How Can a Shy Introvert Become More Approachable?

how-can-a-shy-introvert-become-more-approachable

You and other dating coaches often note that women need to be warm to attract men. I understand how warmth puts people at ease and openness allows for connection to develop. What do you recommend for shy and/or introverted types, especially ones who are abstract thinkers and not immediately relatable to most people?

People often write me off as snobby and aloof when they first meet me. I have made great efforts to reduce the frequency of making this impression, but it still happens. Sometimes it is shyness and being overwhelmed by stimuli around me that makes me go “deer in the headlights”. Other times, I am absent-minded, caught up in my daydreams and thoughts, and I know I am difficult to engage. I struggle with very literal chit-chat, being at a loss for words. People do say I am a great listener though!

I know shyness can be worked on, and as noted, I have worked on it a lot over the past 10+ years (I am in my early 30s), but it seems it is still not enough. I have been more conscious of smiling and body language, but at times it can seem contrived, which also turns people off. I still find myself mostly misunderstood when I first meet people, and everyone tells me I am perpetually single because I am too reserved, unless in the company of close friends/family. In general, men do not approach me or take any interest in me. I am fit and considered pretty in the face, well-groomed, and more interested in people’s internal qualities, not superficial stuff like height or money. However, I notice women who are really emotionally gushy and talkative will grab most of the male attention.

I don’t really make apologies for introversion, understanding it not to be a flaw, but having its own set of equally valuable traits. The problem is that these traits are not immediately discernible, and people will project a lot of negative traits onto you in the meantime. Good friends admit to me they had a negative impression of me at first, and even once they got over it, they say it took yeeeeaaars to really get to know me. Once people get to know me, then they tell me I am very kind, patient and empathetic, so I am not a cold person at heart.

What can I do to convey my positive qualities more readily and make better first impressions (namely, be more attractive with my demeanor), without putting on a fake personality?

Thanks!
Michelle

I pride myself on a few things:

    • Offering ten years worth of thoughtful, balanced, data-driven blog posts on dating and relationships.

    • Always trying to get better, to evolve, to understand women and men at a deeper level, to offer both empathy and constructive criticism to help my readers find love.

    • Admitting when I don’t know something.

I gotta be honest with you, Michelle: I don’t know how to answer your question.

Hold out for a guy who will appreciate you as you are…

I’ve tackled questions about introversion before.

I’m well aware of the introvert’s Bible, Quiet, which provides insight and validation to introverts who struggle in a world dominated by extroverts.

But apart from telling you two things you already know, I don’t know what I’ve got for you:

    a) Hold out for a guy who will appreciate you as you are (even though you come off as aloof and it takes “yeeeeeaaars” to get to know you).
    b) Keep working on becoming more extroverted and social. Not because there’s anything “wrong” with introversion, but because it’s more “effective” in dating to be warm and engaging.

Keep working on becoming more extroverted and social.

If you have 90 minutes to make a strong first impression on a date, it’s hard to do it if conversation with strangers makes you uncomfortable and self-conscious.

Sadly, that’s all I’ve got. But I’d love to learn how to help my introverted clients in a more tangible way.

So readers, what do you have for me and Michelle? Your thoughts are greatly appreciated.

Join our conversation (61 Comments).
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Comments:

  1. 1
    Stacy2

    Michelle:

    I feel you. Here’s the answer for you: Fake it. There’s no other way. Extraverted is not what you are, and you never will be, but men (and people in general) prefer extraverted, giggly types. So pretend to be one. Imagine that you’re playing a role of an extraverted person in a movie and go with it. Wear it like a mask. I am the same way, and my job actually requires me to attend a lot of client events and be “extraverted” and this is how I’ve learned to handle it. I put this persona on like a dress, I practice my “client” facial expression and the smile before I get out of my hotel room and head down to a dinner/cocktail reception/charity benefit whatever. It is freaking exhausting and emotionally draining but it works. I also highly recommend these 2 books. The advice and practical tricks is golden.

    https://www.amazon.com/Instantly-Connect-Anyone-EBOOK-BUNDLE-ebook/dp/B006VCSDPK/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1480350628&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=how+to+talk+to+instantly+connect+with+everyone

     

    1. 1.1
      Mattie

      I agree with you, Michelle. I just discovered recently that there is term for people like me and that most people fall under this category: ambivert, neither strictly extroverted or introverted but on a spectrum that includes both at either end.

