If you’re in a relationship with an introvert, you may be struggling to understand your partner and their preferences—especially if you’re an extravert and in the early stages of dating. To non-introverted people, those who are introverted can be perplexing. After all, introverts are polar opposites of extraverts.
Where an extravert enjoys large parties and going out, introverts might prefer a quiet evening with close friends. And while extraverts enjoy spending lots of time in social situations an introvert will become fatigued and need time to recharge after time spent in social settings. As a result, if you’re an extravert, a lot of what an introvert does will not make sense to you.
Plus, it’s very easy to misinterpret their need for alone time as an indicator that they are just not that into you. To keep you from making false assumptions, it’s important that you know what makes an introvert tick when it comes to dating relationships. Here’s what you need to know if you’re dating an introvert.
What Is Introversion?
Before you can fully understand what it means to date an introvert, you need to know what introversion is—and what it isn’t. Overall, introversion is a personality trait where the person focuses more on internal feelings rather than on external sources of stimulation.
Typically, people who are introverted have a small group of close friends, enjoy solitude, and find large groups or parties draining at times. They also are very self-aware, enjoy observing people and situations, and are drawn to careers that foster independence.
It’s also important to note that introversion is not the same thing as being antisocial, having social anxiety, or being shy.
When it comes to introversion, there also are a number of different misconceptions despite the fact that introverts make up about one-third to one-half of the world’s population.
In fact, many introverts report being misunderstood. When they are quiet, people often assume that something must be wrong or that they are angry or depressed. Sometimes people may even feel that they are standoffish or aloof.
Instead, most introverts may be quiet, simply because they don’t feel the need to be the center of attention. They prefer to observe their environment and the people around them. And, they are usually more reserved in what they share about themselves with other people preferring to get to know someone before opening up.
What’s more, introversion is not an oddity or a weakness. Both introversion and extraversion have been identified in almost every species of the animal kingdom including even fruit flies.
For instance, there are fruit flies that will sit quietly in one place while others will roam around and explore their environment.1 Some researchers believe that each approach provides a unique survival strategy and is vital depending on the situation. The same is true for humans.
Sometimes it is beneficial to be an extravert and sometimes it is beneficial to be an introvert. Both personality traits have value and importance.
Understanding this fact is essential because it keeps you from assuming that one personality trait is preferred over the other. Instead, just accept that extraverts and introverts are different.
When it comes to identifying introversion, it’s important not to confuse shyness with introversion.
While it is true that some introverted people might be shy, shyness is not a defining characteristic of an introverted person.
In fact, there are plenty of introverted people who are outgoing. Here are some key characteristics that introverted people often display:
- Tend to be very observant and process things at a deep level
- Embrace solitude and crave time alone
- Prefer processing their thoughts internally rather than by talking them out
- Choose to share personal information with only a select few
- Prefer writing, texting, and other forms of written communication over talking
- Display less demonstrative emotions than their extraverted counterparts
- Recharge their batteries by retreating and spending time alone
- Become exhausted and over-stimulated by large groups of people
- Feel most alive and invigorated in quiet environments1
- Have a small circle of close friends rather than a large circle of friends
- Are great listeners and get to know people on a deep level
- Take extra time to understand ideas before moving on to new ones
- Desire meaningful interactions rather than small talk
The best way to determine whether or not your partner is introverted is to simply ask. When it comes to identity and temperament, people tend to have a pretty good handle on who they are and what makes them tick.
Of course, if your partner is unsure, one way to learn more about one another is to take a personality test together or learn about your love languages.
You could try taking the Myers Briggs Personality Test, the Enneagram, or the Big Five. The key is that you both learn what you can about one another so that you can be sensitive to how your partner operates, their preferences, and their needs in a relationship.
Tips on Successful Dating
If you discover that you are dating an introvert and you are an extravert or an ambivert—or even if you also are an introvert—it can be helpful to know how to approach dating with an introvert.
From selecting the ideal date options to giving them their space, dating an introvert doesn’t have to be challenging if you know what your partner might prefer. Here are some tips to get you started.
Too many times, people try to change the person they are dating instead of accepting them for who they are. If you’re dating an introvert, try not to judge who they are or pressure them into being someone they are not. Instead, appreciate what your partner has to offer.
Introverts provide the opportunity for their dating partner to slow down, reflect on things, and become more introspective. Likewise, if you’re an extravert, you can provide your partner with the opportunity to try new things and meet new people.
The key is forget all the social stigma surrounding introversion. Most of it is highly inaccurate any way. Being introverted is not a weakness nor does it mean that introverts don’t like people or that they are antisocial.
