When I plunged into the dating scene after getting out of a long-term relationship, my immediate inclination was to "play" extrovert by setting up numerous dates in a week, to give everyone a chance, to give those I was on the fence about a second chance, and to stay out well past my bedtime, even if I felt like I was losing steam.
It took only a few weeks of this before I realized that dating was taking its toll and that I was becoming bad at it — failing to respond to texts and messages in a timely manner, rushing through dates with people I felt little connection with and, eventually finding myself leaving all of my dates with a nagging desire for the solace of my quiet apartment.
That was when I realized that I was doing it all wrong, that I was tapping out and turning inward because I was jogging at an extrovert’s pace, even though I'm an introvert. So I reassessed my dating approach to better align with my energy levels and need for depth over breadth.
Here are some tips for avoiding the dating drain and staying true to your introverted self.
1. Don't be surprised if you're misunderstood, because you will be.
Introverts have deep inner worlds. Everyone does. But introverts specifically can be thought of as having minds like an onion: to gain access to those inner layers requires significant peeling, done with sensitivity and patience.
Because of this, you may be initially unfairly labeled as shy (a common misconception), nerdy, or aloof. Keep in mind that whoever is worth your time and getting to know will take relish in peeling back those layers to tap into your rich inner landscape. And don’t feel the need to play extrovert just to fit in.
2. While boozing at a crowded bar may not be your thing, remember that a one-on-one date is where introverts really shine.
In this format introverts can assert their curiosity by asking questions and participating in thoughtful conversation. The fact that introverts are highly observant and retain a lot of what they take in generally is where people come to learn how warm and compassionate these quiet souls are.
3. Only make dates with people you really believe have potential (not just people who look good on paper).
Remember that extroverts get energy from being around people, and while introverts arguably make better conversationalists, they are depleted by constant social interaction.
If you’re questioning whether it’s worth meeting someone in person (a blind date or online date, for instance), then schedule a phone call.
You will know within a minute if they are. Avoid burnout at the outset by being both choosy and true to yourself. Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, said that “Relationships make everyone happier, introverts included, but think quality over quantity.”
4. Save time by getting real.
A great ability of introverts is getting deep. Use this to your advantage and ask questions that are geared to determining whether your date is the right fit for you. I went on a few dates with someone I was intensely attracted to and with whom I had great chemistry, but upon his admission after the fifth date that he wasn’t a good communicator I realized it probably wasn’t the best fit for me.
Had I been honest with myself and with him that communication was so fundamental to me, we could’ve saved ourselves some time. Lesson learned: don’t be afraid to ask tough questions from the get-go.
5. Don’t overlook extroverts as potential partners.
Sure, most introverts prefer depth over breadth when it comes to relationships. Yet I'll speak here from personal experience: most of the people I’ve developed great connections with have been on the extroverted side of the spectrum. So long as they understand your need for recharging and downtime and you respect their need for significant social interaction, the introvert-extrovert pairing can be a very complementary combination.
There's no reason being an introvert should make for a less vibrant dating life. So embrace all those things that make you you, including your introverted qualities, and show them to the rest of the world! Remember: authenticity is attractive.
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