Introverts Aren’t Awkward, First Dates Are
If your idea of a fun Friday night is staying home, curling up next to your dog and binge watching your favorite show, it’s easy to feel doomed with dating.
Whoever invented the concept of dating wasn’t an introvert.
The last thing an introvert wants to do after an energy-draining week is exchange small talk with someone he or she hardly knows at a crowded restaurant. Scratch that. The last thing an introvert wants to do on Friday night is talk on the phone for hours on end with a stranger. But going out on a first date is a close second.
Don’t get me wrong. Introverts want to have fun just as much as the next person. But it’s hard for us to have fun with people we don’t know or feel comfortable around. We don’t use fun activities to get to know people. The only thing that makes activities fun is experiencing and sharing them with people we enjoy.
Today’s dating scene is far more introvert friendly thanks to the internet. Online dating gives introverts a slight advantage they didn’t have before. You can get to know someone well before the first date now — avoiding the small talk, confusing body language, and awkward silence.
If you’re an introvert and you doubt that online dating can help you start a romantic relationship, here’s a crazy story just for you.
Introvert + Party = Terrible First Impression
I once met a girl at a church youth retreat. True story.
Like every introvert at an event or party, I was standing by myself near an exit — ready to make a run for it at a moment’s notice. People laughing and having a good time were all around me. I wanted to join in, but I needed an insider to help me out.
That’s when a kind, extroverted girl came over, introduced herself and invited me to join the party.
Her outgoing, bubbly personality was both welcoming and intimidating. She noticed me, which was reassuring, but she wanted me to break out of my shell, something I didn’t know how to do in that environment.
I was out of my element — like a fish out of water. I made a terrible first impression. It looked like I was avoiding expressing myself and having fun because I was quiet and reserved.
When she left for college a few days later, I befriended her on Facebook. We exchanged messages and my true colors surfaced. Despite making a terrible first impression in person, she got a glimpse at my real personality thanks to the internet.
Thank God for No Phone Signal in Maine
After a year and a half of messaging each other back and forth online, I mustered up the courage to ask her out. But before I asked her out, I came up with the brilliant idea of asking her dad if I could pursue a relationship with her. That seemed like the right way to go about it at the time.
My plan backfired when her dad spilled the beans and told her all about my romantic interest in her. Yeah, it was bad. It was cringe worthy. It would take a miracle before I stood a chance with this girl after all that.
She saw me as just a friend — a very dangerous side effect of being pen pals for so long. I had my work cut out for me.
She was in Maine at the time visiting her roommate’s family, and if she had spent spring break anywhere else that year, we wouldn’t be married today. (That’s right, this is the story about how I met my wife.) Because she didn’t have a decent phone signal in rural Maine, my future wife and I were forced to use instant messaging and email to sort things out.
By using my introverted secret weapon (writing), I shared my feelings for her via email. I could express myself without reservation and clarify my intentions — laying it all out on the table. I was open, honest and transparent. That‘s something I would have struggled with if we had this discussion in person or over the phone.
She was open and honest, too. She thought a successful relationship between the two of us was a long shot. I took that to mean I had a shot.
Be Yourself, Especially Your Introverted Self
When my wife got back to college a few days later, she experienced “I just agreed to date an introvert who lives halfway across the country” remorse. Long-distance dating is hard to do when you’ve been dating for a while. It’s especially difficult when your relationship starts long distance.
We both agreed not to talk on the phone until she came back home for the summer. It wouldn’t do either of us any good. I couldn’t hold a conversation on the phone if my life depended on it, and she’d have to suffer through a lot of awkward silence.
Instead, we wrote each other back and forth online.
When she got home that summer, we never wanted to go back to email, text and instant messaging again. But there’s something to be said about the opportunity we had to get to know each other online before we went on our first real date.
Our first date was special. I didn’t feel like I had to impress her and she didn’t probe me with countless small-talk questions. Instead, we were both relaxed, and I enjoyed spending quality time with my new best friend. It was far more meaningful, memorable and enjoyable.
As an introvert, I know how difficult it can be to start a relationship from scratch by asking someone out on a date. Introverts crave deep relational connection before they open up, and first dates can be shallow and nerve-racking.
So if you’re an introvert and you’ve given up on going out on dates, you might give online dating a try. Get to know someone before your first date. Trust me, it’s not as backwards as it sounds.