Congratulations! You finally snagged a date with that HOT guy from the gym. Over dinner, you practically sit on your tongue to appear demure. After all, isn’t being an introvert ALL the rage these days? (Everywhere you turn, you hear how much happier introverts are in life, love and work.)
Then, the real you slips out. You can’t hold the words inside any longer and they suddenly flow from your mouth like lava into the Pacific Ocean. As you try to fall asleep after another less-than-stellar date, you berate yourself for not mastering the art of keeping your mouth shut.
Oh, darling, trust me; I feel you. I AM you.
Yes, I am an extrovert, too. I nursed cramps in my hand throughout my elementary years from writing, “I will not talk in class” over and over. During the holidays my family played “The Quiet Game” in the car and I lost every single time … even to my four-year-old nephew.
But being an extrovert or an introvert isn’t about being shy or speaking out; it’s about how you gain energy and how you process life events and situations.
Being around others energizes extroverts, while introverts need quiet (and sometimes solitude) to recharge.
One of the reasons extroverts seem to talk so much is because we need to work things out verbally; introverts ponder ideas in their head before they are ready to express an opinion.
All humans—both introverts and extroverts—are biologically, spiritually, cognitively and physically wired to love, be loved, and belong. Sometimes, like many experiences during our childhood, we may veer away from our true nature in order to “fit in.”
I know it’s frustrating being the “shoot from the hip” gal when what you really desire is to build rapport with a love interest. You may even feel a little ashamed about being an extrovert, with the introvert-positive movement that started rolling the nation when Susan Cain’s book came out.
The answer isn’t to try becoming an introvert. Being extroverted isn’t bad or wrong, it’s just a part of who you are. Besides, one of the worst things you can do to yourself is waste time pretending you’re someone you’re not.
So, don’t dial down your enthusiasm for the world; rather, learn skills to successfully navigate the world around you, which is full of people who manage their energy differently than you. This is particularly important in the dating scene.
So, here are my three best tips for being a great (extroverted) date:
1. Put your energy into listening.
As extroverts, we tend to speak in order to think. We are also BIG-time interrupters. As another person talks to us, our responses are already bubbling to the surface, practically bypassing our brains. This frustrates others, especially introverts, and makes them feel silenced by us.
They gave time and attention to listen to your thoughts and feelings. When you interrupt or steam-roll over their less-dominant way of communicating, they feel their words are unimportant.
I know it feels as though you’re being tied down when you don’t speak at every impulse, but allowing others their turn and their say goes a long way in building trust and rapport. So, spend time creating a list of questions you might ask an introverted date to draw him out. Then, shut up and actually listen. This is how a thoughtful exchange begins.
2. Suggest low-key places for dates.
Extroverts feel energized by being around others. Going to a big party, nightclub, or popular restaurant makes you feel alive. However, these experiences drain introverts and they cannot wait to escape. It feels personal if he wants to end the night early, when truthfully, he’s just drained from the noise and energy of all the people.
Later in your relationship, it causes conflict when one of you wants to go out and the other wants to stay in.
Introverts need to observe new situations. On a date that means you want them focused on observing YOU, not a loud environment. So, suggest familiar or lower-key spots for a date. I know that a too-quiet environment feels boring to you, but it gives you BOTH an opportunity to get to know each other without being distracted by the outside world too much.
3. Slow down.
As an extrovert, you want to try new experiences and take it all in. You think fast, move quickly, and love the spotlight. Sometimes, you become impatient when you don’t excel at a new skill quickly or when others don’t keep up.
Introverts are often attracted to that unbridled sense of adventure and love that comes along with you, especially if they don’t have to do the planning. But, all of that enthusiasm quickly becomes overwhelming and exhausting to them. This isn’t to say that you need to give up your enthusiasm for exploring the world, but by slowing down you learn the art of savoring.
Step back and watch your introverted partner approach a problem with a (seemingly) laid-back resoluteness. You can learn patience by watching their tenacity and determination to learn new skills and experience adventures along with you. By being more patient, you not only offer that gift to your partner, but you can become less judgmental and patient with yourself.
Being an extrovert isn’t a liability when it comes to love. If you spend your time dating as something you’re not, you will never feel truly accepted and loved (outgoing warts and all). By being your glorious, extroverted self, you have the greatest opportunity for finding a relationship that feels collaborative, loving, and supportive—even one with an introvert.
Why? An extrovert naturally invites an introvert out of his or her shell to explore and experience the world around them.
On the flip side, an introverted partner is the understanding and supportive partner you need when the world feels too busy and overwhelming. He or she will be the first to suggest you put up your feet, have a glass of wine, and snuggle on the couch by the fire. And that’s not a bad way to spend a date night.
Debra Smouse is a Tarnished Southern Belle who discovered that being in a relationship with an introvert allowed her to finally fall in love with her true self. Connect with her on her website, or on Twitter or Facebook.