First off, let me clear up what introvert means. Introverts draw energy internally, while extroverts get charged up externally. This doesn’t mean that introverts don’t enjoy people or that they’re shy; rather, the experience of being with a lot of people or with people for long periods of time drains their energy. They need to go off on their own for a bit and recharge.
I am an introvert.
Some people who know me seem to want to argue this point, because I am talkative and outgoing among close friends. But believe me, my nerves start to sizzle if I’m with people for extended periods of time. Plus, I’ve taken forms of the Myers-Brigg Personality Indicator (and administered it) so many times, I’m absolutely certain I fall on the introvert side of the continuum.
What does this have to do with sex?
I believe there are wives out there — and perhaps husbands — who aren’t engaging in sex at times because they are just tapped out. For me, the worst of this was when my children were very young. But it still happens at times, when the thought of spending time with anyone, even “Spock,” or being touched by another human being makes me want to crawl into my closet with a bag of chocolates and a thick novel.
Oftentimes, extroverts and introverts are attracted to one another for the gaps they fill. The introvert doesn’t have to talk so much, or even figure out a conversation topic, when on a date with a talkative extrovert. The extrovert enjoys the intimacy of one-on-one attention from an introvert, at odds with the many-social-contacts policy they might have elsewhere. Such marriages are “opposites attract,” or simply complementary.
But there are challenges when you’re married to someone who doesn’t understand your basic energy needs. I’d love to talk about how the extrovert approaches the marriage bed, but frankly, I don’t really know. I’m an introvert in a family of four introverts. (Yes, it’s super-quiet at my house sometimes, except for the extroverted cat.)
I know this, however: An introvert may need time to fuel up to be ready for sexual intimacy with their spouse.An introvert may need time to fuel up to be ready for sexual intimacy with their spouse. Click To Tweet
If it’s been a busy day at work with lots of social interaction, or kids have been jumping on you all day, or the grocery store was more crowded than Disney World on a holiday weekend, then having your honey-bun slide up next to you and start talking up a storm about what he wants to do with you can feel . . . well, shudder. It’s not that you’re not interested in sexual intimacy — you’re just not ready.
So here are some tips for introverts on handling sexual advances when you’d really rather curl under the covers and shut out the world, spouse included.
Explain your bent to your spouse. If your husband doesn’t understand what extroversion-introversion mean, look it up and explain. Take a personality test online to demonstrate the difference. Explain what it’s like for you when it comes to energy levels and social interaction. If your guy doesn’t experience it, he doesn’t what that’s like. Respect his tendencies, and help him to respect yours.
Know your triggers. Recognize what sends you over your limit and consider how you can use that information effectively. For example, a grocery store run on crowded Sunday afternoons is guaranteed to send creepy-crawlies up my spine, but I figured out that simply shoving that errand a few hours forward to late afternoon/early evening eliminates much of the mob and shopping isn’t such a big deal. Sometimes, of course, you can’t avoid the triggers, so just be aware and know that you’re likely going to feel exhausted after certain activities.
Plan downtime. We’re notoriously bad at doing this, aren’t we? We jam-pack our days with to-dos and then fill the gaps with activities that are supposed to relax us, but are actually overstimulating too. Don’t mistake entertainment or fun for recharging. For example, “winding down” with an hour-long, action-adventure show may be less relaxing than five minutes in a bubble bath alone. Intentionally set up times you can go it alone and refresh your reserves.
Ask for time to regroup. If you’re at your stimulation limit and hubby advances with his own ideas about sexual stimulation, don’t just rebuff his initiation. Take a deep breath, ask for some time to regroup, and see if you can’t get closer to being in the mood. For example, busy moms may need to say something like, “I need time away from this noise to refresh. Can you get the kids to bed while I take a few minutes to breathe and relax in our bedroom?” Give your beloved a realistic estimate of the time you need to shift gears and feel ready for touch, attention, and interaction.
