At first glance, it seems like online dating is the perfect answer for any introvert looking for love. You can meet people at your own pace and spend as much time as you need writing out that first message. But after you’ve spent time making sure that messages says exactly what you want it to, it can be easy for us introverts to freeze up at thought of meeting a stranger in person or having to talk to them on the phone.
Believe me, I’ve been there. But now is not the time to wish away your introversion, or put up an extrovert front.
“Hiding your introversion is a bad idea because introversion itself is not a problem. It only causes problems if different needs affect factored into a burgeoning relationship and handled with respect and understanding. No doubt introversion-related issues will come up over time in a long-term relationship, healthy relationships are fluid and ever changing. But if you start out being honest with yourself and the other person, you will have built a foundation for later adaptation, compromise, and mutual comfort and happiness,” writes Sophia Dembling, author of Introverts in Love: The Quiet Way to Happily Ever After.
So what does it mean to have a successful online dating experience as an introvert? Let’s start with sending the first message. If you’re wondering how to thrive in online dating as someone who recharges alone, here are a few tips from a fellow introvert who has been there, done that.
Do be the first one to reach out
If you were at an in-person event, the natural introvert thing to do would be to smile, nod, and wait for someone to make the first move. But this party survival tactic isn’t going to work when it comes to online dating, so don’t sit back and wait for the messages to land in your online dating inbox. While it’s easier to wait for the extroverts to make the first move, remember why you signed up for an online dating website – to meet someone, right?
Even if it’s way out of your comfort zone, challenge yourself to send a few messages to someone who catches your eye. Ladies, this means you, too. When you’re the first person to make the connection, you get to choose who you interact with. This means that instead of waiting for someone who you may or may not be interested in getting to know better, you get to specifically reach out to people who you’re interested in.
Don’t totally write off small talk
Questions about the weather or the score of the game last night may leave you rolling your eyes as an introvert. More than likely, you’re ready to have some meaningful conversation and truly get to know someone. But small talk has it’s purpose in the online dating world. Take a deep breath, this doesn’t mean you’ll be stuck in the small talk stage forever. Just keep in mind that it’s a good starting place for that initial online dating message.
If the idea of small talk is still making you cringe, try re-framing the way you think about conversation starters. Instead of seeing small talk as an annoying social necessity, think of it as a springboard into deeper conversation. So when someone tells you about their weekend, be on the lookout for entry points into those meaningful conversation.
Do play into your strengths
If you’re an introvert, you’re probably an excellent listener. That’s an invaluable communication skill which can truly help you get to know someone through an online dating platform. When someone responds to your messages, your ability to listen will help foster good conversation as you get to know someone better.
Another strength of introverts is their ability to attune themselves to others. More than likely, you’re able to pick up on someone’s emotions in conversation with them. “This heightened sensitivity to feelings is one reason introverts do better in one-on-one interactions. Since too much stimulation can become overwhelming, they don’t often do well in groups,” writes Allison Abrams, LCSW-R. Online dating and one-on-one messages to people you’re interested in is where you can truly shine as an introvert.
Do keep that first message short
It’s not uncommon for introverts to thrive when it comes to communicating by writing their thoughts and emotions down. Writing gives us time to think and it’s less exhausting then speaking at length. But don’t get too carried away with this first message. Even though it’s tempting to write out paragraph after paragraph in that first message, keep it short.
Remember, this first message is meant to be a quick hello, not a tell-all expose about who you are and what you’re looking for in a relationship. So keep it to a few sentences, and then click send.
Don’t get overwhelmed by the supermarket syndrome
Ever feel overwhelmed when you open up your online dating profile and see potential matches and messages to send and respond to? It’s easy to get sucked into the spouse-shopping or supermarket syndrome when it comes to online dating. This is when you struggle to see the other users on the online dating site as people and instead see the site as a sort of catalog to shop through. If you’re starting to see similarities to how you shop on Amazon and how you date online, it’s a good time to take a break and reset.
Do log off and recharge when you need to
The definition of an introvert is a “reserved person who enjoys spending time alone.” So after you send or respond to a few messages, don’t be afraid to take time to recharge on your own. Only you can know exactly what the boundary looks like in your own life when it comes to online interacting on an online dating website or app.
Don’t feel guilty for walking away for a little while after chatting with your matches. Everyone, including your potential matches, benefits when you’re able to encounter them as a refreshed and rejuvenated introvert.
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