Tips For Dating An Introvert
If you’re naturally gregarious, dating someone who’s a bit shy can pose some formidable challenges. Here are the pros, cons and red flags to consider before you start dating someone who’s an introvert.
y date’s awfully quiet — not asking me too much about myself. The conversation seems to lag at times. When we’re out in groups, he/she usually retreats. This person seems interested in me and is very nice (and good-looking), but I can’t tell if we’re clicking or not. Sound familiar? It could be that nothing is wrong — maybe you’re just dating an introvert.
There are pros and cons to dating an introvert: they are often more interesting, loyal, focused on you, and are deeper and more confident than outward appearances might initially suggest. “When I met my boyfriend Alan, I thought, ‘this guy couldn’t be
less interested,’” says Washingtonian Sarah, 32. “I was wrong. He just had a slower, shyer approach to asking me out. He finally did, and we’ve been going strong for six months. I got over my preconceived notions about wimpy low-key guys. I used to go for life-of-the-party types who aggressively pursued me. Now I think that going slow and steady is a better way.”
|He just had a slower, shyer approach to asking me out.|
By the Myers-Briggs definition (Myers-Briggs being a popular psychological test), an introvert derives energy from his or her internal world of emotions and ideas, while an extrovert gets revved up from the outside world of people and activities. So what should you consider if you want to date someone who’s more on the introvert side than you are? When it comes to the following five important aspects of dating, consider the associated pros, cons and flat-out red flags listed below.
Pros: You won’t have to manage your partner’s aggression or worry that’s he or she’s a player — grabbing your attention first, and then scanning the room for someone else. Extroverts sometimes have a way of making you feel like you’re just another face in the crowd, while an introvert may focus more on you and only you.
Cons: You may be stuck with initiating contact every time. But you can use body language, connect with your eyes, smile, and face your potential sweetie to show your romantic interest.
Red Flag: One-sided flirting can only go so far until it veers off into an unhealthy balance. Give the initial push, but as the relationship moves forward, the introvert should pick up the slack. If this person doesn’t, move on. It’s what I call TMW (too much work).
Pros: Are you interested in quality over quantity? Introverts tend to think before speaking, whereas extroverts often think by talking, which is why your initial conversation may last eight hours. Rather than blathering on or indulging in cheesy small talk, an introvert saves his or her words for something that’s personally important, and prefers talking one-on-one with you.
Cons: There’s a good chance that you might have to carry more conversations than you’d like.
Red Flag: If you feel like you’re talking to a canyon and all you hear back is the echo of your own voice across the dinner table, find out why. A natural attraction to silent types only goes so far. Being “on the quiet side” is one thing; staying totally silent or impossible to draw out is unacceptable in a date.
Pros: Actions speak louder than words. Judge this person’s actions more than his or her communication style. Besides, whatever happened
to our admiration for a little mystery? Just because someone’s a reluctant communicator doesn’t mean that person is weak, withdrawn, or arrogant.
|Maybe it’s time for that person to step up — or step off.|
Cons: If your love interest won’t communicate with you when you need it, in the way you need to be communicated with, that can feel very lonely. It’s challenging to connect if the other person prefers shorter conversations to longer ones, or emails and texts to talking on the phone.
Red Flag: Communication styles aside, if someone’s lack of action and communication leads you to seriously doubt his or her interest in you, maybe it’s time for that person to step up — or step off.
Pros: Your schedule won’t be constantly hijacked by the introvert’s need to involve the world in every conversation, dinner and activity. Quiet time means more time for the two of you to bond and develop intimacy, which can serve any budding relationship well. Plus, the down time gives you time to yourself, to spend with your friends, and to enjoy your independence.
Cons: Your social agenda might be limited. When you want company, someone shyer might crave solitude. An introvert might be the last to say hello to others at a party and the first to bolt for the door, even if you take the party pressure off by encouraging that person to act naturally and engage with others at a level that feels comfortable.
Red Flag: If you feel isolated — as if it’s you and this one person against the world — then beware. Sequestered honeymoons can feel sexy and fun at first, but it’s hard to live full-time on an island with a population of two.
Pros: Chances are that an introvert’s response to conflict, while slow in coming, will be a thoughtful one.
Cons: If you need to work out something right away, good luck. Introverts tend to need time for processing information before responding, so you might find yourself revisiting an argument from three days ago as if it were still fresh. It IS fresh — to an introvert.
Red Flag: Healthy arguments play a natural part in any relationship, but they require gaining closure of some sort for both parties. If you’re not careful and insistent on settling conflicts, nothing ever gets resolved… which can lead to resentment and distrust.
Assuming you make it through the initial dating stages, how does an extrovert build a lasting relationship with an introvert?
There are two important things to consider:
Want to read the other side of this story? Read Tips for dating an extrovert.
- In the “I to E” continuum, you can be at one extreme or another — or lean more toward one or land somewhere in the middle (which is the more likely option). If one of the two traits is dominant, you can learn how to develop the other.
- There’s no “right” or “wrong,” there are just different approaches. Understanding the “I and E” traits will help you see people for who they are and not take reactions too personally.
Dave Singleton, an award-winning writer and columnist for Match.com since 2003, is the author of two books on dating and relationships. Visit Dave’s website and send your dating questions and comments to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.