Jorge's relationship advice is based on experience and observation. Let his trial and error be your success (hopefully).
What to Do When Dating an Introvert
Did you just start dating an introvert and are confused by their constant retreating? Are you looking for some kind of explanation for your extroverted (or ambiverted) self?
You're at the right place! You could say this article is something like a public service announcement because, you see, I am a very introverted person. I'm the one who will cross the street to avoid eye contact with strangers. I'm the one who hangs out in a closet with the host's cat at a dinner party. I'm the one who needs to go home and "recharge" after visiting the grocery store.
For some reason, I've also dated some of the most extroverted people in existence. Opposites attract, perhaps?
If you're not sure what an introvert is, it's basically a person who "loses" energy when they are around others and needs to "recharge" by being alone. Often, we're quiet, subdued creatures—but not always. We just primarily get our energy by retreating into our own space rather than interacting with others.
Tips For Dating an Introvert
The following tips for dating an introvert are not going to be universal and won't apply to every single case. Naturally, you should use your judgement.
They are just general guidelines that I would suggest after years of being an introvert dating an extrovert. I guess this is just what I wish they had understood about me! Hopefully, it will also help you be able to view things from your introverted boyfriend or girlfriend's perspective.
Let's take a look.
1. Don't Take Their Introversion Personally
First of all, if you're not an introvert yourself and you simply love to be around people, it may be hard to understand why your partner seems to avoid them. Maybe you're even offended to find that your partner is avoiding you!
"Fine, you don't want to be around people right now," you say, "but I should be the exception, shouldn't I? I'm not 'people,' I'm your partner!"
But no matter how much your partner may love you, an introvert is an introvert. We need to be away from people a certain number of hours per day, and that usually includes our romantic partners. It's nothing personal, we just get stimulated a lot by the presence of others, and we need regular breaks from that. It doesn't mean we don't love you or that you've done anything wrong.
As long as you give us adequate space, we'll feel recharged and happy to hang out again!
2. Don't Force Your Partner Into Chaotic Situations
Introverted people get tired of social chaos a lot faster. We're simply a bit more sensitive to that kind of thing. After years of experience, we'll tend to have a mental "budget" of how long we think we'll be able to interact socially, how crazy of a party we can tolerate, and how much talking we can do without having to run away screaming.
If you try to cajole us into deviating from that social interaction budget, unpleasant things can happen. For example, maybe your introverted boyfriend really didn't want to go to that party, but you guilted him into it. Not only did he spend half the night in the bathroom pretending he had diarrhea, but he refused to see you—or anyone else—for the rest of the week.
This is what happens when an introvert's batteries get drained below a certain percentage. Not only will they have to mentally reboot after the experience, but they'll have to spend even longer recharging.
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Does it sound like I'm comparing your introverted loved one to a phone? Yes. Yes, I am.
And just as you take your phone seriously when it says it's low on juice, take your partner seriously when they say they don't have the energy to go somewhere.
Your Experience Dating an Introvert
3. Always Have an Escape Route
For introverted folks, being surrounded by people can take a lot of energy. There is just a lot to process in a group situation, and eventually their brain gets tired of it and wants to take a break. Being able to leave a group shortly helps the introverted person recharge quickly and then return, and it can help them last longer at a party or gathering without wanting to run home.
Keep this in mind when planning things like dates or your introverted partner's surprise birthday party. Always have an escape route available and a place where they can retreat to if they need to. The louder and more exciting the event is, the more this holds true.
A good "retreat space" for an introverted person could be:
- A quiet room upstairs and away from the main party.
- A bathroom where they can secretly play on their phone while pretending they are pooping. (Nobody questions you when you announce these intentions and then proceed to take forever.)
- A patio or other outdoor space where they can enjoy the restorative effects of nature. (This is a good thing to look for if you're scoping out a bar. Many bars have outdoor seating and this can often be less crowded or overwhelming.)
The introverted person will usually know when they've had enough and will naturally seek out these types of spaces. Do your best to make sure they are available when possible.
4. Don't Force Your Introverted Partner to Be Social
As I already mentioned, not all introverted people are quiet, but a lot of us are.
If your partner is particularly quiet, don't try to make them talk. Lots of extroverts assume that we're being quiet because we're shy, and that if they prod us enough, then we'll have a lot to say.
Maybe that's the case for some people, but for most of us, we simply may not feel like talking. Don't be offended if your partner doesn't make tons of conversation with your friends or go out of their way to introduce themselves.
Sometimes an introverted person will interact with others in ways that don't require words, while still enjoying the social occasion. Trying to force them to talk can take away that enjoyment. Let them stand there and quietly listen to others if that's what they want to do.
5. Don't Be Shocked When They Disappear
Sometimes you will be at a social gathering and your introverted partner will randomly disappear.
Don't worry, they'll be back. Things were just getting to be too much and they stepped out for a breather. They are somewhere that no one will find them, probably with the dog.
Along the same lines, if they don't answer your texts for a few hours or days, they might just be in "retreat mode." They will probably answer once they have recharged enough.
6. Don't Be Too Bummed if They Don't Sleep Over
Does your partner keep avoiding spending the night, even after you've done. . .er, adult things?
This is common for introverts, especially in the early stages of a relationship. Introverts usually need to go home to recharge, and if your place is not "home" yet, then they will probably want to run back to their retreat, even if it's 3 AM.
For an introvert, it may be hard to relax enough to sleep at someone else's house and feel refreshed the next morning.
7. Create a Mellow Environment at Home
If you live together, on the other hand, work towards making it a sanctuary. Avoid inviting tons of people over or hosting parties at your place unless you've cleared it with your partner first. Avoid having a revolving door of people just showing up at the house. At the very least, warn them before you invite someone over.
For a lot of introverts, home is where we go to retreat from social interaction. When you fill the house with people, that may give us nowhere to hide!
8. Make Your Dates One-On-One
Focus on each other when on your dates, rather than creating group situations. Introverts who are easily socially overwhelmed will open up more when they only have one or two people to talk to. When they're hanging out with their partner alone, they can often go longer without having to run home and recharge.
Maybe a nice, romantic stroll on the beach at night would make for a good time. Getting to know each other in a more intimate setting will usually go over better with an introvert.
9. Remember That Being Introverted Doesn't Mean Being Antisocial
It's easy to assume that your partner must hate people because they are introverted, but that's not always the case. Sure, some of us can't stand to be around other humans at all, but most of us like people just as much as the next guy. Moreover, if your partner is dating you, then they get along with at least one person, right?
Don't assume that your partner wants to avoid all social situations or that they don't want to meet your friends. An invite is always appreciated, even if they have to turn you down because they've already left the house that day!
You can always go to events without them and tell them about it later. Dating an introvert certainly doesn't mean giving up your social circle.
Dating an Introvert Doesn't Have to Be Hard
Most introverts have experience dealing with a society built for extroverts, so you might find that you don't have to do much. Just listen to your partner and take them seriously when they express their limits, and you'll probably be fine.
And maybe one of these days, the next time they decide to disappear during a party, they'll invite you to hide in the closet with them.
Your Own Level of Introversion
© 2021 Jorge Vamos