Quick refresher: It’s a myth that introverted is the same thing as being shy, and that extroverted is the same thing as being outgoing. The truth is that which one you are depends on how you recharge your overall personality battery. Introverts recharge by spending time alone or having down time, while extroverts get their energy from being around other people. Check out some of the key differences below, and see if any bells ring for you.
Types of Dating Activities
Because introverts tend to prefer smaller group conversations or one-on-one activities to large social gatherings, introverted daters tend to prefer planning a one-on-one date activity where the two can talk and get to know each other. Yet just because he may be an introvert doesn’t mean that his activity of choice is to sit quietly in the dark or hide in the stacks of your local library. In fact, because introverts often enjoy playing the observer role, they often enjoy spending time in festive atmospheres with plenty of stimulation. For example, while you probably won’t see a happy introvert regularly in the throes of a loud, packed party, you might find him having dinner at a fun restaurant on the boulevard, where he can watch passersby and enjoy conversation and an environment intimate enough to allow for talking and connecting. If you’re an introvert, tell the person you start dating what kinds of things you like to do – and be sure to touch on a few things you don’t like to do.
Extroverts, on the other hand, are always looking for some sort of party – even if it’s just a party of two. Extroverts love action because they feed off of others, and the energy from other people fuels them. Extroverts wouldn’t think twice about having a new date come meet them at the restaurant or bar with a group of friends. With extroverts, the rule is pretty simple: the more, the merrier.
Extroverts tend to need more attention than introverts, so they like to keep a lot of people in their social life so they always have someone to talk to or be with. What’s more, many extroverts don’t like to spend a lot of time alone. If you’re an extrovert, make sure to think about the personality of your date, asking yourself whether he or she tends to be more of an introvert or extrovert. Though you may love to be around a lot of people, your date may not share your social appetite.
How You Approach Dating and Relationships
One of the main differences between introverts and extroverts is the speed and intensity with which they start a relationship. Introverts tend to be more cautious individuals, taking time to survey the territory and get a feel for the surroundings. Introverts tend to start relationships more slowly, seeing a date occasionally until they make the determination that the relationship could actually last or is more likely to end.
Extroverts approach relationships differently, frequently diving in and wanting to see the other person every day or most days of the week. When extroverts date, it’s almost as if they’re in a hurry: ‘I gotta seal the deal!’ If anyone is the first to say “I love you,” it’s usually going to be the extrovert. It’s not that the extrovert’s feelings are shallow or that they are out of touch with their feelings; it’s that they operate socially at a much faster speed than their introverted counterparts.
When I work with extroverts, I focus on slowing them down and encouraging them to spend more time alone or engaging in solitary activities. Though it’s terrific to be outgoing and to get energy from being around others, you also need to be comfortable sitting with yourself and engaging yourself in activities that absorb some of that intense mental energy!
Dating vs. Committing
I hear the same feedback from male and female clients every week: “I can’t date more than one person at the same time because it’s too hard.” First, slow down, turbo. It isn’t “hard” dating! Dating a few people at the same is unfamiliar. But trust me: As soon as you sit with those uncomfortable feelings and learn to date a couple of people at the same time, you will loosen up and start enjoying dating more. Remember, dating isn’t having a boyfriend or girlfriend – it’s the process of deciding who you want to be your boyfriend or girlfriend.
For introverts, dating a few people at the same time isn’t quite the same as inserting your thumb into a vice and then cutting off all circulation – but it’s close. Introverts feel uncomfortable dating a few people at the same time for one basic reason: They aren’t the most social people in the world to begin with, so who wants to feel obligated to spend several nights a week hanging out when you’re (almost) as happy hanging at home? For introverts, a realistic goal is to learn to date two people at the same time, because dating a few at once is simply not going to be the introvert’s cup of tea.
Extroverts tend to be more comfortable with the whole dating process. Because they feed off the energy and attention of others, dating for many extroverts is pretty darn pleasurable.
Whether you’re an introverted or extroverted dater, the most important rule is to know which one you are, and to try to get a sense early on about which your new date is. Understanding some of the fundamentally different ways the two of you operate can make your dating experience smoother – and a lot more successful!
Which type of dater describes you best?
Dr. Seth is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, Psychology Today blogger, and TV guest expert. He practices in Los Angeles and treats a wide range of issues and disorders and specializes in relationships, parenting, and addiction. He has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve.