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The introvert’s guide to dating

People tell you to “get out there,” but you like it in here just fine. They tell you to be outgoing, to smile a lot and make conversation, but that seems like a lot of work. You just want to be you — to bypass the small talk and the need to be fast and witty and entertaining. You’re looking for someone you can be close to, not another person to impress.

Shy woman dating

Though there are a few fans of the “cold call” approach to dating — the idea that we’re supposed to encounter a total stranger in a bar or at a party and sell ourselves between bursts of deafening music — introverts detest the idea. Why?

Look at what defines an introvert

  • Introvert PowerThe brains of introverts become very active in response to what’s going on around them. The inner bells and whistles go on, and the introvert wants to crunch the data, understand the story, to make sense of it all. Because there’s so much activity inside, too much activity outside (noise, social input) can turn a “fun” event into an exhausting chore.
  • Introverts like to think first and talk second. If you share something with an introvert, he or she wants to consider what you said. Pressure to talk without space for thought, and to respond without space for reflection, deprives the introvert of what is most pleasurable about conversation.
  • Introverts would rather exchange thoughts and ideas than social information (“small talk”).
  • Introverts like to warm up to activity and interaction. They are also selective about what, with whom and when to share personal information.

Here’s the good news: Romantic cold calling is more suited to cinema than real life, and the path to finding love can take a wonderfully introverted course.

Here’s a road map

  1. Warm up. Notice the kind of people who catch your eye as you walk in the world or gaze at the movie or TV screen. Collect impressions and think about the kind of person you want to date. Let that information determine your strategy and rev you up for action.
  2. Meet through ideas. Volunteering for a cause you care about allows you to meet others who share your values. Attending a conference on a topic that fascinates you puts you in touch with like minds, and openly engaging in a hobby or sport you love tells more than a sales pitch.
  3. Use the quiet forum of the computer. Online dating gives you that thinking space to share who you are and to get to know others. Keep in mind that the person doesn’t always match the profile, so give yourself time to see if the impressions hold as you move from typing to talking and, perhaps, beyond.
  4. Get introductions. Meeting people through people can help you bypass some of the preliminaries. A mutual friend can point out common interests and get the conversation going.
  5. Feature your strengths. Though it may seem like a contradiction, be boldly introverted. If everyone else is chatting, you’ll offer an enticing respite by remaining the quiet, interested one. You offer more of a challenge if you don’t laugh too quickly or try too hard. Be a mystery. Slow things down by taking everything at your own pace.

And the next time that witty party repartee on TV makes you doubt yourself, remember that at least half of the people out there are introverts, and they (along with a fair number of extroverts) are also tired of playing the game. They’ll be so glad to meet you.

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