Introverts, despite their relative tendency to thrive on and need alone-time to regenerate and feel healthy, also need love, connection and commitment -- like their extroverted counterparts! The reason is simple. We’re all human. Humans’ primary need is for warmth, connection, belonging, understanding, and the meaning of a role in one’s world. But, introverts go about connection differently, and so it stands that there shall be dating advice for introverts!
To divide the world into introverts and extroverts is certainly an oversimplification, but the concept is useful if we understand ourselves on a spectrum of introversion and extroversion. If you are an introvert, you will necessarily need time away from others to recharge your energetic battery. This is the most profound way to understand introversion and extroversion.
Extroverts, on the other hand, need social contact to recharge their batteries, and never quite feel refreshed without this. Most people can feel enlivened by both to some degree, but if you are a true introvert (or heavily weighted towards introversion) you may have a few specific dilemmas when it comes to dating.
Some people equate introversion with shyness; however this is a mistake. Remember, introversion is the tendency to refuel inside oneself. Shyness is more of a fear of or anxiety about social interactions. Introversion means that the highest functioning is simply served by a more internal perspective; not an avoidance of social interaction due to fear or anxiety.
If you have shyness, then your first task is to learn about the fears you have about social interactions and develop strategies to work through those fears, which can be limiting to a connection.
Likewise, if you meet someone who is strongly extroverted and functions well in highly social situations, do not assume that that individual is confident. The spectrum of introversion and extroversion has nothing to do with confidence. An extroverted person may need you to understand their fears or insecurities about being seen by or loved by another!
If you are introverted, know that you are not necessarily either shy or insecure, and that there is no value judgment on this part of your personality. Simply support yourself so that you can function as your best self!
C.G. Jung is the psychologist who coined the terms “introversion and extroversion”. What he primarily meant by this spectrum is an answer to the question of how a person derives their psychological energy. Introverts derive their psychic energy primarily from within. They become easily drained, tired, depleted or unmotivated when they spend too much time in highly social situations.
If you’re an introvert, your emotional gas station lies inside of you. You need freedom from external distractions to go inside, solve problems, think things over, and integrate your experiences or interactions. Dating is by nature an external attention grabber.
If you’re an extrovert, your emotional gas station lies outside of you. You become energized by the social stimulus of a date, the interaction with others, and the social environments you engage in. Extroverts are typically “ready for more” much more quickly than introverts because the time they spend getting to know someone new actually fuels up their gas tank. The introvert, on the other hand, has used up their emotional gas while on a date and need time away to refuel.
Practically speaking, this means that as an introvert, you are likely to both enjoy the dating process more and to be a ‘better date’ if you have the downtime between experiences needed to recharge. If you give yourself this downtime, you will feel more open, invigorated and available to connect. Sounds good for you and your date, right!
This principle extends to other life activities as well. Introverts are less likely to go straight from a demanding, extroverted work day (like speaking or working on a team) to a date. An introvert will enjoy themselves more if they take some time alone by taking a walk or going home first before going on the date.
Likewise an introvert is often well served after a date by spending some quiet time or alone time to integrate what was seen, felt, understood, and wanted during the date.
This principle is meant to set you up for success. Again, success is defined both enjoying yourself (dating is a failure if you’re not having some fun!), and by being your best and true self. We all need enough energy to be our best self. And, we all need enough clarity to be our true self. If you are an introvert, you simply need more downtime to achieve these goals.
Developing trust is the primary task when choosing a companion to spend more time with. Trust is foundational for any relationship. However, for introverts this aspect is especially important to develop early on, in order to foster an environment where a real bond can occur.
Because introverts tend to solve problems on their own, search and look inside themselves, they do not bond as quickly as extroverts.
Introverts prefer observe others or a new activity for a time before truly joining in and participating. In order for a real bond to form, that participation needs to occur! But, an introvert will tend to feel hesitant about this emotional participation until they have observed and established trust in their date.
This means that it is important for an introvert to be consciously attentive to the cues for trust, and to actively test their trust-makers early on. Otherwise, a dating relationship will have a hard time developing the energetic momentum and connection necessary to move forward.
Hint: one universal cue for trust is congruence between what your date says and what they do. So watch this, and don’t be afraid to bring up potential issues with this congruence early and directly; this will infuse a good relationship with energy and connection. If your date says they’ll call you tomorrow and does not, gently inquire!
Introverts tend to become drained with multi tasking and too much attention drawn outward. The more you attempt to go against your nature, spreading you energy out between multitasking or dating multiple people, the less available the attachment system will naturally feel.
Our attachment system is the biological and emotional system that governs how, when and with whom we bond. The attachment system will feel safe and energized when it is in its most comfortable and natural state. If you’re an introvert, this means not feeling over-stretched, over-stimulated, or over-committed.
This doesn’t mean that you have to be rigid about first dates or casual interactions, but I do recommend not going past a date or two with multiple people if you are an introvert. This scattering of your energy and attention onto multiple external people, who are by nature new and without the necessary trust to be an intimate companion, will leave you feeling less safe.
Because safety is the emotional environment in which we truly fall in love, no one wants to undermine their capacity for love by creating an environment that does not intrinsically enhance safety!
The stronger your introverted nature, the more you will prefer to observe and feel you have the “lay of the land” before you dive in and participate. You like to take in a lot of data, take it into the comfort of your own mind, analyze it, learn it, and then expand out into the world of action.
This can be a great quality; however on a first date it has the potential to come across as aloof, disinterested or hard to reach.
If you know this about yourself, you can actually turn it into a very warm and attractive quality. The capacity to observe, watch, listen and move slowly-- when it contains warmth-- can provide an ideal ambiance of presence, respect, patience for your date.
Your date can experience this as the perfect place to truly be known and understood.
The key is to know yourself well enough to know the difference between coming across as aloof and distant and coming across as calm, patient, open, curious and warm.
So remember, if you like to observe and learn first -- embrace that: smile, ask questions, and truly listen to what you are being shown. The capacity and desire of an introvert to truly see another person for who they are is an enormous gift!
Here’s the most fun dimension of the theory of introversion/extroversion!
C.G. Jung’s theory of personality includes that as an introvert you have an extroverted part of your nature that is hidden in your unconscious mind. When you connect to any of the parts of your personality that are less conscious to you (like extroversion), you are making your personality stronger, more balanced, and more self actualized.
So, consider that there is an equal quality of extroversion within you. It is your prerogative to get in touch with this part and to move through life with access to both qualities when they each serve you!
Being able to activate the dormant extroversion within you can be done, for example, by opening up to others about a problem or vulnerability. This action is opposite of your instinct to solve problems on your own.
Solving problems on your own is a strength, but it also comes with the risk of isolation which increases the risk of depression. Learning to reach out to others broadens the consciousness of your personality, integrates your extroverted component, and insulates you from depression related to isolation.
Developing the capacity to reach out to others will never nor should it erase the introverted part of you. Your introversion is a useful part of your life; but in balance we simply increase our resources and options. That is certainly useful when we are dating and sharing a life with another person, a family and a community.
Let me be a person you open up to for help and guidance! If you’d like to explore these and other topics in greater depth, to date with wisdom, balance, clarity and empowerment, enroll in my Dating Course today! Here I walk you through a handbook of dating in a series of 11 online videos and 2 workbooks to complete at home! I will teach you how to know and embrace your true self so that you can authentically connect with that special someone.
I am a psychologist, psychoanalyst, author and teacher who helps clients get to the root of and heal their relational difficulties. Download my free eBook "How to Be an Extraordinary Partner" or if you want to know all things dating, enroll in my online course THE DATING COURSE!
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