Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: I’ve been with my boyfriend for two years. I am 21; he is 23. We get along very well, but he is extremely shy! He barely speaks to my family or friends, or even at his own family functions. Around me, he is fairly chatty. Why isn’t he like this with anyone else? He only has a select few friends that he plays video games with. He thinks it’s “weird” to hang out, and he “hates small talk because it is pointless.” For a long time, this didn’t bother me. However, now my mother says she doesn’t like him because he is unfriendly. She tells me she would rather I was with someone else; someone more “involved.” My friends have also expressed concern; they say he’s “awkward.” What can I do to help my boyfriend be more sociable? He has expressed an interest in seeking help, we just don’t know where to get it. Should my friends and family be more understanding?

Disturbed

DEAR DISTURBED: The first thing you should do is to understand that your boyfriend is likely an introvert. Expecting him to suddenly become sociable is like expecting an orange to become a blueberry. Could you behave in a way that is in complete opposition to your nature? Probably not.

You and your guy should both read the bestselling book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,” by Susan Cain (2013, Broadway Books). This groundbreaking look at introversion helps introverts — and those who love them — see the commonality of their qualities and characteristics.

Your guy is likely only comfortable interacting with a very small group of people at any one time. He is quiet because he is listening, not because he doesn’t want to know people.

He is comfortable with and interacts with you because being in your presence doesn’t overwhelm him.

More insight into his nature will help you to understand him better. For him, self-knowledge might help him to find ways to push through his temperament in order to please you, your friends and family. He should also grow to understand that there is nothing at all “wrong” with him.

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DEAR AMY: I am a 52-year-old man. I was married for 22 years and am now divorced. A year ago I met “Carla,” the woman of my dreams. Then last summer, I lost my job. I was under a lot of stress. I started texting with an old girlfriend. Some conversations crossed the “friend line” and became sexual. I consider myself a good guy with strong morals, but I failed. The woman then forwarded these texts to Carla. She was devastated, and decided to end our relationship. I have sent cards, flowers and many texts. Carla said she’s moving on and that I should, too. But what I did affected me so much that I was baptized at my church because I needed a fresh start. I need to show the love of my life that I’m not playing around anymore. I will do anything to get my girl back. It has been two weeks of loneliness, but it feels like a lifetime. I know I shouldn’t push too hard. But I don’t want to be forgotten. I really want a second chance. I know she still loves me, but I hurt her really bad.

Devastated

DEAR DEVASTATED: Your baptism should mark a spiritual rebirth and renewal, not a guarantee that you will be able to win back your girlfriend.

All of this drama is very recent. You have responded by going a little bananas, begging and pleading your girlfriend to come back. You are correct that if you push too hard, the door will slam shut.

At this point, you need to behave like a mature adult. Take full responsibility for your actions, apologize with simple sincerity, and say to “Carla,” ”I hope that in time you will find it in your heart to forgive me.”

And then yes — you will have to pick up the pieces and do your best to move forward.

DEAR AMY: The question from “In a Quandary” made me see red. This gentleman felt forced by his elderly mother-in-law to use a handicap parking permit that her late husband left behind after he died. Amy, it is illegal to use one of these permits if it isn’t yours. Quandary was morally opposed to using the permit, but he did, anyway. He should have refused.

Disgusted

DEAR DISGUSTED: I completely agree.