An expert’s guide to dating for introverts

29 April,2024 10:38 AM IST |  Mumbai  |  Maitrai Agarwal

Are you an introvert who struggles with dating, fret not! We’ve got a relationship expert to help you navigate dating on apps and in real life

Image for representational purposes only. Photo Courtesy: iStock

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Dating for introverts can be challenging for several reasons. For starters, introverts tend to be more reserved and prefer low-key activities, which can make it difficult to meet new people. Additionally, introverts may struggle with small talk and initiating conversations, which are essential components of dating. This can lead to missed opportunities and difficulty forming connections with potential partners. Another factor that can make introvert dating challenging is the pressure to constantly put oneself out there and be social, which can be draining for introverts who value alone time.

"Sometimes I feel as if dating is a game exclusively meant to be played by extroverts. Small talk can be exhausting for me, even if it is on a first date. The pressure to constantly chat feels unnerving. I'd rather have a deep conversation about one topic than trade pointless observations about the weather. Also, going to busy bars, or crowded places makes me feel uneasy. By the time I work up the courage to engage in conversation, I'm already drained from the background noise and sea of faces," shares Mumbai-resident Prateek Gupta.

How can introverts leverage online dating
Many introverts find themselves turning to online dating applications. According to data shared by popular dating app Tinder, the term ‘introvert' appears 33 per cent more than ‘extrovert' in bios.

It seems counterintuitive. Introverts are typically private and take their time opening up to new people. Yet, on dating apps like Tinder, they frequently mention their personality type. Why the disconnect? Dr Chandni Tugnait, life coach and relationship expert partner with Tinder India, explains, "Introverts often find that their introversion is not adequately taken into account and respected, which leads to a greater need for attention to this personality trait. Adding their personality type in a dating profile can provide a sense of security and counteract possible misunderstandings, as introversion and reticence can be misinterpreted as disinterest or arrogance."

In Tugnait's opinion, getting to know someone on a dating app over an extended period can be a safe and effective way to properly assess their match before meeting in person. Introverts can formulate their messages in peace, without having to sit directly across from their date, and if they share a few exciting facts about themselves in their bios, they can create a good basis for conversation and avoid the awkward small talk. In this way, online dating offers the opportunity to get to know each other more slowly. She elaborates, "It can create a basis for deeper relationships, not just superficial ones. This slower form of getting to know someone online is actually healthier because introverts are not as likely to be driven by their hormones and are less likely to see their match through rose-tinted glasses. This may also help you recognise red flags better."

5 tips to navigate online dating for introverts

1. Don't pretend just so someone will like you
When it comes to finding a partner, it's crucial to stay true to yourself and your values. Pretending to be someone you're not to impress someone else will only lead to disappointment and frustration in the long run. Instead, focus on being your authentic self and let your true personality shine through. This way, you will attract someone who appreciates and loves you for who you are.

2. Be honest about your likes and dislikes
For instance, if your match proposes a grand occasion for your first date but you prefer a more laid-back atmosphere, express your preferences clearly from the beginning and don't be afraid to advocate for your needs.

3. Keep conversation flowing with open-ended questions
If you're feeling nervous about running out of things to talk about on a date, consider asking open-ended questions that encourage your match to share more about themselves. Avoid yes or no questions, and instead ask about their interests, hobbies, and what makes them unique. This can help you find common ground and keep the conversation flowing naturally.

4. Don't ditch
It's important to avoid cancelling dates at the last minute, especially if there isn't a genuine reason. Psychologists refer to this behaviour as ‘avoidance behaviour.' and it can reinforce your insecurities and make it harder to face your fears in the future. Even if it means stepping out of your comfort zone, it's worth showing up and giving it your best shot.

5. Learn from reflecting on past dating experiences
Think about the dates where you felt the most comfortable, engaged, and happy. What made those dates successful? Was it the location, the activity, or the conversation topics? By analysing what works for you, you can better prepare for upcoming dates and increase your chances of a successful connection.

How to date IRL
After establishing a connection that feels safe to you, it is time to meet in real life (IRL). To help you prepare for your date, Tugnait shares five easy tips:
1. Skip the dinner date
Ditch the traditional dinner date and add excitement to your date by indulging in some fun activities. According to Tinder's Year in Swipe report, coffee dates, concerts and festivals, and movie nights were the top date activities in India. So, if you are an introvert looking for a low-pressure way to connect, say goodbye to basic dinner plans and bond over shared experiences to learn more about each other in a dynamic setting without the pressure of constant conversation.

2. Plan conversation starters
Prepare a few conversation starters or topics of interest beforehand to help ease any initial awkwardness. You can talk about anything, from asking about their favourite books, or hobbies, which can lead to deeper discussions.

3. Consider a sober date
When it comes to dating, it's important to focus on building strong emotional connections rather than just going for temporary experiences. Nowadays, sober dating is gaining popularity among singles as it helps them to be their true selves and develop authentic connections during dates. Remember, it's perfectly fine to decline an invitation for a drink and suggest a fun activity instead.

4. Put your phone away
It's common to reach for your phone, especially when feeling nervous, but doing so disrupts the natural flow of your time together. Switch your phone to silent, stash it away, and direct your attention solely to your date. Being fully present is what truly matters.

5. Consent and boundaries are critical
Dating is a two-way street. When planning dates, don't just pick something you like. Talk to your date! See if they're comfortable with a quiet coffee shop or a walk in the park. Maybe they have a hidden passion for museums or a secret love of board games. By catering to each other's comfort zones, you create a date that's enjoyable for both.

Also, don't be afraid to have honest conversations about your boundaries and needs. Maybe you need some alone time after dates to recharge, or perhaps you're not comfortable sharing everything right away. Talking about these things upfront fosters trust and understanding.

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