3 Difficult Things About Being a Single Introvert Looking for Love

IntrovertDear.com single introvert struggles

I may as well admit this from the start. In addition to being an introvert who absolutely adores her alone time, I’m also quite the hopeless romantic. This combination of attributes sets my head and heart up for some intense emotional gymnastics, especially in today’s dating world.

I’ve been single for a while now. In part because it took me some time to move on from my last relationship and in part because I feel so at odds with the dating scene. I guess I fall firmly in that I just haven’t met the right person boat.

I do believe our experiences unfold as they are meant to, and people enter our lives when the timing is right. But sometimes I wish there was a jumpstart button I could use to contact the universe.

As I feel progressively more open to exploring the possibility of a relationship again, I’m struggling to put myself out there. Here are three struggles I’ve encountered as a single, sort-of-looking introvert in this modern age of dating.

Struggles of a Single Introvert

1. I don’t want to join Tinder. Like, at all.

Let me preface by saying I am not necessarily opposed to online dating. For many, it’s a convenient and fun way to seek out connections of all kinds. Admittedly, there are Tinder success stories for introverts and extroverts alike, but the whole swiping craze leaves me cynically amused at best and disheartened at worst.

As a huge proponent of organic experiences — and more of a dreamer than a pragmatist — part of me is holding out for that clichéd romantic moment when a random conversation struck up in a cafe or while waiting in line to buy bus tickets in a foreign country leads to a budding romance. Or maybe someone sees me sitting alone somewhere, as I’m often doing, feels compelled to talk to me, and we just never stop. This is probably my wistful side getting carried away, but I have to give that part of myself space to dream.

My struggle isn’t so much that I need the grand romantic story — I’d be happy with an ordinary tale and an authentic partnership built over time. It’s more that society seems to have given up on the whole idea. It’s like everyone’s heaved a collective sigh and decided that this is just how we meet people now.

I know online dating is supposed to be fun and not something that needs to be taken so seriously. But, as it’s become so normalized, with the lure of unlimited options just a swipe away, it’s hard to imagine finding what I’m looking for.

Not to mention, the idea of filtering potential partners based on a photo and a few curated messages, followed by meeting a string of strangers for dates, sounds unfulfilling and more than a little terrifying for this introvert (!).

2. I’m not really into casual.

I’m an all-or-nothing person. I either like someone and want to spend a lot of time with them right off the bat, or I don’t feel a connection at all and that’s that. There’s not a whole lot of gray area. It’s an intuitive sensation, one way or the other, and it often activates my introvert fight-or-flight mode.

When I feel comfortable with someone, I sort of wake up, and a sense of curiosity and interest overtakes me. On the other hand, if I don’t feel comfortable, the whole thing seems flat and I get uneasy fairly quickly. At this point, I experience an urge to retreat.

I’ve never done well with dating just for fun, because I tend to be too focused on meaning. The idea of casually dating a lot of people at once until one sticks is just not me. I find it rare enough for timing and circumstance to align, as well as a mutual interest to develop. Once it does, I’m sold.

There’s a lot of talk about not appearing too eager and keeping your options open. We are told not to take things too seriously until someone comes along that makes us want to get serious. Lots of supposed rules and ways to play. But, I’m not really interested in playing in that sense.

If I’m in at all, I’m in all the way.

3. I’m really good at being alone. 

As much as I crave connection and intimacy, I’m typically most comfortable when I’m by myself. This has its advantages and disadvantages, and I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing. But it does leave me feeling incredibly vulnerable when an intriguing person enters the scene.

When someone strikes my fancy (or I strike theirs), it’s almost like I don’t know how to handle the influx of sudden incoming — and outgoing — attention. I immediately get caught up in what it means and start imagining every possible scenario of what could come from our connection if it develops further, or how I’ll be affected if it doesn’t.

This can lead me to do one of two things. I either push through the noise in my head and show my interest, or I get overwhelmed, start over-analyzing, and retreat into my introvert cocoon because it’s easier. Sometimes I do both, which I know can be confusing and unfair to the other person involved.

Looking back, it’s fair to say I’ve missed out on relationships with people who might have been good for me, because I shut them out before things could get started. It’s something I’m working on, but it’s an aspect of my personality that’s tough to overcome.

As an introvert, I often need a gentle nudge — or push — to leave the coziness of my self-sustaining world. Much of my experience is filtered through my own tinted reflection, not spoken aloud or shared. But I want to share, to listen, and to learn.

Dating can be a dance of give and take, and there’s no way around it: You have to get out of your comfort zone. Knowing what you want is one thing, but opening yourself up to it presents a whole different challenge.

Moving forward, I’ll try to do my part, scary as it may be.

Psst. Hey Universe, whatcha got? 

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Read this: 9 Secrets About Dating an Introvert

Image credit: @Leo via Twenty20


14 Comments

  • Peep_Jerky says:

    I agree with everything you said. It’s depressing, particularly the Tinder thing. I don’t think I could ever be comfortable joining Tinder, but it seems like the only way people my age meet anymore. I also like the way you describe #2. It feels like there are all these rules that everyone else expects you to follow to this game that’s called “dating”, but I’m just not interested in playing that game with those rules. That means I have to pretty much resign myself to waiting to see if the right person ever comes along, but sometimes I feel like if the kind of deep relationship I want was meant to happen, it would have had to have happened already.

