I am an introvert. Most people who know me recognize that. People who don’t know me often mistake me (and most introverts) as being unsocial, uptight, standoffish, a wallflower. I will cop to the wallflower label; maybe. In a room full of people I prefer to observe from the sideline. I love to drink in the energy and ambiance of the room; I just choose not to jump right into the mix. However, I draw a hard line at uptight or standoffish. I am neither. I admit I do not understand the complexities of the brain or why mine may operate differently from yours; but I am a genuine, fun, sincere and caring person. (I know, who am I trying to convince, right? Sounds like I’m practicing to be my defense lawyer.)
The unfortunate reality is there are challenges for introverts when it comes to dating. Extroverts have challenges also, but as a rule, they enjoy the thought of being out and about and engaging with people. The very thought of getting off the couch to meet a stranger stops many introverts in their tracks. We know we will not be the life of the party and we struggle with small talk, so what’s the use, right? Wrong! The goal in dating is to find someone compatible, to share our lives with and be able to lean on through good times and bad. Our ‘vertness’ should not be an issue. So, here are some tips for both introverts, and their partners, to make the dating process as enjoyable as possible.
#1. First, there must actually BE a date. It is very rare for an introvert to make the first romantic move. Small talk is painful for us and putting ourselves out there in a vulnerable state is worse. We typically are not great at flirting, so if you are interested in us, just take a chance. Don’t assume someone who is quiet or sitting on the outskirts of a room is disinterested or self-absorbed. The fact we are even there is a pretty good sign. Stop by and say hi. We don’t bite. And you just might be pleasantly surprised!
#2. Keep It Simple. As introverts, we are open to new places and adventures, but not necessarily on a first date. We want to be in comfortable surroundings as we get to know you. If you have asked out an introvert, even if you want to delight them with a trendy venue, give them the option to choose a more familiar setting if they prefer. Also, if you are the introvert, do/dress/go with what makes you feel more at ease. Here is a true story: I met a guy who was helping me with a job. We talked during the process and I felt like we had gotten to know each other pretty well. He asked me out and I agreed. My daughter, who was excited that I had finally landed a date, decided to ‘help’ me with my outfit. What she picked out for me, even though not too off the wall, was not what I would have normally chosen for a first date. She assured me it was great and not to worry. As it turned out, I did worry. I was uncomfortable and self-conscious. I don’t know if that transferred outward, but I do know that I didn’t get a second date. Now, it could have been for a host of other reasons, but I have often wondered if being uneasy myself gave him the impression I was uneasy with him. I guess I will never know.
#3. Silence Is Golden. As I mentioned earlier, introverts are not big on small talk. We want in-depth, meaningful conversations. We want to really know you, what makes you happy, what inspires you. It’s not that we don’t care about your favorite flavor of ice cream, but it really isn’t a priority. On the flip side, after a night out or serious dialog, we will just want to chill out a bit in our own space. You are welcomed to join us. We are not tired of you or ignoring you, we just enjoy the quiet to collect our thoughts and process our energies. If that seems like a downer to you, we don’t mind if you want some time to be more social, or active, or loud. We understand that is important to you. This leads to me to the next point.
#4. Compromise. An introvert and an extrovert can make a well-balanced union. They play to the other’s strengths and can foster growth in other areas for improvement. The key, however, is both parties must be willing to compromise. The introvert will never want to go out on the town as much as an extrovert. The extrovert will likely be puzzled by the amount of personal time an introvert desires. If each person only indulges in what they want, the two will not actually spend much time together at all! With loving compromise, the introvert can learn to enjoy going out, meeting people and looking forward to new adventures with someone who makes them feel safe. The extrovert can also learn to reflect on the moments, express emotions and feel comfortable with themselves in the solitude. You should never try to change another; only strive to bring out their very best.
Introverts are amazing partners (if I do say so myself). They are supportive and compassionate. What some may lack in being able to verbalize their feelings, they make up for with loving actions and demonstrations of kindness. Accept us and appreciate the value we bring to the table. We may not be the life of THE party, but we will certainly bring life to YOUR party.
Hope With Abandon