Personality traits and dating: Introversion and Extroversion
This post is for anyone who has struggled with either extreme introversion or extroversion and is looking for some tips on overcoming the challenges that are a part of their personality, especially with regards to dating.
Sir Francis Bacon said that “knowledge is power” (scientia potentia est). If knowledge is power than self knowledge is an even greater power.
You can not drastically change any personality trait, you can however learn to weaponize them. If you are on either extreme of the introversion bell curve you need to develop strategies to overcome your weaknesses while playing to your strengths.
You can learn to use your personality to your advantage if you orientate your life so as to get the best outcome considering your personality traits.
Please look for and take a Big 5 Personality test so that you can see where you are on the introversion/extroversion bell curve. Knowing how you score can help you to craft a strategy to get the most out of your traits.
Personality trait Extraversion according to Wikipedia
Extraversion (outgoing/energetic vs. solitary/reserved). Energetic, surgency, assertiveness, sociability and the tendency to seek stimulation in the company of others, and talkativeness. High extraversion is often perceived as attention-seeking and domineering. Low extraversion causes a reserved, reflective personality, which can be perceived as aloof or self-absorbed. Extroverted people may appear more dominant in social settings, as opposed to introverted people in this setting. - Wikipedia
In this post we will be focusing on people who are on the extremes of the spectrum however even if you are an Ambivert you can learn something from both sets of tips and strategies.
Dating advice for people who are very introverted
Your introversion does not mean you can't have a successful life. Most introverts have the amazing ability to quietly focus on and master almost any skill they choose. You can become VERY good at your profession, at self improvement, the gaining of self knowledge and in understanding the world around you.
Recommended reading for introverts: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain.
While your strengths can help you to succeed the accompanying weaknesses will make the challenge of meeting new people and dating much more challenging. It's going to take more work for you to succeed in any type of social action.
“Being very introverted changes almost every aspect of dating, apart from *being a good person*. When and where do you go? How are you when you are there? How do you stand out? How do you impress? None of this comes naturally or easy to me. Not that I *can't*, it just isn't easy.” - Statement from an introvert.
Just because you are introverted does not mean you have no social needs or that you will not enjoy socializing in small groups. Be very aware of your need for emotional intimacy, love and friendships. Ignoring your social needs will destroy you over time and risks making you unable to socialize in the future.
Introverts must be very focused on an efficient pursuit of their social goals (networking, friends, dating, etc.). They need to know exactly what they want so as to avoid wasting energy pursuing social connections that are not ideal. (See: Spouse Persona)
Guard your social energy as the precious resource it is. Don't waste it on people who you don't really want to talk to. Set boundaries with people so that they don't suck you dry emotionally. It's especially important for you to avoid toxic people. Having higher trait Disagreeableness will help you to set boundaries. If you are both introverted and very agreeable you may need some help to learn how to set and keep boundaries.
Another way to conserve your emotional energy is to choose a career that doesn't require high levels of dailly socialization for groups of strangers. If your job is draining you of social energy you will have nothing left for dating and networking.
Avoid taking your date to places with lots of stimulation or very many people. This will allow you to focus whatever emotional energy you have on the date. Keep your first few dates short and during the day time when you still have energy. A walk in a park or coffee at a small out of the way place is a great option.
If you have had a bad day you may find it extra hard to socialize. In some cases you may wish to reschedule a date to a day when you are feeling better.
It's useful to learn some simple, light, small talk routines that you can do automatically even when you are too exhausted for a deeper conversation.
You may find online dating produces less anxiety and requires less energy than in person dating. Start with small, light text conversations, then some voice chats and finally video dating. Once you are comfortable with that person you can meet face to face.
“Toward the end of my dating phase, I would quickly feel exhausted from meeting new people. Online dating helped a lot because I could “meet” and vet someone without going out and interacting with extra people.” - An introvert explains why she prefered online dating.
“I prefer online dating because it helps me vet and feel more comfortable approaching and encouraging others. That being said, I find the majority of men lacking in their conversation skills via text and also they themselves online tend to be too shy to take it to voice chat or webcam without a push.”
If possible, date someone you already know and feel comfortable with. This may or may not turn into a long term relationship, either way you will be developing you ability to date and engage socially with the opposite sex.
Leverage your other personality traits to motivate you to socialize. For example; if you have high conscientiousness you can focus on being conscientious of your need to have social interactions to build the life you want. If you are high in neuroticism, you can use that to develop a healthy fear of being always alone.
Accept your limits while you work to expand them. How much social energy do you have? Can you develop a little bit more? Perhaps, if you push yourself a little. On the other hand, everyone has a hard limit to their energy levels. An efficient use of what you have is more effective than wishing to be someone you are not. Do what you can with what you have.
Advice for people who are very extroverted
You might think that extroverts have it made however they too tend to have some areas of special challenge, especially when they are attempting to interact with less extroverted people.
Don't overlook introverts as potential friends and partners. Introverts can be soothing, calming, reliable and loyal friends who enjoy deep friendships that tend to be rather low maintenance.
Be aware that your high emotional energy can be very exhausting to other people, especially introverts. Empathetically pay attention to the expressions of others, learn how to be quiet and listen when necessary. Try not to dominate everything all the time. Ask your introverted date if they want to go someplace more quiet.
Be careful not to over communicate nonessential information in person or by text, especially if you are writing to a person who is very introverted. Get to the point rather quickly without being overly curt.
Your high emotional energy may attract people who don't have your best interests at heart. People will tend to want things from you, time, help, etc. and if you are not skilled at setting and maintaining boundaries you may end up getting your seemingly limitless energy sucked dry.
Avoid the urge to keep meeting new people at the expense of developing deeper relationships. Budget time for the people that you care about and make an effort to go deeper in your development of lifelong relationships.
Avoid burnout by not taking your energy for granted. Even you can exhaust yourself if you waste your vitality on frivolous things or take on too many challenges. Create a structure to measure your life by important metrics that give you valuable feedback so that you keep doing things that matter.
As an extrovert it may be challenging for you to spend quiet time alone, time you need to spend looking within to really get to know yourself. Self examination and self improvement are often not your strong suit however you can leverage other parts of your personality to motivate you to be more introspective. If you are high in conscientiousness focus on being conscious of your need to understand yourself and to improve. If you are high in neuroticism think about the potential negative outcomes that are possible if you don't invest in self knowledge.
Spend time outdoors. Nature is very conducive to introspection and calm. Meditate to develop your inner person. Learning how to gain energy from calmness and tranquility will allow you to have more positive interactions with introverts.
Both extreme introverts and extreme extroverts can have happy, successful lives, deep friendships and strong marriages. The challenges can be overcome with the right attitude, the right plan and the right help.