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Man regrets marrying an introvert; 'It backfired. My teenage son is a nightmare.' AITA? MAJOR UPDATES.

Man regrets marrying an introvert; 'It backfired. My teenage son is a nightmare.' AITA? MAJOR UPDATES.

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When this man is horrified at how his life turned out, he asks Reddit:

"I regret marrying an extreme introvert. How normal is this? AITA?"

Ok introverts, let me have it. Tell me what a terrible person I am. I'm coming up on married 20 years. Age 45. In knowing her for 22 years, she has never made a friend. A few acquaintances here and there. But no friend. Not one.

When I make friends and have done couple events like dinner outings, she does somewhat interact and engages a bit in conversation (especially with my conversation starting). But she never clicks with people.

We usually don't get asked back for a follow-on couple outing. People don't seem to like us. Could be me, but I do have multiple guy friends that I socialize with.

Multiple people over the years (including my own sister) have eventually admitted "I assumed she doesn't like me". Nope, not it at all.

Today I had lunch with her. I babbled for a bit. But then I decided to just stop talking. We sat there in silence for 20 minutes, and it dawned on me that if I don't initiate conversation that we don't have conversation.

It took me about 10 years to figure out that she is not going to change. It took me awhile to accept the fact that I am basically on my own for finding social outlets. That finding "couple friends" will never happen. In some ways I am still going through "acceptance".

Now that our two kids are growing up (one has extreme social anxiety and is also an extreme introvert), I kind of wonder where my life will go with her as the kids move on and out.

We went from meeting just after college. Being in love and fully into each other while living in a secluded surburb for 2 years. Getting married. Going to grad school where I had a great social life filled with many other grad students. To life with young kids.

But as life gets older and the physical attraction wears off...I feel I've made a terrible mistake. I am starting to long for more of a "conversationalist". And for someone who can help build meaningful relationships with community. AITA? I am just regretting my whole life.

Before we give you OP's update about his son, let's take a look at some of the top responses:

thriftdiving writes:

I ended up on this post because my husband is an extreme introvert, too!! He and I were talking this morning about it. We have been together 28 years, married 18 of those. I'm 45 and he's 46.

I know EXACTLY how the OP feels, as well as the more recent comments. And yes......as these extreme introverts get older, they get they become more of a recluse.

I am an "extroverted introvert" in that my social circle runs small, but I love, love, love engaging, talking for hours with people that I vibe with, and being out and about. But I also enjoy alone time and recharging and journaling.

But I am experiencing the same dissatisfaction that I'm often alone in social gatherings because he won't engage, etc. It makes me yearn and wonder what it would be like to be married to someone more compatible.

542cliche writes:

The fact that you think marrying her and she’ll eventually “come out of her shell” is the problem - you made a terrible mistake here. If you have accepted her the way she is as perfect for you, then You wouldn’t have a problem that she doesn’t talk unless you initiate a conversation.

You base your relationship on conversation - that itself is not the only option there ever is. How about an activity/hobby base one? Is physical looks the only reason you would touch her? Now that her looks “wear off” you won’t touch/cuddle/hug her? I mean, do you even love her really? Exactly the way she is now?

If you like chatting so much? Why not just go find your mates and chat all away until your throat get tired and go home to your wife and enjoy some quiet time?

There’s plenty ways around this. But somehow you never realised until now how much you like talking, and you married someone who doesn’t talk much? And you didn’t think until now that you’re not ok with this? That’s not wise at all.

tsx143 writes:

If you bring this up with her be careful not to make her feel like she is "abnormal" or "bad" for not socializing the same way you do. Saying you want a "conversationalist" is still showing that you don't really understand her.

If she is a person that reads books a lot then she definitely has an active mind, a strong inner monologue, and likely has many things to talk about.

From what I read, it seems like you decide where you guys go, who you guys speak to, and what you talk about but I don't see much of an effort on your part in figuring out what her likes/dislikes or overall preferences are.