In fact, many introverts do very extraverted things. They also like hanging out with people. The difference is that the introvert will need time alone to recharge afterward and an extravert will not.
Be a Safe Person
Your introverted partner is more likely to open up and share their innermost thoughts when they not only feel that they will be listened to but also that you are a safe person to share personal details with.
If they feel like they have to constantly compete with you when it comes to talking or if you do all the talking, they will simply listen and not share much.
Make sure you are communicating that they are valuable and important by taking some of the focus off yourself and truly listening to what they have to say. With time, you may discover that your introverted partner is altruistic and thoughtful with a quirky sense of humor.
Make an Authentic Connection
Instead of focusing on doing all the right things in a relationship like calling at the right time, texting consistently, and saying the right things, focus on making a meaningful connection with your partner.
In fact, most introverts desire thoughtful, interesting conversations about something of interest to them.
If you’re not sure what their interests are, ask them. Or if you would prefer, share your passions or your goals. Introverts want a mind-to-mind connection where you share your inner world with them including what makes you tick.You also could try asking your partner questions.
Many introverts will share their thoughts and feelings in response to questions rather than volunteering information. So, be patient and ask your partner.
Just be sure to actually listen to what they have to say and avoid pressuring them if they are uncomfortable answering or feel like they don’t have an answer yet.
By being genuinely interested in their thoughts and providing them space to share, you’re more like to get deeper more meaningful responses.
Pick Appropriate Dates
Knowing that your introverted partner prefers more intimate gatherings or quiet evenings, make sure you choose your dates accordingly, especially in the beginning.
For instance, instead of dragging your partner to a work happy hour event where they will know no one, invite them to have coffee or dinner with you. Take them to a movie, go on a hike, or feed their intellectual side in some way.
After dating for awhile, your introverted partner will be more likely to attend parties with you. But in the beginning, you may want to suggest dates that won’t be overwhelming or impersonal.
After all, how much can you really get to know someone at a work happy hour when your attention will be divided any way?
Look for Compromises
Knowing that introverts get weary at big parties or events with lots of people, look for ways you can compromise in these situations. For instance, maybe you agree ahead of time how long you will stay or perhaps you drive separately so that your partner can leave early if they are feeling drained.
Although you may prefer that they ride out the entire event with you, it is unfair to put those demands on your introverted partner. Besides going and leaving early is better than not going at all.
Keep the lines of communication open too, so that you can determine what works best for your relationship. Some couples agree that twice a month they will do something the extravert enjoys and twice a month they will do something the introvert enjoys. Meanwhile, other couples come up with a code word to use when they are at crowded events.
This way, the introverted partner can signal to the other that they have reached their limit and they are ready to leave. Having this word allows them to bow out of the situation early without making a scene or drawing a lot of attention to themselves.
As long as you both work to respect one another’s differences and preferences, you can have a healthy relationship despite being polar opposites.
Get Comfortable With Silence
Try not to take it personally if your introverted partner needs time to decompress and be alone. In fact, it’s not uncommon for introverted dating partners to prefer not to spend every day together. This need for solitude is almost never about you personally and more about their need to manage the amount of stimulation they have going on in their lives.
Rest assured that once they feel refreshed and revitalized they will be open to spending more time together.
It’s also important to note that sometimes introverts would just rather keep things to themselves—especially if something is bothering them. Unlike extraverts who often process their feelings by talking about them, introverts prefer to process these things internally and make sense of how they are feeling and why before sharing it with another person.
If you find that your partner does this, be patient and give them the space they need. Eventually, they will share what’s on their mind.
Highlight Your Partner’s Strengths
Instead of focusing on what you don’t understand about introversion, focus on what you admire about your partner’s personality type. For instance, if you admire the fact that your partner is so comfortable being alone without feeling lonely, point that out to them.
Or, perhaps you like the fact that they are slow to speak but when they do they offer deep and insightful opinions. Make sure they know that.
Too many times, people focus on the negatives or the differences in their personality types and lose sight of what attracted them to one another in the first place.
Consequently, be sure you are regularly reminding your introverted partner what you love most about their personality. By nature, many introverts are loving, compassionate, and supportive. So, there’s a good chance that they also see many things in you that they admire as well.
A Word From Verywell
Remember, introversion exists along a continuum. So, no two people are exactly the same—even two introverts won’t be exactly the same. For this reason, you need to avoid developing an either or view of your partner’s introversion because if you do, you will miss all the nuances that make your partner unique.
Instead, establish good communication habits in your relationship. By continuing to discuss what you both want and need in the relationship, appreciating your differences, honoring your needs, and striving to compromise, you will experience a healthier and more successful dating relationship.