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.