      I was an actor for several years. I could perform large on stage but often felt awkward in social situations. I don’t perform professionally anymore but I developed the skill of “acting” extroverted so well that no one who’s known me since the late 1980’s would think of describing me as an introvert–even though I am mostly one at heart.

      I’m a witness to the fact that, like any skill, becoming more extroverted or appearing to be extroverted, if you will, can be achieved through practice.

  2. 2
    ScottH

    There is no magic pill for this.  The only thing you can do is to practice, practice, practice and meetups are phenomenal for this since you’re not on a date and there is no need to feel under pressure or like you’re in a performance.  There is no need to expect any outcome.  I used to be shy and introverted and socially awkward but have come a long way (in a long time too).  Just get out there and refuse to be intimidated.  Claim your space of the world.  See how people react to you and figure out how to adjust.

  3. 3
    Marie

    This could easily apply to myself, though I am a bit younger (26).

    Some things I have experienced;

    – If you are physically attractive enough, men will hit on you. That sounds a little simple maybe, but I think it’s the case. I do get attention from men despite my reserved person, though I notice that some are nervous. If Michelle is attractive, maybe the reason is that she is not in enough situations where it is natural for men to flirt? Introverts can become homebodies – I am the same myself – but when I DO go to parties or a bar and the men in the room have had time to get a drink, they usually interact.

    – I also recommend Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. It sounds like you can afford to be a bit more vulnerable and not so aware of how you are perceived all the time. Vulnerability goes a little deeper than just extroversion and body language, and it is perfectly possible to be quiet and introspective, yet vulnerable. So instead of pretending to be extroverted, just work on the honesty.

    Maybe you don’t need to open up completely to people right away if that’s not you, but throw out something personal once in a while. It’s usually enough to make people feel like they are getting closer to you. In fact, I think people appreciate this even more when it’s coming from a quieter person than a blabbermouth. There is something special about a private person opening up to you – I think 🙂

    (English is not my first language, so I apologize in advance for mistakes)

    1. 3.1
      Chance

      “If you are physically attractive enough, men will hit on you. That sounds a little simple maybe, but I think it’s the case. I do get attention from men despite my reserved person, though I notice that some are nervous.”

       

      I’ve found that this is largely true.  However, it’s only the case if the woman still gives off a warm vibe despite her shyness and/or introversion.  If a woman’s shyness/introversion causes her to be perceived as cold/aloof, then most men will not bother to approach even if she is quite attractive.

      1. 3.1.1
        Emily, the original

        Chance,

        If a woman’s shyness/introversion causes her to be perceived as cold/aloof, then most men will not bother to approach even if she is quite attractive.

        Sometimes, that’s what she wants. The alofness can be intentional.

        1. Chance

          Not in the LW’s case (according to the LW).

        2. Emily

          Chance,

          Not in the LW’s case (according to the LW).

          True. I was just projecting. I have often been described as stand-offish, and usually by the very men I didn’t want to talk to.

          Sometimes, a woman isn’t a bitch, she’s just … busy or working or not even on the sexual playing field at the moment.

    2. 3.2
      Michelle

      Thanks for the book recommendation.

  4. 4
    AMT

    I am 35 and consider myself an introvert, although I have become less so as I’ve gotten older. Here are my thoughts:

    I agree with Stacy2, sometimes you do just have to fake it a bit. Faking does become more natural as you practice though.

    Although you might be faking being outgoing a bit, make sure what you do say is authentic. Marie had a really great recommendation for Brene Brown. When you open up to others a little and show your vulnerability, it makes it easier for them to connect with you. Then they feel more free to share their vulnerabilities with you and thus a relationship/friendship can begin. When you are quiet, sometimes you give off this vibe of being “perfect” and people don’t know how to relate to you (I know this because I’ve been accused of being snobby and aloof as well).

    In my personal experience, I find that when I am doing work that is rewarding, I am less drained by people and able to be more friendly and social. Back when I had a desk job all I wanted to do was hide under blankets at the end of the day because I was so tired. Now that I’m in school and learning about what I love, I am much less tapped and feel like I have more to give to people.

    Finally, sometimes it helps to stop caring. As in, who cares if this person doesn’t like me? There will be another soon enough. Not giving a bleep about what people think has made me more relaxed in social situations and able to open up and be myself.