Just do it. After taking a few moments to recharge, jump in to being one-on-one with your husband. Even if you’re exhausted from being around people, people are not your spouse. Sexual intimacy with your beloved may actually refresh you in ways you didn’t realize before you leaped into the marriage bed. Many couples experience a beautiful respite in the moments following sex. Sex releases brain chemicals like endorphins and oxytocin, which relieve stress and create a feeling of calm.
If you think your introversion could be getting in the way your sexual intimacy, think about how to tackle it and find the time you and your beloved need to bond.
To learn more about personality types, check out Personality Type and/or Please Understand Me: Character and Temperament Types.
13 thoughts on “An Introvert’s Guide to Having Energy for Sex”
Great post! I think one of the most important insights I ever got in understanding people was learning about and taking the Meyers-Briggs. I’m a very high introvert and being social wears me out. My husband, a widower when I married him, was married to a high, high extrovert who was like the energizer bunny – a truly amazing lady! My husband likes to go to big family events at graduation, birthdays and Christmas, and I, of course, know almost no one there. (Knowing that most of them are his late wife’s relatives doesn’t help, either.) I call them “those horrible things”, as in, “Doug, what time are we leaving for the horrible thing?” Luckily, he laughs. I never make a fuss about going and I try to do him proud, but then I’m exhausted. All I need is for him to understand. And then he needs to not ask me to do other social things with his friends or church family for a couple of days. As for my husband? I’d say he has achieved what the Meyers-Briggs calls integration – he’s right down the middle.
What’s important is that we understand our differences. The high extrovert needs social interaction to get energy and ideas. That person would be as uncomfrotable living an introvert lifestyle as I am trying to be an extrovert.
I’d like to add that I make sure my husband knows how he is helping and protecting me in a very manly way when he lets me rest on his shoulder when I feel tired or overwhelmed.
This might explain a LOT. My husband is INTJ. I am ESFP – the EXACT opposite.
He is at work, running big jobs, dealing with people all day long. I am at home with children (which I love). At the end of the work day when he comes home, he wants to do nothing but sit and relax. I am just getting started and want to get out and do something, and finally talk! I get so lonely. I often wonder how someone who works so hard can be so “lazy” at the end of the day. I always figured I just bore him so much he doesn’t want to be with me. He has plenty of energy for his coworkers.
We have no friends. Well, we kind of do, but we never do anything. We never get invited to anything. We used to, but he doesn’t like to go, and if he does go, he isn’t very friendly. He will just sit off to the side and be quiet. I, who am naturally outgoing, just sit with him because I don’t want him to feel awkward. So I don’t really interact with people, either. It stinks. I used to be so happy and friendly. Now I just exist. I have no idea how shy people find happiness in shyness. I always thought people like that (like my husband and mother-in-law) just felt they were much better than everyone else, and if people wanted to talk to them, they could come to them. Like they are too good for anybody else. It never occurred to me that this could actually be a part of their ingrained personality.
If he comes to see a show I’m directing, he just sits off to the side. If someone compliments him and says something like, “your wife did a great job on the show” he just half smiles, looks mortified, and says thank you. I hate that he is so horribly embarrassed of me. At least I’ve always thought he is embarrassed of me.
And perhaps this could have something to do with his lack of energy for sex? I just assumed he preferred sleep to being with me. After all, he’s got plenty of energy for running jobs, that’s never an issue. Even if they have to shut a road down or something, and work overnight, then he can manage to have energy and stay awake. But at home? After dinner he is usually out like a light. I’ve always figured I just bored him to tears, or I was so awful to be around he fell asleep to escape.
I’ve become more of an introvert because of my lack of self esteem. I figure if I’m so embarrassing to him, I should just do my best to keep to myself. It goes against my personality, but I’ve been getting better at it through the years. It is hurting our relationship though, because I’ve been getting unhappier, and I think he misses the girl I once was. But I try so hard to “stay in line” and not embarrass him. I haven’t been myself in years.
I never knew about these Myers Briggs things until about six months ago. (No, I never took psychology). I just thought shy people were over confident and didn’t have time to be bothered with people they felt were beneath them.