First, figure out what she is even thinking about most of the time or what she enjoys reading and why she likes it and how it makes her feel or what her opinions on it are, etc. That alone is an entire conversation. It is extremely important to pin-point what she enjoys and what interests her.

Take the time to get to know her. Did she have close friends growing up? What happened to those friendships? Start having recurring conversations with her about things that will help you understand her on a deeper level.

But again, don't make her feel "weird" for not socializing. The questions aren't to just get her talking or to figure out why she doesn't talk more but to actually understand who she is as a person.

Once you do that it will be easy enough to match you guys up with people who share common interests.

Or at least find activities that you guys can mutually enjoy together. If anything I hope it at least encourages her to start some conversations with you since you are showing interest in her as a person.

Introverts are "selectively social" so context matters. The "who", "what", "when", "where", "why", and even "how" matter. I hope you make progress with this advice. Im here if you have any questions.

healthybell writes:

I am the introvert in our relationship. But, I don't live in the extremes that your wife lives in. I have slowly gained a few friends over the years. Another difference I see between us is that physical attraction is a zero issue for us. She is aging, but I can see her soul and can ignore wrinkles that are sneaking up. Love is also not an issue.

Living with an extrovert is extremely exhausting and also extremely rewarding for introverts. The thing that keeps me motivated is that we have common goals and I have absolutely thought about our future in terms of how we proceed after the kids are gone.

Is it enough that you have separate lives as empty-nesters? 100% No. This is a critical point in your life. I know because I am going through this at the moment, but not an extreme like this.

It sounds like you two already live separate lives. Plus, it sounds like you both are a little lost.

You have to ask yourself if you can / want to try to make this work. My first inclination here is that if she once loved you fully and enjoyed sharing with you that she is now hiding the fact that she is hurting deeply and is possibly afraid of her feelings. I guarantee that she has deep emotions, but may not want to share them.

Personal advice: you HAVE to talk about this and your conversation needs to get really deep and you need to continually circle back to these conversations. People generally appreciate honesty.

Also, introverts are so stuck in their own heads that we forget our place and need reminders. A monthly meet up to talk things out is important. I wouldn't hold back any of your feelings and I would expect the same from her.

I would start by asking questions about your future together. Ease in. She will be defensive and scared. Just keep your guard up and prepare for a flood of emotions.

I say that change IS possible; but, you both have to want it. It is possible to be an introvert and marvel in your spouses social rewards. But, you HAVE to do this together. Otherwise, what is the point of your life?

As far as your lack of friends goes, here is something you might try. Find out what she really wants and go try it together. Really pay attention to what she is reading and read with her and talk out the books.

Maybe expand this out to an intimate group of people that love the same types of books? Maybe you can help her find others that are way into books?

Perhaps your spouses new friends that are made have an extroverted spouse that you can get to know. It will take effort for both of you. Pull her out of the house and inject her into your life.

Maybe exercise together? Pickleball is a fantastic sport for both competitive and aging people (something you can do well into your 80s). Pickleball is extremely social if you want it to be.

The plus side is that if you want to sit a game out and chat with friends, your wife can jump into a game and barely have to say a word. Then you both reach fulfillment.

You guys have to continually fall in love with each other throughout your marriage. You posting this question shows that you are making a decision in your mind. Where is this coming from? Are you looking for an answer / validation / justification for leaving your marriage?

Or are you really seeking advice to enrich your life because you love / deeply ache for this person and want to spend the rest of your life together? If you want it to work out, suck it up and do what you need to do to make this work and she will need to do the same.

I'll pray for you if you are into that. Otherwise, consider it as a positive energy transfer.

And now, OP's major update about his son's behavior:

I can't stand the personality of my 14-year old. My family doesn't do anything. Or the way it shows in his behavior...

My 14-year old doesn't do anything. He plays video games or watches YouTube on his phone all day every day. He has no friends. Has no extracurriculars. He never wants to do anything. I can't even get him to try anything new. Rarely get him out of the house.

