Becoming Introverted

 

While describing my history with Arwyn, it’s not unusual for someone to ask if she ever seemed to like having sex with me.  And the answer to that is yes she did at the very beginning.  2-3x per day every day for a couple of months, in fact.  So on the surface, it looks like she did a total about-face and I would have a difficult time arguing against that. 

 

However, she’s not the only one who did a dramatic turn around.  Mine might have even been more profound.

 

The Myers-Briggs temperament scale measures 4 dimensions of personality and temperament resulting in 16 different temperament styles.  The first is the introversion-extraversion dimension.  When I first took this test 16 years ago, I was solidly an extravert.  With 10 questions measuring this dimension, 9 of my answers were on the extraversion side.  I took it again a few years later and I was still the same on that dimension.  To everyone around me, I was super-extraverted.  I met new people and made new friends very easily.  And this was the case when Arwyn came on to the scene.  I was the leader of our adult Sunday school class and the church singles group.  I was kind of out there and I’m sure she found this attractive.  She found something attractive enough that she came out of her introverted self enough to ask me out.   That was a gutsy move I’ve only appreciated more over the years.

 

The last time I took the test a few weeks ago, I was no longer extraverted.  On 10 questions measuring this dimension, 8 of my answers now fall within the realm of introversion.  I’ve done an almost complete flip.  When, how and why?

 

The when is about the time Arwyn and I became committed to each other.  Which might help explain why.  Because looking back, I can see that I really and truly have always liked a lot of “alone” time.  However I don’t like being lonely.  For the longest time I was a lonely loner so I stepped up and out and did what was necessary to find and get companionship.  I joined social groups and the “intuitive-thinking” dimensions just sort of propelled me into leadership type positions.  So my temperament in the old days was identical to FTN’s ENTJ/Field Marshal style.  That’s how I looked, at least and it’s how I felt. 

 

But once Arwyn and I were committed, I no longer felt driven to be out in front.  In fact, other people annoyed me more often than not.  And so my extraversion rapidly powered down.  I still had to work with and around people, but even there I was more on my own and liked working more independently. 

 

Thinking about it, it must have been terribly bewildering to Arwyn.  Here is this seemingly charismatic, outgoing character who suddenly turns out to be almost an antisocial hermit!  I still end up in the spotlight through teaching adult Sunday school, but I’m not nearly as gregarious as I was when Arwyn and I first met.

 

So what you’re witnessing is what can happen when two introverts get married.  Or when two people who get married turn out to be introverts.  Introverts, by definition tend to be avoiders.  They are not going to seek confrontation much less conflict.    FTN is going to confront his wife, and Aphron is going to be confronted by Sybil, his wife.  Even within a household with two introverts, I would expect the lesser introvert to confront the other.  Or maybe the one with the most issues.  Who’s to say? 

 

The major point of this post is to simply put a bit of balance into it by stating that Arwyn wasn’t the only one that changed.  I suppose the argument could convincingly be made that her withdrawal was a response to mine and if I was the first to change, she merely reacted to me not being the person she knew before.

 I don’t have a ready response to that, except to say this is something that has worked in both directions.  We both have watched and allowed things to Cascade downward.

 

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Last night we actually did have a lengthy conversation about things.  We somehow got on the subject of nasty divorces with her dad and step mom plus Donald and Gina who are all going on two years since filing.  Arwyn basically said she never wanted to have to go through something that messy.  I said I had really never heard of a peaceful divorce and she pointed to her parents who actually did come to some sort of amicable agreement and still talk cordially to this day.

 

Somehow I managed to broach the subject of possibly living in separate houses.  She instantly asked if I had some other woman on the side, and I told her I didn’t.  I told her that if I did I’d be seeking a divorce not another house.  She actually didn’t react strongly one way or another.  She could see advantages to such an arrangement but she said she hoped there might a chance that we could find a way we each could be happy while still together.  And that is at least a hopeful sign.  Even though she hasn’t made a move towards improving anything this was at least a step in the right direction.

 

D.

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7 Responses to Becoming Introverted

  1. 2amsomewhere says:

    There are blueprints for amicable marital dissolution. You might want to take a look at these books…

    The Good Divorce by Constance Ahrons
    Conscious Divorce: Ending a Marriage with Integrity by Susan Allison
    Man’s Guide to a Civilized Divorce: How to Divorce with Grace, a Little Class, and a Lot of Common Sense by Sam Marguiles

  2. Emily says:

    I think its wonderful that you finally had that conversation and have reason for hope.

