Dating and relationships week continues with this second instalment in the Dating Advice For Introverts series.
The search for love and companionship can be both frustrating and exhilarating. If you are feeling much more of the former than the latter, don’t lose hope. The most inspiring victories are won after a slump (think of every football movie ever made). Likewise, the greatest love stories are given to those who face the most obstacles.
The truth is, if finding your perfect match were easy, you wouldn’t value your relationship.
Now that we’ve had a little pep talk, it’s time to get back to the love lab and start experimenting. Today’s experiment involves attracting and approaching the opposite sex.
For introverts, this can be the most daunting part of the dating process. Nightmarish thoughts of crowded parties and awkward exchanges dance in our heads.
The laws of probability tell us that in order to find the mystical unicorn that is true love, we have to meet a lot of frogs. And we will probably have to make small talk with them. Ugh.
Fortunately, if you have found your tribe and you are being your most authentic self, you actually don’t have to “put yourself out there” too much. Well, not in the traditional sense anyway.
Putting yourself out there (the introverted way)
Even if you are extremely introverted, there are probably at least five places that you see new people each week. Here are some possibilities:
- The grocery store
- The gym
- At a dinner party
You have far greater chances of meeting your life partner in the five places that you frequent than anywhere else. That means you are more likely to meet that special someone at the gym than at a bar. You have a greater chance of truly connecting with a friend of a friend than with someone from another State who you find in an online dating forum. Your classmate is probably a better match for you than anyone you meet at a speed-dating event. Get the picture?
So, how do you turn those random people you encounter into people you might actually date? In order to answer that, I must go back to the experiment analogy.
When you are conducting an experiment, you don’t use just one subject. It is the same with attraction and dating. Every person of the opposite sex is a potential practice partner.
You don’t train for a marathon by running 26 miles on the first day and you don’t find true love on the first try.
The approach will be different for men and women.
For introverted women
For introverted women, simply being open to men talking to you (even men you are not attracted to) will make a huge difference. Attraction is kind of like sending out a radio signal. In order to get the right people to tune in, you have to send the signal out to a whole lot of people.
Look up, use open body language and be prepared to accept a date with anyone who asks. This is important because men can sense if you are approachable or not. They can smell potential rejection.
For introverted men
As an introverted man, you merely need to change your mindset. Whatever it takes for you to see approaching women as something easy and even enjoyable – do it. Remember, this is an experiment.
Don’t be intimidated. Remember, you are introverted not shy (unless you are both). You are perfectly capable of doing things that are out of your comfort zone if they are in alignment with your values.
Your mindset matters
“Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead only try to realize the truth. Then you’ll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.” ~ The Matrix
I promise you that this advice really works. And it doesn’t involve changing your personality or going places you don’t like to go. A change in your mindset is the single most powerful thing you can do to transform your romantic life.
In case you are wondering, I have done all of the things I write about (except for the male-specific advice). I have been asked out in each of the five places I mentioned. Before I changed my mindset and began being more open, men rarely approached me.
Now that you have the attention of a real live member of the opposite sex, how do you get a date?
Check back tomorrow for a brand new post in the Dating Advice for Introverts series about the art of flirtation and securing a date.
Maybe you can go into more detail about how you recommend experimenting by approaching strangers. What might that look like? And is there a way to do this so that if you see that person again you won’t be mortified?
Hi Patrick. For example, you can come up with a few questions to ask, and then practice active listening. You can make a goal of telling at least one person something you like about them each day. You can try simply making eye contact and smiling. Also, if you begin to view yourself as the person in charge of making others feel welcome, then this can help too. Instead of thinking of yourself as the stranger in the room, you recognize that others feel the same way.
I know I am only 21 years old but a man has never asked me out or approached me before. I have also never had a bf before. Yes, I am introverted but I do go out to grocery stores, shopping malls, etc but still guys never come up to me. What am I doing wrong?
At first I thought women had it easier in dating because they can be passive. But there’s downsides too. Women can’t choose which men come talk to them, or who asks them out.
If you’re a introverted and shy guy the fear of rejection can be crippling in the beginning. (In fact, many shy guys stay lonely because the anxiety is too much.) Yet it’s a blessing in disguise if you take action because it forces you to act against fear which builds confidence and assertiveness, two valuable traits in any area of life.
And you have the choice to talk to whichever women you find attractive, with the freedom of going anywhere and not getting interrupted if you want to be left alone right then. So there’s pros and cons for both genders.
