Are you an introvert in a relationship?
Everyone knows that there comes a time in every relationship when “the talk” has to happen.
You may dread it or welcome it, but deciding if a relationship will move forward into more serious, committed territory will be determined during this conversation because it essentially answers the question: “So, what are we?”
The discomfort that people feel stems from the inherent vulnerability this conversation generates.
There’s only two ways this come to Jesus meeting will end, and one of those possibilities involves rejection.
But there’s another talk that must take place in all romantic couplings if they are to make it through the long haul, and that’s “the financial talk.”
You know the one.
It’s the conversation that takes place once a pairing wants to take their relationship to the next level by moving in together, making a co-investment, or having children.
And honestly? It can be a lot scarier.
Few of us look forward to laying ourselves bare by putting our financial status up for scrutiny–particularly if a closer look at our spending habits reveals unscrupulous behaviors–and having the financial talk does just that.
This vulnerability is especially difficult for introverts who’d much rather avoid potential conflict at all costs.
But, as Sophia Dembling shares in her new book Introverts In Love, suppressed conflict is one of the biggest risks introverted couples face.
So introverts? Your best bet is finding a way to rip off the proverbial band aid and have the financial talk in a way that is most comfortable for you.
Here are some tips for introverts on how to have the financial talk:
Identify exactly what you are afraid of
To again cite Sophia Dembling, introverts must figure out if they are avoiding doing something out of introversion or fear. Oftentimes, once we’ve recognized that many of our interpersonal struggles can be traced to a tendency toward introversion, we attribute any aversion to doing something that involves other people to that particular orientation when in reality, we’re really just scared.
It’s important to understand where any hesitation to discuss one’s financial history stems from because different origins require different methods of resolution. Being afraid to openly disclose one’s financial standing for fear of rejection is a lot different from feeling hesitant about engaging in conversation due to energy drain.
Your best bet: Take some time prior to engaging in this all-important discussion–or even bringing up the topic at all–to fully get a handle on what makes you uncomfortable.
If it’s fear of energy drain, that’s an easy fix: Ensure you load up on energy BEFORE you even engage. Stock up on available energy by doing a little extra in the self-care department. Get as much rest as possible, ensure you’ve maxed out on “me time” (a near impossibility for introverts!), and maybe even get a massage to help get yourself really relaxed. Not only will you be your best self when you broach this topic, but you’ll also be in a great space for calm and open communication.
If your concern is the shame you may feel about discussing financial topics, remember that this is a person you are hoping to move forward with within a committed relationship. You wouldn’t have gotten this far if there wasn’t love or understanding there. Trust his or her ability to be empathic and open-minded.
Test the waters to see what you’re in for
You know what I’m talking about: bring up a less personal example of the subject matter you seek to discuss with your partner as a sort of an exploratory maneuver. For example, “a co-worker just told me that she revealed to her boyfriend how much debt she has and he went through the roof.”
A cowardly approach? Definitely not. Sometimes taking this route can alert you to how delicately you need to approach particular topics so you can plan how you will introduce them better.
Your best bet: Be careful not to get stuck on the rumination wheel if what you discover during your covert op isn’t exactly what you hoped for. Yes, if you find out that your significant other views debt as despicable, it’s certainly going to take the wind out of your sails, but you will at least know that you will likely need to mention that you do have a plan for eradicating your arrearage (and if you don’t have a plan, you need to hurry up and get one!) and that past financial mistakes won’t adversely affect your lives together in the future–not for too long anyway.
Make sure you’re in a good place
Make a plan to bring up the topic and force yourself to stick with it. You might consider taking a reward-punishment approach wherein you give yourself an incentive for actually following through. Once you have your potential treat in place, pick a date. Just be sure to allow yourself leeway to choose another time if something unrelated comes up that upsets you. You don’t want to bring up a delicate topic when you are already distressed. Your boyfriend or girlfriend will likely pick up on that energy and react.
I’m not saying avoid the topic altogether if it just doesn’t feel right. In a bid to keep putting it off, you might repeatedly say something feels off–just be mindful of emotional states when broaching such topics. Basically? Just set yourself up for success.
Your best bet: Accept that this conversation can become uncomfortable. Even if your finances are in an enviable state, your significant other may have some areas of opportunity he is loath to discuss. Perhaps you can approach the whole thing with humor to lighten the mood. The main objective is to get talking and establish a baseline from which to work. Your relationship will never move forward if uncomfortable discussions are avoided like the plague.
Want more ideas on how to break the money taboo with your partner? Broke Millennial Talks Money by Erin Lowry is a great book that offers tips and scripts to use when discussing finances with those most important to you. Maybe you need to know what to say to broach the financial topic in a way that doesn’t drain you but enlivens you.