Dating Tips for Introverts: How to Date When You’re Shy

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Dating as an introvert is an anxiety-ridden nightmare. You’re shy and comfortable being on your own. Now you suddenly have to…talk to someone? Don’t worry. We are here to get you through the stress and have a positive dating experience. Check out these dating tips for introverts.

1 – Identify What You Want out of a Relationship

You can avoid a lot of awkward and unnecessary dating conversations by identifying what you want in a relationship. Do you want a serious relationship, or do you prefer casual dating? Do you want someone who can take care of you financially or someone with a similar educational background? Do you want to date internationally, or would you like to date someone local?

These questions will not only narrow down who you date but also which dating platform is right for you. Introverts tend to feel overwhelmed in unfamiliar situations, so this can help you create a sense of structure. There will still be plenty of elements that you can’t predict, but at least you’ll have a guideline for what you want and what you might expect.

2 – Find the Best Way to Meet the Type of Partner You Want

Introverts tend to thrive online. The internet prevents some of the initial anxiety that comes with dating, like making awkward eye contact or coming up with conversation topics on the spot. You can start conversations when you want or end them abruptly when you feel uncomfortable. Online dating is a space where you are in total control of your experience.

With this in mind, online dating isn’t the only way to meet someone. You could try interacting with a social group that your ideal partner might participate in. For example, if you want someone who enjoys reading as you do, you might look for a local book club or poetry reading in your area. Think of who you want to meet, where you’re likely to meet them, and what you can do as an introvert to bring that encounter to fruition.

3 – Use Online Dating to Your Advantage (You Have More Time to Plan Conversations)

As we mentioned above, online dating is perfect for introverts! You can match with people in your own time, and you can plan out what to say before you send it. The most nerve-racking part of the process is the initial startup, but here at Meet Hong Kong Singles, we make it easy to set up an online dating profile. Be open about what you like and what you’re looking for, and let the site do the rest of the work for you!

Once you have your profile set up, get familiar with the dating site. There is no pressure to interact with people. You can find matches when you feel comfortable. In-person dating can be stressful for introverts and extroverts, but online dating creates a neutral experience for everyone.

4 – Be Transparent about Your Shyness and Personal Boundaries

Being shy isn’t a bad trait. In fact, others may like the fact that you’re quiet, reserved, observant or reclusive. You can be upfront about your introverted nature, as well as any personal boundaries you have. You might tell someone that you’ve had bad dating experiences in the past and would like to take it slow, or that you prefer not to talk about a certain subject. Set the boundaries that make you feel safe and comfortable. That’s what’s most important.

5 – Choose Comfortable Settings for In-Person Dates

When the time comes to meet someone in person, choose a casual environment. Many introverts like eating at a casual dining spot where they can talk and get to know each other. Clubs and bars are usually too loud for meaningful conversations, and the noise adds to the nerves. High-end dining also puts pressure on the situation because both parties feel uptight and on edge.

Choose a meeting location where you can feel comfortable leaning back, relaxing your shoulders, or laughing without a room of stares. This sets the tone for a positive dating experience.

6 – Think of Questions That Keep the Conversation Flowing

Awkward silence is an introvert’s worst fear (or at least, in the top 10). You don’t want to speak up, but you also don’t want to sit in silence. Practice some questions before a date that will keep the conversation going. More specifically, think of questions that have open-ended responses, rather than yes or no answers. A yes or no question has two possible answers, and the topic is liable to end with the answer. If you ask “What is your favorite type of food to make for yourself?” instead of “Do you like to cook?”, you’ll have a much longer response to build on.

Learn more: 21 Conversation Starters for Long Distance Online Dating

7 – Avoid Negative Thought Patterns That Increase Anxiety

Negative thinking will make you second guess every step of the dating process. Did I say something wrong? Will he like me? Am I talking too much? Am I not talking enough?

