The man I’ve been dating for the past three months is a little shy when he’s around people he doesn’t know well. We’ve been to dinners and parties with my friends a few times and, though he says he’s enjoyed everyone’s company, he only talked when someone asked him a question. He admits that his ideal Saturday night is dinner and a movie at home; my ideal Saturday night is dinner out and then meeting up with friends. I’m at the point in our relationship where I’m going to have to decide whether our different socializing philosophies matter to me. I have mixed feelings because I really like him—he’s not shy around me, but I want to be with someone who can carry on when we go out with other people. Any advice on what to do?—BA, Denver, Colorado
The Gay Woman’s Perspective: Jody Fischer
In my experience, we find a partner that helps bring us into balance; hence, extroverts attract introverts. You sound like an outgoing person, but in a large group setting, your guy is not. I ask you to consider how his quieter, less social side brings you into balance. Do you really want to be with someone who handles social situations the way you do? If so, why do you need him to be more like you? Why can’t he just be himself?
Frankly, when I go out, I’m quite extroverted and many of my past partners were not. In the past, I really wanted them to change and be more outgoing. After some soul searching, I discovered that though I want them to be independent, they do not have to interact at a party the way I do.
Quiet and less outwardly social people help me lesson my need to talk to everyone. I see them and I remember to slow down, breathe, and look around. Remind yourself what you really like about this guy and then try letting him just be himself—and letting that be okay with you. I thank my lucky stars for the quieter ones. Through them, I find balance.
The Straight Man’s Perspective: Chris Kennedy
Allow me to get a little historical on your ass, BA. To oversimplify the explanation in the interest of space and time, “The Great Compromise” helped our nation establish individual states’ representation rights resulting in our Senate and House of Representatives. Large states got a proportional vote in the House, while the small states got an equal voice in the Senate. Considering this has been the modus operandi of our country since 1787, I’d say it’s been a pretty workable agreement.
So, my advice is, come up with your own workable agreement and compromise. You both have different ideas of an ideal night. So, alternate what you do. For your nights, he does the socializing thing; for his nights, you dine in and a rent a movie. When it’s not your ideal night, you at least can take solace in the fact that you’re making him happy and knowing that he similarly “sacrifices” for you on your nights. Compromise has worked in our country for 223 years and should be sufficient in your congress as well. If it doesn’t work, you can take comfort in seceding from your union knowing you tried.
The Straight Woman’s Perspective: Rebecca Brown
Me, me, me … that’s all I’m getting from you, BA. Now bear in mind, I’ve had three glasses of red wine as I answer your question, but as they say, in vino veritas.
So you’ve been to dinners and parties with your friends ...how nice for you! How fun that must’ve been for your shy beau to have to sit through a whole dinner of girl talk, work talk, and gossip about all your other friends that he doesn’t know. I can’t imagine why he clammed up. God, I kind of want to stick my head in a hot oven on broil on his behalf, poor thing.
But as they say in Redbook, this relationship can be saved. (Actually, in Redbook, it’s a marriage they’re saving, not a relationship. Details, details.) First, if you want to expose your man to your friends, think singularly—as in, one at a time. Taking a naturally shy person to a party full of people he doesn’t know is like taking a person who’s allergic to chicken to KFC; it’s not fun, BA. And dinner! Why so long? Think shorter time blocks to start, like coffee on Saturday, or a movie, where he can chat briefly with your friends before and after the film, but retreat to his happy place when the lights go down. The first few interactions with your posse should just be him dipping his toe in the proverbial waters of the ocean of your friends. Start with one; when he feels reasonably comfortable with one, add another to the mix. Work up to the big parties. You don’t mention anything about spending time with his friends or doing anything that he enjoys; what’s up with that? I think it would do you good to see him in an environment of his choosing that doesn’t feel threatening to him so that you can reproduce those types of situations with (or without) your friends.
Be like Avis, BA; try harder. If how he socializes is important to you, do a little more work into finding out what makes him (happily) tick. Because right now, you’re not really setting him up for success. Help a brother out.
The Gay Man’s Perspective: Darren Maddox
Sounds to me like you’re either going to have to come to a compromise or dive back into the singles’ pool. It’s probably good to have a balance of going out versus staying in, so you don’t burn yourself out on either one. However, based on your question, I’m not so sure you’ve found the match you’re looking for to build a relationship. Opposites attract, stranger things have happened … you know all the cliché expressions about how two people that seem so opposite seem to have something in common that makes it work. What is that quality that he possesses that keeps you attracted to him? Have you found it? What was it that attracted you to him in the first place? After getting to know him, shy or not, do you like him well enough to accept him for who he is without compromising who you are? When you find that, I believe you will have found your match.
As I always say, above all, you should go with your gut; it never lies. You said “I want to be with someone who’s not afraid of a little small talk when we go out with other people.” Is this him? I think you already know the answer to this question. If the answer is no and if he doesn’t have the potential to be this person, then move on.