An Introvert Wonders: Are My Expectations for Love Unobtainable?

“You’ll always be looking for something better,” he said. “What you want is unobtainable.” These statements came in a heated moment shortly after I softly let him know I didn’t think we were going to work. These words from a man I valued—and hurt.

His words hit home because they let in a whisper of wonder and doubt. Am I doomed in love? Am I too selective? Do I choose unobtainable men? Do I have unrealistic expectations?

Will I Always Be Alone?

Sasha Cagen’s words, from her book Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics, hit close to home: “For the quirky alone, there is no patience for dating just for the sake of not being alone. We want a miracle. Out of millions, we have to find the one who will understand.”

I started to wonder, am I quirky? Will I forever be alone? Honestly, I don’t think so but…

I did get excited when I saw a profile that read, “You have never met anyone like me.” I geeked out even more when I read the rest of his profile and determined he wasn’t conceited. He seemed different in a smart and enlightened way. I almost peed my pants when he “liked” my photos and emailed me. I got energy from his words. We talked about meeting in person and then… he disappeared off Match.

Unobtainable? Check.

I’m Special So You Have to Be Special Too

Do I hold out for the extraordinary because I think I have something special to offer? Perhaps. As an introvert and a highly sensitive person, I look at individuals differently than others do. I zero in on the sparkling facets of their inner world. I buff and polish those facets with warmth and safety until that person feels more alive than they did before they met me. I’ve been told I’m comforting, healing, and akin to dopamine. Essentially, I help others shine.

If they draw out my light as well, then I give with my whole being. I don’t hold back.

What I Want in a Partner

In true introvert fashion, I have deeply examined (overanalyzed?) the qualities I seek in a partner. All of which come with the caveat that my children be embraced and cherished as well (there goes more than half the herd).

Here they are in no particular order:

1. Inspiring intelligence. Nothing sexier than a brilliant mind. Bright conversation ignites the brain and makes sparks fly.  Sapiosexuality, baby.

2. A willingness to help and support. Introverts are constantly aware of our leaking energy. If we want any energy left over for scintillating conversation and awesome sex, we’re going to need some help with the daily grind and decision-making.

3. Respect and validation. It’s easy for introverts to feel inferior in our lack of ability to go-go-go and socialize endlessly. Make us feel like highly valued equals and we’ll do whatever it takes to protect and nourish the relationship.

4. Deep, deep, emotional intimacy. We get each other. We load our conversations with thought-provoking ideas and vulnerable admissions. We look at the world in the same way. We intuitively understand each other’s hurts, needs, loves, and aspirations. We communicate with lively ease. We could talk all night but don’t need to because we are in tune in silence as well.

5. Understanding of the need for space and connection. Allow me to bathe in solitude but extend an invitation to join you afterward. Let me know you’ll be there when I’m ready to intertwine.

6. Sweet sensuality. Slow and spiritual most of the time. Hot and fast occasionally. This can be epic if we dare to blend beautifully. Depth in physical connection. I don’t do casual. There is too much energy loss in meaningless.

7. Dynamic and kind. I will feel your energy. Is it compassionate and interested in making the world a better place? I’m partial to nonjudgmental idealists. Pessimism and negativity drain me, so I abstain.

Beautifully High Expectations Met

Dear God! I am going to be alone forever, I thought as I typed the above list. It’s becoming clearer and clearer that I am dangerously particular. Dangerous in that there may never be an individual who lives up to these ideals. Unsettling in that I will likely hurt others along the way in my search.

And yet, over these last few years of dating, I have experienced a near perfect coupling. I have danced in blissful partnership. I have nailed the spiritual, physical, and emotional trifecta. I did stop looking for something better. More than once, I found the miracle, the one out of millions who understands me.

Yes, I lost one and never fully obtained the other but those partners were worth the wait and effort. They filled me with energy and I believe I did the same for them.

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At some point, Mr. One in a Million will enter my life or I will leap into love that doesn’t fit my criteria and find I was wrong about what I needed.

But for now, alone is better than settling for less. Alone is easier than bleeding energy in a pretend relationship. Alone is where I won’t break any hearts or have mine broken. Alone is where I will discover what I have to offer the world.

How particular are you? Are you willing to wait for the miracle or do you need to be coupled? What are your must-haves in a partner?  retina_favicon1

This article was originally published on It is republished here with permission from the author.

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Read this: 21 Undeniable Signs That You’re an Introvert


  • Brianna says:

    I thought that I was super picky and nuts for thinking that there was someone out there who had all the qualities you’ve listed. This showed me that I’m not the only one and that it is possible. I refuse to settle for less than I need. 🙂

    • You have beautifully high standards.:) I’ve learned what I value most and strive to maintain those cherished criteria within a relationship. Best wishes for fulfilling relationships!

