“You really need to come out of your shell.”
“Just put yourself out there.”
“You should get out more.”
“They won’t like you if you’re shy.”
If you are an introvert, you have undoubtedly heard unhelpful phrases like these when it comes to your love life (or lack thereof). You have also undoubtedly rolled your eyes or nearly burst with fiery anger – or worse, felt shame about your introverted ways.
Some people just do not get what it is like to be an introvert. But you know who does? The brilliant Susan Cain, the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (P.S. every introvert should read that book!):
“Introverts…may have strong social skills and enjoy parties… but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas…They listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation…Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions.”
When you consider that conventional dating is full of things that introverts can struggle with (like small talk), introverts need real advice, not some flippant statement from a well-meaning, but terribly ill-advised friend who just cannot understand why you are not more outgoing.
I, my friends, am a textbook introvert, and I’ve learned that my introversion is not something to hide or be ashamed of. It’s something I rock in every aspect of my life, including dating.
Here are 9 things I’ve learned in the world of dating as an introvert. If your little introverted self wants to up your dating game too, read on!
1. Be Honest
When you first meet someone, you don’t have to straight up tell your date that you are an introvert the second you meet them, but you absolutely should be yourself. Don’t pretend to be a social butterfly if you aren’t; they will find out eventually. If you are searching for love, you want your date to fall in love with the real you.
If you don’t want to have the introversion talk right away, there are many ways that you can describe your personality. When your date asks you what your perfect weeknight is, be honest and say, “A glass of wine on the patio is great by me!” Or when your date asks about your friends, you can answer, “I have a few really close friends. I value depth over quantity.”
Early on in my current relationship, we went on a vacation with a large group of his friends (stepping out of my comfort zone). But I made it a point to also steal away for a few hours here and there to recharge (staying true to myself.) Pretend that I was a constant social butterfly would have been a lie. I wanted this man I was falling in love with to fall in love with every part of the real me.
2. Practice Conversations
While it is a myth that all introverts are shy, it is a fair generalization to say that most introverts do not adore heavy amounts of conversing, especially with new people. Sometimes this tendency can trip you up and leave your mind blank with nothing to say on a date.
Practicing date-like conversations with a good friend may seem silly or unnecessary – not true! Practice makes perfect, or at the very least, practice makes easier. Talk about yourself. Think about what makes you interesting and say it. Not only will this help your dating game, you and your friend should get a good laugh out of this.
I’ve had times in my life where I’ve “practiced” conversations for all social situations, including making friends (which, let’s be honest, is awfully similar to dating!). I would sit down with my little brother, the person I could talk to most freely, and pay attention to the things we’d discuss for future reference.
This isn’t about faking it; it’s about being confident in any social situation you have to be in.
3. Have “Go-To”s
In your arsenal of “go-to” date questions, make sure you find open-ended questions that can lead down different paths or maybe into the introvert’s favorite thing: deep conversations.
Here’s a short list of some of my favorites. They have worked fabulously on first, second, or even third dates.
- What do you love/hate about your job?
- Where do you like to travel?
- What is your best friend like?
- What are your ambitions for the year?
- What was it like growing up in ____?
- What’s something you’re really bad at, but love anyway?
- What things make you feel proud of yourself?
4. Own the Environment
Introverts often like being at home. If you are already experiencing the stimulation of dating somebody new, adding a new place with entirely new people can sometimes be a bit much. One of the best things you can do for yourself is go to a place you are comfortable in. That way the only new thing you have to deal with is the hot date sitting before you.
If you have a favorite restaurant, a bar where you know the bartenders, or even a hiking trail you’ve mastered, try having your early dates there.
Once you are comfortable with your date, you can try new and adventurous things together. It is perfectly okay to move at your own pace. When you’re comfortable, your dating experience will be that much greater.
5. Choose Activity Dates
The first date or two can be the hardest for conversation under any circumstance. A great way to combat this difficulty is to choose activities where you and your date do something instead of sitting at a table desperately trying to come up with conversation.
A movie date is the perfect example. You will have a few minutes of conversation before the movie to talk about yourself and learn about your date, and then you can simply enjoy each other’s presence while watching the movie. When it’s over, the movie is an easy topic for discussion. It just may flow into a deeper conversation as you make your way to dinner.
I also love paint and wine events for date nights. Rock climbing, concerts, or some sort of sport lesson (like archery or golf) are great too.
6. Speak Up
And by speak up, I do not mean you literally have to be louder. But you do need to express your needs. If your date suggests going to a loud club that makes you want to shudder, you can decline. If you have been out all night and ready for home, say so. A great line is: “I’ve had the best time with you and can’t wait to do it again, but I’m tired from a long day. Can I call you tomorrow?”
If you do not set a precedence of vocalizing your needs or expectations early on, your partner will never learn what you need. This doesn’t mean being rude or short; it means expressing your needs from the get-go.
Even after being together for almost two years, I still tell my boyfriend when I need some “rest and recharge” time at home. Whenever I hide that need, it undoubtedly turns into a fight that was completely avoidable.
7. Experiment With Partners
They say opposites attract, and, for introverts, they often do. But sometimes an introvert feels more comfortable and understood by another introvert. There is no reason not to experiment with partners on different places of the introversion/extroversion scale.
My partner is more of an introvert than an extrovert, yet he is still more extroverted than I am. This worked perfectly for me. He intimately understands my need for quiet and solitude (and I understand his), but he also pushes me within reasonable limits to step out of my comfort zone sometimes. We also have times where I stay in and he goes out.
Figure out what feels natural for you.
8. Avoid Tramplers
Since introverts tend to be attentive listeners and natural givers, they can sometimes attract (and be attracted to) the type of person who uses that to their advantage. Some introverts like dating extroverts who can talk a lot and take the pressure off. But at the end of the day, your date should still be interested in what you think too.
If you feel like your date (or even long-term partner) tends to trample all over your quiet personality, it is time to either discuss the problem and/or move on to greener pastures. The same is true if your date/partner tries to continually force you into social situations or environments that make you uncomfortable.
9. Embrace Yourself
The most important thing any introvert can do when they are dating is to truly embrace who they are. We still live in a world that glorifies those who are outgoing and shames (even unintentionally) those who aren’t. My fellow introverts and I need to live life the way we are wired.
If you like Netflix and popcorn for a date, it doesn’t mean you are boring or uncool. If you want to spend more deep one-on-one time with your date instead of more group time, it doesn’t mean you are anti-social. Part of what makes you great is your introversion.
Remember that dating is hard for many people, no matter their personality. While it can feel even harder as an introvert, know that it can still be an enjoyable, exciting, and rewarding experience. Take ownership of your introversion, ignore the naysayers who keep waiting for you to peak out of your shell, and really enjoy dating as an introvert.