Four years ago, I wrote a blog entitled “Are You an Attractive Introvert?” I was surprised even then–when far fewer people read this blog–how much interest the article generated. But since then, and especially this year, the article has gone viral and generated a record number of page views and comments. The truth is, dating is a different ballgame for introverts… and it’s a really different ballgame for Attractive Introverts (AIs).
The idea of introversion has gained much traction in the media, probably due heavily to Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. I ruefully admit the book bored me enough to give up on it, but that’s more about my personal preferences and does not take away from the value and impact of the book for so many. (As it happens, I just downloaded it to give it another whirl).
Now, there are articles about introversion everywhere. The interesting thing about this explosion of info about introversion is that there are many different opinions as to what it is. So, I want to offer a brief overview of what introversion is.
What is Introversion?
Introversion is one of the major personality traits identified in many theories of personality. People who are introverted tend to be inward turning, or focused more on internal thoughts, feelings and moods rather than seeking out external stimulation.
Introverts are internal people. And there’s probably good reason for this: Hans Eysenck (a major player in personality theory) theorized that introverts tend to respond differently to external stimuli or arousal, in that introverts are more easily overstimulated, whereas extroverts can tolerate much more. Extroverts are more likely to seek external stimulation… and human beings, especially in large groups, are very stimulating. There’s also Jung’s work and the resulting Myers-Briggs personality typing system, which I’ve mentioned here before. For Jung, introverts are “internally focused” rather than focused on the external world. Why do you think so many writers are introverts? 🙂
I see many articles describing introversion as needing time alone to “recharge” or being drained by social situations. Others characterize introverts as people who hate socializing, hate crowds, or dislike people in general. Some introverts may have these tendencies, but not all of them do. Likewise, you’ll see these behaviors in some extroverts. As with all human traits, there’s a spectrum of possibilities, as seen with the pic I posted above. Most of us have some mix of introversion and extroversion.
For example, as an Introvert, I don’t mind crowds if they’re mellow. A weekend with thousands of people at the Lyons Folks Festival was awesome (everyone is chill and we sit while watching the music), but I’ll turn down any regular concert (including FREE tickets to Tom Petty at RED ROCKS!) and you couldn’t pay me to go to a Broncos football game EVER again.
Introversion vs. Shyness
On the other hand, shyness is a bit different. From Wikipedia:
Shyness (also called diffidence) is the feeling of apprehension, lack of comfort, or awkwardness especially when a person is in proximity to other people. This commonly occurs in new situations or with unfamiliar people. Shyness can be a characteristic of people who have low self-esteem. Stronger forms of shyness are usually referred to as social anxiety or social phobia.
In essence, it’s an inhibition caused by fearing that you’ll do/say the wrong thing.
Shyness and introversion are somewhat similar, but they aren’t the same. One can be introverted but not shy, and one can be shy but not introverted. I don’t have the numbers on this, but I believe the average shy person is also introverted. In my experience, most introverted people who experience difficulty with dating have some amount of shyness in them. I’m a little SHY, and it was an issue for me when I dated. Which leads me to…
Introversion, Shyness, and Dating
Dating is a social endeavor. It requires going to places where other people go, talking to total strangers, and engaging in conversation. It’s “stimulating.” Thus, you can see why dating might be more challenging for the introvert who is more sensitive to stimulation and the shy person who is socially uncomfortable. They may struggle with:
- Meeting people in the first place, either because they’re home reading in their spare time, hanging out with only their intimate group of friends, or appearing too unapproachable when around others. This latter thing is especially problematic if you’re an AI and more attractive than average.
- Knowing where to meet people. Many of the standard ways of meeting people (bars, parties, or other social events) don’t always sit well with introverts. Moreover, you want to meet people who are like you or at least understand and appreciate you.
- Starting conversation. Beginning a conversation with a stranger is highly “arousing” and can be too much for some introverts, and can be a source of terror for SHYs who live in fear of looking/feeling/saying something stupid. Men struggle with making the approach, women with showing that they want to be approached.
- Dates. Where do you take your date that’s fun but doesn’t drain your energy?
- Relationships. What happens when you do meet someone, but he or she turns out to want to spend every waking moment with you or wants to go out to loud, stimulating places every weekend?
- Rejection and loneliness. When faced with the above issues, it can create a pattern of rejection and failure that can beat you down, leading to withdrawing from dating… and loneliness.
I want your feedback!
I am thinking very seriously about expanding my business to incorporate dating success for introverts and SHYs. Tell me if this interests you. And, if so, what sort of help would you want? Written info? Audio info? Small group teleseminars? Live seminars? One on one work? All of the above? I’m listening.