  5. 5
    KK

    I would never recommend wearing a mask or faking it til you make it. Instead, I would suggest a different perspective and a new goal. What if you made it your goal to be the best version of yourself? What if that meant your goal was to make every person you interact with comfortable around you? So, whether you’re checking out at the store or you’re having dinner with new friends, you’re friendly and smile and engage in conversation. Would you rather have a man fall in love with a fake version of you or the best version of you? Change your perspective a bit. Instead of “acting” a certain way in order to get a man, make it your goal to be friendlier and more engaging with everyone, in order to make them more comfortable around you and becoming the best version of yourself. And by the way, (in my experience) men do like women who are a little reserved.

    1. 5.1
      Stacy2

      With all due respect, if you’re not an introvert you just won’t understand. She IS already the best version of herself! She does not need to self improve, she just needs to repackage.

      whether you’re checking out at the store or you’re having dinner with new friends, you’re friendly and smile and engage in conversation 

      Again, you wouldn’t understand it but for introverts most human interactions are emotionally draining (the opposite is true for extraverts, they get their energy from interacting with other people). When I just started out in the biz I couldn’t get through a 4 hour event without hiding in a bathroom stall for 15 minutes in the middle of it, simply because I felt overwhelmed and needed to recharge. This behavior you suggest she take up is completely unnatural and forced for someone who’s introverted. It requires energy output, and no, chit-chatting with a store clerk does NOT make one a “better version” of themselves. If it doesn’t come naturally, it is just what I said – a mask. Except why bother putting on a show for a store clerk?

      There’s nothing wrong with the OP. She’s already the best version of herself. She will not change herself into an extravert if she just “practices”.  She just needs to pick up some useful techniques of interacting with other people given her particular predisposition.

      1. 5.1.1
        KK

        I think you may have misinterpreted what I said a bit. We can all strive to become better. It’s different for each of us. You stated that the letter writer is the best version of herself but the letter writer stated that people often have a negative first impression of her. That means there’s a whole lot of room for improvement. A change in perspective is necessary, not trying to fake people out. She also stated she doesn’t want to be fake. Wearing a mask will only get her so far. Eventually, her true self will show. Is that fair to the guy who’s falling in love with a fake? Wouldn’t he be confused or put off when the personality change emerges?

        1. Stacy2

          May be. I guess, my point is you may underestimate how certain things are just hard wired. The OP’s letter resonated with me because I used to feet exactly the same way, and after much trying i can attest that a zebra really can’t change it’s stripes but can wear disguises when necessary. I am never being outgoing, however when appropriate I am acting outgoing – there’s a huge difference between the two. One is the natural state, another is a conscious act. But the latter drains me, so the moment I don’t have to act outgoing, i immediately revert to my normal quiet, reserved, in-my-head self. May be you’re calling it self-improvement and I am calling it acting and we’re talking about the same thing, i am just saying from the inside it will never feel quite natural, it will always be fake (to me).

          Eventually, her true self will show. Is that fair to the guy who’s falling in love with a fake

          This should not really be affecting intimate relationships. It’s hard to explain but once you’re comfortable with someone, this “shyness” goes away. I am not quiet or shy with my close friends or family and they don’t wear me down. Only “outsiders” do. The OP states the same:

          I first meet people, and everyone tells me I am perpetually single because I am too reserved, unless in the company of close friends/family

           

        2. KK

          @Stacy2,

          I think there’s a difference between being shy or introverted and social anxiety. What you describe about needing to escape to the restroom or having to psyche yourself out before meeting up with people is severe anxiety. Im not judging you in any way, so please don’t think that I am. I feel for you if that is a regular, ongoing experience. But I think it’s important to be able to distinguish between the two. From what Michelle has said, she finds certain interactions uncomfortable. That’s a far cry from a full blown panic attack.

        3. Stacy2

          No, this is not the same as social anxiety. If you read other commenters in these thread, they all described the same feeling and even used the same words. It’s being drained of energy as a result of interaction. I am not anxious nor am i shy by any stretch of imagination, i am not scared of social interactions. I just get freaking tired of them and need a break before I can carry on. I don’t think extroverts can really understand this.  To be honest, to advise an introvert to “just be more social!” is the same as advising a gay person to “just try it with the opposite sex”. That’s just not how things work.

        4. Kristyn

          Stacy2

          I am the same way.  I am an introvert and have the same experiences as the LW.  Not being outgoing, I am  not one easily noticed at social gatherings.  I “pretend” to be outgoing when it is needed (w0rk).  When asked, I really describe it as pretending.