The introvert-extrovert thing is actually very interesting, and I feel badly that I’ve been judgement all, not understanding these personality things.
I think the “E” part of me is why my blog comments are so long. I feel like “Hooray! Somebody to talk to!!” It’s not the same as actual conversation, but it’s something. It’s interaction with other people, which I feel like I never have.
Maybe you should try and get more social interaction in the day time. Introverts need to work in their quiet time. Extroverts needs to work in their people time. Your husband can’t fulfil all your social needs. He physically can’t.
We really can’t keep up. If introverts have to see people for several days in a row it feels like a truck ran you over. After Christmas my mom usually sleeps for a week. Our whole house is introverted. My mom sleeps and we all retreat to our rooms and read, or play on the computer. It’s not that we don’t like people. Seeing family and friends is fun. We actually are shy and we get really exhausted from having to be around people all the time.
Depending on how introverted he is, unanticipated social interaction is hard to handle. You’re thinking or watching and someone just comes up to you and says things and you’re like !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What do I do? A person. It spoke? What do I need to do? Words. There must be words. Which words? Eeeek! And then afterwards you run over the interaction for days in your head, because you usually say something stupid. Cause the person startled you.
You should go up to people at parties. It’s much easier to cope with these things when you can latch on an extrovert and just sort of stand in the group and smile. You look social, cause the extrovert is talking so much, but you don’t actually have to say anything. It’s great. Just as long as you can have some quiet time afterwards.
We really do need quiet time at the end of the day. Like 30 min of silence and solitude can make a big difference. Then you can catch your breath and deal with your family in the evening. Being jumped on and being expected to talk and listen the second you walk in the door is kind of daunting.
Spot on! I am 100% introvert on the Meyers-Brigg (if it was possible, I would be more). Thankfully, my husband is also an introvert, although not quite as much as me. I definitely need quiet, recharging time before I’m ready for other recharging time. 😉 This was especially the case when my children were under 5yrs. They talk so much! And they want to touch you and crawl on you! Your tips were great. Thank you.
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Thank you, thank you, thank you! I feel a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I had thought about how the differences affected our daily interactions, but not specifically how my type (INTJ) affects my readiness for sexual intimacy. I appreciate the distinction you draw between not being interested and not being ready. My need for some solitude does not necessarily mean I’m not interested and may indeed mean I’m not ready.
For me, the issue extends beyond interaction with people. I have claustrophobic tendencies and am sensitive to fragrance. Add a messy physical environment, heavy traffic, loud music, and excessive perfume to my day and I’m in pretty bad shape. When I need solitude, it doesn’t mean I don’t love my husband, but rather my senses have been violated every which way and I can’t take anymore without crumbling. I’d bet money this is what many young mothers feel at the end of the day. Saying they are “tired” doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of their condition.
Thanks again for this eye-opening post!
@IntimacySeeker and @alchemist, thank you for your replies. As an extrovert, I take all of my husbands INTJ quirks completely the wrong way. Not only do I think like a woman and he a man, we have EXACT opposite personality types.
Alchemist, I guess I could go back to being social at gatherings. I always thought my husbands silence was because he was horribly embarrassed of me. Other men (extroverts I’d assume) will introduce their wives, “this is my beautiful wife, Linda” and I’ll say “hello” and then stand there like a dork waiting for my husband to introduce me until I finally say, “Hi, I’m “Johns” wife “Jane.” While my husband just stands there. I would then smile on the outside and pout on the inside that he was so embarrassed he didn’t want to introduce me, let alone let anyone know I’m his wife. Then when I tell him at home that I’m so sorry I embarrass him he’s like “what on earth are you talking about?” I really thought his silence equaled embarrassment. Embarrassment of me. I long to meet his coworker’s and their families and have fun like everyone else, but I sit quietly off to the side because I thought he was ashamed of me. He never leads me over to anyone.
