How do I tell my partner he's socially awkward?

posted 12 months ago in Relationships
Post # 2
1844 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: December 2017

I would be very wary of saying anything. My brother is very much an introvert and quiet, even around family. His now ex girlfriend basically told him that he should be less socially awkward and that was the beginning of the end for them.

Some people are just like that and if you don’t like that I’d say he’s not the one for you.

You can’t expect him to change just because you think he’s hard work. 

Post # 3
312 posts
Helper bee

You don’t.

Sorry, there’s no way to police your SO’s social behaviour or “teach him” how to behave “in an appropriate way” without coming off as terribly rude and controlling.

Post # 4
21 posts
  • Wedding: June 2019

I agree to tread lightly here, but if you’re empathetic I think you can broach it with him. I’d suggest chatting to him again and getting his perspective on what you’ve observed. Keep it fact based and non emotional – literally just what you’ve seen. Try to treat the underlying cause first. You could also check in with some empathy questions e.g you noticed your Mum asked him how his work was going, and he didn’t ask her the same question back – how do you think she felt about that. I’d suggest the key to success is to come from a place where you just understand more what’s going on for him, rather than to change him. 

Post # 5
967 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

I understand your feelings but not sure what you can do to help him. Telling a person that he or she is awkward will make that person feel even more self-conscious.

Is this happening more when he is in groups? If so, try to arrange more visits where it is just one or two of your relatives. The larger the group, the more difficulty we introverts have. Perhaps encourage him to become friends with one relative he has something in common with.

Only you can decide how important this is to you. A friend of mine is dating a man that one of her relatives dissed as “boring” because he is quiet. The irony is that my friend ‘s first husband was the life of the party, but he turned out to be a terrible husband, an alcoholic who dragged her down financially. This “quiet” guy is much better husband material.

Years ago I brought a man to a family function. He had a lot of charm, and based on that one brief meeting, several relatives kept mentioning how much they liked him. I never told them why I stopped seeing him – I discovered he was a pathological liar and serial cheater who used his “charm” to manipulate people. It amazed me how swayed my relatives were  by what they saw on the surface.

So consider the overall picture. What good qualities does he have and is the connection between the two of you good enough to override the lack of connection with your family?

Post # 6
1099 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: City, State

lizzyxoxo :  so though he’s comfortable, you want him to change so that others can be more comfortable. Idk, that doesn’t sound right.

Why must people always be talking? 

Post # 7
41 posts

I agree that it’s difficult to change someone’s behavior – especially if they are just naturally awkward / different. My boyfriend is super social, the light of the party, telling jokes, stories, etc when he’s with me and when he’s with his friends / family. But when he met my friends and family for the first time – he was a bit awkward. I realized (particularly in the beginning) it was all nerves and he had to get to know them to feel more comfortable – so that might be the case with your fiance. In this case, I just left him alone about it (and gave folks some warning he was a bit shy when first getting to know people) and eventually he got comfortable.


But my boyfriend’s brother is more socially awkward with basically everyone and we all (including his wife) just accept that that is how he is. As far as I can tell, any attempt to ‘police’ his behavior or teach him how to act has just fallen on deaf ears because this is just how he normally is. Again, I think with him we all just have had to accept that this is how he is and don’t get offended if he says something a bit strange.

Post # 8
752 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2019

What specifically has your family said about his behavior? It just sounds like he’s not a small talk kind of guy and if that bothers you so much then you might not be the right match

Post # 9
806 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: January 2016

Purposefully bringing someone into the conversation and asking them questions, particularly if they are not one of the original “in-crowd” (like when he is around your family), is good manners and polite. I don’t think it falls under the category of a lot of work. You should really consider things from his point of view. If he is socially awkward, there’s a great chance that things like big gatherings are extremely draining for him. That is a lot of work for him. You and your family are at an advantage in that you’re in your comfort zone. I think manners says its up to you to be the bigger people. If it really feels that much of a stretch and you aren’t up for a partner who isn’t as social as you are, then, yes, you should reevaluate if this is someone you’re willing to purposefully include in the conversation for the rest of your life.

