Monday, October 24, 2011

Introverts and Extroverts: Ten Dating Tips

Dating, and expressing interest in someone can be a tricky, depressing business for anyone. Yet I feel bold enough to declare that it is easier for extroverts than it is for introverts in most cases. And extrovert's gregarious, energetic nature lends itself well to the way the dating scene works these days.

At least with other extroverts. If they begin to pine for an introvert, they may find themselves up against certain challenges. When this happens, they may feel just as clumsy and out in the cold about dating as introverts tend to do much of the time.

Yet neither introverts no extroverts should fret. Here I offer two sets of five dating tips. The first is a set of tips to make dating easier for introverts. (Who face some of the same challenges dating one another as they do trying to date extroverts.) The second set of tips is designed specifically for extroverts who may be pining for that certain introvert in their lives.

Extroverts already know how to date extroverts, and introverts already know this stuff about themselves. So no separate list was needed for extrovert-on-extrovert action. And while it may not always be clear right away if someone is an introvert or extrovert, let's pretend at this point, you have already determined that about your potential hunka-burning love for the time being, shall we?


Dating Tips for Introverts 

1) Find something, anything you can stomach doing in a group outside of the house.

You love your bed, your books, your lap top. Your warm tea. The quiet and the solitude. Believe me, I am the last person who would ever take those things from you. But chances are, you want intimacy at some point as well. So you will have to interact with people at some point.

Relax. I don't mean small talk. I am one of you, remember? But if you find an activity that suits your preferences that involves interacting with other people, the conversation can right away become focused on what you are doing. Join a bowling league, a yoga group, a book club. Doesn't much matter, so long as the exchange of ideas is the main vehicle by which you get to know someone. I can promise that relationships of all kinds will form more organically for you than at a bar or club, romance or not.

2) Group Dating

No, this isn't quite the same as the first tip. What I mean is to get together with groups of people you already know and go out to eat, see a movie, or whatever. People you know mixed in with people you don't know. Let your current friends know you are interested in meeting some new people the next time you get together, and then perhaps they can invite someone you have not yet met. So you can get to know some more people, without the pressure of actual dating. At least not yet. You get the benefit of meeting someone new wrapped in the comfort of being with people you already know.

3) Use the internet...the RIGHT way.

There is nothing wrong with a dating site. I have used them here and there. No shocker that it didn't ever lead anywhere. Dating sites, despite being online, are still essentially an extroverted environment. Just because it is an online platform that you can explore from the comfort of your home doesn't mean it is introvert friendly. And I find most dating sites are not. There is just as much of an expectation of pandering and bullshit and small talk on dating sites as there is in offline life. It may be easier to stomach for a while, with the shield of anonymity, but if you are an introvert, you will still get tired of it quickly, and still not appeal to most people who use such sites.

Instead, read blogs. Join Twitter. Visit message boards. I am not even going to specify what kind, because it doesn't matter. What matters is that you engage in them directly. Leave comments. Ask questions. If possible, send a private email to the author if you liked what they say. Participate in threads that interest you. Much like number one, it allows you to get right to the task of discussing ideas, as most blogs or message boards are centered on a certain topic. From there, relationships, even romantic ones, can evolve. It might be a gamble, but to me, no more so than asking someone for a date every time you bump into an attractive person at the post office. Plus, until you are ready, there is no added pressure to pretty up before the conversations you have.

4) A little mystery is good stuff.

We introverts can get some mileage out of this one. Not forever, of course, but let's face it, many people, introverts and extroverts alike, are intrigued by a little mystery. And to be frank and fair about it, introverts are a bit better at this one, even when they are not trying to be. Our natural tendency to observe much and say little in social situations can be taken the wrong way, but it can also work a little bit of magic. But only if we make the effort to break that mold at the right times. Being quiet and mysterious doesn't work to your advantage unless you on occasion say something. (I have blown this part more than once.)