@IS, you have the exact same personality type as my husband. Forever I have thought he was not interested in me. When you read everywhere that ALL men are interested in sex ALL the time, and your husband is not that way, it can make you feel really badly about yourself. Toss in the fact that I am energetic and love sex with my husband, and I feel like a total loser. I never, ever, ever, ever, ever thought he might love me, and maybe even be interested, but just not feel ready. I’ve also never understood how he can let work stress affect every area of his life so deeply. I never understood why he can’t just let it go once he gets home. I never thought about the ways in which he might need to recover from the day. I am the opposite and I recover by talking and being with people I love.
Thanks, J, for bringing this topic out and talking about it. It’s helping me understand a lot.
(Oh and @IS, I totally hear you about fragrances. I wish more people understood that. If I’m out to dinner and a person wearing perfume sits behind me, my meal is ruined. I get an instant headache and my food tastes awful. If I’m in church and a perfumey person sits near me, again, instant headache, difficulty breathing. It’s really insensitive of folks and I don’t know why they don’t understand. people tend to go way overboard on the perfume. But since it’s rude to say, “excuse me, but you smell kind of strong, could you move?” There’s nothing you can do but deal with it, and try not to focus on it. ?)
I am definitely introverted and have issues with getting overwhelmed easily by stimulus. My husband is also a bit introverted but doesn’t have the issues with stimulus as much as I do. You could ask your husband about how he feels at parties. I don’t like big parties with people I don’t know but I do enjoy watching people. He may like to sit to the side and watch. I generally don’t feel lonely as long as my husband touches base with me on occasion. Do you have mutual friends that are also married? Maybe a couple where the husband would enjoy just chilling and watching a game with your husband and a wife that would enjoy talking with you over coffee in the kitchen?
Unexpected social gatherings are the worst, especially with people who are not CLOSE friends or family (by close friends I’m talking about a handful of people). Planning a double date (even just having them over to your house) should be done several days in advance. Really a week or more is better. Routine is good too and not during a busy day. Maybe “every other Saturday morning we do X with this couple.” We do a meal with the same group of friends every Wednesday. At first I “enjoyed” it but found it rather overwhelming and was ready to come home early. But now that it’s routine I’m more easily emotionally prepared and I enjoy the time more. I also try to drink something caffeinated :). I also make sure I don’t sit next to our loud and extremely extroverted friend. He’s a really nice guy but his volume and exuberance can give me a headache in no time flat.
One way to talk about your introverted/extroverted differences might be through a letter. My husband and I do this on occasion and it helps us to get all our thoughts out. It also gives the receiver time to think about what was said and respond on their own time.
One other thought that I hope you feel completely free to toss out the window: Does your husband like his job? We’ve decided my husband should change jobs soon. He’s good at his job but the emotional demand and time demands put a strain on anything outside his job. We’d like him to have a job that allows him to spend more time on other priorities (his love of writing, his desire to be more involved at church, his family.)
It is interesting reading about other people’s experiences with sex and introverts. I am introverted but I am constantly thinking and wanting sex. If my spouse would allow, I would have sex at least 3 times a week. At a drop of a hat, I can be ready for sex. My wife thinks that I act like a teenager instead of a man in his late 50’s…
Yes, I feel the same as other ladies who are the extrovert and their husband is the introvert. My husband has a very social job and he interacts with people all day long, so yes, he just wants to stay home all the time. And sex…he never has the energy for it.
I’ve started having my own outlets now. Yet, that doesn’t help the US factor. Great, I’m having fun with lots of other people but not him! Somehow that doesn’t seem great for the marriage. That said, my starting to interact more and more is helping me feel a lot better. But I fear our marriage is dying.
Have you talked to him about your differing perspectives in marriage? What you each need and how to keep yourself close?
Thank you for this post. I wish my extroverted husband would read this. He just rolls his eyes when I send him things that is supposed to help him understand my introversion. We have 3 LOUD, rambunctious boys that are needy to the T. Our youngest (19m) still nurses and co-sleeps and will absolutely not sleep if I am not there, naps too.
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