           

        5. Yet Another Guy

          @KK

          I do not usually agree with Stacy2, but she is right. I am an introvert (definite I on the MTBI). Introverts are not anti-social or suffer from social anxiety. Introverts become overstimulated in crowds and other non-intimate social settings. My extraverted ex could not appreciate that fact. She could not handle my need to cocoon after events and parties. It drove a wedge between us because she was ready to keep going. My ex did not slow down until after she put on a substantial amount of weight from childbirth. Her mind was willing, but her body was exhausted. An introvert experiences the opposite problem. His/her body is willing, but his/her mind is exhausted from being overstimulated.

          A lot of introverts shutdown in social settings because it is the only way that they can cope with being overstimulated. Being an introvert who has had force himself not to shutdown in social settings, I am quick to pick up on another introvert’s overstimulation. I usually take introverts who are being overstimulated and interact with them one-on-one away from the crowd. It is amazing how warm these people become after they get away from the source of overstimulation.

        6. KK

          YAG,

          That’s fine. Apparently it isn’t something I have a good understanding of. Like most things, it’s sometimes hard to understand when you haven’t experienced it yourself, but I respect your experiences and Stacy2’s as well. I also appreciate the explanation. Peace.

      2. 5.1.2
        Marie

        Michelle writes in that she is both an introvert, and sometimes feelings shy and self-conscious.

        Introversion is not a negative trait, nor something you need to change. Shyness, however, can be a problem. It is merely an irrational feeling that the real you will not be accepted by others. And that is something to work on.

        Introversion and shyness are not the same thing, but they can be correlated. As an introvert myself, I know that I can enjoy my own company a little too much, and as a result not get much social interaction, and therefore not much social training. That doesn’t mean I wish I was an extrovert, it just means that I am aware of it, and sometimes push myself a little.

        Nobody is attacking introversion here, but it must be okay to say that there are negative sides to different personality types, and if you know your personality type, you are better equipped to see it. Extroverts obviously have their share of issues too.

         

      3. 5.1.3
        Tyrone

        @Stacy2

        False. It isn’t a show or a mask – or at least it doesn’t have to be. It can be practice at a skill. It’s like pain and discomfort after not having worked out for a while. You aren’t “faking it until you make it”. You are practicing in increments until you get used to it, then taking the next step.

        I am an introvert. And it didn’t take long to realize that, particularly as a man, it wouldn’t get me far in dating (other aspects apply as well, but let’s just stick with this). Approaching women was daunting. Being rejected to your face for any or no reason over and over and over and over is obviously no fun. And honestly it doesn’t get any easier. But you can learn to change your own mindset to in order to not take it personally. To let it roll off your shoulders. To know that it’s normal and not just you.

        Women didn’t just start approaching me because I was apprehensive about talking to them. They didn’t think I was being the best me I could be. As shitty as I felt women were being to me at the time, I still knew the I had to keep making the first moves if I wanted anything to happen. I know that there are women out there that hit on men and aske them out, but in my life experience, they are few and far between. I can only think of three times that it’s happened to me in my entire life. So I had to change myself. I forced myself to be more outgoing. Made myself be more sociable. I went to gatherings, events, ars, etc. and forced myself to just talk to strangers about whatever. A little liquid courage helped with this. Eventually it wasn’t so bad. I was able to just do it without issue. My next step was to apply this to attempting to talk to women for dating purposes, not just random chit chat.

        It took effort but not I have no issue talking or interacting with people. And I have no issue talking to women that I am interested in. So actually she can change into a more extroverted version of herself if she desires to and practices.

        1. Yet Another Guy

          I have to disagree with you a little on this subject. I went through the same growth process as an introvert. The ability to not approach a woman is due to shyness, not introversion. Shyness is a coping mechanism for introversion. It helps an introvert deal with overstimulation in social settings. While I have managed overcome the shyness that I suffered when I was younger, social events still leave me exhausted. Liquid courage helps to take the edge off of being overstimulated, but it is not a cure. The problem with introverts using shyness as a coping mechanism for overstimulation is that it stunts the development of critical social skills.

