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You Asked: Why is he so Anti-Social?

Dear Sugar--
My boyfriend has social difficulties in my opinion. When we are out, he has a hard time talking and starting conversations, and when he does talk about something (only topics he has great interest in) he always comes off arrogant- stating his opinions as facts, and he tends not to look at people in the eyes, a big pet peeve of mine. He frequently would rather watch TV in the bar than have general conversations.

I have tried to ask him to be polite and begged him to start at least one conversation in a night, but he just doesn't get it! I also asked him why he even bothers to go out if he remains quiet watching the TV all night. In my opinion, he needs to try to befriend my friends because they are getting the wrong impression of him - when it is just us, he is wonderful, outgoing and charming, but instead he makes them, and me, feel uncomfortable when we all go out. I am sick of hearing "I don't think your boyfriend likes me... why doesn't he talk", etc. Please help. --What's his Deal Debbie

To see DEARSUGAR's answer

Dear What's his Deal Debbie--

Yikes, having a shy boyfriend can be so frustrating if you're a social butterfly, but it sounds like he is just insecure. Does he know your friends very well or have they only met a few times? Does your boyfriend act this way when he is out with his friends too?

Although it is annoying to you that he isn't much of a conversation starter, nagging him to open up could be in turn making him more insecure. Many people come off as arrogant when they feel intimidated, so maybe you should have your friends get to know him in an environment that he feels more comfortable in. Have your friends over for dinner, or go out with both your friends and his friends -- merge your groups so you both can be with the people who make you feel safe.

Unfortunately you're going to have to let your boyfriend warm up to your friends at his own pace. Since he is so great one on one with you, hopefully it won't be long until your friends see that side of him too. In the meantime, try to back off a little and give him the space and time he needs. Reiterate to your friends that he is simply shy and hopefully they can be a little more understanding the next time you are all together.