There are no pros for guys like me. As an extremely introverted and extremely shy guy who at 36 has yet to ask even one woman out, there is no advantage for me at all. I have a very good, well-paying job, stay in shape, and get complimented by women at work on my clothes, etc., but could never ask anyone out because I just can’t. In today’s society, as a guy, I am expected to initiate every time, and if a guy doesn’t (irrespective of the reason), nothing happens. Since for me – as Sean says, “the anxiety is too much” – this situation pretty much closes the door on dating for me.
And regarding online dating, it’s still (almost always) up to the guy to initiate, first online and then in person – which I just can’t do.
this is more of a question than a comment, there is this guy I am so into at work,he made the moves first and I have started reciprocating,but whenever I try to get closer to him he seems to withdraw and at times get irritable ….an older person is blaming me that it’s all my fault the guy is being withdrawn….I don’t know what to do (sigh), any advice? Thanks
Hi Irene, It sounds like this guy doesn’t want, or isn’t ready for, a real relationship. My advice is to be warm and receptive to him when he approaches you, but to otherwise move on. Allow other men to flirt with you, enjoy your friends, enjoy your life. The moment you do this, he’ll probably draw near again, but by then you’ll see that there are other more deserving men who will pursue you consistently.
Wow, I’m so sorry about your hate mail! I was going to say all the things Deborah said. I can’t believe anyone would say such awful things about you and your writing! She must not realize how scarring those words are to introverts. Personally I really liked your post about reducing stimuli to induce sleep. I have insomnia, and because of your writing I’ve discovered that I think the reason is because I’m constantly overstimulated and then can’t turn my brain off at night. I really appreciate your website and the moral support it gives me.
Thank you, Laura. I’m glad you found it helpful! xo
nothing but assist me to help myself
Love this article. 🙂 One thing that really helped me become instantly more approachable was actually making eye contact with people on purpose, and then smiling at them. It seems so simple, but men especially seem to take very well to those sorts of signals of friendliness. It can do wonders for helping you seem more open to a conversation.
Great article. I suppose by exposing oneself to many rejections, we learn to take stride in challenges that arise in the course of getting to know someone from the opposite gender.
I wish I could follow your advice but as an introverted female, my self-confidence in pretty low. Every time I collect the courage, I get my butt kicked badly. The other day I went on a blind date. I did not expect anything but a good conversation at best. But he behaved as if he was forcing himself to be there and I felt depressed for three days afterwards because it felt like in old times: for men, I am just too smart, too boring, too ugly, too wrong (while I know I am NOT!).
In most of the cases, when I open up to a man who approaches me, he just withdraws and this is very discouraging, too. I probably do not understand the flirting game well, as I do not like to play with someone’s heart so I really cannot imagine to go through intense chain of constant rejections. What would happen? Would my self-confidence disappear completely? Would my heart turn into a stone and I would not be interested in anyone anymore?
I loved your article, but the advice for female introverts seems to be a little bit weird for me. So we are just supposed to wait until the man of our dreams approaches us? Silently waiting to be noticed? I think the advice for introverted men can be used by both genders! 🙂
Yes! I like this a lot! And the comment about making eye contact and smiling though that doesn’t really work for me, cause I think I just seem like a weirdo smiling at random people.
Hey!! I hope someone can help me.
I`ve dated a guy for 2 2/1 months. Everything was going well but I felt too slow, which lead me to think the guy only wanted sex from me. So I came clean with him and told him I was looking for something really serious and if he couldn`t see himself like that with me we should take different paths. (It was not violent at all, but it certainly was strong and clear). he let me know that we should not see each other, or something (he is not a man of many words so i`m trying to translate, but that was the message). Then I started searching and came across this introvert universe (which he most definetly is) of which I had no idea. As I started connecting the dots I realized that in his way, he was actually opening up really slowly to me, and now I feel terrible.
I feel terrible for two things, first of all for not aknowledging his attempt to open up, I can see now he was making an effort and the fact that I didn`t see it at the time makes me sad and mad.
On the other hand I feel terrible on the fact that I (to his eyes) evidently rushed him, without even knowing, and may have lost the opportunity to be with a great guy that I actually really liked and wanted to make feel loved and secure.
It`s been a couple of days since we last talked, and I know he`s been “stalking” my fb. On this scenario I don`t want to make any rush moves, but I would love (with all the knowledge I`m getting on introverts) to have a second chance to try things out with him.