Through the years I've tried but have totally backed off. You name it I've tried it. Boy scouts, D&D, math clubs, team sports, individual sports, etc. You see I was the only one to occasionally nag him to get off his phone or get off his computer.

My wife, who happens to be an extreme introvert, never ever nags him. Just me and that didn't work so I've given up too. (you might ask if my wife and I have a dysfunctional relationship too...we don't see eye-to-eye on parenting...and I've just come to acceptance on her too).

He has bad social anxiety which impacts him at school. He sees a therapist. He was prescribed Prozac but won't take it. I've tried various conversations for trying to convince him to give it a try.

My wife has something against mental drugs so won't encourage/coach him to take it (but doesn't totally oppose it ..just doesn't help in convincing him to give it a shot).

I try to expose him in other ways. Now my wife is at least game for vacations. So we drag him on an exotic $15,000 vacation to an exotic locale. He would rather just stay in dark hotel room doing his phone.

I mean the kid is very smart and gets good grades. But it totally drags me down to see him so withdrawn and totally anti-social. I worry about his ability to function as an adult.

He has a cousin who scored a 1550/1600 on the SAT but does NOT go to college because of unresolved anxiety (also played video games all day and has parents just like my wife).

I do try hard to hide that I have disdain for his personality/behavior. But when I put forth an effort to connect with him, I don't think I entirely hide all the disappointment all the time.

On a given weekend day, my wife will read a book all day. Like all day. My kid will do his phone or play video games all day. And I just want to do stuff. Anything even if it is something I have no interest in.

To get out of the house. And while I could go do stuff by myself (and I do and have my hobbies) it is just depressing as hell to try to live life like this.

I feel the whole situation has also made me question everything including marriage since that has been strained by our lack of unity and her extreme introvert-edness has become apparent now more than ever before.

EDIT: in the times where I have removed screens from him, he just reads a book all day. So that's why I don't really see the point in removing screens anymore. He already reads a ton...probably at least an hour a day. Books, screens. What's the difference when it comes to not wanting to socialize or try new things.

EDIT 2: based on some inspiration here, tonight we made lists. He said he would be interested in me teaching him something so I made a list of ideas I could teach him.

EDIT 3: yes I'm not perfect but I try. I can accept we are vastly different people. But the social anxiety he has really is debilitating and I feel that exposure and getting out of the house is the only thing (beyond Prozac) that can help.

EDIT 4: so far he is skinny, well-built, and looks good. I've spotted him doing situps/pushups in his bedroom. He's made one comment that he wants to play a sport in high school but he is so far behind in skills that cross-country or track seem like the only options.

EDIT 5: the pandemic made everything worse. Pre-pandemic he did participate in 1-2 middle school clubs. Now they're all gone and our district is still uber Covid paranoid.

He had 14 months of virtual school which did take him from straight As to straight Cs (he is back to As with in-person school except for classes where lack of verbal participation harms him).

EDIT 6: my wife has no friends. I've never seen her make a friend in 15+ years. Yes there is a genetic component. Interestingly she had friends in high school and did extracurriculars.

Readers continued to weigh in on OP's dilemma:

themikd88 writes:

I was a lot like him around that age, except a BIT more social, but I only really made friends through mutual interests in videogames or, a bit later, anime.

I've also been struggling with depression ever since puberty (am 26 now), so I think I understand why the kid doesn't wanna take his prozac - when you've been depressed long enough, that emptiness you feel most of the time is almost comforting.

Also, you eventually seld-identify with your depression, and thus working against it can be scary, since its a big part of how you define yourself.

Videogames are still a big part of my life, and I still spend a lot of time on youtube or streaming sites, but I maintain my social contacts (although I have few), and I've found coping mechanisms for my depression.

The kid is 14, its difficult to connect with kids around that age. I think your best course of action is to continue to try and connect with him through his interests, like playing videogames with him, encouraging him to show you the clip if he finds something on youtube he thinks you'll find funny or interesting, or just offering to watch as he plays a game.

