You’ve gone on a few dates with a great person you met on a dating app. So far, you’re really enjoying spending time with them: They’re smart and funny and not at all hard on the eyes—score. But, unlike you, they’re introverted. You understand that they’re going to have different boundaries, but you might not realize that some of the little things you say and do can be hurtful to an introvert.
Case in point? Saying things like, “But why can’t we stay a little longer?”
It’s important to put yourself in their shoes. Many introverts have a very specific amount of social energy that they’re comfortable expending. Once that energy tank is empty, it can be really difficult to smile and fake it. While it’s OK to ask, “Do you want to stay a bit longer?” phrasing it as “Why can’t we…” places blame on an introvert, which isn’t fair.
And here’s the thing: If you want to stay longer, you can. Once an introvert has told you that they’ve had enough, they’ve had enough. Trust that they know themselves well enough to recognize that they’re no longer going to have fun or contribute to the situation. When an introvert says they’re done, believe them.
In any relationship, respect for your partner’s boundaries is paramount—regardless of their comfort with staying at a bar a little longer.
3 Other Things to Know About Dating an Introvert
1. Don’t Take it Personally
No, your one-and-only doesn’t hate your friends. They’re just maxed out on those four-hour, monthly group dinners. Ask them about their specific likes and dislikes when it comes to social events: Maybe they can’t stand packed cocktail parties but would gladly go to brunch with another couple. Perhaps they feel invaded when a bunch of new people come over, but they’re fine stopping by that fundraiser with you for 45 minutes. Make an effort to help your partner stay connected in ways that make them feel comfortable—you'll realize their social reticence has nothing to do with you or your friends.
2. Do Your Own Thing
Let’s face it: If you’re an extrovert, your introverted partner probably isn’t going to fulfill every single one of your social butterfly whims. And that’s totally OK. In fact, hanging out with separate friends is one of the best things healthy couples can do regularly to build a better sense of self in their relationships. So go meet your work friends at that crowded happy hour, and trust your S.O. is having a great time at their knitting class.
3. Advocate for Yourself
Although it’s important to consider your partner’s feelings, being an introvert isn’t a get-out-of-jail-free card. It’s OK for you to express your feelings of frustration, and totally kosher to ask for a compromise. You’re entitled to say, “It’s important to me that you come to this work dinner,” and know your spouse has your back.