In many ways, online dating is a godsend for us introverts. It allows us to initiate contact with interesting new people without the awkwardness and risk inherent in cold call-style approaching that same person IRL. We can test the waters with a potential partner from the comfort of our computer or phone screen to assess initial compatibility. Additionally, many of us are more articulate in writing than we are speaking out loud, so we can get a lot of the “getting to know you” conversations done in a more low-pressure style.
All that being said, online dating can potentially be a minefield for an introvert new to the scene. There are many issues presented during the online dating process that can be confusing and tricky to navigate for any personality type. But introverts venturing forth into the jungle of online dating may tend to fall into some characteristic patterns that can sabotage their success. Unfortunately, this may lead to dropping out early rather than giving the whole thing a fair chance. And a fair chance it deserves…I have many introverted friends who have met amazing, long-term partners online. And others who have built their confidence by meeting a wide range of interesting new people. And still others that have floundered in frustration for months. So let’s go over some tips specific to introverts to help you not only navigate but crush the online dating scene….in your own introverted way!
Many people who try online dating present a super-sanitized and idealized version of themselves. Not only is this boring, it can be misleading and lead toward connecting with people with whom you aren’t really simpatico…which just wastes everyone’s time. Instead, present yourself as you really are, not who you wish you could be or (more commonly) who you think potential partners are looking for. A lot of online daters create a nice little mess for themselves by misrepresenting who they really are and ending up connecting with (and trying to be satisfied with) incompatible partners. Not necessarily in big, dramatic ways, but in small self-negating and self-sabotaging ways. If someone is not interested in who you really are online, the beauty of testing the waters via the venue of online dating is the ability to be quickly and cleanly “on to the next one” without a major confrontation.
As introverts, we often have a set of particular passions and interests that run deep. Do you like dance? Don’t just leave it at that! List that you are a fiend for Scottish Country Dancing! Love to read? Include the fact that you have read the complete works of J.R.R. Tolkien…five times. Don’t be generic about your likes, dislikes, and interests. In online dating, it can be tempting to paint with too broad of a brush in an attempt to appeal to as many potential partners as possible. Don’t do it! Break out that fine brush and fill in the details. Pretty much everyone likes walks in the woods and pasta dinners, so include stuff like that if it really means something to you, but take the personal details to the next level. There is low risk for judgement compared to sharing such details in person, but moreover, there is the possibility that someone out there will share your quirks or at least be intrigued by them.
This tip is related to the one above in terms of being specific with what you like and the type of person you are looking to find. If you have a few consuming interests or key aspects of your personality, try out dating sites related to those things. Niche sites may be less populated than the big-box sites, but there is a higher chance that you will find people who share things that are very important to you. For example, there are dating sites specific to cat lovers, sci-fi nerds, fitness enthusiasts…even sites devoted to connecting introverts seeking to befriend and/or date introverts.
Not that it’s impossible to find great dates on the free sites. I know several people who have done just that. However, the stories of horror and disappointment tend to outweigh the positive anecdotes when it comes to the freebies. The reason why is that the free sites tend to attract people who are less serious and may just be looking for a good time….as well as more than a fair share of good old-fashioned creepers. If you are serious about forming lasting connections online, it’s smart to make a monetary investment. Not that there aren’t sketchballs on paid sites; there definitely are. But money up front acts as somewhat of a filter, so a paid site will up your chances of meeting quality folks.
Online dating coach Kimberly Dawn Neumann compares the pitfalls of overzealous online dating to going grocery shopping on an empty stomach. Rather than exercising healthy discretion on what you’re putting in your cart, you may be tempted to load up on a whole bunch of easily-procured junk food. Instead, carefully screen profiles and chuck ones that don’t look like a good match. Decide what’s important to you before beginning the whole venture. For example, a lack of proper grammar and spelling may indicate overall carelessness (and many of us introverts are sticklers on this matter on principle). Or if you know you’re looking for a fellow introvert, read profiles with an eye out for introvert tendencies, such as a person saying they are a big reader, solo hiker, or simply that they value quiet time for reflection, or that they love naps! Some of us introverts, on the other hand, are attracted to extroverts who can help pull them out of their shells, so if that’s what you’re after, screen for extroversion instead. Keep an eye out for extrovert clues like someone saying they are interested in world travel, trying different cuisines, nightlife, and meeting new people from different backgrounds.
This is a particularly tricksome pitfall for us introverts. Many of us express ourselves extremely well in writing, and may prefer written communication to phone calls or face-to-face interactions with new people. If this is you, be careful not to lean too hard into your comfort zone. There is nothing inherently wrong with email or text exchanges, especially in the early stages, but you need to ask yourself if you want a penpal or a romantic partner. The bigger issue here is that it can be especially disappointing to have a lot to say to someone over the internet, then meet in person after weeks of extended written exchanges only to find that you two have ZERO chemistry in person. What a waste of time for both parties! Instead, if you find someone that you’re corresponding well with and who is throwing up zero red flags, take the leap and try a phone call, and more importantly, a low-pressure first date so you can see if you’re picking up what they’re laying down in person. If you are courting a fellow introvert, recognize that you may need to suck it up and make the first move to take things to the next level. It doesn’t need to be a declaration of love; it can be something as simple as “how about we meet up to chat over some coffee this Friday”.
Speaking of taking things to the next level, let’s talk about the first date. The first date does not need to be a fancy candlelit dinner! Save that for later when the romantic feelings have started to blossom. The best first date advice is to keep the plans simple simple and keep your expectations curbed. Some introverts have the tendency to put even potential romantic partners on a pedestal by putting a lot of energy into fantasizing about possible futures…or on the flip side, to have such impossibly high expectations that even a great guy or gal looks shabby in the light of day. Remember that the person standing across from you is just another human being equipped with a full set of their own glowing characteristics and quirky foibles. Pick a setting that involves an activity in a public setting that interests both of you; a setting that allows you to chat and get to know each other, but also provides an outside activity to focus on. This will cut down on awkwardness as well as allow you the chance to interact with and observe this potential partner in a different context. Maybe peach picking at a local farm if you are foodies or outdoorsy folks. If you plan to meet up over a beer or cocktail, how about trivia night or darts at a casual neighborhood night spot?
Try to have fun with this whole thing, and don’t take it too seriously. I know this can be hard when you’ve been looking high and low for someone special and have kissed a lot of frogs in the process. We introverts tend to be highly selective and hold (sometimes impossibly) high standards for romantic partners and even friends. While a healthy degree of selectivity is a good thing, take care not to close too many doors. Above all, be patient; finding a soulmate or even just a quality casual partner might seem like it should be easier than ever since we have so many online options these days. But it probably won’t be an overnight process to find someone with whom you’re truly compatible. And even if you are feeling impatient now, you can learn to be OK with that if you take it all in your own sweet time, and on your own terms!
Craig is the founder of LifeGuider, he is dedicated to improving not only himself but also others in being more physically fit and mentally capable of handling life’s challenges. He is not your regular life coach, no fancy clothes or fast cars, just a regular “Ole Joe” who has experienced the ups and downs of life like everyone else.
Introverts everywhere, get ready to shudder your way through this article. If you fall anywhere…