  6. 6
    Cecilia

    I would suggest a different angle. At the moment the OP is very focused on herself, how she comes across, being “too shy/introverted”. If she can instead focus on the other person/ppl and be genuinely interested in what the other has to say and ask them questions etc (after all she is a good listener) then this may help her be less self conscious and be be warmer to others. Nothing wrong with a bit of acting too. By the by I always liked Evan’s example of pretending when going on a first date that you were going to meet a close friend so of course you would be warm when you meet and enjoy yourself.

    1. 6.1
      Emily, the original

      Cecilia,

      At the moment the OP is very focused on herself, how she comes across, being “too shy/introverted”. If she can instead focus on the other person/ppl and be genuinely interested in what the other has to say and ask them questions etc (after all she is a good listener) then this may help her be less self conscious and be be warmer to others.

      This is good advice. I am shy myself and, when all else fails, I start to ask questions of the other person if there is a lull in the conversation. I change the focus. Most people like to talk about themselves.

      Also, I’m wondering if she has some guy friends and/or male co-workers she could interact with on a friendly level to get used to being comfortable around men. Maybe a lunch group or, as someone suggested, a meet-up. Practice some light flirting with them. Start with no-pressure situations and then move up to interacting with the guys she likes.

    2. 6.2
      Chance

      Cecilia, I think what you are on to here is just about the best advice one can give to someone who is shy and/or introverted, which is to keep the focus on other people.  The best way I’ve figured out how to do this is to pretend that I don’t exist in situations where I am in the company of others.  As it relates to addressing shyness, your primary objectives should be to forget how you look, sound, or are otherwise perceived by others, and then ask questions or think of anything to get the other person talking.  Then, just focus on what they’re saying and nothing else.

       

      As it relates to addressing introversion, make it your primary objective to shut off any thoughts within your internal stream of consciousness that do not involve the person you’re talking to or what the person you’re talking to would want to discuss.  You don’t even need to say a single thing about yourself.  In fact, I’ve found that the most successful first dates I’ve ever had were the ones where I didn’t discuss myself at all over the course of a few hours (outside of directly answering questions asked by the other person).

       

      So, Michelle, I would say that Cecilia’s advice is just about the best advice you’re ever going to get, IMO.  I’ll just add that I’ve found that the way to accomplish this is to forget that you exist.

      1. 6.2.1
        Stacy2

        I personally found that first dates are very easy to execute. I am unfazed by first dates. Most men just love talking about themselves. All I have to do is to ask them prepared questions (and I have a list of creative ones I work off of) and then put on a pre-arranged smile on my face, look him in the eyes with a dreamy expression and nod slowly. The tricky thing is to not disengage and stop smiling if they begin to talk about how their puppy died or something 🙂 But generally the dates are easy, you get the idea. It’s the “pick up” part the OP is understandably having a problem with.

        1. Adrian

          Hi Stacy2

          I think for the original poster it is the opposite. As many others have already commented as long as she is attractive guys will approach and ask her out.

          But being on a 1st date with someone who projects the vibe that they are not attracted to you or that they don’t want to be on the date is HARD!

          I am not sure if you have ever been on a date like that, but it is torture! Sure she could be shy but all I see (mistakenly) is she isn’t really feeling me or the date.

          So when it is over I don’t call back… Why call someone back who was not enjoying their time with you? But with Michelle I would be wrong!

          To me this is Michelle’s problem/question. Guys asking out an attractive woman will always happen; but keeping his interest on the date is hard for her.

          …   …   …

          You know you always have some really great pre-planned date ideas; they always sound fun.

          Would any of your prepared question work on a shy person or are they only designed for talkative people?

          I always find myself running into that problem and I can never tell if the girl is shy or if she is just not feeling me or the date. They do a lot of smiling and listening but little to no back and forth conversation.

          The problem I have found with people like this is that when you do ask them creative or fun questions; questions that usually elicit a nice lengthy conversation from most people; with a shy person it is usually responded with a very short answer, followed up with a “what do you think?”

          Any tips for dealing with people like this?

        2. Michelle

          Yes, yes. It’s not the date, but the “pick up” or attracting part.

    3. 6.3
      Michelle

      I would say my problem is getting men interested in me to even get a date. In person, they don’t approach me at all, although I admit I do aboid clubs/bars.

      In one-on-one interactions, I am personable, but perhaps concerned my abstract way of thinking makes me too intense or cerebral. Also, when you first meet someone, there are often other people around and that makes me go into observation mode. I wouldn’t say I have anxiety though. It is simply that if there is a lot of stimuli, then I have to almost shutdown to process it. I am not even necessarily conscious of myself, as I’m just absorbing so much around me.

