Boyfriend won’t socialise with others. Could this grow into a bigger issue?

Boyfriend won’t socialise with others. Could this grow into a bigger issue?

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


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Freelance journo, blogger, self-appointed advice-giver and co-author of Get Lucky. If you've got a dating or relationship issue, feel free to ask a question. (PS. You can also find me at The Mama Files and Letter To My Ex).

13 Comments

  1. Cara 2 years ago

    I am currently in this situation right now. I love my boyfriend but I really wish he would be more social. Instead he refuses to go anywhere and would rather stay home. He won’t even attend family events with me. Honestly I gave up trying to convince him to go out with me to see family and friends. The only thing he’ll do for me is my birthday, thanksgiving, and Christmas. That’s it. I’m seriously getting frustrated with all this. I live with him and all but honestly I feel like I might as well be single for he never wants to do anything. I had family out of town this weekend and he refused to go and see them. I don’t expect him to do everything with me but I really wish he would take the time and effort to see and hang out with my family and friends and get to know them better. My dog is more social with everyone than my boyfriend

  2. B 2 years ago

    Seriously, I won’t even ask how a persom could love anyone intimately. Reading this whiny shit further validates why relationships are 100% bullshit.

  3. Karla 2 years ago

    DITTO!!! — same/same to RC, my experiences & sentiments exactly! Couldn’t have said it better. Serious relationship for 4 yrs. w/ one, just re-visted rekindled after 10 yrs.!!! — only because after remaining platonic friends, we felt we still had the “soulmate” connection. Really have my answer now! Felt the pain then & even more so now! When he was 35 he wasn’t drinking alone & it was beer. Now he drinks alone both at bars & home, & it’s progressed to brandy. Aside from being an extrovertive person; I am extremely communicative person, & the lack of it on his end killed me & was ultimately the demise of us. It ended this New Year’s going into 2015 when I merely asked the [“dreaded”] question to get clarity on how he felt about me, us, & where he saw our future (even short-term as I now live in another state), & he flew into a defensive confrontational rage with shades of being emotionally & verbally abusive. I parted company with him after knowing him for 14 yrs., EVEN AS FRIENDS!!! He was my choice at 40, not at 53. Save yourself the pain & heartache!!! Extrovert type people are better served by a fellow extrovert. This last go around, I really found the denial, fear, lack, non-communicative, vacillating/non-committal nature SO unattractive.

  4. dan 3 years ago

    Why is it ok to imply that anyone who doesn’t enjoy socialising or finds it stressful is abnormal and doesn’t deserve a relationship and needs to be changed. For introverts, most social engagements are incredibly boring and revolve around being a spectator of extroverts competing for attention, while slowly shrinking into nothing in the background. Of course he wants to stay home and drink. Just talk to him and stay close to him at events when he does come out, be supportive.

  5. Robbyn Pallett 4 years ago

    Social phobia (also called social anxiety) is a type of anxiety problem. Extreme feelings of shyness and self-consciousness build into a powerful fear. As a result, a person feels uncomfortable participating in everyday social situations..*^^

    My blog
    <http://healthmedicine101.com/index.php/

  6. Debra 5 years ago

    The heavy drinking alone is the biggest worry! And as they get older, with more pressures of children and mortgages/rent etc, it can and does get worse. A nice combination is that of going out as a couple by yourselves, staying at home by yourselves, going out with mates by yourself, and staying home by yourself as he goes out, and finally a a mixture of out with his and your friends. This is too extreme. He really needs another introvert to share all her time and energy with him alone – sorry. He is not wrong in what he does, or doesn’t do, but what he does and doesn’t do, appears not comfortable for you. If you are really set on him, try a councillor of some kind, and see if he is willing to at least give it a try – you should be able to both compromise.
    This relationship is bugging you now, after one measly year, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this – think about another 20 – 30 years of it, and you should have your answer, but whatever you do, do not feel guilty with your outcome – you have to believe it is best for you and have no regrets, either way.

  7. Lola 5 years ago

    I’ve read all the responses, including RC’s of course, and possibly I could become the real Devil’s Advocate here. Yonks ago, I had a highly introverted boyfriend who was more than happy to let me do my own thing. He wasn’t shy, he just didn’t enjoy the buzz of social life, but was well-balanced and happy with himself. He wasn’t a heavy drinker; he preferred to play with his favourite toys (photographic stuff) and enjoyed watching a movie or two in his own company. After a night out with my friends, I would go back to his place and share a drink with him, listened to some jazz and then hit the sack nicely (very nicely!) in his company. As far as socialising together, we only shared some weekends away with a group of mountain bikers (maybe once every two months), but he was ill-at-ease with them.
    A few weeks ago I read the definition of what an introvert is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extraversion_and_introversion. All too often we seem to overlook the fact that many human beings are just “built” that way.
    One Year Itch, your boyfriend seems to tick all the boxes to qualify as a full-fledged introvert. However, heavy drinking isn’t included in the “package”. If there is something that can derail a relationship – among other things – that’s heavy drinking. Otherwise, introversion isn’t an addiction; it isn’t even a personality disorder.
    All the very best, Lola.

  8. Di 5 years ago

    OK, I married into this situation. I’m now divorced.

    I would say your partner has social phobia. The fact he likes to drink a lot at home also worries me.

    I say get out, and get out now.

  9. Bron 5 years ago

    Just putting the cat amongst the pigeons here. Is there someone amongst your friends that he has a problem with and is avoiding?
    This actually sounds like an issue with his self-confidence and you may have more success having friends (only 1 or 2 at a time) over for a quiet dinner or to watch a dvd or something.
    Having been the person in a relationship who didn’t go out and socialize (mostly because i had to stay home with the kids, but also because i quite frankly wanted nothing to do with my ex’s friends) i know that the longer this goes on the more the two of you will grow apart. Does he have any friends of his own? Is he jealous of the time you spend out? Are you choosing your friends over him?
    You need to find a balance between socializing and your relationship, and if that means sometimes having friends come to you instead of you going to them, i think you need to consider this.

  10. wackyjack 5 years ago

    Good advice RC, people often find themselves putting up with behaviours/actions in a relationship that they think will magically change and when things are over, they think “if only I’d listened to my gut instincts”. As a counselling psychologist I see it all the time – people wondering if their relationship radar is well tuned.

    One Year Itch, your radar is working just fine as you’ve idenitifed a problem and that it could escalate. The thing is to take all the good advice above and give him the opportunity to find a better balance with your socialising. Relationships are about give and take, so of course you’re not going to ask him to go clubbing every night but a BBQ at your place is reasonable. Explain to him how much it means to you, give him the opportunity to support you (just because that’s what partners do) by being there on an agreed regularity, and if things are still the same in 3?/6?/12? months then admit that it’s going to be like this always and it’s up to you whether you can live with it or not.

    Good luck!

  11. IJ 5 years ago

    It’s always hard when a partner can be anti-social and it’s important to find a balance that suits both of you. If he is shy perhaps encourage him to deal with his shyness. Just make sure you don’t inadvertantly become an introvert. It will suck the life out of you!

  12. Kitty 5 years ago

    Nothing like advice from someone who really has walked a mile in your shoes. Good luck One Year Itch. Finding a happy place with social engagements is always a fine balancing act, and many couples have miss-matched social agendas. Personally I’ve always loved the couch/remote/takeaway more than my partner, but I’m trying much harder to get out in the world and meet new people and I’m loving it. He commented the other day that I’m going out more than he does now.

  13. suzie 5 years ago

    Your boyfriend may have a social phobia.Help is there in the form of therapy and medication.Problem is,if he is happy with this behavior he is unlikely to seek help.

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