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How to date if you're an introvert

Canadian Living
Culture & Entertainment

How to date if you're an introvert

How to date when you're an introvert

For introverts, the idea of dating can seem like an insurmountable task. Meeting new people, initiating a date or making the first move with a new connection may be way outside your comfort zone. It’s easier for extroverts, isn’t it? Generally speaking, they like to be in the middle of the action, enjoy socializing (even with strangers), are talkative, outgoing and have lots of energy. Those with a more introverted temperament are more shy, prefer to socialize with one or two close friends at a time, listen more than they talk and are reserved with new people.

The Introvert Advantage, written by Marti Olsen Laney offers loads of information to help introverts survive and thrive in an extrovert world, including the dating world. Laney writes that there are three extroverts for every introvert, so it’s no wonder introverts are gun shy when it comes to finding love. It’s exhausting for an introvert to invest energy into a “potential” relationship, and chances are, their date will be extroverted. Regardless, Laney encourages introverts to get dating—the positives of an intimate romantic relationship are well worth it. “As you begin,” she writes, “remember that you’re on an adventure and that it will be fascinating to uncover a new person and discover his or her view of the world.”

These eight tips compiled from The Introvert Advantage will help any introvert start dating with confidence and have fun while doing it.

1. Practise having short encounters with new people. Smile and say hello to new people—in elevators, at the dog park, in the grocery store line, or just about anywhere. The point is to get comfortable conversing with people you don’t know.  Practise beforehand what you might say about yourself when you strike up a conversation with someone new. Honing your chitchat skills with strangers will help later when you're on a date, getting to know each other.

2. Ask your introverted friends for dating advice. Most introverts have friends who are also introverted. Ask them how they met their significant others. Or if you’re an avid reader, try looking up some tips in a dating book. When you find a dating strategy that might work for you, take the plunge and try it. It can be as simple as smiling at someone you feel attracted to. What do you have to lose?

3. Sign up for a group activity that you’re interested in. A great way for introverts to open up their circle of friends and start meeting potential dates is to join a group activity. It could be a fitness class, book club, lecture series or you could volunteer for an organization that is close to your heart. When you participate in group activities you love, you’ll meet like-minded people.

4. Keep the first date short. Introverts need to take baby steps. On a first outing, there’s no need to cook dinner for your date, go out to a movie, and then go for a drink afterward. To start, keep things short and sweet—meet for a coffee or dessert. It can be hard enough for an introverted person to socialize in normal circumstances, so a brief first date is always a good choice. And, if the date is going south, it’s easier to make an exit when you're in a public place.

5. Be curious. Introverts are great listeners and have excellent observational skills, so get curious about your date. Asking questions is also the best way to keep the conversation going. Let the dating process unfold naturally—at the core, it’s an interesting opportunity to get to know another human being. Special note: On a first date, only reveal as much personal information as the other person does. 6. Don’t try to be extroverted. You’re not an extrovert, so don’t try to be one! Don’t hit the booze to loosen up or become more outgoing. It’s way harder to be yourself with the tequila talking. Don’t try to be the life of the party if you’re normally a quiet person. Don’t push yourself to get physical with your date if you only show physical affection with people you know really well. At the end of the day, it’s better to be exactly who are (while putting your best foot forward, of course).

7. Pay attention to negative feelings. It's normal to feel slight discomfort when you're socializing with a near stranger—it's unnerving! But if you're angry, bored, anxious or fearful, this may not be a great connection. Monitor your energy level. Do you feel depleted or energized? Look for red flags that may indicate incompatibility. Does he ask you questions or only talk about himself? Is he overly passive or aggressive? Does he respect boundaries? Pay attention—you'll thank yourself later.

8. Have fun! Though it may take introverts extra energy to get out there and date, it should feel worthwhile and even fun. If dating someone is going well, embark on activities you enjoy, or places you like to frequent, and find a mix of quiet time (going to a play) and conversation time (discussing it over coffee afterwards). Breathe and relax—dating is leisure time, time when you’re away from work and other life obligations. Have fun and enjoy the company of someone new!

For more tips visit Canadian Living's dating advice page.

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