After being a dating coach for close to a decade, one of the most common misconceptions I’ve run into, especially with shy men, is this idea that they’re too introverted and therefore cannot talk to strangers and meet women.
I had this misconception too when I was new to the dating game. Even though I was curious and outgoing as a kid, when I reached the awkward stages of puberty and young adulthood, I became more reserved, withdrawn, and incredibly introspective.
I wouldn’t say I’m a pure introvert, since I can easily work a room, feel stimulated from social interaction with the right people, and have a conversation with anyone about practically anything these days. But I’m not a pure extrovert either, because too much social interaction without any time alone to recharge drives me to exhaustion.
In this article, we will cover what introversion is, along with five effective strategies to help you date more confidently and successfully as an introvert.
The most important thing to understand about the difference between extroversion and introversion is how you process the world around you and how you draw your energy. It’s not a matter of shyness or social ineptitude, which is a common misconception. So if you’re a natural introvert who gets drained by social interaction, don’t be ashamed or think that you’re inherently deficient.
In western society, being an extrovert is often seen as a virtue. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong if you’re a naturally outgoing person and draw your energy from the outside world, it’s important to note that some of the most successful people in the world are natural introverts. This includes people such as Michael Jordan, Warren Buffett, and Elon Musk just to name a few. For more inspiration, check out this article on the 23 most successful introverts.
I’ve taken multiple personality tests over the years for job interviews, studying psychology as an undergrad in college, and to better understand myself and how I process the world. While my personality tests always say that I have a slight preference for extroversion, it’s still a spectrum. I’m an extrovert who requires alone time, enjoys privacy, and needs to decompress after going out and socializing.
To find out where you lie on the personality spectrum and get a baseline of your own cognitive functions to understand why you do things the way you do, take this personality test.
My point is, introversion shouldn’t be looked at as a disadvantage. Susan Cain, an expert on introversion, argues that introverts have had many great contributions to society and that the power of quiet leadership is underrepresented in our society. If you want to explore her research and better understand how to leverage introversion to your advantage, check out her book: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.
What is Introversion?
I’ve already mentioned some of the advantages of introversion. But in order to fully understand this trait, let’s dive into what introversion actually is.
Introversion is a personality trait in which a person focuses more on internal feelings rather than external sources of stimulation. The introvert stereotype is typically people who have a small group of close friends, enjoy solitude, and find large gatherings and parties to be quite draining.
Introverts are also very self-aware, enjoy observing people and situations, and are drawn to careers that foster independence. When it comes to introversion, there are a number of different misconceptions despite the fact that introverts make up a third to half of the world’s population.
Many introverts report being misunderstood. A common misconception in western society is that when people are quiet, others assume that there must be something wrong or that they’re angry or depressed. Some people might even feel that they are unapproachable and aloof. But as I mentioned earlier, introversion isn’t the same thing as shyness, being anti-social, or having social anxiety.
Introverts are more quiet simply because they don’t need to be the center of attention. They prefer to observe their environment and the people around them. They are usually more reserved in what they share about themselves with other people, preferring to get to know someone before opening up.
Introversion isn’t an oddity or a weakness. Both introversion and extroversion have been identified in almost every species of the animal kingdom, including fruit flies. For example, there are some fruit flies that will sit quietly in one place while others will roam around and explore their environment. Researchers believe that each approach provides a unique survival strategy, depending on the situation.
The same is true for humans. In a nutshell, sometimes it’s beneficial to be an extrovert while other times it’s beneficial to be an introvert. Both personality traits have value and importance. Understanding this fact is essential, because it keeps you from assuming that one trait is superior to the other. Instead, be non-judgmental and realize that extroverts and introverts just process the world differently.
Dating Strategies for Introverts
Here at Craft of Charisma, we’ve had many natural introverts come through our Dating Mastery Program and various workshops. A few of our other coaches have also been natural introverts.
While I may be a natural extrovert on paper, after being out in the dating scene and coaching clients over the years, these days I tend to relate more to introverts. I prefer alone time to relax and decompress, and low-key activities like hiking or walking in a park or getting lost in a book. This includes anything that doesn’t require me to expend more social energy for long periods of time.
Growing up as an only child and having to be on my own a lot has given me a deep appreciation for alone time. It not only stimulates my imagination, but it gives me time to introspect and reflect on what I’m working on in my life and where I’m getting stuck.
The most important thing you need to understand as you’re learning to navigate dating is how to manage your energy. This means scheduling time to emotionally and mentally decompress, and not spread your bandwidth thin by falling into the trap of feeling like you need to socialize more. We’ve had a lot of students over the years push themselves into emotional burnout by doing too much too soon.
The key is finding ways to gradually expand your threshold and box for socializing and meeting people, along with strategically managing your energy. Start being more selective about when to socialize and when to decompress, and learn how to date with intention.
Small Talk Has a Purpose
To be quite honest, I’ve always hated small talk about things like the weather, pop culture, and other mundane topics. But small talk is also a necessary evil and societal norm because it takes time to build trust and rapport.
As an introvert, the most important thing to remember is that in order to make every interaction count and be worthwhile, focus on taking interest in the other person over your own interests. Fortunately, introverts are naturally good listeners. So you can leverage your natural tendency to be quiet to your advantage.
