My Introverted Boyfriend Broke Up With Me
What’s your experience with dating introverts? I usually end up dating extroverts, but I find myself wildly drawn to introverts. I think that their preference to spend time solo comes across as very self-confident, and when I meet someone who has to constantly be surrounded by people, I almost weirdly enough find it embarrassing for them that they need that.
Maybe it’s because it’s easier to win over an extrovert, and more of a challenge to have an introvert want to spend time with you. I’m really not sure.
At any rate, I view introverts with an air of mystery. I don’t know what you do for those six hours you’re alone every day. I want to weasel my way in there and get to know you. I want to become the exception to your introversion. I want to be special. (And what I need, in actuality, is a long therapy visit because clearly I have issues about this).
This also might stem from an unhealthy place, because one of my boyfriends once broke up with me because “he was too introverted”. Seriously.
This was back when I was living in Florida, and dating a band member. Yes, I know, we’re already off to a cliche start, haha.
My boyfriend, Owen*, was an artist. He was a drummer. He was in a band - and that was his job. He was a certain type of guy - he had no social media and instead spent his time reading books, doing yoga in his room and walking on the beach (seriously). He was very big into self-improvement.
The Shannon I am today would not be so into that, but back then I was fresh-out-of-college Shannon, and super into his whole…thing.
Bridget and I met him at a Vegan festival in Florida (I know…you can’t make this stuff up) and oddly enough my parents, who were also at the festival, recognized him from his band.
Owen and I exchanged numbers, and he asked me out to dinner a few days after. And that’s how Bridget and I became friends with The Band.
We would go to their gigs, hang out at their beach house, listen to their music on our car rides to work together…you name it. Owen and I soon started dating, and Bridget ended up hitting it off with the lead singer.
Owen and I would take Improv classes together, and try out new vegan restaurants. I remember once we went to a specialty tea shop, walked around afterwards, and ending up climbing a huge tree and sitting in it for hours, just talking on a massive branch while we dangled our legs in the air. And I have to admit, there was a part of me that thought maybe all of these cute dates and deep conversations would make me the subject of a song one day. I know, a bit narcissistic, but I feel like that’s every girl’s dream…
Anyway, for a while there, everything was pretty perfect.
But the beginnings of a relationship are never really the truth of it.
As time went on, I wanted to get more serious with Owen. But with our schedules, it sometimes felt like we were having a long-distance relationship in the same state. I would work from 9-5, and his main working hours were at gigs from 7-11. When I had free time on the weekend, he was at his busiest, out performing.
I would go to his gigs with Bridget, but the next day at work was always hell, with just a few hours of sleep under my belt. After a month of this, I asked Owen if we could do something to see each other more - and I still remember my surprise to his response.
“Huh,” he had said, standing in his small kitchen. He gave a slight laugh. ‘Why do you want to see each other more?”
I was pretty confused. My college boyfriend and I had practically lived together. Even my high school boyfriend and I saw each other every day. Granted, it’s easier to see people in high school and college, but wasn’t it normal to want to see your significant other a lot?
“Because…” I had stammered, “I like you? I want to be around you? I don’t know.”
He thought this over as he washed his hands.
“I just don’t have that much time, Shannon,” he said. “We practice a lot, and when I do have free time, I really require it for myself so I can recharge. I’m just an introvert. I prefer it this way.”
And then he directed me to Myers-Briggs, which - fun fact - was the first time I started to get really into Personality Types.
And so I took him at his word. When I missed Owen, I would try to emulate him and read a book, or go for a walk, or even sometimes browse the r/INFJ forum (his Myers Briggs type) and look for posts that sounded similar to something he could have written. He wasn’t a Reddit user, but it kept me distracted.
This routine would usually last about a week or two, and then I would call him to talk about our relationship - in my apartment on speaker phone, with Bridget silently sitting next to me.
“Owen, I need to be honest with you,” I would say on these phone calls (there were a couple). “I really feel like I need a bit more here. I see you once or twice every few weeks, I mean…at the risk of sounding really insecure here, don’t you want to see me more?”
“My ideal relationship is seeing someone maybe once a week,” he would say. “That’s all I can handle. I really require a lot of alone time, otherwise I’m super drained. I need time by myself and with myself so I can fill my tank up.”
And Bridget would quietly scribble expletives on a notebook next to me and wordlessly show me the pages, with “Owen sucks” written on them.
“So I drain you? Like…being around me is draining?”
"I mean…yeah. Don’t take it in a bad way though, that’s just how it is for me”
“But to only see each other once a week at most…I mean, should we break up?” I would suggest. And he would say that he didn’t want that. And he would reference some book that he read about the nature of relationships. And he would suggest that maybe, just maybe, his way was a bit more right than mine and I should try to understand.