    • Cati Vanden Breul says:

      Thank you for the comment! I understand, it can sometimes be tough to ‘keep the faith’ as time goes on. Personally, I am trying to just put myself in a mindset of receptivity and trust that it will be worth the wait. 🙂 At least as (sensitive in my case) introverts, we are pretty comfortable on our own, and know when we get involved it is usually coming from an authentic place. I hope you find your person!

      • Peep_Jerky says:

        Thank you. I’m trying to do the same thing. I’m certainly good at being alone, so I try to be okay with being alone but also be receptive to meeting someone. It can be hard when it seems like everyone around you is in a committed relationship though. Good luck to you too.

  • Stephanie says:

    Yep, this is me. Add to all that the fact that it seems like all the guys I know are either already in relationships or not interested, and… yeah, it’s rough. But I’m keeping my eyes open.

    • Cati Vanden Breul says:

      Yeah, it can be hard when it seems like a waiting game. I think (hope?) it’s a combination of being open to it, but also having an understanding of what you are looking for. It won’t happen until it’s meant to, but it can be tricky to navigate all the space in between. Good luck out there! 🙂

  • Bestisstill2come says:

    I totally empathise with your observations. I pretty confident im way older than you but my feelings and frustrations are still the same. I’ve been single for long periods of time and this is in part down to how comfortable I feel on my own. I don’ŵt have the urge to rush out and meet people online or offline.

    Daydreaming and romanticising are also 2 traits that I can relate to. The whole process of dating de-energises me. The last short relationship I was in started spontaneously outside of any dating app.

    In spite of all of the frustrations that come with being a (male) Introvert, I’ve come to accept and appreciate my personality. My mindset is one of make the most of each day. If you are lucky to have someone special to enjoy it with, then so much the better.

    • Cati Vanden Breul says:

      Thank you for this very relevant comment. You make some great points about how some of it boils down to simply not needing to fill life with lots of people and attention, and the energy thing is at play as well. I agree about appreciating introversion! There are many things about being an introvert that I love and cherish. I too find a lot of wonder in exploring and truly do enjoy floating around on my own most of the time. But, as you say, sharing can make things just a bit sweeter. 🙂

  • J Katz says:

    I agree with all of this. I’m also torn between wanting a meaningful relationship and finding dating (especially meeting strangers from the internet) super stressful and uncomfortable. I especially agree with the “all or nothing” thing, as once I find someone who I click with, I just want to be with that person. I’ve always been that way with friendships too. The “meeting strangers” process is overwhelming and scary and takes away from my precious alone time, but the “being with a person I already like” experience is great, so once I meet someone I like why would I want more of the former?

    Also, I’m not sure if us introverts are “dreamers” when we feel like something is off about modern dating norms or just attuned to what leads to real connection and compatibility for us and want doesn’t. Online apps can help some people meet each other, but also can enable superficial focus on appearance, a mindset that people are replaceable and interchangeable, and dishonesty around how one represents oneself. Plus, apps often remind me of what constitutes a “cool” girl in this culture (read: “spontaneous” adventurous” “outgoing” “up for anything”, etc.) in a way that sets off my insecurities.

    • Cati Vanden Breul says:

      Wow, I think we would be friends in real life. Thanks for reading, and I agree with 100% of your take 100% also!

  • Danielle Glubish says:

    Oh man, you put the words down that I could not express. I wish I could give this article to everyone I know, so they’d understand a bit better. Mostly I just get a lot judgement that the reason I’m alone is that I don’t ‘get out there’ or I’m not willing to ‘give it a chance’ even if I don’t feel that it feels right. Sometimes you just know, right? Being a romantic and an introvert is an especially deadly combination. I’m still looking for that ‘special’ moment to happen too, but get often told life isn’t like it is in books and movies….sigh….and this is why a read, like, a lot 🙂

    • Cati Vanden Breul says:

      Yes, I can relate to feeling misunderstood in this area! Particularly with the Tinder thing! The idea seems to be you have to go on a lot of bad or uncomfortable dates, many of which there will be no connection or you won’t want the same things, or just casually date person after person until you find something with more sticking power. It just doesn’t sound appealing to me. I can’t always explain fully why something does or doesn’t feel right, but the feeling is what guides me! (INFP all the way here)

  • Günther Beerten says:

    I have the exact same thoughts about this topic. As an INFP I am completely opposed to the online dating scene. I don’t mind other people using it. But I hate it every time people tell me I should try to use it. Just like you I want it to happen organically. I don’t want it to feel forced.

  • I can relate to everything you say so much, being an INFJ, except for the last part – getting caught up in scenarios. Don’t get me wrong- I might do it sometimes but, thanks to maturity and experience (I’m 45, soon 46!) I have managed to stay focused more and more on the here and now of… everything, relationships included. Not that I’ve dated that much recently anyway!!… Thanks for your post-it’s great to read that I’m not alone out there not wanting to join Tinder and stil believing – and dreaming of – a real life simple encounter. Keep going for your dreams, Cati!

  • Tiffini says:

    You have put perfectly into words what I’ve been thinking for a while now. I’m just going to work on becoming more self-aware of what triggers my flight response and have faith that my partner is just around the corner.