DEAR AMY: I’ve been with my boyfriend for two years. I am 21; he is 23. We get along very well, but he is extremely shy! He barely speaks to my family or friends, or even at his own family functions. Around me, he is fairly chatty.
He only has a select few friends that he plays video games with. He thinks it’s “weird” to hang out, and he “hates small talk because it is pointless.”
For a long time, this didn’t bother me. However, now my mother says she doesn’t like him because he is unfriendly. My friends have also expressed concern; they say he’s “awkward.”
What can I do to help my boyfriend be more sociable? He has expressed an interest in seeking help, we just don’t know where to get it. Should my friends and family be more understanding?
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DEAR DISTURBED: The first thing you should do is to understand that your boyfriend is likely an introvert. Expecting him to suddenly become sociable is like expecting an orange to become a blueberry. Could you behave in a way that is in complete opposition to your nature? Probably not.
You and your guy should both read the best-selling book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,” by Susan Cain. This groundbreaking look at introversion helps introverts – and those who love them – see the commonality of their qualities and characteristics.
Your guy is likely only comfortable interacting with a very small group of people at any one time. He is quiet because he is listening, not because he doesn’t want to know people.
More insight into his nature will help you to understand him better. For him, self-knowledge might help him to find ways to push through his temperament in order to please you, your friends and family. He should also grow to understand that there is nothing at all “wrong” with him.
Dear Amy: I am a 52-year-old man. I was married for 22 years and am now divorced.
A year ago I met “Carla,” the woman of my dreams. Then last summer, I lost my job. I was under a lot of stress.
I started texting with an old girlfriend. Some conversations crossed the “friend line” and became sexual. The woman then forwarded these texts to Carla. She was devastated, and decided to end our relationship.
I have sent cards, flowers and many texts. Carla said she’s moving on and that I should, too. But what I did affected me so much that I was baptized at my church because I needed a fresh start.
I need to show the love of my life that I’m not playing around anymore.
DEAR DEVASTATED: Your baptism should mark a spiritual rebirth and renewal, not a guarantee that you will be able to win back your girlfriend.
At this point, you need to behave like a mature adult. Take full responsibility for your actions, apologize with simple sincerity, and say to “Carla,” “I hope that in time you will find it in your heart to forgive me.”
And then yes – you will have to pick up the pieces and do your best to move forward.
Contact Amy Dickinson via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.