One of the ways I carry conversations is by suspending my judgment of the other person for the duration of the interaction and actively listening, while “labeling” their thoughts and feelings and verbally “mirroring” them until we segue into a deeper part of the conversation with more interesting topics. For a great explanation on how to apply this concept, check out this video by negotiation expert Chris Voss.
If you start feeling drained or under-stimulated in a conversation, calmly excuse yourself and move on to the next person or take some time to recharge. Remember that you don’t need to be the social butterfly and endure endless conversations or force chemistry with people you’re just not vibing with.
If you struggle with small talk and need a framework to improve your conversational skills, check out our podcast interview with communication expert Marcus Oakey.
Try Speed Dating
I know this sounds counterintuitive, but hear me out. A few years ago, we had a quiet and introverted student who never went out with us for the in-field portion of the class because he didn’t like going to bars and clubs.
But every single week in the lecture portion of the class, I would ask him if the concepts were helpful and if his dating life was improving. I was surprised to learn how many dates he had lined up after he showed me his phone, and I asked him what he did differently.
He told me that speed dating was quick, efficient, and fun since you meet a lot of people in a very short time frame. The analogy he used was interesting: “I get drained very easily interacting with strangers and people I don’t know. Being a former D1 track athlete, I hate long distance running but I still get a really good and efficient workout when I sprint. So I decided to schedule my socializing and practice by going to speed dating events and treating it like a sprint.”
It was a unique approach to practicing his social and dating skills, and I gave him props for being resourceful, creative, and self-aware of his personality quirks and tendencies.
Thinking about giving speed dating a try? If you need a starting point for the best speed dating events in your area, check out the following list on Eventbrite.
Schedule and Integrate Decompression Periods
This is one thing I’ve learned from my introverted friends that has helped me significantly after experiencing a period of emotional burnout from socializing and helping guys navigate the dating scene.
As a dating coach, part of my job is to be an emotional support to my students as they navigate their anxieties, traumas, and learn to express the best version of themselves that’s hiding behind all the baggage. While I love what I do, sometimes it can lead to what’s called compassion fatigue.
Compassion fatigue is a real thing, and much like traditional burnout, it can cause you to feel depressed, resentful, disassociated, and cynical. To learn more about compassion fatigue and strategies to work around it, check out this article.
Self-care gets tossed around like a buzzword these days due to the correlation of social media and how it affects our mental health. If you’re a natural introvert who gets drained by social interaction, as I always say to our students, “work smarter, not harder.”
Be sure to integrate periods of self-care. For example, if you know you’re going to have a busy week at work or need to go to a wedding or birthday party that requires you to socialize heavily, make sure to schedule a day before and after where you just focus on leisure, relaxation, and taking care of yourself.
This could involve anything from practicing yoga, going for a walk in the park with your dog or by yourself, ordering takeout and watching TV or Netflix at home, or taking a hot bath with some scented candles. Just do anything relaxing that will help you rejuvenate and recharge. For more recovery tips, take a look at this list of 25 self-care ideas.
Optimize Your Online Dating Profile
Much like the speed dating example, optimizing your dating profile and being strategic with how you manage and expend your energy is important. Just remember that online dating is a means to an end. At the end of the day, especially in these post-pandemic times, nothing beats face-to-face interaction. So don’t rely purely on dating apps to socialize, meet women, and go on dates.
Always prioritize time to go out and socialize in person. But if you have a busy life, are short on time, or just want to be strategic about where and when to socialize, think of online dating as a supplement to develop your dating skills.
If you want to learn how to optimize your online dating profiles, check out our comprehensive guide. While it’s mainly geared towards Tinder, the most important thing is to remember the fundamental concepts and not get too bogged down with the specifics. Many of these concepts can be applied to other dating app services.
If you struggle with how to converse, flirt, and set up dates on dating apps, this playlist is packed with tips and advice to help you maximize your online dating ventures.
Don’t Pretend to Be Someone You’re Not
One of the main ideas we emphasize in our programs is being congruent and authentic to yourself. We’ve had clients from all walks of life, especially introverts for example, pretend and force themselves to be like their naturally extroverted peers.
At some point, this usually leads to them burning themselves out by going over their personal threshold too soon. So build up your social activity gradually, and focus on socializing and meeting women in environments that align more with your personality.
To quote Dr. Arnie Kozak, psychiatrist and leading expert on introversion, “If you say you love checking out the new lounges in town, you’re liable to end up at one. Clearly state (with pride) that you’re an introvert and don’t be afraid to ask someone if he or she is an introvert. Knowing this will make it easier to arrange your first date in a conductive place…”
Remember, if you’re a natural introvert, it doesn’t mean you’re shy or socially anxious. It’s about how you draw your energy and process the world around you.
Here’s a quick recap of the concepts and ideas we covered in this article. Refer to these five dating strategies to start leveraging your introversion to your advantage!
- Small talk has a purpose.
- Try speed dating to make meeting people more efficient.
- Schedule and integrate decompression periods.
- Optimize your online dating profile.
- Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not.
’Til next time,