The first time I met Michael, I thought he hated me.
We swiped each other on Tinder, I told him I liked his dimples, and after a few days of nonstop witty texting, we met for drinks at a hipster hangout in the East Village. The text game and sexual attraction were strong across the airwaves.
We had a few drinks. I did all the talking. I don’t think he said more than a few words during the whole evening. I carried the conversation; regaling him with stories of wild nights out.
I walked away from that date and thought: Wow, that guy definitely thinks I’m the worst.
But the next day he texted me that he’d had an amazing time and wanted to take me out again. I was befuddled. How could he possibly have thought that was a good date? Had he never been on a date before?
I agreed to a second date out of pure curiosity (and horniness). All my previous boyfriends were life-of-the-party-guys—men who fed off my energy and swept me up in tumultuous emotions. This was…the opposite.
I realized he wasn’t quiet because he wasn’t feeling my vibe; he was quiet because he was a listener who genuinely enjoyed soaking up everything I said. Michael was an introvert.
Almost three years later, I’m pretty confident I’m going to marry the guy. Which is why, as a now-expert on the subject, this is my advice to all other extroverts looking to date an introvert.
First of all, introverts make good partners for extroverts
Dating an introvert was the best romantic choice I have ever made for myself. Too often we outspoken, wild extroverts mistake the mild mannerisms of introverts for signs that they’re boring, subdued, and apathetic. Since 75 percent of people are naturally extroverted—while only 25% of the population are introverts—we’re in the majority, which can make it hard to recognize and appreciate personalities that are the antitheses of our own.
Have you ever heard that famous line from Pippin, “You are the wind beneath my wings?” That’s what it’s like dating an introvert. My partner is the rock I can lean on, the person I can depend on. Considering my spontaneous decision-making and proclivity for uncharted territory in all aspects of life, having someone there to bring me back down to earth has been a needed anchoring.
When I lost my job, my love for New York was lost along with it. I wanted to get out immediately and my hometown of Chicago was the only place I could see myself going. My boyfriend calmly explained that I had a life, relationship, and obligations in New York, and couldn’t just walk away from them without properly considering the outcomes. I had no choice but to listen to him. He was being reasonable.
A critical element of dating introverts is the ability to let your partner let youshine. Accepting that you need that security in your life makes it easier to accept your partner as a source of your strength.
Remember to actively bring your S.O. into the conversation
I used to get so pissed at my boyfriend for staring blankly into space at parties. It seemed rude, like he so clearly wanted nothing to leave. He was outside of his comfort zone, interacting with my peer group to benefit me.
Don’t get angry with an introvert for being withdrawn in social situations. Help your boo feel comfortable at parties by bringing him or her into the conversation. Hold your partner’s hand. They’re not keeping silent because they hate your friends and they’re not bored: Small talk is just exhausting for introverts.
And remember, your partner isn’t “lacking” anything. He or she is simply an introspective person. You should be able to handle that by not letting your personal insecurities about someone’s shyness derail your own enjoyment of the social situation.
Being an introvert doesn’t mean they’re insecure
Upon entering a long-term relationship with an introverted guy, I learned a lot about how different people express themselves. I always assumed that being the loudest person in the room (ahem, me) meant that you were also the most confident. This is a logical fallacy. It’s not the person who talks the most who has the most interesting things to say, it’s often the person who only speaks when he or she has something of substance to add to the conversation. Now I know that Michael speaks up when he has something to add, not as some show of bravado.
Learn to appreciate that just because your bb is a listener doesn’t mean he or she is insecure. Your partner is actually secure enough to know that they don’t need validation.
Be sure to manage your expectations
Expecting someone who isn’t used to texting all the time to text you all time is illogical. So is wanting a guy who isn’t into partying to party with your every weekend. If you want to date an introverted person, you have to be OK with a different way of thinking.
You will have to compromise on plans. It’s perfectly fine to want to be social, but you’ll have to give a little to get a little. An introverted person is not going to magically love being in a social situation just because you do.
Plus, going out alone actually doesn’t suck. If you want to go out and your babe doesn’t, don’t feel stifled: Go out with your friends anyway. Enjoy how nice it is that you have a relationship that makes you comfortable enough to peruse the things you like, regardless of whether your partner wants to take part, too.
Keep in mind that introversion is a personality trait
At the end of the day, you need to accept that we’re talking about a quarter of the population here. Introversion is not an impairment or something somebody is going to grow out of, so don’t think of it as a hindrance to your partner’s enjoyment. Instead, recognize all the good that comes from dating an introvert. One of my favorite things about my relationship is the conversation—introverts think more deeply than extroverts. Getting to peer inside an introvert’s mind is fascinating.
Some people are outgoing, others are inclined to introspection. Surprise! People are different. But in this case, the idea that “opposites attract” is not far off. Introverts and extroverts can balance each other out in a healthy way.
After dating a lot of extroverts, I realized that the constant butting of heads and subsequent poisonous drama always dissolved into a mess. Dating an introvert has been an interesting change—one that’s made me more confident and comfortable with myself.