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.
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.
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.
Remain open to the idea of solitude, and when they take their alone-time, try some out for yourself. Practice being alone with your thoughts. The peace you find there may surprise you.
Finally, remain open to depth. Introverts don’t like surfaces. They don’t avoid conversations with strangers because they’re shy—they simply abhor smalltalk. Be willing to engage in thoughtful, personal talk. Introverts are often fantastic listeners. Take advantage of this, and you’ll find yourself in an incredibly rich and loving relationship.
Find Activities that Nourish Both of You
One of the best things you can do to make your relationship with an introvert successful is to intentionally seek out activities that you both can love.
Find that happy medium that won’t exhaust your partner, and won’t bore you. Small gatherings of close friends are great. Go for a walk in a public area so that the two of you can be around people, yet be close and intimate with one another.
Explore nature. This can be wonderful for both of you—take in the ever-shifting beauty of your surroundings as your introverted partner takes in the quiet and solitude.
Once you know your partner well and more fully understand their place on the personality spectrum, you’ll be able to find plenty of activities that you can bond over. This doesn’t need to be a you vs. them situation.
Realize that It’s Not About You
Introversion isn’t personal. When your partner needs space, their choice to spend the evening alone and doing nothing rather than being with you can feel like an insult. After all, aren’t you more important than nothing?
You are. You are deeply valued, in fact. Never mistake an introvert’s downtime for a lack of love. Rather, see their alone time as something that’s nourishing for both of you. They’re going away so that they can come back better for you. An introvert without his or her alone time can be a grumpy, miserable creature. They don’t want to be that around you. They want to give you their best, and this is how they do it—they’re built this way.
So do your best not to see their behavior as rude or unfeeling. It’s not. It’s simply the way they function, and they do it so that they can love you all the better.
They Don’t Need You; They Choose You
One of the most difficult realizations you may go through is that it seems like your introverted partner doesn’t need you.
In many cases, they don’t, and that can be hard to accept. But, in reality, it’s a wonderful thing. Here’s why.
An introvert doesn’t need people very often. Loneliness may not ever touch them, and they may find their minds to be expansive and beautiful enough that they need little else.
But think about this. Your introverted loved one may not need you, but they chose you.
It’s one thing to desperately take someone, anyone, out of a need for a partner. Your introverted date didn’t do this. They saw something in you that was lovely and worthy and good, and chose you above all others.
And that’s beautiful.
Fire and Ice
Extroverts and introverts can have wonderfully fulfilling relationships, but only if both put in maximum effort. Both need to communicate their specific needs, take the time to understand the other, and cast aside preconceived notions on what it means to be at either end of the personality spectrum.
But this is one time that fire and ice can truly combine to form something better, so take the time to explore this enigmatic, complex, and fascinating personality type.
In those still, quiet waters, you just might find the love of your life.