Instead of jumping to conclusions or overanalyzing the situation, try to live in the moment. Identify negative thought patterns when they happen, and try to correct the behavior when you notice it. Here are some common types of negative thinking:

  • All-or-Nothing Thinking: Everything is yes or no, right or wrong, black or white. There is no middle ground. This may make you see your accomplishments as insignificant if they aren’t as big as you wanted them to be.
  • Mind Reading: You make assumptions about what people think about you. Examples – They hate me. They aren’t talking to me because I said something wrong. They’re mad at me. Etc.
  • Jumping to Conclusions: Making assumptions about what is going to happen without focusing on the facts. Is that person actually going to break up with you, or have you drawn that conclusion because you’re thinking too far ahead?
  • Overgeneralization: Also known as making a mountain out of a molehill. Small negatives feel like the end of the world, or you feel like you are in a constant cycle of doom.
  • Rejecting the Positive: Ignoring positive experiences in your life and only focusing on the negative ones. In the case of online dating, this may mean that you get upset for not matching with one person, even though many other people have reached out to get to know you.
  • Minimizing and Maximizing: Similar to overgeneralization and rejecting the positive. This type of negative thinking may include hyper fixating on your “flaws” or ignoring your accomplishments.
  • Emotional Reasoning: Accepting your emotions as facts, rather than looking at the actual facts. “I feel like this person doesn’t like me, so they must not like me.”
  • Internal Blame: Blaming yourself for situations beyond your control.  

You can’t truly know what the other person is thinking, and you can’t control it even if you did. Trust that you have something special to offer. Online dating can feel like a rollercoaster at times, but if you can approach it from a positive perspective, you’re more likely to have fun on the ride!

8 – Practice Grounding Techniques for Anxiety

Introverts often face anxiety when dealing with new experiences. You may feel this way on a first date, at the end of a date, during an initial conversation, or at any other time in this venture. If you have reliable coping mechanisms to lean on, you can get through difficult situations and feel more empowered to face your anxiety.

There are two main grounding strategies most people with anxiety use. One involves controlled breathing, and the other involves using your five senses.

For the breathing exercise, inhale over the course of four seconds and then exhale for another four seconds. Do this repeatedly as a way to focus your mind and slow your rapid pulse. If you feel overwhelmed by your environment, you may need to excuse yourself temporarily and do this in a more open space outside.

Another grounding technique for anxiety is identifying objects, scents, and feelings around you that you recognize. Tap into all five senses and think about the things you can hear, see, smell, touch, and taste. This is most effective when you are in the middle of an anxiety attack because it helps you feel safe within the space.

Practice these remedies in your day-to-day life, and don’t be afraid to use them as your date. If you’ve been upfront about your anxiety, your date will understand your need for comfort.

9 – Try a New Activity Together

If you’re worried about what to do on a date, try a completely new activity that neither of you has done before. This will create a neutral environment where you’re both exploring new things. You can be awkward and uncertain together, and you can laugh about those feelings along the way.

This might require some creative thinking when it comes to online dating, but you can still achieve it. Maybe you play an online game together or do the same craft over video chat. You could make your own wine and paint party where you follow a painting tutorial online. Step outside of your comfort zones and create lasting memories together.

10 – Don’t Dwell on Your Fantasy Relationship

Introverts are always thinking. They have a constant internal monologue based on how they view the world around them. This can be useful at times, but it can be detrimental in other ways.

If you have thought about dating and your future long enough, you probably have an “ideal” relationship in your head. You may also have an ideal partner in your head – someone that fulfills all your needs.

There’s a big difference between fantasy and reality. Every person you date will have some sort of flaws, and no one can live up to your vision. Your relationship as a whole will likely not go the way you had planned. No one does.

You can have goals in your head, but try not to dwell too much on your fantasy. Turn your attention to what’s actually going on, and see if you can find beauty in the unexpected.

11 – Provide Alternative Suggestions for Dates That May Make You Uncomfortable

If the thought of going to a crowded movie theater makes you want to throw up, that may not be the best dating environment for you. Instead of shooting down every option your partner provides, try offering up alternatives for a sense of compromise. Maybe you’re OK with going to a movie, but you’d rather see a matinee when the theater is less crowded. Or perhaps you want to watch that specific movie with your partner, but you want to stream it at home and save the hefty fees.

The goal here is to show the other person that you’re open to ideas and willing to push yourself slightly out of your comfort zone. You can work within the parameters of your introvertedness and still have a great experience in the dating scene.

12 – Remember, They’re Probably Shy Too!

Some studies suggest that 50.7% of adults are introverts. That’s over half the population! Your perfect match might be just as nervous about dating as you are. Take a deep breath and push through those awkward early stages. When the right person comes along, dating will come naturally.

For more online dating tips and international dating advice, check out the Meet Hong Kong Singles blog. We post tons of helpful resources related to finding love, navigating tricky situations, and achieving a positive dating experience. Best of all, our blogs are written by seasoned dating experts who have years of experience helping singles connect with their perfect matches. They know what works, what doesn’t, and everything in between! Avoid trial and error with a curated list of tailored dating tips.