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wendy645 wendy645 9 years
Vdogg took the words from my mouth!"my bf is pretty shy too. around his friends he's great & is totally himself, but around mine.. oh man. He practically only talks when someone asks him a question! & when we're alone he's the silliest cutest guy, but will NEVER act like it around other people.I've grown to accept this though because i really love him. Think about it this way though, would you want him to be the talkative friendly guy who comes across as flirting with every girl he talks to? I know that's the opposite of what your situation is now, but it's good to consider that it could be a lot worse. & it should be pretty flattering that he treats you so much better than everyone else, hopefully you realize that this means his feelings are pretty strong!Maybe encourage himto bring a friend with him next time he sees your friends. I'm sure none of his friends would object to meeting your friends; potantial hookups! He'll probably be more relaxed knowing he has a wingman at his side."
wendy645 wendy645 9 years
Vdogg took the words from my mouth! "my bf is pretty shy too. around his friends he's great & is totally himself, but around mine.. oh man. He practically only talks when someone asks him a question! & when we're alone he's the silliest cutest guy, but will NEVER act like it around other people. I've grown to accept this though because i really love him. Think about it this way though, would you want him to be the talkative friendly guy who comes across as flirting with every girl he talks to? I know that's the opposite of what your situation is now, but it's good to consider that it could be a lot worse. & it should be pretty flattering that he treats you so much better than everyone else, hopefully you realize that this means his feelings are pretty strong! Maybe encourage himto bring a friend with him next time he sees your friends. I'm sure none of his friends would object to meeting your friends; potantial hookups! He'll probably be more relaxed knowing he has a wingman at his side."
haribobear haribobear 9 years
My bf is shy too, but I am not mad at him. I just accept him for who he is. But I wouldn't mind if he someday can become more social. I think you all gave great advices. So thank you!For the reason why he is not good at reading people's mind, I think it is because he is not used to be social and talk to people. In other words, he doesn't have a lot of experience communicating with different kinds of people. It is just logical. If you don't often practice something, chances are you won't be master at it. I don't blame anyone for feeling insecure or shy. I think we all feel that way at some points. The thing is when you acknowledge your friend/bf/gf's shyness/insecurity, etc, you should want to do something to help because you love and care about them. Pushing them into it won't do any good. I hope you will give him sometimes, and try those greats advices.
haribobear haribobear 9 years
My bf is shy too, but I am not mad at him. I just accept him for who he is. But I wouldn't mind if he someday can become more social. I think you all gave great advices. So thank you! For the reason why he is not good at reading people's mind, I think it is because he is not used to be social and talk to people. In other words, he doesn't have a lot of experience communicating with different kinds of people. It is just logical. If you don't often practice something, chances are you won't be master at it. I don't blame anyone for feeling insecure or shy. I think we all feel that way at some points. The thing is when you acknowledge your friend/bf/gf's shyness/insecurity, etc, you should want to do something to help because you love and care about them. Pushing them into it won't do any good. I hope you will give him sometimes, and try those greats advices.
leelee2112 leelee2112 9 years
Ah yes. I remember this, only I was the shy one and my ex was constantly nagging me. He hung out with a totally different group of friends than I did, and it really just took me a long time before I felt comfortable enough around them to speak. I would just suggest to stop nagging, leave him be, and just give him time until his wondeful personality comes through. If you're friends don't believe you/can't reserve judgment than maybe they're the ones who aren't good enough...
nessabum nessabum 9 years
you know, having a shy boyfriend has its upsides. at least he won't work up the nerve to cheat on you. ;)
söderskär söderskär 9 years
Taejo, I wasn't shouting AS to anyone, I was suggesting that he MIGHT have it and also that she check this if nothing else helps, just in case. And AS is not a disease. I have this condition, I was diagnosed as an adult and what she described is exactly the way I behave when I'm face-to-face with new people. And I'm also a smart, funny, charming and outgoing person with people I already know. Otherwise I look perfectly normal, no physical signs going on either (except for avoiding to look people in the eyes). I also suggested that she definitely research this condition on her own to look for other signs BEFORE she drags her bf to a therapist, probably and hopefully unnecessarily. I think you all gave her great advices and I couldn't agree more with them. But when a person does something repeatedly a lot, even if he knows it's annoying or unpleasant for others (he's not just shy, but others may think of him as arrogant and avoiding) and that it's definitely not good for his social life and his relationship, there's a chance that the reason why he doesn't change is not that he doesn't want to, but that he can't. I think we are all trying to give our best advices here, according to our best knowledge and life experience. That's what I was trying to do. I really hope he doesn't have AS though. And I highly doubt that Debbie would assume that someone she loves has a certain condition just because I, some stranger on the internet, told her so. I'm sure she knows how to use these advices in a sensitive way.
söderskär söderskär 9 years
Taejo, I wasn't shouting AS to anyone, I was suggesting that he MIGHT have it and also that she check this if nothing else helps, just in case. And AS is not a disease. I have this condition, I was diagnosed as an adult and what she described is exactly the way I behave when I'm face-to-face with new people. And I'm also a smart, funny, charming and outgoing person with people I already know. Otherwise I look perfectly normal, no physical signs going on either (except for avoiding to look people in the eyes). I also suggested that she definitely research this condition on her own to look for other signs BEFORE she drags her bf to a therapist, probably and hopefully unnecessarily. I think you all gave her great advices and I couldn't agree more with them. But when a person does something repeatedly a lot, even if he knows it's annoying or unpleasant for others (he's not just shy, but others may think of him as arrogant and avoiding) and that it's definitely not good for his social life and his relationship, there's a chance that the reason why he doesn't change is not that he doesn't want to, but that he can't. I think we are all trying to give our best advices here, according to our best knowledge and life experience. That's what I was trying to do. I really hope he doesn't have AS though. And I highly doubt that Debbie would assume that someone she loves has a certain condition just because I, some stranger on the internet, told her so. I'm sure she knows how to use these advices in a sensitive way.