  • Madlen says:

    It’s like reading my own thoughts out loud. I don’t recall how many times I’ve been called picky , and sometomes I’ve analyzed If it’s really true , that I should just lower my standards. Now I know that my list is what I’m looking for to be happy , to feel complete in both mind amd soul. Being alone , or L I V I N G under the meantime is wonderful as well.

    • I believe haveing a good grip on what you value gives you guidelines for relationships. Don’t be afraid to color outside the lines from time to time, because you may find ‘your type’ has evolved. Over years of marriage, dating and coaching clients, I’ve learned what I really need is someone who is into growth (willing to go through challenges and learn with me), is highly responsive (pays attention to my concerns, listens, is there for me), and lets me be me. If they are into growth, they have the potential to be an amazing partner. I guess what I’m saying is keep your beautifully high standards but notice someone’s potential. That’s my latest insight.;)

  • Kat says:

    Yes, I am picky. Because when I was not, I ended up exhausted and unhappy. Now, do I still believe I will meet that one someone? Less and less. It has been five years and I haven’t met anyone who would at least to make me interested.. There are plenty men out there but.. none has the spark for me (and I also have no spark for any because if someone approaches me, it is that they want friendship with benefits). Besides, I am over 30. It is kind of painful to see that everybody’s life is proceeding while mine is not. So ocassionally, I have the self-pity sessions and I do not appreciate being different. However, I cannot settle for something that does no feel right. If something ever will.. only the time will tell.

    • Kat I’m 46 and back in the dating pool again. I hear what you’re saying about not finding that spark. It can be elusive. I still have my beautifully high standards but I’m open to being surprised by someone who doesn’t totally fit the mold. I mentioned in the comment above to Madlen, I now look at their potential for growth. Are they mature and more mentally/spiritually developed? As I’ve gotten older, I have seen more men with mature ideals and ways of living. That’s one benefit of being older. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your experience.

      • Kat says:

        Thank you for you comment. Actually, you described perfectly, what I meant by the “spark”: potential for growth and certain level of maturity. However, this is so rare and if they are out there, they are always taken. Sometimes, I think I have higher chances to find a unicorn than a such a man who is single and interested in me 🙂

  • Debbie says:

    You spoke the words of my heart….my friends have always told me I’m going to end up alone if I don’t give these “good guys” a proper chance. I just couldn’t get myself to settle eventhough I knew they were great guys. I just always knew there was someone (exactly like you described haha ) out there for me. And thank God I did not settle because I found him, or rather he found me…He understands me completely, eventhough he’s an extrovert, and he accepts me completely, he is perfect in so many ways. So to all the introverted woman out there I assure you, you are not being unreasonable, you’re not being impossible and what you’re looking for is not unobtainable.

  • Claire says:

    Holy moly you took the words right out of my mouth. After being single for nearly 3 years following the very painful end of a marriage, I’m starting to feel ready to date again. I’ve dipped my toe into the online dating pool, though I am not particularly hopeful that I will find someone who can truly understand and appreciate me. The first time around I feel like I had to present a certain side of myself — the more extroverted, spontaneous side — which is me about 25% of the time with lots of recharge time in between. My fantasy is to be with someone who can bring out that side of me while also respecting and cherishing my sensitivity and need for quiet and solitude. Thank you for putting my thoughts into words.

  • sioux says:

    Brilliantly written. I lost the love of my life to suicide 40 years ago next week and have realized that I will be alone for the rest of my life. I tried to fill the hole with other relationships, but they all paled in comparison. When I read your list of must haves, they were exactly mine. I had them once, I found my spiritual partner, my soulmate, twin flame and am so blessed to have had the time that I did with him.

  • Kate says:

    As with so many things I’ve read since really working to find out what exactly being an INFJ means – it’s like you’ve read my mind. I’m 29 and have never really had a serious relationship – because I meet people and realize they’re just a little off from what I need. So far, I’ve only ever met one person that I really felt could be what I was wanting – and of course, he has a girlfriend, go figure! My family has told me so many times that I’m too picky, but my best friend was able to put it another way – “it’s like you’re looking for a thumbprint, and you’ll just have to keep looking until you find the one that’s just right.” Someday I’ll find the right one.

  • Loronda says:

    Two divorces and several abandoned relationships later, I find this beautiful summation of my heart desires. Yes, yes and YES! And all of the above! Is it too much to ask?!

    Thanks for letting me know I’m not so coo-coo for coco pops lol ❤️

  • Donna Kristiansen says:

    A wonderful and inspiring article. Like so many others have commented, it reminded me to view myself less negatively. I AM QUIRKY, and don’t tick many boxes of mainstream ‘what a 56 year old woman should be’. From an early age right up to now I have found it hard to maintain friendships as I found them to be too superficial for my needs. I was married, produced two amazing girls, and have been alone for coming up to 10 years now. But you know what? I am an honest, compassionate, giving human being, who is unable to be what I don’t believe in. If that means I stay single for the rest of my life, so be it. I have my girls and I have me. Even if I wanted to I couldn’t fake ‘being what it takes’ to hold down friends or a man – believe me I have tried several times. I’ll keep on quietly being the best I can be, learn to be kinder to myself, and accept each moment for what it is, lonely though it can be at times. Have a wonderful summer everyone! And remember to love yourselves too!!

