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Introverted girlfriend / extroverted family

Community Member
Hi all, been a while since I've posted but wanted to get something off my chest..

I've been going out with my girlfriend for 7 years now and just about 2 years ago I officially introduced her to my family, immediate and extended.

One of my girlfriend's personality traits is that she is hugely introverted - when she's in a public or foreign setting, she won't say much at all and she’s just in her shell. I don't mean to say any of this as a criticism, one of the reasons I fell in love with her was because she was so quiet.. it took her a long time to break free from her shell with me and be fully comfortable around me. I understand that people might think I'm being biased in saying this, but she really is one of the good ones, she’s such a nice amazing girl. Her introverted personality and quiet nature has NEVER been an issue for me at all.

For her but it has been, her whole life her family and friends have criticised her for being so quiet and she's judged herself a lot and given herself a hard time because of it. Unfortunately the same thing is happening with my family... when she's at my place or at a family gathering with my whole family (and I come from a MASSIVE family so that gives her huge anxiety) she stays really quiet and just observes. Sometimes she tries to avoid eye contact and she doesn’t involve herself in conversation, especially if I’m not involved. But that’s just her nature. I’ve noticed looks people have given her in my family, and some have even made comments to me. Not long ago my closest cousin said to me in private “I know she’s quiet, but, people r gonna start assuming things, they’re gonna think she’s rude”. I didn’t blow up about it coz I wanted to avoid conflict with him but his words really hurt me. Another one of my cousins said that she isn’t “good” for being so quiet. My sisters have all said that she needs to open up more. I understand why some people might get this impression from her, but that isn’t her at all. She can’t help that she’s quiet, it’s just who she is and I don’t see why she should have to change?

I don’t really know what I want from this. I just really needed to get it off my chest.. lately at family functions I’ve been feeling anxious coz I’m worried what people r thinking or saying about her in private. She means a lot to me.
3 Replies 3

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi Smithsons,

Thanks for your post.

As a total introvert I can see where you're girlfriend is coming from but I can also see where you're coming from. Is it maybe the sense of not wanting her to change but wanting your family to accept her just the way she is? Given that your family is 'massive' it makes me think that a lot of the people in your family are naturally extroverts. Introverts tend to (but not always) come from small families.

I have a couple of thoughts -

First one is, what is the worst case scenario here? Is it that some family members will think and believe she is rude? Is there anything else in this absolute worst case scenario? I'm guessing that if is, you're strong enough to deal with this. You know personally that she isn't rude, and if your family are assuming that - well that's on them and totally out of your control. Without being brutal, it's going to waste more of your time and energy thinking about it when in reality I think that you could face that scenario. You may actually find that over time your girlfriend opens up.

Second one- as an introvert I prefer one on one conversations and it takes a while to be able to open up with someone. Even though you have a large family, I'm guessing they aren't always in the one place - even huge families don't always gather in the lounge; they spread out. Some people in the kitchen; others outside - this could be a great opportunity to help your girlfriend get to know some of the others on a quieter and much more comfortable level. Given that you have so many members of the family I'm assuming that not everyone will have the same judgements/assumptions; perhaps these are the people that she could start building relationships with.

I hope this helps a little;- but I guess I wasn't sure if you wanted help or just to vent!

Community Member

Hi Smithsons.

In the long term relationship I had that ended last year, I was in the position your partner was in my my girlfriend and her family. I have a confident side at times but on the whole I am quiet and introverted. Sometimes it can be misunderstood as being rude or aloof. That can be frustrating. But it also sometimes needs to come down to me feeling comfortable to let you in, trust you and open up. Then you'll see the talkative me.

Outside of her mum maybe, I never felt comfortable with my girlfriend's siblings, dad and extended family. It partly came down to the fact that I had a smaller immediate family. We did not do big family events and when my mum died some years ago, my dad, sister and I became more of our own individual people. My ex girlfriend's family love their big get togethers and while I liked the concept of it, I just felt out of place. The default thing is to be quiet.

Sometimes I felt a bit self conscious, really wanting to make a good impression on the family and bond. Her dad's a pretty toxic personality though, very judgmental, bitter and the ex had her own huge dad issues with him as it is...a tolerance really. But i'm not here to be a dancing monkey for them. I would like them to like me but if they don't, pfft...I can live with it. It was a confidence in myself. I know who I am and my partner did, that was most important.

Since the breakup, I imagine and assume them all telling her that "We never liked him anyway". They also never made a huge effort to bond with me either.

I don't think you need to defend your partner to your family or add fuel to the concern. She is who she is. YOU are in the relationship with her, not them. It comes down to you knowing who she is and accepting/loving her for that. I can see the benefit from having a family that warms to your partner but it's dangerous if you let their judgments get to you. It seems petty on their side honestly and as if you potentially could be embarrassed by her, that their opinions matter...too much? Plus, have any of them really tried, even one on one in smaller situations really tried to get to know her? Has that effort been put in?

I do kind of get where you are at but my empathy is for your partner and I can see that you have it for her too. It's about the two of you. That's what I think should be your focus.

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi Smithsons,

Oh how I get what you're saying! I loathe being the "meat in the sandwich". I love my husband to bits... And am constantly defending him to everybody. I have had a gutful of being stuck in the middle trying to explain that he is the way he is.

My solution... I stopped defending. He is the way he is. I love him. It's my opinion that matters. So if my mum and sister find him controlling and others sometimes say he seems cold and angry that's their problem not ours.

When someone comments I shrug and say oh well we all have our quirks. I think he's wonderful. And walk away. It gives them nowhere to go. Aknowledges that they are allowed not to like him but that I do and don't want to hear the put downs.

My friend who once said she "thought he was rude and didn't understand why I was mad for him" told me recently that she'd just quietly watched the two of us when he didn't think anyone was watching. And she got it. He doesn't like people much but he loves me and makes me happy. And she said that is all the matters.

Go with your heart. If she makes you happy don't listen to what anyone else says. Let them gossip between themselves but make it clear you don't want to hear it. They'll get to see her good qualities in time 😊.