“Internet dating has leveled the playing field between extroverts and introverts,” says life coach and author Amy Bonaccorso. “In the past, an extrovert would be the life of the party and get the dates, but now, an introvert can impress someone with their excellent communication skills over email before meeting in person.”
Introverts are so hot right now, don’t you agree? If you’ve recently fallen for an introvert, perhaps you’re feeling a little uncertain about how to proceed. As you find out just how much time he or she needs alone, it is easy to wonder if your shy guy or gal is really on board for a new relationship. Don’t despair. Read on for insight into the inner workings of your alluring introvert’s brain and a few tips on how to deal.
1. Accept an introvert for who he or she is.
“The most important tip for dating an introvert is to accept that this is the personality of the person you are dating,” says Stephanie D. McKenzie, MBA, CPC, CRC, a certified life and relationship coach as well as director at The Relationship Firm. “Many times people like someone who is introverted, except for the fact that they are introverted. This is counterproductive. Accepting this person or exactly who they are and how they are is the key to everything working. They will not be the life of the party, a social butterfly, or an amazing group conversationalist. However, they might be extremely polite, quietly amused in social situations, and very intuitive in your post-social, private time.” In other words, see your introvert for who he or she is, and value the good.
2. Understand that unexpected situations can be unwelcome or scary.
“Audience participation is my worst nightmare,” says Grace V., a social media strategist in Madison, Wisconsin. “It is better to be prepared or warned about things like that beforehand. I like going out and about but I need time to recharge between activities—especially social ones. Small talk can be exhausting and I’d rather have more meaningful, comfortable conversations with close friends.” Don’t force your introvert into a whirlwind weekend of one social obligation after another. You’ll wear her out!
3. If your introvert needs to be left alone, trust and respect that.
“They just need to recharge and will come around when no longer socially exhausted,” says Alisha Kirchoff, a university administrator in Campaign-Urbana, Illinois. “Don’t take it personally.” The Rev. Christopher L. Smith, a marriage and family therapist and Clinical Director and President, at Seeking Shalom, in New York, NY agrees. “Understand that being an introvert is about where your loved one draws their energy and strength. They can be a real people person and still need time to themselves to recharge and process. This is not a contradiction. Don’t minimize ‘me time’ appointments.”
4. Stay close at parties.
“I feel most alone in crowds, large gatherings or parties,” says Grace V. “My best relationships were with people who understood this and stayed close and attentive so I don’t feel so lost in the swarm.” Bill Corbett, Connecticut-based speaker and author of From the Soapbox to the Stage: How to Use Your Passion to Start a Speaking Business Book explains. “Groups of people, especially large ones, drain the energy from an introvert. If you must attend an event with lots of people, keep it brief. And after the experience of the gathering or party, be ready for your date to want to end the night.” If you can be together at home or in a quiet environment, your introvert will thank you.
“Hanging out and not talking is the holy grail for introverts,” adds Grace. “This means we are comfortable around you, and enjoy the unspoken companionship. I like reading a book or doing my own activity, but prefer to so it in the quiet company of my boyfriend.”
5. Never embarrass an introvert in public.
“I am an introvert and would be horrified by a marriage proposal on the jumbo screen at a ballpark,” says Bonaccorso. “I specifically told my husband that such antics, even photographers hiding in the bushes, would not win my heart. Instead, I would be mortified!” Don’t try to turn your introvert into an unwitting YouTube star. Ever.
6. Check in.
“Make sure that your bubbly, outgoing personality doesn’t overshadow that of your date,” says Florida-based author and psychotherapist Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, M.Ed, expert on the psychology of eating. “Check in often to ask how he/she is doing. Introverts appreciate it when you take the time to notice what they are silently communicating to you. “Commenting on body language and facial expressions will also help to connect with an introvert, says Rose Hanna, LMFT and professor of psychology at California State University. “Increase your ability to be emotionally expressive will speak to the heart of an introvert.”
7. Give an introvert extra time to process a conflict.
“While most people, whether introverted or extroverted, tend to avoid emotional conflict, introverts as a group will need more time to process the emotional aspects and will tend to delay responding until they feel ready to reply,” says Marc Miller, Ph.D., a psychologist and communication coach in Plainview, New York. “This is how introverts are ‘wired,’ but their reaction can be mistaken for a negative emotional statement. When the extroverted partner expresses her/his feelings, whether loving or angry, and the introverted partner remains silent, the extrovert is likely to interpret the silence as a lack of caring, of indifference, or of rejection. The extrovert might ‘up the ante’ at that point, pressing harder for a response of some kind, which is then likely to cause the introvert to retreat and delay even further.
This is a vicious circle that is extremely common in extrovert-introvert relationships, and can be fatal to the relationship—if not understood by both partners.”
Think you’re dating an Extrovert? Click here for tips.