So, even if you don't think it is the most clever thing you could offer, throw in a comment from the corner of the room once in a while. Surprise those around you that don't know you as well with your attention to detail of the conversation. 

You get extra points if you quietly share with that "special" someone across the room a comment just for them based on something they said to which you were paying attention, while others passed it over in the extroverted mess of the gathering. It won't get you everything, but it is one of the few advantages in dating/attraction introverts have over extroverts right from the start.

5) Do not, I repeat do NOT try to be an extrovert.

As I often remind my readers, being an introvert is a spectrum. Some are more so than others. And introverts have their extroverted moments. Yet we mustn't confuse this truth with the notion that we can become "former introverts". The internet is replete with articles that teach you how to do this, and it cannot be done. Period. No need to discuss it further. End of movie, roll credits. Your are the temperament that you have always been. So embrace it and use it. Don't run from it. You don't need to. Because if you do, and try instead to be an extrovert, you are going to not only be uncomfortable, but you won't be yourself. You need to be yourself in the dating world.

Improve your weaknesses, of course, but remember that being introverted is not a weakness in and of itself. Anyone worth your time and effort will accept your introversion, and not expect you to become extroverts just to be "datable".

And now, from the other side of the table...


Tips for Extroverts Wishing to Date an Introvert

1) Ask them to teach you about one of their interests.

Introverts crave discussion of ideas, passions and observations. It is just that most small talk dulls our senses before we can get to that. But you can peak our interest with our interests. By that I mean if you want to get to know us as people, explore our passions with us right off the bat. Find out what moves us, and ask us about it. Even if you don't know us yet. Most introverts will not recoil from, and in fact many will appreciate your built in conversation topic.

Don't pretend, though. We detect bullshit well. Have a genuine interest in learning more about our passion. Or keep looking until you find something we like that you may also like, and discuss your own opinions about it with us. Just make extra sure you give us enough time to respond with our own views!

2) Compliment them on something they said, wrote, or an idea they had.

Look, introverts like to look good too. We like to know this, and hear it from others. Compliments about what we are wearing or our eyes are not anathema to us. Yet if you want to score quick points, and prove you are not a superficial cad, compliment us on something we created. Again, most introverts are idea oriented. Many of us write about our ideas. And we almost never express an idea in a group unless asked or until we have thought about it quite a bit. When you show an interest in that expression, it opens a door for us. It won't get you in right away, of course, but you will have responded to the deeper part of us from the start.

3) Try enjoying an event the way we do, instead of trying to convince us to enjoy it your way.

If you meet us at a party or other social gathering, respect our desire to not get up and dance or mingle. We rarely do these things, but in most cases it isn't because we are shy or because we are not having a good time. It's because we process the party differently. When you insist we need to get up and dance, or ask us if we are okay all the time, you will annoy us. That is stamping your version of a good time on us. Ask once, and then leave it at that.

You may or may not be able to understand how we are having a good time, but if you really want an introvert at a party to open up to you, sit nearby (not too close =) ) and converse with us. Quiet. Calm. Take in the party like we do. We'll feel less of a need to be on guard then, and you'll get to learn more. Plus it shows that we are worthy of your extra attention, despite everything else happening around us. That's kind of nice for anyone.

4) Make dates conversation oriented.

Are you sensing a pattern yet? Yes, we like to converse about ideas, and explore topics. Deep thinking. Remember, it is probably what we were doing when you first approached us, what we were doing while we were getting ready for this date, and to a certain extent, something we will be doing during the date. Yet that doesn't have to be a negative. Tap into our deep, imaginative minds. First dates to a museum, a short film viewing, a play, and other such things that will just beg all involved to share their thoughts afterwards, or during, will really set many introverts at ease. Despite it being a date, most of us hate "tell me about yourself" conversations. That isn't to say we will never do so, but if that is why we are out with you, we won't have a good time. But if we can get to know you through your views on something, we will be more relaxed earlier. Often, ideas and opinions are intimate to us. Think about that.

5) You don't have to understand.

