The “introvert hangover” applies to romance, too.
Most introverts crave meaningful connection, and in love I dare say we give it our all. We’re very selective about the people we spend time with — those who just “get” us — and when we let someone in close, it’s done with care and consideration.
Sure, we introverts are sometimes a bit tricky to get to know, as we don’t like to draw attention to ourselves, and we need time to open up to others. But, when given the right circumstances, finding love and connecting with someone can be the most rewarding experience. However, there are several challenging aspects of dating as an introvert, too.
7 Reasons Introverts Struggle to Find Love
1. Being lost in your mind keeps you from acting.
As introverts, we’re often said to be “in our heads too much.” Left daydreaming for too long, it’s no wonder that we’re losing out on time to connect with our surroundings, including the pool of potential partners. We relish our active minds and thinking abilities, and probably wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world, but it can keep us from initiating contact with romantic prospects.
And since most of our attention is directed at reflective thought and listening, we show interest through subtle cues rather than overt statements. Even if we meet someone that catches our interest, we run the risk of being unable to express it… so the person has no idea we’re interested!
What to do instead: To tackle this problem, make it a regular practice to notice the faces of those around you. I find it helpful to do this when partaking in certain activities, like when out for a walk or having a meal. As uncomfortable as it may be, push yourself to curiously ask someone who catches your interest some questions and just see what happens.
2. Your perfectionistic introvert tendencies get in the way.
Many introverts are perfectionists when it comes to doing things, including wanting a certain type of partner. Plus, because of our highly active minds, chances are we’ve given much thought to what our love lives might look like. We’re dreamers — and often idealists — placing high expectations on ourselves and those around us. Our focus is often so sharp and our energy limited, that if we choose to commit to another person, it better be good. It must nicely complement our sometimes preferred existence in the solitary land of thoughts, dreams, and aspirations.
We long for the perfect loving and harmonious relationship, and part of our introverted selves fears the conflict and friction that often come with being close with another person. Add a history of ended relationships and painful memories, and it can make us feel hopeless in the search for the right person.
What to do instead: At times, all our idealizing is hinting at obsession or serious infatuation, and we need to remember that no one is perfect. An easy exercise to do is to consider your own flaws — it’s very humbling to realize that your dream partner surely has their own set of peculiarities.
3. The “introvert hangover” applies to romance, too.
Sometimes, we experience an “introvert hangover,” no matter how close we are with someone. That’s when we need alone time from our romantic partner; we just don’t have any more energy to share. It takes a strong partner to accept our need for solitude to recharge and not take it personally.
If we feel that they don’t trust us when we say we need to spend the weekend alone, we’re unable to brush it off. This will make us feel uncomfortable with being our authentic selves, and it will start to eat away at the basis of what we think a healthy relationship should be. If the foundation lacks this acceptance and understanding, we’re likely to start to withdraw, perhaps to the point of no return.
What to do instead: We introverts shouldn’t be afraid of communicating our needs, but we should also try to remain open to the other person’s views. Less taxing on the introvert’s system is to spend some of your together time as two solo people. It can be very relaxing, recharging even, to go about our own activity — like reading or writing — in the company of a loved one.
4. Introverts are all about comfort and flow, not sudden change.
All humans are creatures of habit and, therefore, change — positive and negative — can cause anxiety and unwanted feelings of loss of control. In the world of an introvert, any changes in the external environment can amplify a general sense of discomfort. We’re wired a bit differently, and when our brains respond to the increased flow of dopamine, it does so without mercy.
In turn, this can leave us overthinking and ruminating. It may keep us up at night, thinking about why we did or didn’t say this or that, and wondering exactly what our love interest meant when they said xyz. With a nervous system increasingly frazzled, we may start wondering if this whole love business is even worth the momentary bouts of bliss.
What to do instead: By adopting the view of a lifelong learner, this need for ease will slowly diminish. If we remind ourselves that life is sometimes messy and full of suffering — and we see hardship as a necessary contrast to the brighter moments — we can train our minds to accept and welcome the shadow aspects of our reality. Like blessings in disguise.
5. The world itself seems to favor something that you’re not.
Sometimes, it feels like the dating scene is all about showcasing our sociability, because we are looking for someone to socialize intensely with, aren’t we? Urban environments in particular offer little respite from the constant hustle and what seems like an incessant need for social approval. This makes us introverts feel especially misplaced.
And, let’s face it: Dating can feel like selling your soul. When a relationship begins, it can become awkward having to explain our introversion to someone who’s an extrovert, fearing that we’ll be misunderstood or that they’ll even hope for us to change and “be more social.” No one likes having to apologize for their inherent traits and specific needs. One of the most painful things for an introvert may be when someone is asking us to be someone that we essentially can never become.
What to do instead: By communicating and sharing experiences, we can express what it’s like being an introvert. Yes, we like spending time with you… just not 24/7 (we recharge when we’re alone). It’s just a different way of being and going about life, and the more we talk about it, perhaps the more the world will understand.
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6. You need to think before speaking.
Many introverts are far more confident expressing themselves in writing. Often expert listeners, we absorb what another person is saying, sometimes without giving too much talk in return. It’s not that we don’t have an opinion. Sometimes it just takes us a little while to process things. It’s not unusual for us to take all kinds of thoughts into consideration when forming a conclusion.
And if we’re caught suffering from a sleep deficit, it’s going to make everything a lot worse — a lack of sleep makes the introvert brain particularly susceptible to feeling foggy and miscommunicating. Add to this that it takes a whole lot of trust for an introvert to open up — let alone flirt — so verbal communication might not come as easily as we would hope.
What to do instead: It’s all about practice. Many top-performing business execs and public speakers are introverts who’ve had a tremendous amount of guidance and training. A good way of practicing is to make small audio recordings of yourself (you can just use your phone). Talk about your day, a dream you had recently, describe a person you like, describe yourself, ask questions… Then listen to it and get used to hearing your own voice. With time, this can foster real confidence.
7. You may put the other person’s needs first, which will only lead to exhaustion.
As we tend not to give ourselves away easily, when we introverts do find a relationship that’s worth pursuing, it probably means we’re very interested. There is seldom any lukewarm kind of romance for an introvert. As much as we love the other person, this may lead to compromising our needs in the form of not getting enough of that precious alone time.
If a relationship is formed too quickly and intensely, it may lead to burnout. We may be simply too kind (and perhaps too much in love) to demand or feel the need to take proper care of ourselves. It can be complicated for an introvert to express these needs and have them understood, especially if we’ve given our love interest an entirely different first impression. This places additional stress on the introvert’s sensitive system. While we don’t want to disappoint others, we also have to keep our needs in mind.
What to do instead: Go at your own pace and listen to your introvert instincts — it’s perfectly okay to stay home with a book instead. Embrace any subtle warning signs early, and take action to avoid going down the path of exhaustion and not being your authentic self. By being gentle, yet assertive, you communicate that you have integrity and self-respect, and that you know the true value of taking care of yourself. And your (future) partner will know and understand this, too.