Vdogg Vdogg 9 years
my bf is pretty shy too. around his friends he's great & is totally himself, but around mine.. oh man. He practically only talks when someone asks him a question! & when we're alone he's the silliest cutest guy, but will NEVER act like it around other people. I've grown to accept this though because i really love him. Think about it this way though, would you want him to be the talkative friendly guy who comes across as flirting with every girl he talks to? I know that's the opposite of what your situation is now, but it's good to consider that it could be a lot worse. & it should be pretty flattering that he treats you so much better than everyone else, hopefully you realize that this means his feelings are pretty strong! Maybe encourage himto bring a friend with him next time he sees your friends. I'm sure none of his friends would object to meeting your friends; potantial hookups! He'll probably be more relaxed knowing he has a wingman at his side.
Vdogg Vdogg 9 years
my bf is pretty shy too. around his friends he's great & is totally himself, but around mine.. oh man. He practically only talks when someone asks him a question! & when we're alone he's the silliest cutest guy, but will NEVER act like it around other people. I've grown to accept this though because i really love him. Think about it this way though, would you want him to be the talkative friendly guy who comes across as flirting with every girl he talks to? I know that's the opposite of what your situation is now, but it's good to consider that it could be a lot worse. & it should be pretty flattering that he treats you so much better than everyone else, hopefully you realize that this means his feelings are pretty strong!Maybe encourage himto bring a friend with him next time he sees your friends. I'm sure none of his friends would object to meeting your friends; potantial hookups! He'll probably be more relaxed knowing he has a wingman at his side.
taejo taejo 9 years
söderskär, I think you should be more careful before shouting "AS". Someone who is "wonderful, outgoing and charming" one-on-one seems far more likely to be shy than autistic. Assuming (or even considering without evidence) that the thing you dislike in your partner is due to a disease is more likely to cause distrust than anything meaningful.I'm can be a shy guy myself, and my girlfriend can also be shy around my friends. All the suggestions so far seem like good ones: start mixing in small groups, introduce "allies". Also, mix your friends with his (I had a great dinner party last night with three of my friends and three of my girlfriend's), or get a few of your friends to take part in some activity you all enjoy.
taejo taejo 9 years
söderskär, I think you should be more careful before shouting "AS". Someone who is "wonderful, outgoing and charming" one-on-one seems far more likely to be shy than autistic. Assuming (or even considering without evidence) that the thing you dislike in your partner is due to a disease is more likely to cause distrust than anything meaningful. I'm can be a shy guy myself, and my girlfriend can also be shy around my friends. All the suggestions so far seem like good ones: start mixing in small groups, introduce "allies". Also, mix your friends with his (I had a great dinner party last night with three of my friends and three of my girlfriend's), or get a few of your friends to take part in some activity you all enjoy.
söderskär söderskär 9 years
Dear Debbie, your boyfriend's behavior, especially that he only talks about what he's interested in, comes off as rude to other people and especially that he avoids eye contact, makes me think that he might have Asperger's Syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder. People with AS don't know how to read emotional/social messages from people's eyes or facial expressions and they don't understand body language either. They don't know how to read those non-verbal clues that would make them understand what people expect of them in a certain social situation and they are unable to realize how others feel around them, because they have a so called "mind blindness" which keeps them from realizing that they're being inappropriate, or rude or that they should stop talking now. So they just seem very arrogant and egocentric. They also tend to have restricted areas of interest about which they know a lot and that they love to talk about. They seem to prefer objects to people's company or to social situations and might have difficulties getting along with people or understanding people's behavior (like what politeness is or why people have to be polite, why they're laughing, why they look at each other when they're having a conversation etc.). Don't be so quick to judge him, he might be in fact quietly suffering for something he doesn't do intentionally but that he was born with, and maybe inside he is depressed about trying so hard to please you but constantly failing to do so, which is why he just sits in the corner watching tv, trying to avoid making a fool of himself with another awkward conversation. I suggest you do some research about AS on the internet. It has some other symptoms as well and if your bf has them, he might want to see a psychiatrist about it. It might help him and your relationship as well. There's a chance he doesn't even realize why he's different. It might be just a false alarm but you never know.
söderskär söderskär 9 years
Dear Debbie, your boyfriend's behavior, especially that he only talks about what he's interested in, comes off as rude to other people and especially that he avoids eye contact, makes me think that he might have Asperger's Syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder. People with AS don't know how to read emotional/social messages from people's eyes or facial expressions and they don't understand body language either. They don't know how to read those non-verbal clues that would make them understand what people expect of them in a certain social situation and they are unable to realize how others feel around them, because they have a so called "mind blindness" which keeps them from realizing that they're being inappropriate, or rude or that they should stop talking now. So they just seem very arrogant and egocentric. They also tend to have restricted areas of interest about which they know a lot and that they love to talk about. They seem to prefer objects to people's company or to social situations and might have difficulties getting along with people or understanding people's behavior (like what politeness is or why people have to be polite, why they're laughing, why they look at each other when they're having a conversation etc.). Don't be so quick to judge him, he might be in fact quietly suffering for something he doesn't do intentionally but that he was born with, and maybe inside he is depressed about trying so hard to please you but constantly failing to do so, which is why he just sits in the corner watching tv, trying to avoid making a fool of himself with another awkward conversation. I suggest you do some research about AS on the internet. It has some other symptoms as well and if your bf has them, he might want to see a psychiatrist about it. It might help him and your relationship as well. There's a chance he doesn't even realize why he's different. It might be just a false alarm but you never know.
