I’ve been going out with my boyfriend over a year now and although I love him to death he refuses to socialise. I’ve always been very social and used to like the fact he didn’t always come out so I could have some space to go out with my mates but now we live together its becoming more and more of an issue. He likes going out with me and me only for dinner, he likes to drink at home (a lot) yet anything I suggest that involves other people is a no-go. What can I do to bring him out of his shell? I think this is something that could grow into bigger issues very quickly. One Year Itch
How to bring him out of his shell? You can’t. If someone is an introvert who finds socialising draining, or a loner without the skills, drive or desire to connect with others, you can’t make them do it, or want to. If you really push him, he might socialise occasionally with your mates to please you. But it kinda defeats the purpose, and if he’s not into it you’ll know it and it’ll wreck your night knowing he’s sitting there seething and counting the minutes until he’s back home on the sofa with his bottle of beer in one hand and the TV remote in the other.
My ex and I used to fight about this constantly. He was an introvert, I was the extrovert. He could turn on the charm in a social setting if he wanted, but just couldn’t be bothered to most of the time. We very rarely went out together. He refused wedding invitations, parties, dinners – just about everything we were ever invited to. It was downright infuriating, confusing, exhausting and hurtful as hell (not just for me but those who’d invited us). I tried every thing I could possibly think of to bring him out of his shell – from cajoling to bargaining, begging, getting angry, letting him know how it affected me, and us, and even suggesting we get some professional help. I failed on every attempt. It became a power-play between us, and he drove me near crazy with his non-committal, anti-social bullshit.
Your letter hit a nerve for me. I’m not lying when I say every fibre of my being wants to tell you to run, not walk, away from this guy as fast as your legs can take you. Personally, I feel life’s too short to deal with friction and resentment every time an invite arrives in your inbox (instead of the joy and anticipation you should rightly feel). It’s really no fun heading off to every social occasion alone, having to explain or justify your partner’s absences to friends and family (and almost certainly endure their pity). It’s hard having to create a thumpin’ social life completely separate from your boyfriend, and live it almost like a single girl (only without the fun dating part). And there’s definitely no escaping the side order of sadness that comes with knowing that your partner, for whatever reason, can’t be stuffed getting to know your mates, or being by your side at all those fun and meaningful occasions we all want to, rightly, share with the one we love.
Your boyfriend might be shy. He might change gradually over time, especially if you invite mates over for low-key pizza nights and the like, and he can get to know them and socialise on his own turf. But I think if it’s only been a year, this is a big fat red flag, and your differences could become a chasm, causing the much bigger issues you fear. Similarly, if you feel he is trying to cut you off or isolate you from your friends and family, that’s a concern too.
Of course, I’m very biased on this issue, but I urge you to think seriously about whether you want to stick around. Finding a guy who’s more similar to you, wants to be plugged into life, and loves hanging out with your family and friends is, I believe, a huge part of what happy, healthy relationships are all about.
Love, reality chick