Your partner is the best secret keeper and a wonderful listener, and rarely losses their cool. It’s no wonder that you tied the knot! But being married to an introvert comes with its own set of challenges (like constantly having to make excuses for your socially reserved spouse or waiting days for them to tell you what’s bothering them). And just like all relationships, the key to a successful union with an introvert is all about communication. Which is why you might want to heed the advice of neuropsychologist Dr. Sanam Hafeez about what not to say if you’re married to this particular personality type (and what you should say instead).
What not to say if you’re married to an introvert
After months of isolation, it’s finally safe to hang out with people again and you can’t wait. Your spouse, on the other hand, turns down every single invitation and their social calendar looks like it’s month two of quarantine (i.e., very empty). “Why are you such a loner?” you ask them in desperation, after they decline yet another social engagement. We get that you’re frustrated but per Dr. Hafeez, this is actually one of the worst things you could say to an introvert.
“The word ‘loner’ carries a negative connotation usually portrayed in movies along with a serial killer type personality,” she says. “In reality, people who are loners, are simply those who enjoy their own company and don’t actively seek out socially situations, although they can be quite charming once they are in them.” By calling your S.O a loner, you may make them feel as if something is wrong with them that they need to change, the expert explains. Remember, just because your spouse is an introvert it doesn’t mean that they are a social misfit. (Note: Subbing the word “loner” for recluse, hermit or misanthrope is also a bad idea.)
What to say instead
I’m really happy you came with me to this party tonight, it wouldn’t have been the same without you. Let’s say you do manage to drag your spouse out to a party. This type of gathering is probably not their ideal situation, so make a point to let them know that you appreciate the effort. “Even is your significant other has not been the life of the party, acknowledge how much his/her presence has meant to you and bolster his/her confidence without gushing and being phony,” suggests Dr. Hafeez. Let them know that how important it is that they are physically there for you.
Would you like to go to a museum/exhibit/lecture/movie this week? Having 10 people over to watch the latest episode of Stranger Things may be your spouse’s worst nightmare but that doesn’t mean they don’t have interests. “Introverts do like to go out and do things, but not necessarily those that involve mingling with groups of strangers and making small talk,” Dr. Hafeez explains. As a supportive spouse, it’s important that you make the effort to invite your partner to join you in activities that are of interest to them and fit their comfort zone, while also giving you a chance to experience them together.