delia delia 9 years
I've always been a very social person, but when I met my husband, he was still in the same social circle as his last long-term girlfriend and I felt SUPER intimidated. He really wanted me to feel comfortable, so we would go out with just one or two of his friends at a time until they knew me really well. Eventually, I was able to go to the bigger parties and hold my own - very comfortably - with all of his friends, even when the ex was there. This really helped a lot, and most of his friends are now my best friends, too!
FiestyRed36 FiestyRed36 9 years
I'm in the exact same situation, except reversed. My boyfriend is extremely social and loves to have me come along to his parties and meet all of his friends. Unfortunately, I am extremely shy and not myself when I'm in a strange place meeting a bunch of new people. I agree with Dear's and everyone's advice. The ally thing is a great idea. Also meeting up somewhere he's familiar with just a few people rather than at a party or something with a lot of new people. Either way, forcing him to start a conversation won't end well. Either he'll do it and it'll be awkward or he'll end up saying something that he wouldn't normally. Give him time and your friends will understand. Anyone you love, they love, right? (:
auddie auddie 9 years
Try finding an ally for your boyfriend, either a male friend of yours or a friend's boyfriend. Try and pick someone that you think will have a lot in common with your boyfriend, and make plans for just the few of you to go out once or twice. It will be a lot easier for your boyfriend to deal with only a few people, and it gives him someone to talk to when you are with a bigger group. Over time he should start to become more comfortable with more people.My girlfriends and I do this all the time with new guys that aren't very outgoing. We have a large group of friends that dates back to high school, so it can be extremely intimidating to come into any social situation that everyone is at. Having another guy as an ally makes it a lot easier to talk to everyone; they can pull the new guy into the conversation easily by bringing up something they know he's interested in.
auddie auddie 9 years
Try finding an ally for your boyfriend, either a male friend of yours or a friend's boyfriend. Try and pick someone that you think will have a lot in common with your boyfriend, and make plans for just the few of you to go out once or twice. It will be a lot easier for your boyfriend to deal with only a few people, and it gives him someone to talk to when you are with a bigger group. Over time he should start to become more comfortable with more people. My girlfriends and I do this all the time with new guys that aren't very outgoing. We have a large group of friends that dates back to high school, so it can be extremely intimidating to come into any social situation that everyone is at. Having another guy as an ally makes it a lot easier to talk to everyone; they can pull the new guy into the conversation easily by bringing up something they know he's interested in.
katie225 katie225 9 years
my boyfriend is the same way, except i'm not mad at him for it, i'm mad at the people who judge him harshly for it. insecure people see other people's shyness as arrogance. i wouldn't say the problem is with him at all: you're throwing him into a big social situation where he might not feel comfortable. the question isn't "is he worth it?" the question is, "are your friends worth it?" would you seriously throw away such a great guy (in your own words) because of your friends' misconceptions of him?p.s., dear, please use spell/grammar check. no one's perfect at spelling, but on a published website you're (notice how i used an apostrophe there) expected to be!
katie225 katie225 9 years
my boyfriend is the same way, except i'm not mad at him for it, i'm mad at the people who judge him harshly for it. insecure people see other people's shyness as arrogance. i wouldn't say the problem is with him at all: you're throwing him into a big social situation where he might not feel comfortable. the question isn't "is he worth it?" the question is, "are your friends worth it?" would you seriously throw away such a great guy (in your own words) because of your friends' misconceptions of him? p.s., dear, please use spell/grammar check. no one's perfect at spelling, but on a published website you're (notice how i used an apostrophe there) expected to be!
bfly1133 bfly1133 9 years
I agree with the Dear, Marci, and fab on this one. I also think it is important to remember that he is going out with you even though he doesn't want to. That indicates he is trying and you have to give him credit for that. I don't think you should put so much pressure on him to start conversations. If anything, I think you should focus on making him feel more relaxed so he doesn't pounce on other people's opinions. There are some situations where I sit back and observe more than anything. And than other times you can't get me to shut up. The same goes for my hubby and friends. There are even times my chatty Kathy of a mother gets shy. It is normal and I think you should accept that about all people, not just your boyfriend.
bfly1133 bfly1133 9 years
I agree with the Dear, Marci, and fab on this one. I also think it is important to remember that he is going out with you even though he doesn't want to. That indicates he is trying and you have to give him credit for that. I don't think you should put so much pressure on him to start conversations. If anything, I think you should focus on making him feel more relaxed so he doesn't pounce on other people's opinions. There are some situations where I sit back and observe more than anything. And than other times you can't get me to shut up. The same goes for my hubby and friends. There are even times my chatty Kathy of a mother gets shy. It is normal and I think you should accept that about all people, not just your boyfriend.
clarapl clarapl 9 years
Do the writers for this site not have spell check?
fab4 fab4 9 years
I know that this can be frustrating, because I've been through it before! I agree with Sugar's advice, as well as Marci's. The problem with this is that this situation could become a constant argument in the future. Is he worth it??
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