Even if you want to with every fiber of your being. That's noble of you, but if you are an extrovert, that may not always be possible.

But we introverts know how infuriating we can be. We don't say much, except when we do. How can we enjoy a party more, the smaller it is? Why do we go out in public if we are not always trying to meet people? Just what the hell could we possibly be thinking about all the time?  It can be hard to understand for an extrovert. And some of the questions you may have about us, we have about ourselves. But being who we are, we have learned over time to just accept our unique take on the world. Usually...

And that's all you need to do. Accept us. We don't expect you to know why, even if you are in love with us.  Yet it's really okay. We can still find you attractive, and eventually fall in love with you even if you don't have the slightest idea why we need to vanish into our room for hours at a time, need time to think about an answer to your question, or don't chat up the people around us at the bus stop. Our need to be alone is usually not a reflection on you. It is how we are wired. And we no more expect you to become like us, than hopefully, you expect us to become like you.

*********

As much as I love being an introvert, I still recognize some of the difficulties, both in being one and for those extroverts who love us. Yet I have always believed that such a difficulty is not insurmountable. It just requires, as it does with all human relationships, acceptance of the differences between two types of people, willingness to change if we can, and a greater focus on that which about the other person we appreciate the most. In most cases, those fine qualities we seek in others are present in both introverts an extroverts if we allow ourselves to look for them.


10 comments:

S. Stickley said...

I think this is good advice for all relationships! Then again I'm a weird extrovert/introvert conglomaration.^_^

Diana said...

Excellent advice. I am an extrovert dating an introvert and I have absolutely recognized the truths in your second list. The conversation about an interest is key!!!!! Small talk rarely works.

T. Johnson said...

"Small talk" rarely works, whether you're standing in line in the supermarket, at a networking, OR, especially, on a date. You simply need to find that "point of commonality" - an interest which you both share - or you need to come prepared with an intense curiosity about one of your date's hobbies - ask inquisitive questions, and just let them talk and explain everything to you in detail. THAT is a REAL icebreaker and the rest of the conversation, should take care of itself.

As an extrovert, with several introverted friends, I'd agree with Ty's consensus that dates or social get togethers should be conversation oriented and those "tell me about yourself" questions should be held in your back pocket as a weapon of last resort.

Ty Unglebower said...

Sarah--Yes I think all of this is good advice for relationships with all kinds of people at many levels. And it's okay to be a "weird" combo. Some people have started using the term "ambivert" for that.

Diana-I think you have the right idea, based on what you were saying on Twitter about this. It's hard but you seem to be aware of the differences. It clearly it has worked for you and your introvert. =)

T. I agree, yet small talk still seems to be the reigning champ of expectations these days when it comes to social gatherings. I love it when people hate it as much as I do.

Becky B said...

I never could do small talk! I never saw the point. Making fun of small talk, now, that's different. :)

These tips are invaluable, and I'd say would work for any combination of "verts." In fact, one of the most flamboyant extroverts I know seems to be afraid of being alone with her thoughts, and taking a look at this list could help her in far more than the dating world.

Your usual fantastic insight makes me smile. "We introverts know how infuriating we can be. We don't say much, except when we do." How true!

Ty Unglebower said...

Thanks Becky. I am glad you enjoyed the post, and hopefully many will get something out of it they can use, for dating or otherwise.

And as for that quotation, I always thought that was an apt way to describe introverts. If you get us on an actual topic we find relevant, we can talk more than some of the extroverts!

local dating free said...

One of the great things about online dating is that it is much easier to you must approach people in the right way. If you find someone’s profile attractive then take the plunge and see if you are in with a chance.

Ty Unglebower said...

I agree to an extent, but it seems many times people are actually MORE picky, hence making it even more difficult to approach them online than in real life.

sugar baby daddy said...

I think that these tips are really, nice because all men and women are either introverts or extroverts. So, these tips are helpful for all people.

Jack said...

I am very introvert person.I find it very difficult to talk to a girl.I liked your blog very much.

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