I realize that hanging with these people, and almost always without my husband, I wasn't having a good time.

I also agree that we need to hang out with quieter people. I have a friend that also has a reserved husband. More than once she has suggested that we get together. I always, smile and nod, say, "yes we should!", but never make concrete plans because I'm worried that husband will be too quiet. I know this way of thinking is ridiculous, and will get me nowhere, but I feel this way nonetheless.

Paulsc, it's funny that you mention the races. We went to the Pepsi 400 with a few friends (of mine) last year and had a blast. We're going again this year. I like the idea of a sports activity we can do together. Husband can play golf and tennis. I can't. I should take lessons. :)

I have a few people in mind that we could get together with in the near future, and they're not all coupled. I'm going to do some inviting, and I won't be turning down invitations in the future because I think husband can't handle it, or won't want to go.

Thanks so much everybody. I so appreciate the comments and opinions. They've helped me tremendously and have made me feel better about things.
posted by LoriFLA 05 May | 15:50
It just occurred to me, || Religion of Beer