      I like the advice to increase vulnerability and pretend you’re interacting with a close friend. I do think that’s easier to apply in one-on-one situations though.

      Online dating can get me lots of dates, but for unrelated reasons it hasn’t proven successful. I’m not saying I have ruled it out, but even with strict filters I mostly get men who only like me for my appearance. I am sure they would be okay with a cute, shy girlfriend who listens to them yack, but I want to feel KNOWN too. I guess that’s why I’m concerned about attracting someone with a “fake personality”. Even though I can be animated and warm with friends, I am still a rather solitary, quiet person by nature.

  7. 7
    Katie

    DON’T fake it. But being introverted doesn’t mean you need to let the other person navigate the conversation. As an extrovert, my absolute favorite crushes and relationships have been with introverted guys. I know that introverted people usually feel very deeply and are FASCINATING! When the topic interests them that is 😉

    Fuck chit chat. Ask the guy the questions that you actually want to know, even if it’s bad form;) Navigate the conversation yourself and if it ends up being misunderstood and mundane just try again with someone else!

    Deep thinking,intuitive people like you are a fascinating puzzle to certain extroverted types. You sound like a female version of my partner to be honest.

    Online dating is perfect for you to meet people, being introverted. Don’t change. Own who you are.

  8. 8
    Stacy

    I am a big time introvert and yes, you have to fake it. People drain me after awhile. I recharge by being on my own, in fact, I relish in it…and crowds are just yucky to me.  However, no-one who meets me will ever guess this…that I am naturally uncomfortable with company (unless I am already close to you). You know why? I fake it…I consciously have to tap into losing my strong desire to curl into  myself because it is the only way to either network or build connections.

    1. 8.1
      Jayla

      Jmo, but I think faking it is HORRIBLE advice. Reason why, if you “fake it” and meet someone based on the façade that you’ve put up, and your “representative” you will have to keep it up for however long your with that person. If you marry them, well…..forever is a very long time. Working on naturally being more open, and comfortable around people is fine, and perfectly doable. Faking it I would not do. You don’t want to be one of those people who presents their “representative” and not the real them. Not to mention, this will only piss people off if they ever find out or sense that you’ve been “faking it” the entire relationship, and you stand to lose a potentially great thing.

      1. 8.1.1
        Stacy

        Jayla,

        Trying to be more engaging when around other people will NOT be a dealbreaker to someone else just because they find out after talking to them that you are a bit more introverted and on the shy side. We’re not talking about lying here…we’re simply saying that in order to meet other people, you have to push your comfort level to be a bit more approaching by being a bit more outgoing even if you don’t FEEL like it.  We’re not saying one has to pretend to always be the life of the party – moderation people.

         

        1. Stacy

          ‘more approachable’

        2. Jayla

          Gotcha Stacy. Now that makes perfect sense. I understand. I wouldn’t call that “faking it” though…lol. I would simply think that’s compromising. We all have times where we’re somewhere and with someone and you don’t want to be there. Like if your in a very long meeting, or at an office event, and having to “schmoose” with other people and “play nice” lol. I’ve definitely had times where I just want to stay home, but compromised and went out. Only thing is, if your an “introvert” this is a “personality type” from my understanding. So introverts aren’t not outgoing because they don’t want to be, but because they don’t know how to naturally be out-going, and strike up conversations. I do agree with  pushing her comfort level until being a bit more out-going becomes more natural to her.

        3. Yet Another Guy

          @Jayla

          Introversion cannot be trained away. Introversion is how one’s brain deals with social stimuli. Shyness is a coping mechanism for introversion. People who are not introverts have a difficult time understanding how draining social interaction can be for an introvert.