To be honest, based on the tone of your post, it might be nicer to let him know that this stuff is a growing causing for annoyance/concern/upset for you and your family. Let him have a more complete picture of the people who will become his family, especially that they’re talking about him but not to him. If I’m anything at all like your fiance, there’s a good chance he doesn’t have a clue what you’re feeling. He deserves to know.

Post # 10
1617 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2018 - Location

If he’s socially awkward, he knows it. You don’t need to tell him. Whatever you think he’s feeling is probably 100x stronger in his head. 

How long have you been together? It took my introverted husband 6 years to finally open up and be comfortable with my family, and it’s still not 100% (never will be but it’s good enough that I don’t worry anymore).

Post # 11
1555 posts
Bumble bee

He will already know. It’s your family so it’s on you to make him feel comfortable and integrated. Once everyone gets more comfortable with each other I’m sure it will come more naturally.

Post # 12
3443 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2016

My husband and I are also introverts. His family spent years criticizing me for not being more outgoing. I was accused of not liking them, of being uncomfortable with them, just because I didn’t start conversations enough. And all that did was make me horribly uncomfortable all over again. Whereas my parents are introverts themselves, and didn’t care at all whether he asked them about their day.

It doesn’t sound like he’s awkward. Of course I might think differently if I saw these interactions, but he sounds like a typical introvert. It doesn’t occur to many of us to talk unless there is something to say, or a conversation we know we can contribute to. You may just want to read more about dating an introverted person.

Post # 13
931 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2019 - Turkey

I love my fiance and do think he’s the one no matter what; however, he’s like that as well. He doesn’t like to talk much on small matters that he thinks are futile, and only talks on issues he’s knowledgeable in… At the beginning I was pretty crossed about that, he’s been trying a little for me I suppose and I’ve been helping him out just being freer in that sense, but at the end of the day. That’s who he is. 

Post # 14
3492 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: April 2017 - City, State

I mean, this is the man you got engaged to. He has been like this your entire relationship and now that you’ve for a ring you suddenly want to change his personality to better accommodate your families comfort over his comfort? 

Honestly it doesn’t sound like he’s doing anything wrong. You say he engages in conversation and readily answers questions when they’re asked. If you think you can shame him into being a social butterfly, you’re going to be disappointed. Socially awkward people are well aware that they have that trait. It exists because they usually aren’t 100% comfortable and there isn’t a way to make someone be comfortable around people, they have to get to that level of comfort on their own. 

I’d suggest not saying anything.

Post # 15
11001 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: City, State

lizzyxoxo :  

He is who he is, Bee.

Has he expressed a desire to change?

Being ‘socially awkward’, which I’m guessing here means introverted, is not a disorder in need of fixing. It’s a personality type. There is absolutely nothing inherently wrong with it. The problem in this situation is your discomfort with your fiancé’s authentic self.

Warning:  gender stereotyping ahead. There is no way any of us can accurately predict how your fiancé is going to react to the news that you find his core self to be deficient. Most people would go straight into a defensive posture. Depending on their natural inclinations, some will strike back, others take up a defensive crouch. The point is, the odds of your fiancé saying: “I am?!  I had no idea!  Thanks, babe, you’re the best!” are pretty slim.

On to the unabashed gender stereotyping. The most important thing to most men is to feel adequate.  They need to feel good enough. The worst feeling a man can have is that he has failed. His drive to feel adequate carries about the same intensity as many women feel around the urge for connection and intimacy.

When you tell a man that there is something fundamentally wrong with the way he is, what he hears is: I have failed the woman I love.

You might be able to train him to act more outgoing (get the M &Ms handy). But, it won’t hold up long.

This is a square peg, round hole dynamic. The question for you to consider is whether you two are simply incompatible.

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