  • Catherine says:

    So wonderful to see that I’m not the only one…

  • Becky says:

    I’m an introverted, intellectual, conservative-minded, unemotional, cynical woman, which makes it very hard to find a complementary match. I need someone who is extroverted enough to help me do the talking and occasionally go outside my comfort zone, but not so extroverted that I get burnt out on social activities. I need someone who is intellectual enough to sustain my interest long-term and who won’t be intimidated by my brain or the way I talk. I need someone who is conservative enough that we share the same values. I need someone who is emotional enough to take the lead and share his feelings so that I’m comfortable sharing mine, which is hard to find in a male. I need someone who will embrace my cynicism, but also counter it with positivity to keep us balanced.

    I never used to think a person like this existed, but I did find one, and he even came with a dozen extra “nice-to-haves”. Before him, I found dating frustrating and unfair. It seemed like nothing would ever work out. At times I became so desperate that I poured time and energy into a clearly dead-end relationship that didn’t even make me happy. But now I’m so *glad* that I went through all that to find him at the end of it. Being alone is not always glamorous, but finding a real connection is worth it. Follow your heart, listen to your brain, and it will all be ok 🙂

  • Liz says:

    I totally agree with everything that you all have said and am also wondering if I get too deep too quickly…? I can’t casually date. If I don’t have a great time with someone immediately, I move on. But there have been a few guys who I really really like but I become too much and I think I scare them off. Maybe I get too hopeful? I was in a really dysfunctional but super connected relationship for about 9 years. It ended about a year ago and since then I’ve dated a few people but none have really stuck. I wish I could just “keep things light” as people tell me and not get attached so quickly. Maybe it’s because I know that connection doesn’t come very often? I am at the point where I just want to give up and not even put myself out there any more. It’s lonely but at least I don’t get hurt or disappointed.

  • hola says:

    Forever alone.

  • Zoe Ben says:

    Wow.i now feel so validated! Apparently im not the only very picky over analytical and” just not feeling a connection” one! There is hope!

  • Mark L. says:

    Brenda, my fellow introverted dear, I F your pain (even as an “INTP”…;) This is essentially to my laundry list of impossible wants.

    Maddening to me is the cultural expectation is that the man will search and contact the women on dating sites like OKC and Match, while these dating sites do almost -nothing- to help us introverts -find- these particularly idealistic intellectual traits. (One theory being that if these sites really helped us find mates quickly, they’d not earn much money and go out of business.)

    I know of no dating site where you can search by the creativity or grade level of profile writing (for us serious sapio’s). College degrees offer some hint of intelligence, but not really intellect, as so many people get degrees to improve their employment prospects, rather than for a pure love of knowledge and wisdom and creativity.

    And no way to search by idealism and positivity either. Basically all of the things you listed have to be discovered by accident, through hints in reading many lengthy profiles and making inferences from their profile questions. And to many people self puff by using the right key words in their profiles, but don’t actually live them or understand them.

    And don’t even get me started on Tinder. All of the online dating sites are terrible. And terrifyingly friends and family are even worse these days. It’s a sad and crazy state of affairs we find ourselves in.

    My only feedback for the “picky” idealistic introvert is this: Of these impossible ideals – one should avoid sabotaging finding their dream mates by adding further demands of perfection, such as your mates precise hard minimum number of inches taller (or shorter). Even though I am 6’3″, I ignore profiles where a woman demands a man to be 5 or 6 inches taller than her. That betrays common sense and a true desire to find one’s enlightened intellectual partner.

    And to me, the same applies to demanding high paying high status jobs, or certain hair or eye colors, etc. While physical traits and attraction are undeniably important – what does eye color and someone only being two inches taller than you matter when you’re already impractically dreaming of finding and netting the last living unicorn.

    At what point do you give up that love will find you? All I can seem to manage are unrequited loves for me or from me, but never with the same person at the same time. Statistically, I can see now finding myself at the end of my life and offering the same explanation for never successfully marrying that author Louisa May Alcott did: “I never managed to fall in love.”

  • ponpiri says:

    Hmph. Your checklist isn’t unrealistic. being the aloof INTJ, I would have retorted ‘In general or just from you?’

    I would say that you probably won’t get all of this from just one person, let alone a romantic partner.

  • Digruntled says:

    I’d like all that too, but I’d quite like it if someone actually showed an interest in me at all.