The “married introvert” is a stereotypical type of person that I want to introduce today. I’m describing them as men because that’s the version I’ve observed more often and that I find more relatable (for obvious reasons); however, it can certainly be a person of any gender. And, of course, this is a simplification created to make some points. It doesn’t mean that real people fit this stereotype perfectly. That said, who are they?
The man has only a few friends and probably had them for a long time. He’s not a socializer; he rarely goes out or participates in community activities. When he’s not working, he enjoys solitude in the comfort of his four walls with a book or a practical hobby; he likes to tinker with stuff. However, he’s also married or at least in a long-term relationship. He might even be a father.
For their spouse, he’s a good partner. He might not be overly social and outgoing, but he has an intriguing inner life that only a few people share, and she’s one of them. He’s also unlikely to cheat or leave her because his lifestyle doesn’t provide good opportunities to meet someone else. If both partners are “married introverts”, their relationship becomes their comfort zone, and they mostly go through life as a couple with few other people involved except maybe a small group of friends. They probably started dating in high school or their first year of university and had no or few previous partners. If the spouse is more extroverted, she might organize the social life for them both to the extent the man is comfortable with.
The curious question is, if the man isn’t doing what you’re supposed to be doing to find a partner, like mingling with more people, how did they end up with their current (and only) partner in the first place? They had to do at least some socializing to get a date. Of course, finding a match is helpful if you want to avoid being alone all the time. Even introverts desire some human contact. A long-term partner fulfills your social and sexual needs while requiring much less social energy than maintaining a large circle of friends or continuous short-term dating. Therefore, focusing and channeling all your social energy on finding that partner (versus other social activities) makes sense. You might become more extroverted temporarily for instrumental reasons. Some people have consciously decided, but most have done it subconsciously. And obviously, a sex drive can be a powerful helper to direct your social energy into dating.
The next question is, why am I interested in this stereotype? It’s because I could have been that person. I sometimes wonder how my life would have turned if I had gotten into a romantic relationship with any of my younger self’s crushes. When I was younger, I wasn’t very social. I was not a complete loner without friends. Still, it was mostly a small group of selected people, and I would also spend a lot of time just with myself, thinking about stuff or tinkering with the computer (you have to be at least a bit of a loner to start coding as a pre-teen). Why didn’t the younger me focus on those crushes I had? There are many reasons, but I’m convinced the lack of perceived sexual needs was most significant.
I’m much more social and outgoing today. I still love sitting down and writing code or words (like these), but I also enjoy hanging out. Even when on the computer, I spend more time in communities, and then I go to a gathering of strange Twitter people or even travel to India and connect with online friends. I started Salsa dancing recently, something the younger me couldn’t fathom. I’m running regular game nights, looking to expand my audience, and thinking about hosting other events. My thoughts about those often occupy more mental space than work-related issues, even though I’m also into building my business.
My different priorities are indeed a function of being single. I’d focus on building a family if I were in a couple. The business part would be primarily instrumental to supporting that family, and any community stuff would come last. Here’s what worries me: my current interests, priorities, and desires to socialize and connect with people might not be authentic. I fear I’m not genuinely interested in the community but only do it as a coping mechanism for not having a partner and, at most, see it as a way to expand my dating pool. I’m just not admitting it and deluding myself.
Is that a bad thing, though? Their founder’s romantic rejections have partly inspired many great projects and companies. Cult leaders make their movement their harem. Human nature’s desire to mate and procreate is innate, and civilization is downstream of that. Why must I tell myself that whatever I’m doing must be for some pure, higher reason?
One problem is that if whatever I’m building connects me to my soulmate, then I’m losing interest. But, first of all, this might not happen. Married couples are some of the strongest and most active community folks trying to bring people together. It’s possible I’m genuinely interested in community, and it’s not just an instrumental cope for my singledom. Also, even if it does happen, everything in life is temporary. Even if it ends, it has still had value not just for me but for everyone involved.
I need to stop overthinking this. The fact is that I’m drawn to engaging in and building community at this point in my life, and I should roll with it instead of pondering my motivations. Maybe I’m the “married introvert” in a parallel universe, and that version of me hasn’t left the house in days. But in this one, I’m becoming more extroverted and social in my late thirties, and I should go with the flow and enjoy whatever happens.