I was set up on a blind date. I walked into the bar, and immediately saw she was my type physically. She had long chestnut hair, (on her head, not her knuckles) beautiful brown eyes and was in great shape. She was smart, cultured, sophisticated, and well mannered. She looked like she just stepped out of a magazine. So did I if that magazine had been a mug book. Can you say out of your league? We had a nice dinner and a pleasant talk for about three hours. But it was very quickly evident we were actually not the others type. She was the epitome of an extrovert. I was on the opposite extreme, and the epitome of introversion. She talked about meeting strangers at the beach last summer, and now they were friends. I cringed inwardly, and probably a little outwardly. She said a couple of times of herself ‘I can talk to anybody”. She liked dance clubs. I tried going to a dance club once with a couple of friends in an effort to “meet some girls”. I did not enjoy the process. We watched two sasquatch-linebacker –mutant bouncers forcibly removing two wanna be fighters, and I spent my minimal undergraduate income on five dollar whiskey and colas, my ears rang for three days afterwards, and in addition to being partially deaf I was broke.

Dating can be a challenge for an introvert in an extranormative society. I just made that word up, but it fits. American culture is based on the idea the extraversion is the norm, and that introverts need fixing. I say embrace your introversion. That means don’t struggle to be someone you are not and suffer needlessly if you can’t stand small talk at parties or gigadecibel music at a club. Remember, dating and relationships are supposed to be fun, not torturous. Here are some points to consider while dating:

1. Do opposites really attract? Or are introverts better off finding other introverts?

I think the answer here is to experiment. Speaking for myself, I have been most comfortable with other introverts as both friends and partners. Introversion and extraversion are personality types which exist on a continuum, with ambiversion, or people with both intro and extra traits in the middle. Depending on which end of the scale you gravitate toward, you may want to try seeing someone who is a little more extra. A blend of both qualities where you share each other’s interests can be an enriching relationship

2. Speaking of finding other introverts, where do you go to do that? The job?

These days, if you tell a woman co-worker her hair smells good, that is sexual harassment. There is also sexual harassment by proxy. If Fred tells Betty she looks nice today, and Sally, who had not received a compliment from a man since she can remember overhears, she can claim this was offensive and creates a hostile work environment and so on and so forth. When did we Americans get so uptight as a society where telling a beautiful woman she is beautiful is offensive? So sad. The worst day of a woman’ s life is when she wakes up one day and realizes she has not received a compliment or been noticed for months. I digress. Of course there is the double standard, and you would be hard pressed to find a man complaining about sexual harassment, but you still have to exercise caution in the workplace. Cafés are a good place to try, especially if you become a regular you will be able to meet other intros. Someone who spends three hours sitting at a table reading alone? Safe to say you have found an intro. There is also the option of meeting someone on-line. This can be hit or miss, and may take a few tries. Be sure to include your introversion in your on-line profile.

3. You have met someone, now what?

If you are seeing another intro, give and get a lot of space in the relationship. Do what intros do, and communicate clearly about your feelings and needs, to minimize misunderstandings, or anxiety that you are pushing the other person away, or don’t want to get close. Intros get close, and develop very deep connections and attachments, but slowly.

4. Having fun.

With another intro, you can look forward to long, deep, intense, and meaningful conversations. You will delve deeply into each other’s minds as you have cognitive intercourse. Some ideas for intro activities that would be agony for extras include reading to each other, or walking in a park or bike path. Gentlemen, try this: offer to 1) Brush her hair 2) massage her feet 3) give her a back rub. 4) All three. This will go over great with an extra as well. And ladies, if you are with a guy with a shaved head, or closely cropped hair cut, offer to scratch his head. Like you would a dog. Don’t say that part though. The response will probably be “are you effing serious?!” This will reflect how no one else has ever been so considerate, offering something so very intimate and sensual, but not sexual.

5. Managing conflict.

It would be tempting to say intros are afraid of conflict, but that is not accurate. It is one of the many stereotypes surrounding introversion. Intros are indifferent to conflict. Conflict is boring and draining, especially when it is over something trivial. However, conflicts in a relationship are inevitable and normal. Once again, do what intros do naturally, and communicate with clarity, with the mouth- brain filter enabled (see the part about head scratching in point #4). Here is a red flag: if you’re new interest creates conflicts out of thin air. Speaking of which…

6. Moving on.

A hard reality: Dating is a process, sometimes arduous, where you meet people, and develop connections and have fun, but sometimes you will find you are just incompatible as intimate partners. If you can, do the “let’s be friends” thing, but only if you really mean it. For many couples, that just means a long goodbye because they are not ready to end something that is clearly not working. If anyone can make the friends only deal work, it is two introverts who have depth.

 

Written by: David A. Porter, MA, LADC
Private Practice, Otter Creek AssociatesAdjunct Faculty in Psychology and Criminology, Community College of Vermont & Burlington CollegeFreelance Behavioral Science writer