For some people, dating is one big adventure filled with interesting people, hilarious gaffes and memorable stories. But if you’re an introvert, navigating that world feels more like a minefield of anxiety and awkwardness. And if you are looking to couple up, you can’t exactly opt out. Your love life and love of solitude don’t have to be mutually exclusive: Here are ten rules every romance-seeking introvert should follow.
10 Dating Rules Every Introvert Needs to Know
1. Drop a few hints about your introversion in your online dating profile. Mention the book you’re obsessed with at the moment or that you’re all about a hygge Friday night on the couch. There are plenty of fellow introverts (and introvert-loving extroverts) who appreciate those things just as much as you do.
2. Set a (reasonable) quota for yourself. We’re firm believers of quality over quantity when it comes to dating, but if you avoid taking the plunge too often, you might suddenly realize two years have gone by, date-free. Figure out what works with your schedule and comfort level—say, once a week or once a month—and do your best to stick to it, even if you don’t always feel like it.
3. Don’t wait too long before meeting up. It can be easy to keep texting that Bumble match forever—you might feel more confident when you have time to compose your thoughts—but don’t fall into the trap of using that digital wall as a crutch. If you want a relationship and not a pen pal, you’re better off making IRL plans fairly quickly.
4. Pick a familiar venue. First dates are nerve-racking enough without worrying about unknown menus or whether you’ll be able to hear over a too-loud room. A place where you know you’ll be comfortable (like your favorite neighborhood coffee shop) takes those variables out of the equation so you can focus on the actual date.
5. Front-load your solo time. Woo-hoo, you have a date on Thursday! That might mean turning down happy hour with your coworkers on Wednesday if you need the extra time to recharge (or in this case, pre-charge). The last thing you want is to feel burned out before you even get there.
6. Do something interactive. If you’re worried about awkward lulls in the conversation (which aren’t the end of the world, for the record), opt for an activity that gives you plenty to discuss, like taking a walk through a busy neighborhood (better yet, with a dog), hitting up an art exhibit or taking a brewery tour.
7. Accept that you’re going to have to make some small talk. You’d much rather launch straight into the deep, philosophical questions, but you don’t want to scare anyone. Make an effort to volley back a few of the other person’s get-to-know-you questions (like where they grew up and what they studied in college)…and then slip in something more thought-provoking (like what era they’d most like to time-travel to and why).
8. Be wary of people who don’t respect your alone time. Sure, it’s flattering when someone wants to see you nonstop, but if you feel like it’s cutting into your much-needed solitude, say something. Anyone who’s not cool with it after five dates isn’t going to get it three years down the road.
9. …But give people a chance. As much as you value meaningful relationships and would rather skip the trivial stuff, you unfortunately can’t always skip ahead. Trust your instincts, but keep in mind you’re not the only one who might be slow to open up. You don’t want to miss out on a good connection.
10. Don’t overthink it. Odds are, the many worrisome scenarios swirling in your head are way more stress-inducing than what’s actually happening. Give yourself permission to get out of your head a little bit, even if it’s just for a few hours. There’ll be plenty of time to daydream later.