It might not work immediately, it might not work for a long time, but wheter it works or not is not the point - eventually, when your kid is older, he'll realize that you never stopped attempting to connect with him, that you never gave up on him, and that will mean a lot to him. It just might take a long time for him to get there.

majesticfeathers writes:

You remind me of my father. I'm sure your family can't stand your personality either. Just as long as you love your family you don't have to like them.

Find friends, go to a dnd group, bowling, go out and have some freaking adventures instead of expecting your family to entertain you. Quit making excuses, that it's so hard, just do it.

I know I'm being harsh, but this post hits me at my core, I was a similar teen, like your son. If I didn't go out and do things with my father he would act like a child and break things. Verbally abuse my family.

It felt like I had to baby sit him, that I had to be on duty. It doesn't seem like you're that way, but seriously only you can make yourself happy. Don't expect others to do it for you.

Same for your son, he's just finding his way. If he's like I was, make him get a job, a social one like courtesy clerk at a grocery store. That's where I learned my social skills and independence. It will be hard, especially in the first year, but you can't grow up without pain.

darkcloud7 writes:

Best advice I can give as someone who relates a lot to your son when I was his age, do NOT make him feel bad for doing what he enjoys. You need to encourage him to use these things to his advantage instead of a crutch to avoid feeling depressed.

If my dad had helped me realize my potential for say, programming, or video game production, I'd be a completely different person than I am today. I dont blame him anymore but I absolutely used to.

But I think he got lucky. Most fathers, no matter how much their heart is in it for the right things, will face the fact that they weren't there on an emotional level when their kids went through some of the hardest times if their lives. Don't forget that being a teenager is exhausting. Especially in today's age.

Just be there for him. Talk to him. Be his friend, not just his father. So many sons just want a connection with their dads. It's so important, but society deems it to be excusable. Don't fall into that category.

Your son will appreciate you more than you can imagine. I hope everything gets better for you both.

yagurlwum writes:

Play video games with him man. I don’t like that ish either, but I force myself to play with the kids (as much as I can handle) and they love it. After you two learn to have fun together he might be more open to doing things outside.

try things like flying drones or mini planes at first, things that are similar to video games. He might be more comfortable doing that at first. Also just ask questions about the things he loves.

Do you know his favorite YouTuber? Watch his fav and get to know them. Ask questions. Specific and direct questions/statements help kids with conversations.

Open ended questions end up with fines or yeahs. Ie. “How was your day at school” could be a million different thoughts that go through a kids head, so sometimes the easiest thing to say is “good”.

So make statements instead. Like “I saw this really fun video with SSSniperWolf” and share a video with him. Or, “what did you think of the new xyz feature in the Minecraft update?” Specific and direct.

If it’s something he already likes he might just be exploding to talk about it or just can’t help but correct you because you’re old and “cringe” but even that opens up conversation and connection. Meet him where he’s at now man. Your view might change. That being said, he needs exercise, even if it’s just a walk.

And that you might have to just be stern about. You might initially be the bad guy, but if you stick to your guns he’ll come around and show the respect. Be stern, consistent but also give him a choice so he has a say. Would he like to walk with you? Do yoga? Play basketball?

Give him three choices that he possibly could enjoy and do it the same time/day of the week. 3x a week 30 min is a reasonable goal. A walk is actually a cool place to have a convo because of the endorphins. And it’s easy to do.

Explain that his body needs vitamin d and his heart needs a little exercise to stay healthy. No blame or shame. I find my daughter can get very talkative on a walk even if she started off in a bad mood. It gets easier with consistency because they learn to expect it and adjust their attitudes accordingly.

They adapt and get over it. The rest just let go. Sometimes we’re really hard on ourselves and therefore our kids. Because we do care a lot, in our way. I think you do.

But it’s about being in the “Goldilocks zone” were we don’t care too much but don’t care too little, where it’s just right. That’s where life thrives. And we gotta learn to forgive them and ourselves for not being perfect. Best of luck.

Any parenting advice for OP? What would you do in his situation?

Sources: Reddit
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