An Introvert’s Guide to Dating
With such an overwhelming number of apps and unfortunately real phenomenons like ghosting, zombieing and kittenfishing in existence, dating has become more stressful than satisfying. Add something like introversion to the mix and it can prove even more difficult. Sure, introverts can make phenomenal partners, but the excess stimuli in the outside world combined with the already anxiety-producing nature of dating can leave them feeling super drained.
“The inherent stress of being social puts pressure on the introvert because they feel the need to be ‘on’ during the date,” says Fran Greene, licensed clinical social worker and author of “The Secret Rules of Flirting.”
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Dating requires you to be in tune with someone else’s needs and desires rather than focused inward. Not to mention, being open about sharing your own inner thoughts and feelings is essential — both of which can be difficult as an introvert.
“Dating can be particularly challenging if you struggle to talk about yourself and aren’t sure how to highlight your best qualities,” explains Pricilla Martinez, CEO of Regroop Online Life Coaching. “It can feel super invasive to get asked questions you don’t normally share until much later.”
Luckily, you don’t have to dread dating just because you’re an introvert. Just heed the following tips to ensure smooth sailing from the get-go.
Dating Tips for Shy Guys and Introverts
1. Set a Time Limit for the Date
While extroverts get their energy by being around others, introverts re-energize themselves while being alone. That means that limiting your time on a date is crucial to prevent yourself from feeling depleted.
“Don’t plan a marathon date that is going to exhaust you,” says Greene.
As much as you may think having early evening drinks at a bar, heading to a restaurant for dinner and then going to see a show will impress someone, it’s very likely to take a lot out of you (which means you won’t exactly be the best version of yourself on the date).
Instead, choose one thing to do together. It’s better to give 100 percent of yourself and less of your time than to overextend yourself and end up feeling drained.
2. Go Beyond the Expected
Meeting up for drinks may be the norm nowadays, but it can put a lot of pressure on you to keep the conversation flowing. Without an activity or something else to focus on, you’re left with little material.
“Do something that keeps it fun and active so you don’t feel you have to be the entertainment,” says Martinez. “You want to try to keep things light until you’re feeling more comfortable. It’s about striking a balance between have surface-level conversations and ones that are more intimate and give insight into who you are.”
That’s not to say you can’t meet in your typical social setting, of course, but consider doing so on the third or fourth date. Until you’ve established a sense of security, you may want to consider going bowling, scoping out an exhibit or seeing some live music at a cozy venue — all of which provide plenty to talk about.
3. Choose Activities That Keep You in Your Comfort Zone
While you may enjoy taking the reins with planning dates, at some point or another, you may find yourself in a situation where your date takes the initiative. If that’s the case, always make sure to check in with yourself to gauge what feels do-able.
“Don’t try to impress your date by saying yes to something that is going to be uncomfortable for you,” says Greene. “It’s okay to be honest (to a degree) and tell your date you prefer quieter surroundings and that you do not thrive in crowds. You may have to compromise a bit, but you won’t waste your energy pretending to want to be at a music festival with 30,000 other people and then secretly wanting to escape instantaneously.”
The idea is to select environments and activities that make you feel as comfortable as possible so that you can enjoy the experience more, and so you’re more likely to engage than to withdraw.
According to Greene, a few ideal dates for an introvert include going to a movie or other performance during off-peak times, sticking with very small gatherings and parties and having coffee, drinks or dinner at places with a quiet, intimate vibe.
4. Give Yourself Permission to Bail
There may be times that you start to feel overwhelmed on a date. In those situations, you shouldn’t sacrifice your well-being just to avoid disappointing someone you don’t know very well. Similar to the first point about hinting that you’re on a clock, Martinez notes that the best way to avoid these scenarios is to set up a finite amount of time for the date from the get-go.
“Let them know that you have other plans or something to do after your date,” she explains. “If you’re enjoying yourself, you can always ‘change’ those plans later.”
While this handy little strategy is highly effective at the beginning of a relationship, you’ll eventually want to be honest with your date about feeling overwhelmed.
“Give them a chance to navigate this with you,” she adds.
And if your date can’t handle your introverted ways? Well, they’re simply not a good match. Greene adds that it’s always better to cut a date short than to let it drag on while you’re feeling tired or uncomfortable.
“If your date gets the feeling that you are trying to escape, your chances of another date are not likely,” she notes. “It’s always best to end a date on a high note.”
Dating as an introvert may have its challenges, but don’t forget that you have so much to offer any potential love interests. Introverts are known for being excellent listeners who are highly in touch with their emotions and needs, and who can cultivate super deep and meaningful relationships.
Keep all of that in mind while you’re navigating the dating world, and you’re sure to attract someone who not only accepts your introverted ways but sees them as a major perk.
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