Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Clear Night 22° Clear
News >  Features

Carolyn Hax: For introvert, ‘alone’ means without boyfriend

Washington Post

Hey Carolyn: How do I help my newish boyfriend come to terms with the fact that when I say I need regular alone time, I do not mean “except for you”? When it comes to my wanting time away from my close-knit family and large group of friends, he totally gets it – he is also fairly introverted and takes plenty of time to charge his batteries.

But he seems to like his alone time better when I am around; I “don’t count” as a social obligation. I don’t want to offend him by implying that I feel otherwise; also, I’m worried that I SHOULD feel otherwise (is my significant other the one person I’m supposed to welcome into my space at all times?). What do you think? – Introvert in New Relationship

I think the best way to avoid offending a partner with your own needs and mannerisms is to be fundamentally compatible.

And the best way to find out whether you’re compatible is to communicate your needs clearly.

And the best way to communicate your needs clearly is to trust them, versus spinning them in the most favorable way or second-guessing your own normalcy.

And the best way to show respect for normalcy as a range, versus a fixed point, is to treat all (nondestructive) emotional styles and needs as equally valid, just different. Starting with your own: “I love our one-on-one time. I also need one-on-none time.” Don’t apologize for it, or wince as you say it, or in any other way treat it as bad or hurtful or insulting. Think of yourself as an engine specifying the type of oil you need.

If he takes it personally, then loop back to compatibility and recognize this not as your failing to do or feel what you’re “supposed to” do or feel, but instead as a matter of fitting together (or not). If you can give each other what each of you needs without its taking a chunk out of who you are, then you’re compatible. If you can’t, then you aren’t.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox

Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.