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You’ve found someone special. They’ve caught your eye, captured your attention, and are well on their way to stealing your heart, as well. You want this person to be a part of your life.

You get your wish, and the two of you finally make the choice to go out together. But there’s a problem. When you take your date to parties, they begin to visibly wilt after an hour or two, and linger near the door, as if they want to escape. They become irritable for no reason you can discern. Worst of all, they sometimes blow you off, not to fulfill some obligation, but to simply do nothing. What gives?

Well, you’re dating an introvert. And if you’re an extrovert, their ways can seem vexing and difficult. But fear not! The key to their secret inner lives is easily obtainable, and once you do, get ready for a relationship of unique depth and richness.

There are many misconceptions regarding introversion. It’s often conflated with shyness, which is entirely different. Shyness is fear of social judgment, and often stems from low self-esteem.

Introversion, on the other hand, is about how a person responds to social stimulation—it’s a feature, not a flaw. Extroverts are energized by highly stimulating socialization, like a party. Introverts, however, function best in quiet, intimate environments, like a tea room, and often gain their energy from solitude. People drain them.

Of course, there is no such thing as a purely introverted or extroverted person—everyone exists on a spectrum. But if the person you love exists on the introverted side of the scale and you’re at the opposite end, there are a few key things to remember that will help you avoid being locked out of their beautiful inner world.

They’re Not Going to Change

Your first instinct, on beginning to date an introvert, may be to drag them to all manner of social situations so that they might “come out of their shell”.

The thing is that their behavior isn’t a shell. It’s an intrinsic part of an introvert’s being.

The truth is this: you cannot change them. Make this your mantra until you fully believe it. They will always be this way. Accepting this is the first step to successfully dating an introvert.

But this doesn’t mean that you can’t set boundaries and expectations for behavior, as we’re about to see.

"Communication is incredibly important. Make it clear, in a kind way, that you’d like to be kept in the know regarding what they want."

Set Expectations

In any relationship, both partners must strive to love the other. Love, however, may look different for each individual. Each partner needs to set expectations early on concerning what they want.

Introverts might just need a little prodding to do this.

Tell your introverted date what love means to you—it’s likely to be very different from what they look for. But also lay bare your expectations for your partner. Let them know how important it is that they tell you what makes them happy—a difficult prospect for many introverts.

Communication is incredibly important. Make it clear, in a kind way, that you’d like to be kept in the know regarding what they want.

Now let’s talk about how to respect your introvert’s limits as you do this.

Get to Know Their Limits

Get to know your introvert. How long can they stay in a social situation without wilting? How much quiet time do they need before they’re ready to bounce back? Are there situations that are always a no-no?

Get to know these things, and more, and you’ll be able to better set the aforementioned expectations. If your partner is utterly drained after two hours at the club, don’t expect them to be able to stay for six hours four nights a week. If smalltalk drives them insane, don’t expect them to easily engage with large numbers of strangers.

Getting to know all the little peculiarities of your partner is a normal part of the dating process, but can be a more challenging for an extrovert dating an introvert. The rewards, however, are well-worth the effort.

Remain Open-Minded

An introvert’s life is different from that of an extrovert, but no less fulfilling. Relationships work best when both partners maintain an open mind regarding the lifestyle of the other. And if you’ve never been close to an introvert, you have many wonderful things in store for you if you’re open to them.

Remain open to the idea of silence. An introvert’s silence isn’t the uncomfortable silence of an awkward social situation. It’s the cozy silence between two people as they ponder a sunset together. It’s the silence in the seconds your partner takes as they think about what they are about to say, because you’re important enough to warrant that thought.

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