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Class reunion has introvert and extrovert at odds

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Class reunion has introvert and extrovert at odds

20th: My spouse can't understand why I don't want to go back to my 20th high school reunion. S/he is very sociable, but I am shyer and really disliked the whole high school experience because of the way many people acted. Conversely, my spouse loved his/her reunions and doesn't understand why anyone wouldn't want to attend.

I just don't want to relive memories that weren't good in the first place. Fortunately, we are far away, so I have a built-in excuse for the reunion organizers, but my spouse knows the real reason. So the real question is, how do shy people tell sociable people that they really don't want to be around 200 people they barely like or know?

Carolyn: Um. How about pointing out that not everyone in the universe thinks and feels as s/he does? Surely your spouse isn't so self-absorbed as to believe that just because s/he likes something, there's no such thing as a legitimate argument against wanting that same thing . . .

Or maybe s/he is that self-absorbed. If so, then getting your point across about a reunion is a blip, and the real problem is being married to someone who so lacks empathy as to have no grasp of his/her spouse's personality and temperament.

Not that there's an easy fix to that, but here's some suggested phrasing to start making a dent in this (hypothetical) wall of cluelessness you married: "I understand that from your perspective, reunions aren't to be missed. My perspective is different, though, and I hope you'll try to see it through my eyes — or, if nothing else, just to acknowledge that my take can be completely different from yours and still be completely legitimate."

Again, this applies only if your spouse is blind to your temperament.

It doesn't sound this way from your phrasing, but the facts leave room for the possibility that your spouse is aware of and sympathetic to your viewpoint — and just thinks you're closing your mind to something based on the impressions of a high school-age version of yourself. There's a legitimate argument to be made there: that pushing past your shyness and doubts and going to this reunion could help you put some of your bad memories to rest.

It's not always true, but it is often true that the people you found so awful in high school have spent 20 years growing into decent human beings. (Consider: Would you like your two-decades-ago self?) You might wind up talking to all kinds of people you never even spoke to when you were classmates.

If that's the basis for your spouse's enthusiasm for going, then it's still ultimately your call, and s/he shouldn't keep pushing.

However, this would make your spouse's position an informed and pro-you argument, vs. the argument of someone who has no idea s/he's married to an introvert. In this case, just hearing him out might be good for you, and will be good for your marriage for sure.

By the way — why do you need an "excuse" for the organizers? "No, thank you" is one-size-fits-all.

Class reunion has introvert and extrovert at odds 01/07/11 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 1:53pm]
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