So I would hang up, and commit myself to being better. I would vow to text him less, and stop being such a draining person, and give him space.
And it was always uncomfortable to ask for things from him, because he stood very firm in his boundaries of how we should be interacting (which I guess is ultimately a good thing).
I wanted Owen to want me. I wanted to see him more. But Owen required a certain amount of alone time. Owen needed the relationship to be a certain way.
I mean, I needed things too. But the difference was that Owen insisted on his needs.
“He’s such a pretentious dick,” Bridget would say.
“I don’t know,” I would say, “I mean, I drain him. I must be doing something wrong when we’re together.”
“Shannon, I’m the most introverted person I know,” Bridget would tell me. “And I can promise you, you are not draining. I hate being around most people, but I want to spend all of my time with you. That’s not on accident. I promise you - you’re not draining.”
After enough troubled time, Owen and I decided to take a 2 week break. But he cut it short, and after 1 week, he called me and said he wanted to meet for lunch.
I excitedly drove an hour to meet him for lunch, but it was something different than I was expecting. He broke up with me…before the food even came out.
Important tip, by the way, to anyone who breaks up with someone over a meal: do it after you’ve eaten. I really can’t stress this enough. It was a rough lunch - it happened years ago and I still remember it.
So I sat there, food untouched, for another 40 minutes as Owen painstakingly told me, “You said that you want someone who thinks about you during the day, and wants to see you more than once a week…but I realized that I just really don’t. I don’t think about you during the day and I really don’t want to see you as often as you want.”
Basically, take the classic break-up line of “it’s not you, it’s me” and reverse it, because that’s what Owen said.
I drove home, mildly gutted, and told Bridget about everything.
It took me a while to get over Owen, and it did a pretty big number on my self-esteem. I found myself wondering “am I being draining?” when I talked to people. I texted my friends less often - convinced that I was inserting myself in their lives in an annoying way. I started to doubt if I had a good personality, and instead started to view myself as someone that people didn’t want around.
But after a few months of licking my wounds, I got back out there, and ended up dating this beautiful and wonderful female musician, Cami*.
Sooner or later, Owen found out.
And it was the craziest thing. Suddenly he wasn’t introverted anymore.
He randomly started talking to me again. He would ask about my weekend plans, and when I told him that I was going out to a bar or gig with Cami, he would somehow end up at a bar down the street. Which was 40 minutes from where he lived. And he would text me that he was close by, and could I please stop and see him before I left?
But I was happy with Cami, and still hurt from what happened. So I would tell him that I would drop by, and then never drop by, and it was my petty way of trying to regain some semblance of power after being so completely crushed by our break-up.
After a couple months, I left Florida and moved to California. But funnily enough, there was still another chapter left. Two years later…guess who was the wedding band for my sister’s wedding? You guessed it. Owen and his crew.
He tried to talk to me after the wedding and apparently I was ice cold to him. (I don’t really remember because by the time he came up to me…I was really high from edibles. But that’s a blog post for another time.)
I look back on our relationship and it’s definitely one of the worst ones I’ve had, haha. But I still don’t regret it!
I don’t think that Owen did anything particularly horrible (although the timing and whole orchestration of the lunch break-up was pretty rough), I think that at the end of the day we just wanted different things - or, sorry, needed and required them.
But I think that if you’re introverted (and as an ambivert myself, I get it, I really do) there’s a delicate way, and a not-so-delicate way to bring up your needs to an extrovert.
Telling your partner that they particularly drain you, isn’t the best thing to hear. Okay, to be blunt, it fucking sucks. I felt like an emotional succubus, or some energy vampire that just sucked the life force out of the person I cared about. And it also was a weird thing to deal with, because we were in a place where Owen’s “recharge time” was valued as something more important than my unhappiness with the relationship.
Basically, if you’re an extreme introvert like Owen…honestly, maybe don’t date. Or just make sure you’re only dating fellow introverted introverts. Or maybe date long-distance, haha.
I look back on our relationship now, years later, and view it as an important lesson in communicating what you want with someone early on.
Also I look back on our relationship and realize that Owen was kind of a douche bag. Also his band never took off. So…there’s that.
Anyway, I hope you can learn from my mistakes!
The biggest lesson here, is that if you’re going to break up with someone during a meal, do it after you’ve paid. And not after you’ve ordered.
Do you prefer dating introverts or extroverts? Let me know! I’m curious which type most people have.
Off to get some ‘recharge time’,