Lily McCann has been a guest blogger here in the past. When she came to me with this post it struck a chord with me. Why you might ask, since it is somewhat out of the typical kind of relationship post you might read here. It’s because I could so totally relate.
I’ve been married just one time, for too many years to so without giving away my age which I loathe. It spoke deeply to me about me and my all out extrovert husband. I’m hoping you will like it:
Does being an introvert make dating and intimacy more difficult? There are many pre-conceived ideas and stereotypes concerning introverts and our intimate relationships, which may feed into a negative self-image and make connecting with people in an intimate way unnecessarily more difficult for introverts.
Relationships are often a minefield in any case, without worrying that an innate tendency towards introversion adds further complications. The popular perception of introverts, being by nature comfortable with their own space and less likely to feel a need for an intimate partner, is that they are also unlikely to find it easy to form intimate relationships, and that when they do so may find it more difficult to communicate openly with their partner. It’s also often asserted that, far from opposites attracting, a combination of introvert and extrovert within an intimate relationship is a disastrous mix. All this would seem to leave introverts out in the cold when it comes to the dating game.
However, recent research shows that this may be far from the case. A healthy dose of introversion may in fact be a beneficial factor when it comes to forming intimate relationships and certainly for making them last. Yes, even with an extrovert!
Effects of Introversion on Dating
Introverts are indeed more likely to value a deep emotional, mental and even spiritual connection as the factors that attract them to a prospective partner over more obvious factors such as appearance, initial personality, social skills and wealth or status. Although in some cases this may indeed make dating more complex, this can in no way be considered a bad thing.
Introverts often need to spend a great deal of time managing and conserving energy, and whereas a whirl of social dating and parties can seem draining, spending time with a partner who feeds that need for emotional and mental connection is wonderfully energy boosting.
Far from this indicating that introverts may find it more difficult to find dates, research show that introverts may date just as much as extroverts, but tend to have met the ‘datee’ through different areas; a hobby group perhaps rather than a party; and also that the individuals on the date are more likely to already have a rudimentary friendship. These factors mean introvert dating is likely to be more successful at finding a long term partner than the social butterfly, speed dating lifestyle more common in those with an extroverted nature.
Effects of Introversion on Intimacy
It is also assumed that introverts have less need for physical intimacy than extroverts. Research shows that this isn’t quite the case. Far from being shy or even asexual, introverts may make excellent intimate partners due to their ability to listen to and tune into their partners needs, making physical intimacy a much deeper and more fulfilling experience.
Rather than having less need for physical intimacy, introverts on the whole simply have more need for an emotional connection to go hand-in-hand with that physical intimacy. In short, some experts believe that introverts may make more intuitive lovers. An aversion to risky, casual intimacy can again surely be seen as a positive rather than a negative trait. Those with a more strongly introverted than extroverted nature are more risk aware and therefore less likely to partake in casual and unsafe intimacy that can lead to regrets and health risks.
Introverts, far from being at a disadvantage when it comes to being intimate, may in fact be more likely to find this area of their lives is richer and more fulfilling. It would appear people in general are coming around to this way of thinking, as a recent study found ninety six per cent of people admitted that physical intimacy was much more satisfying when an emotional connection was present. It seems then that the general population may benefit from a more introverted approach to this area.
Introvert and Extrovert Relationships
Another commonly held assumption is that introverts and extroverts don’t mix. The many happy relationships between couples with a mix of introversion and extroversion stands as a refutation to that myth. After all, we are all individuals and relationships are made up of a myriad of connections of which intro/extroversion is just one.
It is rare for any one person to be a hundred per cent introverted or extroverted and successful couples find that their different qualities can complement each other rather than clash. Nevertheless, a couple where one is highly introverted and one highly extroverted may face some unique challenges. But these are certainly not insurmountable.
Extroverts often help introverts to face social situations more confidently and introverts can guide their extroverted partners towards a better understanding of their inner feelings. With a little compromise and mutual understanding introverts and extroverts can often make surprisingly successful partnerships.
It would seem then that far from being a potential minefield the world of dating and intimacy is one in which introverts excel, bringing emotional depth and understanding to the table and enhancing the possibilities for a fulfilling intimate relationship.
Lily Baker is a former healthcare worker who, when motherhood beckoned took time out to nurture her family and start a new life as a freelance writer. Now she divides her time between the two and finds her work/life balance much more acceptable.
Are you the same temperament as your partner?
Or are you different?
How does it affect your relationship?
Susan Cooper says
I can really relate to this. Many years ago, I struggled with the balance between my need for emotional and physical intimacy. I was in greater need of having an emotional connection and would give all to a relationship with the physical side as secondary. It was until I had a few failed experiences before I understood they go hand in hand and required equal measure. That was when I met my husband. Surprisingly, he is a extrovert, and he was and still is my soul mate.
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Jeannette Paladino says
Pat — I’m an extrovert and I would question the research that suggests “Introverts are indeed more likely to value a deep emotional, mental and even spiritual connection…” I always valued that over the superficial qualities of appearance and wealth. I always joke that the first time I married I did it for love and the second time I would marry for money (never!). I feel that when you’ve met your soul mate there is an instant visceral and emotional connection that can’t be described or quantified in research. That was my happy experience.
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JACQUELINE GUM says
Wow could I relate to this post. Several tests that I have taken pertaining to personality, peg me as an introvert. Yet, even my closest friends consider me an extrovert. Mostly that just means I’m fun at a cocktail party 🙂 They aren’t aware of the many I have missed. But dating..ummmmm. My need for solitude often interferes. Because sometimes it isn’t that I need a minute alone, or an hour alone, or even a day alone. Sometimes I need the week-end or hell…even a week alone! Maybe that’s why I’ve been single so long! Hahahaha!
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Patricia- My husband is an introvert and I am an extrovert. I have been married 48 years and I love him to death. We balance each other. We have a connection on all levels and we constantly are telling one another how we need and want the other person. We have bought out the best in each other. I think what has worked is that neither one of us has tried to changed the other. Bottom line it comes down for me love and respect for one another.
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My husband and I are of the same temperament, though he’s a bit less introverted than me. It’s not just that we have similar likes and dislikes, we often think the same exact things and then voice similar reactions aloud. Who’s to say what really drives people in the ability to make intimate connections? There are just too many combinations that have worked.
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Agree with what Jeannette wrote in her comment. Honestly am of the opinion that dating is a minefield regardless if you are an extrovert or introvert.
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Sarah Jones says
“Introverts, far from being at a disadvantage when it comes to being intimate, may in fact be more likely to find this area of their lives is richer and more fulfilling.” <– agreed!
I really appreciate how you point out the wonderful qualities in introversion. Introverts are wonderful, and they are so much better at emotional and physical intimacy than they often realize.