You’ve been pretty productive lately. You finally found a gym that doesn’t prosecute members for failing to wipe down the machines. Your team of 20 crack lawyers figured out the best data plan for you. And after a lifetime of wondering if you suffer from Square Peg in Round Hole syndrome, you discovered you’re simply an introvert.
Now it’s time to find someone with whom to share your wonderful, solitary life.
Chances are your dating status falls under one of the following categories:
You’ve never been in a long-term relationship — excluding your life-long affair with “The X-Files.”
You’ve had one date in your life from which you’re still recuperating.
You’ve never been on a date, although you’ve convinced your parents you have a husband and five kids.
Relationships can be overwhelming under normal circumstances. They’re even more daunting when the most intimate relationship you’ve had is with the sultry voice in your head who always whispers, “The hell with karaoke, let’s go home and read a book.”
You probably won’t meet Mr./Ms. Right on your first encounter, but it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your eggplant parmesan while your blind date talks non-stop about her fallen arches. Then it’s on to the next candidate.
Before posting on Tinder a photo of your trembling face feigning confidence, take a deep breath, relax and read the following tips:
Don’t panic. You are embarking on a new phase of your life that will bring happiness and fulfillment with, hopefully, not too many noticeable perspiration stains. It’s not unusual to be nervous when you start dating. It may take some time, but eventually nervousness will be the last thing you’ll be thinking about as you head out to meet your 250th “sure thing.”
Think about the kind of person you’d like to meet. Aside from someone who “gets you” and won’t mind your month-long silent periods, what else appeals to you? Given that you may be anxious to meet anyone at the moment, it’s important to have some minimum requirements. Should he be tall and brooding? If so, must he be able to dunk a basketball? Should she have a pleasant resting bitch face? If so, is a complete set of teeth mandatory?
Don’t worry about rejection. Most people you’ll meet are dealing with the same fears and insecurities. However, unlike most extroverts who, after a bad date, must go home to a lonely, empty apartment, you get to go home to a GREAT, empty apartment.
Don’t think, “No one will want to meet a weirdo like me.” Dating will introduce you to some of the most unusual creatures ever to walk on two legs. You’ll leave many encounters thinking, “At least I know the difference between a fork and knife.”
Be yourself. You are a wonderful person with much to offer, including the ability to quietly listen to your date talk endlessly without changing your facial expression or losing consciousness (most of the time). Aside from perhaps a few personal hygiene issues and some outstanding felony warrants, you are perfect the way you are.
Don’t wait for people to come to you. Introverts tend to let others to make the first move. This greatly decreases your dating pool. You don’t have to become overly or even normally social, but at the very least it doesn’t hurt to hit on your mail carrier or that nice woman next door with all the cats.
Be up-front about your introversion. Ideally, you’d like to meet another introvert or an extrovert who enjoys and appreciates introverts – unless, of course, you’re seeking someone who is turned on by passive aggressive phone sex. Why date a person who, after meeting you, calls 911 to report an unresponsive body when you can meet someone who is turned on by an unresponsive body?
It will get easier. You’re using dating muscles that have rarely or never been exercised. It takes most seasoned daters at least 10 times to comfortably say, “You don’t look anything like the photo in your personal ad.” It may take you a little longer. but in eventually you’ll be asking your latest encounter, “Aren’t we related?” without batting eye.
When it comes to love and relationships, introverts are different from extroverts and, for that matter, anyone else who doesn’t fanaticize about reading passionate poetry to their lover in a deserted Starbucks, located in a desolate seaport village being pounded by a violent nor’easter.
Introverts think and communicate differently, especially when expressing emotions and desires towards people about whom they feel deeply. Unlike extroverts, few introverts would propose marriage at a Ninety-Nine Restaurant & Pub during Happy Hour – and certainly not on Wings Night.
Finding companionship is challenging for introverts because they are more inclined to be approached rather than seek out their true love. Finding that one special person is even more challenging if your social circle consists of you, your cat and a stuffed animal who is the only one that really “gets you.”
But fear not! Your special someone is out there somewhere, probably like you, avoiding human contact and wondering why you two haven’t hooked up. All you need are a few dating strategy adjustments. In no time, you’ll be with your one and only, hearts pounding, eye contact avoiding and verbal skills atrophied due to years of neglect.
You know that burnt out, exhausted feeling you get after being with lots of people for too long? Introverts call it Introvert Hangover. Everyone else calls it Family Reunion Aftermath.
It’s important to regulate your extrovert intake to avoid emotional exhaustion. Fortunately, unlike some alcoholics, very few introverts believe for one second they can handle large swarms of sorority sisters or sales managers. They’ve known this from the moment they had to be coaxed from the solitary comfort of their mother’s womb.
Unless you’re a monk living on a deserted cul-de-sac who’s taken a vow of silence, there are times when excessive socialization is unavoidable. Introvert Hangover is that exhausted feeling afterward when all you want is to crawl under your bed and spoon with a dust bunny. You’re mentally drained, physically tired and in no mood to make eye contact with your pet turtle.
