Dating an introvert may be quite different from dating an extrovert. Look at the countless social media memes celebrating themes like “cancelling plans,” and you’ll have some idea of the differences between these two personality types. Sadly, though, these can further feed the lack of understanding of the introverted personality rather than clarify things.
Introverts and relationships
“Having a basic understanding of how introverts are wired will help the person who’s interested in dating them to successfully relate on their level and achieve a deep connection even if their personalities are vastly different,” said Stephania Cruz, a relationship expert and author for DatingPilot.net.
Just like in any dating situation, what an introvert needs in a relationship is patience and understanding. Successful couples are those that can view one partner’s introversion as a positive rather than a negative. To reframe situations like this, it helps to understand a few basic things about the introvert personality and relationships.
Introverts need to recharge after social interaction
If you’re an extrovert by nature, perhaps nothing makes you feel more energized than being with a large group of people, making conversation, sharing laughs and having a great time.
But that’s simply not the case with introverts, which can be exceptionally difficult for extroverts to understand. This can lead to feelings of frustration and resentment in relationships, with the extrovert feeling pushed aside or held back.
But, said Melakee Nicholson, a licensed professional counselor, “It’s very important in that relationship for the more extroverted partner to understand that the need to replenish energy with alone time does not mean anything about the relationship.”
“Instead, it means something about an introverted individual and what they need or prefer. In order for the introverted partner to feel a sense of acceptance and autonomy, the extroverted partner must be willing to give the time that’s needed.”
Introverts are easily overstimulated
“Introverts become overstimulated or overwhelmed when they are in highly social or chaotic situations,” said Cruz.
For this reason, they prefer places that are quieter or not overstimulating. So if you’re hoping to organize an evening together that speaks to what an introvert needs in a relationship, plan a date like star gazing, a movie night at home or dinner for two at an intimate restaurant. These types of settings will help an introvert feel more comfortable and show their real self as they get to know you.
Introverts can get stuck in their own heads
Naturally, one of an introvert’s favorite people to spend time with is themselves. While this means they can occupy themselves, it also makes them prone to overthinking things. Sometimes, a gentle reminder to remain in the moment can be helpful for introverts.
Introverts prefer a small group of friends
Introverts do like to socialize, but not on the level of an extrovert or other people; they typically have a small group of friends, family and acquaintances that they like and choose to spend their time with, said Cruz.
So if you choose to attend social events with an introvert, it’s a good idea, especially in the early stages of your relationship, to balance this with quieter events that involve just the two of you.
A little silence can go a long way
While extroverts sometimes find silence uncomfortable, for introverts it can be refreshing. Even with the understanding that introverts need to recharge after socializing, that can go beyond just removing themselves from the situation. If the introvert in your life is giving off cues that they’d prefer to sit quietly rather than keep a conversation humming along, follow their lead. It may help them recharge faster.
Introverts think a lot and are extremely self-aware
If you’re of the impression that introverts are aloof, quiet people who can’t converse, you’ll be in for a shock when the introvert you’re courting starts talking non-stop after a few successful dates. That’s because introverts open up after making sure they feel safe and have developed enough trust from their partners, said Cruz.
And since they’re so introspective and observant, there’s a good chance they have a lot to say about the world around them. Dates that allow them to get their thoughts out of their heads are great options for introverts, so consider activities like a long walk or taking a canoe out on a lake for a leisurely afternoon.
Gentle encouragement can be valuable
Remember, introverts often enjoy social activities just as much as extroverts, just a little differently and in smaller gatherings. That said, if left to their own devices, some introverts may default to avoiding high-energy situations. In those instances, a small push to bring them out of their shell can work wonders—especially if it’s centered around how much others are looking forward to seeing them.
Introverts don’t need anyone to change them
There’s a big difference between gently encouraging an introvert to be open to new experiences and trying to change who they are. Introversion isn’t a disorder, it’s just a personality trait. An extrovert would rightly be outraged if their partner insisted on them changing their stripes, and the same goes for introverts.
Introverts learn by watching
Do you have a skill you’ve been dying to share with someone? Introverts tend to learn by watching, which means they may be more than happy to let you take center stage as you share your skill. Things like archery, cooking and painting or whatever your skill happens to be are all great options if you’re wondering how to love an introvert.
Most people aren’t 100% introverted or extroverted
While it seems like common sense, talk of introverts and extroverts tends to focus on the extremes. But realistically, most of us are a mix of both, perhaps leaning one way or the other. It’s not unusual for a self-proclaimed extrovert to pass up the occasional party invitation for a night in, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise if an introvert in your life proposes visiting a bustling nightclub or popular tourist attraction.
What is an introvert?
An introvert is a person who thrives with privacy, quiet, and times of solitude. Rather than enjoying large, raucous parties, an introvert prefers small gatherings and calm times at home, said Eric Patterson, a professional counselor and writer for Choosing Therapy, a mental & behavioral health startup based in Brooklyn, New York.
That means if you’re interested in dating an introvert, you may have to change things up a bit to make sure the introverted apple of your eye is comfortable and happy.
When two extroverts get together, they may have a blast at a loud, crowded concert, or connect in the front row of a wild roller coaster. But with introverts and relationships, these types of settings can cause them to retreat rather than relate.
Clearly, this can lead the extroverted person to mistakenly feel like the introvert is disinterested in pursuing a relationship further. That’s why it’s important to understand what an introvert needs in a relationship.
Misconceptions about introverts
Despite how we may perceive them, introverts aren’t necessarily withdrawn, judgmental or see themselves as superior. These and other myths can make dating an introvert more difficult. Below are some other common misconceptions about introverts, and how to try and handle them if you’re wondering how to love an introvert.
Introverts are shy
In “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,” author Susan Cain issues the following reminder for what an introvert is not: “The word ‘introvert’ is not a synonym for hermit or misanthrope…Shyness is the fear of social disapproval or humiliation, while introversion is a preference for environments that are not overstimulating.”
Introverts don’t enjoy company
One of the common misconceptions around introverts is that the desire for alone time always comes with feelings of being overwhelmed or exhausted by the presence of others, said Nicolson.
“Some introverts may simply appreciate the alone time for a host of reasons. That preference does not have to come with a severe emotional reaction to interaction with others. The encouragement here should be to create openness in learning about the introvert’s needs and desires, and to gain insight rather than judge by behavioral tendencies.”
Introverts don’t talk much
Nothing could be further from the truth, as long as the introverted person feels comfortable in the relationship, said Cruz. Introverts are constantly thinking, and they need someone with whom to share their thoughts. That’s why, despite this common misconception, the communication aspect of a relationship with an introvert can be one of the most rewarding.
How to love an introvert
It’s completely possible for an extrovert and an introvert to share a wholesome, loving relationship. The key, says Nicolson, is understanding.
“If there is a right way to date anyone, it likely comes with being willing to understand that individual and what works best for them.”
So if you’re wondering what an introvert needs in a relationship, don’t be afraid to ask. The introvert you’ve got your eye on is likely to give you all the information you need to forge a healthy relationship, assuming it’s a good match on all levels.