Dating is tough for a lot of people. For introverts living in an extroversion-dominant society, the dating pool can be even more difficult to navigate. However, some of the powerful lessons from the landmark book Quiet:The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking can be helpful not only for coping with western culture generally but also for getting more value from dating.
What Is Quiet?
In Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain explains how western society has come to favor an ideal of one spectrum of personality: extroversion. This “extroverted ideal,” which Cain argues permeates our culture, emphasizes that a person’s highest form of self should be outgoing, risk-friendly, highly collaborative, action-oriented, and effervescently social, among other things. In contrast, Cain argues that introverts’ strengths and contributions have been overlooked or even denied because they embody traits like caution, reticence, contemplativeness, focus, and preference to work solo, which have historically been devalued by society.
How Can It Help You in Dating?
1 Understand Your Needs
The most important step in finding greater fulfillment as an introvert is to take time to truly understand your own needs. In environments that have been traditionally dominated by extroverted values (most education systems and business spaces), introverts often act as what Cain calls “psuedo-extroverts.” Basically, this means introverts learn to adopt extroverted tendencies to cope and succeed in life. Sometimes they are so successful that they convince others—or even themselves—that they are extroverts.
This doesn’t help you at all when it comes to finding a partner, however. In that arena it pays off more to be true to yourself. So, it’s important to take some time to remove your “psuedo-extrovert” mask and get in touch with your introverted heart. Understand how much social interaction you can handle, what kinds of activities leave you feeling recharged, and how often you need them.
2 Set Appropriate Expectations When Dating Other Temperaments
Once you know what you need and under which circumstances, you can begin to fit those pieces into the needs of prospective partners. This is sometimes easier said than done. If you, for example, find yourself attracted to someone with a different temperament, your particular need for isolation and quiet in the evenings can clash with their need for activity and stimulation. So, what do you do? Essentially, it comes down to communication. Letting prospective partners know up front and in real-time what you are comfortable with will help you get more satisfaction out of dating in general and will help you filter out partners that aren’t an ideal fit in the long run.
3 Practice Communicating Your Preferences
However, it can be difficult to tell someone you like that this trendy (read busy) bar that they are crazy about makes you want to crawl into a (quiet) hole for an entire Saturday. Rather than toughing it out but secretly feeling uncomfortable and therefore not representing your best self, try communicating what it is that is particularly difficult for you, e.g., “This place has a lot going on and it’s hard to talk.” This is when a bit of practice comes in handy.
Asserting introverted needs in an extroverted space is uncomfortable—at least at first—but by identifying what you need to be fulfilled, you can begin asking for or making these needs known in less high-stakes situations than your next date. That is, practice asking the waiter to turn off the television or turn down the music. Practice asking your friends to go someplace calmer. Practice telling your co-worker who jumps from task to task that you need some time to get organized and plan. Practice telling your family that they should go out without you and that you’ll be fine at home alone for the night. The more you voice your needs in everyday scenarios, the easier it will be for you to find the necessary words when you need to communicate with a date.
What experiences have you had with dating as in introvert? What communication tips would you add?