It’s important for introverts to know the signs of an Introvert Hangover and how to properly deal with it. It can mean the difference between being forced to spend a day alone recuperating from exhaustion or… Come to think of it, spending a day alone doesn’t sound all that bad.
Last year, I joined the “Do a Good Deed or Die Doing It Club.” I pledged to brighten up every introvert I know – whether they liked it or not.
So far, I’m batting zero and totally depressed. Introverts are now approaching ME and asking, “Are you okay?”
I don’t understand.
Each time I try to console an introvert friend in need, their reaction is always the same:
“I am happy.”
“Just because I’m not smiling doesn’t mean there’s something wrong.”
“What part of ‘Leave me alone’ don’t you understand?”
“Excuse me, this is a private funeral.”
“Didn’t you read the restraining order?”
I wish I could convince my socially adverse friends that being more approachable brings immeasurable joy into their lives. If only they knew the pleasure I feel each time a co-worker I vaguely know approaches me and proceeds to talk non-stop about her upcoming colonoscopy.
I understand never smiling has its advantages. For example, you always look like your driver’s license photo. Also, it can be helpful in professions like multi-national corporation CEO or freelance dominatrix. And yes, there is something sexy about clenched teeth and a guttural growl.
But I can’t believe introverts with gloomy demeanors are really happy – especially the ones who see me approaching.
Mark Loofton is a door-to-door doorbell salesman. He holds the Guinness World Records for longest period of time without taking no for an answer.
Introverts hate small talk. It feels phony, it forces you to make eye contact and it’s exhausting. If only there was a better way to find out how co-workers you barely know feel about the weather.
Unfortunately, there isn’t. Until Apple, Google or Amazon develop a device that talks to the people we want to ignore, the chore will be left to us.
The good news is introverts are smart and resourceful. Also, their rich inner lives make it easier to tune in and out as someone drones on about their granite countertops or which Hampton Inn has the best continental breakfast. (Any introvert knows it’s the one in Denville, NJ.) It’s amazing how far an occasional nod accompanied by “Really” or “That’s interesting” will get you. In the meantime, you can focus on more important things like “Did this woman get a nose job?”
Donna Bernstein is an introvert who has never encountered an uncomfortable social situation she couldn’t avoid. “I know how to slip away from any gathering without being noticed. That includes my first, second and fourth weddings.” Bernstein, a quiet freelance astrologer, trained as a Navy SEAL. She uses her survival skills to escape over-hugging strangers and talkative co-workers. Bernstein once fled a noisy bridal shower by squeezing through a tiny bathroom window and rappelling 10-stories to a sidewalk, using only a piece of dental floss.
Of course, the best way to avoid any unwanted event is to not go. Donna’s first advice is create an extensive list of excuses. For example, she has 25 possible reasons for not attending a Kazakhstani Sweet Sixteen Party. “Although,” she says, “my fail-safe excuse is usually, ‘I’m under house arrest’.”
If you arrive at your destination but are having second thoughts, Bernstein recommends continuing to drive around your end point until you run out of gas. “Then call AAA for help. They’re nice people and, like me, have no interest in mindless small talk. It’s also a good opportunity to watch your odometer pass 100,000 miles.”
Even the most cautious introvert may find themselves at a meeting or event in which everyone is a total stranger. Then what? “That’s easy,” says Donna. “I pretend to have an urgent phone call and say loudly, ‘How far apart are the contractions? Call the doctor! I’ll be there soon!’ Then I sprint out of the building without looking back until the voices screaming, ‘Is there anything we can do?’ have faded away.”
Donna plans to deliver a series of lectures about avoiding crowds and strangers, but only if they’re sparsely attended. “I could never speak to a large group of people. However, if no one shows up, I’ll definitely be there.”
Bernstein has advice for introverts who don’t want live life off the grid but yearn for more alone time: “Let people know how you feel but be nice about it. A politely written Post-it Note attached to your forehead indicating you are an introvert is always helpful. I guarantee, no one except concerned mental health professionals will bother you.”
For most introverts, the definition of Hell is being at a large party hosted by Satan in which you don’t know anyone.
Introverts don’t like being in large groups of people, particularly crowds where strangers ask intrusive questions like, “How are you?” or “Is that your car being towed?”
There are essentially three strategies for avoiding socializing with hordes of people:
Never leave home. This works well but can become tedious after 20 or 30 years.
Go to social functions, then hide after you arrive. This usually works, although many introverts grow tired of hearing, “I really need to use this bathroom; can you at least close the shower curtain?”
Go to social functions, then leave as soon as possible. This is a frequent choice among introverts. The most popular method is to enter through the front door, cordially greet your host and then continue on until you’ve passed through the rear entrance.
These three approaches can help you avoid human contact or, at the very least, keep it to a minimum. The key is to select the best strategy for the right situation. You’ll know you’re on the right track when someone from Social Services knocks on your door and asks, “Are you alive?”