People typically perceive introversion as simple shyness. In other words, introverts are people who don't like conversation, keep to themselves and only feel comfortable in solitude. And we think online dating, even more so than offline dating, is about "putting yourself out there."
So it goes without saying that introverts would find online dating as repelling as, say, an afternoon without a book.
Untrue. Introverts represent a varied group of people — some are shy, implying discomfort in social situations, while others enjoy spending time in groups of people. (They're not all bookworms.) Introverts and extroverts are merely social in different ways.
According to Christie Hartman, Ph.D., an internationally recognized dating expert, there are several advantages to online dating for introverts. The first is that it can be done from the comfort of one's home, alone, and doesn't involve the traditional pressures of meeting people IRL, such as going to a crowded bar. It also makes conversation easier.
“Conversations with new people are taxing for the introvert," Hartman told Mashable. "Those initial conversations you can do over email online.”
That intimacy continues to be an advantage during the dating stage. "[Introverts are] one-on-one in the email stage and on a date. They don’t have to worry about being at a dinner party, talking to eight people, figuring out how to look charming,” she said.
Two years ago, Susan Cain published Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. She maintains that online dating can work for introverts in ways offline dating doesn't.
"It’s a way of fulfilling sentimental human need for connection and romance without having to put yourself through a very unpleasant process of going to singles bars and things like that," Cain told Mashable.
Based on Hartman's and Cain's knowledge, we compiled eight tips introverts should follow to own their online dating mojo.
Online dating site for shy people 1. Be honest.
In Quiet, Cain writes about the "self-negating choices" introverts make when they feel the pressure to identify themselves as outgoing. Hartman said that this is a choice she sees introverts make in their online dating profiles.
“If you’re at home reading Tolkien, you’re not a fun person," Hartman said facetiously. "I think people would not be honest about that kind of stuff, and they should be honest.”
Hartman advises that people identify as introverted through their , because many people are familiar with the indicator and may know a loved one who's similar.
Online dating site for shy people 2. Get specific about what you love to do.
Dating profiles tend to be really generic because people don't want to scare potential partners by "sounding too different or too odd, not realizing that it actually backfires," Hartman said. When writing your profile, you should do the opposite.
Mention the things you love to do, including introverted things when you're at home all day long, she said. If you belong to a book group or have read everything by Isaac Asimov, say that. "You attract people who are attracted to...and appreciate that stuff.”
Online dating site for shy people 3. Try compatibility-based websites.
Introverts may be turned off by the prospect of hundreds of people viewing a public profile. To remedy this, Hartman advises joining a dating website like eHarmony, which only makes visible profiles of people who the algorithm matches.
Likewise, , such as those for book lovers and science fiction nerds, are appealing though not as well-populated.
Online dating site for shy people 4. Look for signs of introversion (if you're looking for a fellow introvert).
Cain shared a story about a man who read Quiet and then signed up for a dating website, entering "introvert" as a search term. Five results came up, one of which ended up becoming .
“He shared the online profile his future wife had written, and you could see she was so charming and soulful in an introverted way," Cain said. "It’s a testament to why we’re all better off when we own who we are and are comfortable with who we are.”
Those looking for introverts, Hartman says, can try a few strategies, such as watching out for quiet or short profiles, hobbies that introverts tend to gravitate toward, or a photo that doesn't give away much about his or her appearance.
Online dating site for shy people 5. Step out of your comfort zone.
Many introverts experience an initial hesitancy to sign up for an online dating website, but Hartman says that discomfort goes away quickly.
“Most of the fears that people have, that fear is over as quickly as they do it," she said. "They’re afraid that everybody sees them, and then they realize that nobody sees them. As annoying that is, you’re not being exposed in a negative way.”
Cain said that having a focus on the positive aspects of online dating can help overcome hurdles. "I would embrace it and see the beauty of it that you can sit at home curled up on your sofa and look for someone who feels like a real connection for you.”
Online dating site for shy people 6. You may have to make the first move.
“It’s easier to ask somebody out online than in person," Cain said. Still, introverts, especially men, who Hartman and Cain agreed face different expectations than women, may find it difficult to ask out someone they've been messaging.
"That’s a lot to ask for someone who’s introverted, especially in an area already outside of his comfort zone," Hartman said. “I would tell them to accept the fact that they have to make the first move. There are women who won’t respond, and that’s okay."
Online dating site for shy people 7. Meet potential partners halfway.
Introverts will meet all kinds of people as a result of online dating, both introverts and extroverts. Hartman said the key to feeling comfortable is to focus on making the other person feel the same.
“Try not to be too inaccessible," Hartman said. "Try to meet people partway and if it feels nerve-wracking, don’t focus on your own feelings of discomfort. Try to make them feel comfortable. That’s the backwards irony of all this: They’re so focused on their own feelings. If they focus on making others feel comfortable, they’ll feel comfortable, too.”
Online dating site for shy people 8. Look for mutually compatible communication styles.
Not getting enough out of a conversation — or worse, waiting for a message — can be a sign that two people don't share the same communication style. One of the shades of introversion, Cain says, is that introverts don't share one particular way of conversing, and others might want to talk more.
“Levels of communicativeness can vary, so ask yourself if the kind of communicativeness you’re seeing works for you.”