When on a first date, the date may feel like nothing more than small talk when really you are looking for something deeper and more meaningful. While small talk may not be your cup of tea, understanding it is the first step to connecting with a stranger will lead you in the right direction.
Dating can create negative feelings, but you have the power to put a positive spin on your romantic life through intentional dating strategies and self-care practices that fit your introverted self. By owning who you are and being willing to make dating work for you and your personality preferences, you will experience more success.
Here are five dating strategies for introverts:
1. Be mindful of the timing and scheduling of dates.
It is essential to pick a time and environment that allow you to thrive and feel comfortable. If you know you will be drained after the work day or another social outing, give yourself a break and don’t pressure yourself into going on a date directly afterwards. Make sure you replenish your energy after life events or daily activities that drain you before going on a date. Also, pick date locations that make you feel comfortable.
If you are going for a meal, drink, or cup of coffee/tea, it can be helpful to pick a place you’ve been to before, which will ensure greater comfort, allow you to focus on your date, and give you an increased sense of control and safety. A loud, crowded bar may not be your scene, but maybe a coffee shop, hike or picnic in the park is more like you. Or try a fun activity, like painting or walking around a museum, which will spark meaningful conversation without the pressure of constant communication. Aim for fun, yet low-key dates and plan for dates on the shorter side that can always be extended.
2. Engage in daily self-care practices.
Get to know yourself, your energy limits, and what works for you in terms of rejuvenation. Ask yourself what you need to achieve restoration and balance and let go of any judgement about your answer. If you know you function better with daily alone time, make it a part of your schedule. This may involve the uncomfortable dilemma of saying no, but putting yourself first is worth it. During your quiet time, put down the technology and focus on recharging your energy. Also try a daily mindfulness or meditation practice (research shows that just five minutes goes a long way), find a creative outlet, or take up journaling or yoga. Self-care also includes engaging in positive thinking, treating yourself with kindness and compassion, and not judging or shaming yourself for your personal needs. By incorporating self-care practices into your daily life, you will be ready to date without compromising who you are.
3. Stay aligned with your goals and values.
Let your goal of finding love drive your behavior, while resisting the urge to allow your emotions to run the show. Expect dating to be (sometimes) challenging, exhausting, and anxiety-provoking without allowing these emotional experiences to convince you to give up. You are allowed to feel scared, tired, panicked, burnt out, and frustrated about dating, but understand these emotions will pass if you accept their existence and keep yourself grounded in the process. When feeling emotionally drained, bring your goals of companionship, love, intimacy, relationship health, etc. to the forefront of your mind and align yourself with these goals (versus temporary feelings).
4. Set personal boundaries and follow dating rules that best fit your personality.
Throw out the “dating is a numbers-game approach” because it is bound to produce intimidation, pressure, and anxiety. There’s no point in going on three dates a week if you are going to feel exhausted and not show up as your best self. Let go of the burden to meet as many people as you can as quickly as possible because it will only result in stress and fatigue. Focus on going on dates with potential partners you have had multiple positive interactions with, and who you have developed a sense of positive rapport with (over online dating messaging or the phone). Pace yourself and schedule dates spaced out with time for rejuvenation and self-care in between. Only you can control how many dates you go on per week, how many hours a date lasts, etc. and setting personal boundaries is important for your health and well-being.
5. Be authentically you.
Be authentic and own your personal and emotional needs instead of trying to be someone you are not. Be proud of who you are and don’t fake extroversion! Give potential partners hints about your personality through your online dating profile, as well as on a date. Let it be known that you value alone time, enjoy reading, curling up on the sofa, etc. if these activities resonate with you. It is important to let your date know you are an introvert, especially if you are interested, so he or she doesn’t feel rejected or misread your signs of needing space. Also be mindful of finding a partner with a personality type that doesn’t exhaust you.
By going slow and balancing your own needs with your goals, dating will feel more positive. The more positive you are, the better your dating life will go. Don’t be afraid to replenish yourself through alone time, and make space for solitude. These practices are important to who you are, so embrace your introverted nature and have fun.