Do anyone thinks it`s possible? Is there anything you would recommend to try to reconnect with him? To approach to him again? I would apreciate it so very very much.
Hello, I’m new here. I was just wondering if I really need to accept a date from any guy who comes my way? I mean I’ve sort of done that before, but it always leaves me sour in the end, because I don’t actually like the guy and it seems unfair to both of us and wastes time I feel. I agree more with the idea that I just have to be more open to have people approach me, but I also don’t really know how to do that or be honest with people about who I really am. I feel like the real me is sarcastic and not sweet all the time so I think people would naturally avoid my personality anyway. Oftentimes, I appear nice and sweet to people, who first meet me, but I’m not like that once I’m comfortable showing myself. I’m still quiet and calm, but I’m more snarky and crabby in real life. Isn’t that not what people like? I just have a bunch of qualms haha. I feel like I’m just a negative person and people don’t like that and I feel so cheesy trying to be positive or cutesy all the time. I’m currently jealous of a friend, who’s sweet, bubbly and extroverted personality has rewarded her with a guy, who’s cute and interested in her. I feel like I can never achieve that cause I’m the exact opposite. I am reading your book though and appreciate the work you do!
Hi there, of course you don’t have to do anything that feels uncomfortable for you. You can set your own guidelines. Maybe for you, it’s “I will warmly engage with any man that comes my way” (provided it feels safe). 😉
Hi, ok, I’m putting myself out here. There is the woman that I have a very friendly and complex relationship with. We aren’t seeing each other, per se, but she knows how I feel about her. We have had many similar personal events happen, some good and some not so good. She lives in another town and I am in school, earning a Doctoral degree. She came to me rebounding from a relationship where she was objectified and was treated like a piece of meat, and I had to tell her no because of an internship and a summer job. We have spent weekends together at least once every couple of months. She has some unique interests, nothing weird, but fun. Some that I actually enjoy. Here is the kicker, she likes a man that is not sure whether he wants to be in a relationship (there is a significant faith difference) with her, she says he like her, but when you see it he wants something more platonic. I will be seeing her in a couple of weeks, she isn’t against the idea, but I’m in a world of confusion, she seems to want to talk to me every day on the phone; this confuses me. Where do I go from here??
“As an introverted man, you merely need to change your mindset. Whatever it takes for you to see approaching women as something easy and even enjoyable.” Really – I merely have to change my mindset? You say that as if its easy… And then you say I should explicitly intend to get rejected three times every time I go out? I’m obviously missing something here – as a very introverted man with cripplingly low self-esteem (on a good day), how is this supposed to help? How can I possibly find continual [anticipated] rejection “enjoyable”?
ya, success breeds confidence, and if you haven’t had any past success or not the type of success you want, it’s very hard, very extremely hard to be confident, thats why it bothers me on how women are attracted to a mans confidence so much, always have had resentment towards the gender role that guys have to make the first move and be the initiators
Despite how modern human society has become, i wonder why women stubbornly, adamantly insist that it’s mans job, role to approach and make the first move, be the initiator, why do women have a strict rule that a woman shoulder never chase or pursue a guy?
Great piece in here.
Though introverted I feel very calm and interesting having a chat with the opposite sex. Most times am attracted to them by their level of intelligence.
Hi Michaela – I’m about as introverted as a guy can be – and have always been very shy. I’m 36 and have never even smiled at any woman (I avoid eye contact with those I find attractive) and am pretty much invisible as a result. Obviously I’ve never been on a date (never asked anyone or been asked out), never kissed or held hands with anyone.
You identify work and the grocery store as potential venues to meet women. Work for me is a complete no-go for many reasons and I can’t imagine actually taking to a woman I find attractive at the grocery store. Do you have any suggestions? No woman has ever given me the slightest indication she acknowledges my existence, let alone a sign of potential romantic interest.
People have always told me I’m handsome, smart, funny and talented, but I’ve never felt as good as other guys. The popular guys always get friends and women’s attention – never me. I’ve never felt I have what it takes to be successful with women and have always felt that other guys are by default more attractive than me. As such I never talk to women I like – there’s no point in trying since rejection is always guaranteed.
Hi Michaela – are you even reading these comments? I haven’t seen a response from you for a long time and your thoughts / advice would be very welcome. Thank you.
Hi Allen, I do read them, but don’t always reply to every one.