Functional Dysfunction Vs. Type A Introvert (A Relationship Story)


Perhaps it’s natural to be Type A and introverted, I’m not sure.  What I am positive of is both comprise my personality.  Although I no longer mind being introverted, being Type A is a lot more stressful (one of the Type A perks btw) and is hard to manage.

There are times when Type A behavior is wonderful, like making appointments before time, taking time to diminish confusion to reduce mistakes, and going above and beyond expectation because you know, perfectionism. But lately my sense of urgency and need for defining and controlling life have kept me from finding comfort in a seemingly overextended situation. And what I don’t know is if I’m being irrational.

Four years ago I strangely met a man who lets just say came out of high school the year I was born according to his Facebook.  He seemingly appeared out of nowhere.  He started as my Facebook friend a couple of years before we actually met.  To this day I believe it’s only because he bears the same name as a high school classmate, so of course I would either accept or request the connection.  Regardless the coincidence, we eventually became connected in more ways than one.

In the beginning it was like this guy was sent by heaven just for me. I was at a turning point and had basically been starting from scratch.  This man just rolled up his sleeves, jumped right in and got to work in my life.  At first it was alarming cause I’ve never had anyone be soooo helpful without knowing me very well nor very long.  And at that time I had been through the ringer with people I had known a long time as well as some who claimed to love me.  Therefore, my caution meter was on red.  Although, as an (INFJ) introvert my caution meter is usually between orange and red anyway.

In the beginning I really enjoyed him even though my guards were fully up.  We spent a lot of time together over the summer taking bike rides, eating out, movies, the usual newness activity.  He is a such a good person. Even though he likes to put on airs of being mean and serious; he really is a nice, playful, giving, witty, funny, adorable man. (I know grown men aren’t adorable, but this one is). He is absolutely one person without a doubt I can say, I need and even want (fill in the blank) and I can have it.  Side note: I couldn’t even get what I asked for from the man I was married to. Still can’t  

Anyhoo, this person’s been helpful with my son (whose instant attraction is what made me give the man a chance).  Many times he’s done things to make my life easier as a single parent even though I try to decline cause you know, pride.  He’s even bothered to listen during my numerous moments of venting and frustration, often offering unsolicited wisdom and advice the way an older person would.  I’ve even been able to trust this guy with a few of my vulnerabilities, insecurities and some of my childhood secrets.  For some reason my introvert seems to be overflowing and more things come out instead of remaining inside. Which is fine. I guess.  He also makes it easy and wonderful between the sheets. (I have to be fully honest).  All in all, he’s been there for me, he’s been good to me and I’ve often felt he was good for me. I’m grateful for him.

At the time we met both of us were in “situations” and I felt like a serious relationship was neither what I wanted nor needed. (I just wanted to play honestly).  Despite what I thought I wanted AND the feeling something was missing; whether it was due to not trusting his words, or the energy between us, I entered this partially defined relationship (on his terms).  I was forced to break my rule of not dating an “old” man.  Never say never right? But at first he was more refreshing than a cold glass of ice tea so I struggled but mostly about the age gap.

Again, from the beginning I felt this man wasn’t around to be in love with me forever if at all.  There was just something about him that yelled it at me.  Or it’s at least what I chanted in my mind on a regular basis.  But after a few years you can’t help but feel for a person.  I’m absolutely certain he cares about me and I certainly care about him.  So why after four years do I feel like I’m in a situationship?

Mostly because I recognize the difference between being part of a person’s life and just being in a person’s life.  You know the way co-workers are IN your life, but NOT PART OF your life?  That’s how I feel every day we share together (queue Denise Williams “Silly).

Now because of some of the promises I’ve made to myself and the desires I have for my future if I have to start relationshipping over I will be taking some much-needed me time first.  It’s just right now I feel like I’m stuck.  Stuck between accepting things as they are with all life’s possibilities and wanting/deserving more.  That’s where my Type A comes in and joins forces with my introvert.  When I feel there’s chaos I get stressed.  When I feel ignored and like too many things in my life are not in my control I begin to shut down inside.  I can certainly live in the moment, but I can’t live in the moment everyday.  All moments come to an end.  They have to. There has to be some order, clarification, rules or plans in order for me to make sense of, be accepting of, and feel secure and in control of MY life. In my mind, this relationship feels like an extended moment with pause being the only button working on the control.

Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash

Shortly after my ex-husband and I were together he asked me that question that has something to do with defining the relationship.  Although at that exact moment I didn’t know how to answer I appreciated a person who actually wanted to define our relationship and not just assume that time made us exclusive.

That’s where my frustration with my guy friend comes in.  For as much as he understands me, it seems he really doesn’t.  He doesn’t understand how difficult it is for me to verbally express what I’m thinking and feeling unless I’m angry or being subliminal.  He doesn’t understand my needs are deeper than material, sex, and finance. He doesn’t understand the emotional stress I endure daily trying to make sense of who he is to me and how long I’m going to allow this in the moment (at least in my mind) to hang around. He doesn’t understand the extent of my passion for the things that matter and are close to my heart.  He doesn’t seem as bothered by our status as I’ve been either.

The worse part to me is I feel like I’m in that screaming dream where nothing comes out. Your mouth is uncomfortably open wide, you can feel your body under pressure, feet stuck in place, and your heart racing. Yet you’re powerless.  I “scream” to him periodically.  I try.  Like me years ago, he doesn’t know how or care to respond so he dismisses and redirects the conversation, silencing me causing me to swallow my fears and concerns.  And he does it in such a way I can’t even be angry with him about it.  Still it’s frustrating.

So soon to be five years later I’ve regularly coached myself into believing there is no harm in our relationship. Things could be worse: he could be like my ex.  This stage of my life spent with him can’t be a waste like the time I wasted being married. I’m not ready for another marriage anyway so I should just enjoy the time we share.  Things could be different later.  He’s one of the good guys and who knows what color M&M I’ll get after him.  And mostly, I like him and I don’t want to start over.

Going through the pros and cons have kept me bouncing between hope and confusion.  And the truth of it all is I don’t know if it’s because there really is something wrong with the relationship as it is, or my emotional well-being has been so destroyed by my past I’m too wounded to know what’s good or what’s working.

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