6 Little Ways Dating Is So Different When You're An Introvert

Introverts have a different dating experience from everyone else.

Introverted person on date being shy Pragyan Bezbaruah | Pexels

Introverts have a unique set of needs when it comes to dating. This is because introverted people require large amounts of alone time to regenerate and feel healthy. So what is an introvert, and how does this change their dating needs? Introverts, by definition, are: "...(someone) who is considered more thoughtful than social, with a personality more inwardly than outwardly directed; one who often prefers to have time in non-social situations." However, a human's 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 dating for introverts is going to be different than other people's experiences.


To divide the world into introverts vs extroverts is certainly an oversimplification, but the concept is useful if you understand yourself on a spectrum of introversion and extroversion. If you're an introvert, you'll 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 toward introversion) you may have a few specific dilemmas when it comes to dating.


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Here are 6 ways dating is so different when you're an introvert:

1. Don’t mistake introversion for shyness or extroversion for confidence

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're shy, 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.

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're introverted, you're not necessarily shy or insecure. There's no value judgment on this part of your personality. Simply support yourself so that you can function as your best self!

2. If you're an introvert, you need more downtime to recharge between dating interactions

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 energy primarily from within. They become easily drained, tired, depleted, or unmotivated when they spend too much time in highly social situations.


An introvert's emotional "gas station" lies inside of them. 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. An extrovert's emotional "gas station" lies outside of them. Extroverts become energized by the social stimulus of dates, the interaction with others, and the social environments they engage in.

Extroverts are typically “ready for more” much more quickly than introverts because the time they spend getting to know someone new fuels up their gas tank. The introvert, on the other hand, has used up their emotional gas while on a date and needs time away to refuel. Practically speaking, this means that as an introvert, you're likely to both enjoy the dating process more and to be a "better date" if you have downtime between experiences to recharge. If you give yourself this downtime, you will feel more open, invigorated, and available to connect.

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. This principle is meant to set you up for success. Again, success is defined both by enjoying yourself (dating is a failure if you’re not having some fun!) and by being your best and true self. You need enough energy to be your best self, your true self.

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3. Know your trust cues and test them out early on

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, 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 to observe others or a new activity for a time before truly joining in and participating. For a real bond to form, that participation needs to occur! However, 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's important for an introvert to be consciously attentive to the "cues" for trust, and to actively test their trust-makers early on. One universal trust cue is that your date does what they say they're going to do. For instance, if they say they'll call you the next day and don't, this is a sign that there might be a hangup in the connection between you two.

4. You will function best when dating one person at a time

Introverts tend to become drained with multitasking and too much attention drawn outward. The more you attempt to go against your nature, spreading your energy out between multitasking or dating multiple people, the less available the attachment system will naturally feel. Your attachment system is the biological and emotional system that governs how, when, and with whom you bond. The attachment system will feel safe and energized when 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're 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 you truly fall in love, no one wants to undermine their capacity for love by creating an environment that does not intrinsically enhance safety.

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5. You can help your date feel seen and understood, which most people crave

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 a lot of data into the comfort of your 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 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, and 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, and curious. So remember, if you like to observe and learn first — embrace that: Smile, ask questions, and truly listen to what you're being shown. The capacity and desire of an introvert to truly see another person for who they are is an enormous gift!

6. Know how and when to connect to the unconscious extroversion within you

Here’s the most fun dimension of the theory of introversion/extroversion! Jung’s theory of personality suggests that as an introvert, you have an extroverted part of your nature that's hidden in your unconscious mind. When you connect to any of the parts of your personality that are less conscious of you (like extroversion), you're making your personality stronger, more balanced, and more self-actualized. So, consider that there's an equal quality of extroversion within you. It's 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 the 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 erase the introverted part of you. Your introversion is a useful part of your life, but in balance, you simply increase your resources and options. That is certainly useful when you’re dating and sharing a life with another person, a family, and a community.


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Dr. Perrin Elisha is a psychologist, psychoanalyst, author, and teacher who helps clients get to the root of and heal their relational difficulties.