Introversion In A World of Internet Dating

I’m an introvert. There’s simply no way of getting around it. Every personality test (tried-and-true INFJ, thank you very much!), every questionnaire and all my history has proven it out. I’m not extreme, but my basic personality definitely leans toward introversion. I often find though, that people really don’t get what an introvert is.

Here’s what I’m not: Shy. Uncomfortable in social situations. Socially awkward. A people-hater. Anti-social.

Yet invariably, when I say I’m an introvert, I get the responses like: “But you don’t seem shy!” “You seem really good with people!”

Yup. I’m not shy and I am good with people. I’m actually really great with people, just in a different way than extraverts are.

This is a short and sweet definition of introversion that I came across: “Introverts tend to be more quiet, reserved and introspective. Unlike extraverts who gain energy from social interaction, introverts have to expend energy in social situations. After attending a party or spending time in a large group of people, introverts often feel a need to “recharge” by spending a period of time alone.”

For a more detailed description: Introversion

In a world where extraversion is the ideal, where introspection and quietness are not prized and rarely found, I have often found myself feeling very misunderstood and different. Even attempting to find a description of introversion was difficult, because the myths abounded online.

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Being an introvert for me means this: I like people. However, I need solitude to recharge. I prefer to be with one or two people at a time, rather than a large group. If I look intense or far away, it’s not because I am aloof or mad. I am thinking…you know that thing you do inside your head where you create ideas, analyze situations and figure out your feelings? Yup, I do it. A lot. I don’t really want to engage in mindless chatter about fashion, manicures or trivial banalities. When I talk, I prefer it be about ideas, emotions and something with meaning. This means that while people almost always like me, they aren’t always comfortable around me. I am not the superficial, glossy mixer at a party. I’m not the person with a hundred friends, who flits like a butterfly from person to person. I sometimes feel like a quiet island in the middle of a boisterous ocean at parties. I don’t mind going to the occasional party and will even have fun, but afterwards I want to go and hermit myself in my home for a day or two. I can’t live without people and I WILL get lonely if alone for too long, but many nights I am very content being by myself.

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How does this intersect with dating, especially online dating? Not incredibly well, as you might imagine. Last week I had two dates; I turned down five others. Everyone wants to have my phone number and thinks it is perfectly okay to text me randomly throughout the day, with an ongoing dialogue. I REALLY hate that. This week I am having dinner with a friend, then I have a date this weekend. Interspersed with that will be time spent with family. I’ve already pushed a couple of people off until next week, because I absolutely know I MUST BE ALONE. At least one night this week I need complete solitude.

With internet dating it’s not like meeting someone in your day-to-day life. There are usually several men who are interested in meeting me. Even attempting to weed out anyone I think wouldn’t be compatible with me, this leaves more men than I know what to do with! So let’s say I go out with a man and we decide we want to have a second date. Well, it’s too early to exclusively date, so I accept a date with someone else for later on in the week. This sort of thing can quickly snowball. I simply can’t juggle multiple people, yet telling an interested man: “I’m sorry, I’m all booked up for the next three weeks” is the kiss of death. How does an introvert juggle dating several men at once, while respecting the need to recharge with solitude? Constantly hiding and unhiding my profile to calm things down gets tedious and confusing to anyone who has emailed me.

This issue of time management is my biggest problem with online dating sites. If I don’t carefully guard my time, I could end up having a date every single night I don’t have my children. Exhausting. Yet I haven’t figured out how to slow down the pace. I know plenty of people who would be thrilled to have a date every single night. For me, I feel like a phone left off my charger too long. Eevntually, I’m going to die. Metaphorically speaking, of course.

So for now, I’m simply trying to manage it all, while still taking care of myself. At one time, I probably would have felt like I had to accept every date that looked promising. Now I think that if they aren’t willing to wait at all, we’re probably not right for each other. So tonight, I’ll go out and have a lovely dinner and some wine, along with great company. Tomorrow night I am going to not answer my phone unless it’s an emergency, ignore emails and stay in all night long. I’ll exercise, walk the dog, do some reading in a hot, bubble bath.

introvert-vs-extrovert

Of course, too many nights like that get lonely and depressing, instead of glorious. Too long without a night like that and I feel stretched thin, to the breaking point. Being introverted is a delicate balance, but with the right ratios, I can shine beautifully. Besides, I never claimed to not be complicated, but I like to believe I’m worth the complication. 🙂

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4 Responses to “Introversion In A World of Internet Dating”

  1. As a fellow INFJ I feel like you just crawled inside my head and described my life. Well written and thoughtfully expressed!

  2. This was an interesting read! I think growing up I was an introvert but have definitely become an extrovert over the years! I completely relate to some of the stuff you have written about…

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