    Maybe now is the time to at least suggest counselling and steam ahead with organising it?

    I know you hate the idea, but if you find it doesn’t work, then it can be abandoned and something else tried, but at least it might help to air the key issues so that they can be worked on.

    Otherwise, I dunno, I think I’d try to do something nice for her that she’d appreciate as a bit of a gesture – just to make a start.

  3. Satan says:

    I can’t believe you finally sit down to talk about your relationship, and the only thing that’s brought up is the suggestion to live in separate houses?! That way of life would be the ultimate in avoidance. 😉

    I love that the first suspicion in her mind is that you’ve got someone on the side. I wonder why she immediately thought of that.

    I wonder if you talked with her about your changes since the beginning of the marriage? I’d love to know what she has to say on the subject.

  4. FTN says:

    Like Satan, I can’t believe that you finally have a real conversation about this, but it’s about divorce and living in separate houses! But hey, I give you points for talking about it.

    And I won’t reiterate Emily’s mention of counseling, as I think you’ll easily refute anything I say about it now…

    As for the personality type, I think some of it comes with age. I, too, am probably less extroverted than I was 10 years ago. But in my head, I’m still super-outgoing, so I answer the questions based on how I think I am — rather than how I really am now.

    Age, maturity, marriage, and kids just makes most of us a little bit less outgoing. And I don’t think that’s always a bad thing. Sometimes it just means we are more comfortable with ourselves.

  5. Desmond Jones says:

    Hmmmmm. . . I’m skeptical that basic personality would change that much. As I understand Myers-Briggs, the introvert/extrovert parameter has to do with how we’re energized, not with how we present ourselves to the outside world; ie, do other people ‘get us going’, or do they ‘tap’ our energy resources. A lot of people think of me as an outgoing extrovert, because I’m something of a ‘performer’, but I’m a solid introvert for Myers-Briggs purposes. I function pretty well in social situations, and enjoy them, but they are a net drain on my energy, and after a long day ‘in public’, I need some serious ‘down time’ to recharge my batteries.

    Like Arwyn, I think that Molly was initially attracted to who she saw as a fun, outgoing guy, who turned out to be more ‘internal’ than she thought. But unlike Arwyn, Molly is very much an extrovert herself, so she doesn’t really need me to be one. . .

    And, hey, look! I can leave comments on WordPress! (>:P to the info-trolls!)

  6. Therese says:

    She said she hoped there might be a chance that we could find a way we each could be happy while still together.

    Do you feel that opens the door to suggesting some changes?

  7. Kochanie says:

    I took the test a few weeks ago, I was no longer extraverted..I’ve done an almost complete flip. When, how and why?

    Digger,

    I was introduced to your blog courtesy of Figleaf, who had linked to your excellent posts on the topic of clashing libidos. While some might call your writing and blogging avoidance, I respect your attempts to understand yourself and your perplexing often painful relationship with Arwyn. This is how writers attempt to understand the world: they take what troubles them and turn it over and upside down, hoping to find the answers no one else seems capable of providing.

    Let me offer some information that may explain the shift from extraversion to intraversion.

    The neurotransmitter dopamine has been identified as a factor in socialability. Dopamine is also the neurotransmitter that is boosted by nicotine. Therefore, it is not unusual for people who had believed themselves to be very outgoing while they were smokers to find that they became withdrawn after giving up cigarette smoking. I observed this switch in myself and other blood relatives. And I stress blood relatives, because there is more evidence from clinical tests that confirm that we may be genetically predisposed to nicotine addiction — the reason why some can give up the habit easily and others miss it mightlily, as you so aptly said.

    Does this mean that the cigarettes, which are a form of self-medication [which I enjoyed for many a year], suppressed an existing social anxiety trait, or enhanced a latent extraversion trait? That is the kind of question that Peter Kramer examined in his book, Listening to Prozac. But in terms of your life and your marriage, I think it is just one of the many factors that are at play here. Smoking or not smoking will not ruin a marriage, per se. The addiction or the withdrawal may make it harder to get to the underlying issues of unhappiness — that is my view and experience.

    My best wishes to you and your family.

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