  9. 9
    Jayla

    Evan, your advice was pretty good. What I can offer is to read the book How To Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie. As I enter into the wonderful world of “Network Marketing” this book and others like it have helped me tremendously. This book is highly recommended by any  and everyone in Network Marketing, and if you utilize the very simple and easy principles in it, it does work. You Michelle must make the effort. It’s a process. Just think of it as part of your growth process. It will take time for you to perfect what you learn, but that’s ok, it’s life, and all part of the process. It’s not always about how quickly you arrive to your destination, but the fact that you get there, and the journey to getting there. The journey is what grows, and stretches you, and teaches you invaluable, and priceless life lessons. From a psychological point of view, typically people who are very shy, and/or introverts are this way either because they were raised by very overprotective, and/or odd, eccentric parents, and they were raised differently than other children; or they harbor some type of insecurity, and/or fears that probably stem from childhood. So if you can figure out how, when, and why you became such an introvert in the first place, that may help you with overcoming it as a woman. But whatever you do, don’t give up hope. There is something to what Evan said about you finding someone who understands, respects and appreciates you. I’ve learned  over the years that inevitably, the men (and women) who reject us are a good thing. Reason why is because your obviously not a good match for that person, and they’re not a good match for you. I truly believe that there is somebody for everybody. I believe that no matter who you are, where you’re from, your personality or bad habits or whatever, there is somebody, (maybe more) who will love and accept you just as you are. *smile*

  10. 10
    Jayla

    For instance, I’ve personally seen handicap people fall in love, get into relationships and get married. I’ve seen overweight people get married, and have children and have great relationships, I’ve seen people with mental disabilities like depression and bipolar have relationships, get married, and have children. I worked at Sprint and a physically handicap man was married with children. My real estate partner has been diagnosed with clinical depression, and she has 2 children with a fiancé that loves her to pieces and has been with her since high-school. I have a cousin who was bipolar and married with children. There is a man who is a celebrity jazz musician, and his wife is quiet as a church mouse. You wouldn’t even know she was his wife until he introduces you to her. Believe me when I tell you, there are several men out there who are seeking a woman exactly like you. Keep the faith.  🙂 *smile*

  11. 11
    Nissa

    I think the OP would be served well by four things:

    1) To make a good impression, talk about the things for which you have genuine affection and passion. That will transmit into a perception of general liveliness.

    2) Give compliments. People will automatically feel more inclined toward someone who likes them or something about them. This is not fake. You can find something to compliment about almost anyone, such as “You have a beautiful smile”.

    3) Use online dating and include in your profile the info that you are a bit shy, but ask them to give you time to warm up. If they are prepared for it, they are more likely to attribute your reserved behavior correctly as shyness instead of incorrectly as dislike.

    4) Pay attention to the negatives your friends mentioned and work specifically to counter those. Your friends perceptions are probably more objective than your own in this instance.

     

    1. 11.1
      Christine

      Nissa, I would agree with your third point.  Online dating is by no means perfect.  However, it’s actually the way I found love.

      Me and my man actually both had that in our online dating profiles, that we are reserved at first, but warm up as we get to know you.  So when we met each other in person, we had realistic expectations about each other and gave each other time to warm up.

      In fact, sometimes we seriously wonder if we’d be together if we had encountered each other in “real life”.  We both might have been too shy to approach the other one!  Or, might have taken one look at each other and mistakenly perceived each other as aloof–without the benefit of a “read ahead” that it’s shyness.  Maybe Michelle would also be well served by trying the online route.

      Not to say that Michelle needs to just give up on meeting someone in “real life” either.  I’m similar to how Michelle describes herself, and even I’ve gotten approached by men before.   Ironically, it’s when I wasn’t even thinking about being approached, that I got approached.  Many times it was when I was just enjoying myself, doing something I really loved.  I guess that just radiated through, and gave off a positive vibe that made men feel comfortable approaching.

       

       

  12. 12
    Karl S

    I actually think online dating is the best solution for introverts.

    Before you even meet you can usually get an idea of overlapping interests and whether they’ll be on your general wavelength, conversation-wise; sparing awkward chit-chat about the weather. Also, meeting them offline means you get to pick somewhere quiet and relaxed  – like a walk through a city park – where you can focus on just each other. You won’t be competing against all the extroverted types who thrive in big/loud group situations where they can steal the attention. Online dating also gives you the opportunity to practice behaviours that show interest (touching their arm when they make you laugh, etc) with complete strangers who you never have to see again if it doesn’t work out.

    Alternately, the OP can seek out activity groups populated with people of a similar disposition to herself. When you’re surrounded by “the-right-people”, often you become more extroverted naturally because you’re in a comfortable space.

  13. 13
    shannabanana

    first time commenter and introverted lurker for several years. Thanks Evan for your fantastic work…I have purchased and recommended FTOO and WHD to many friends and learned so much from it. I just wanted to call out a thank you to stacy2 for the ebook; great tip and also to agree with her posts specifically the fake it till you make it…. that does not mean one is  cultivating a fake persona.

    I am famous for helping in kitchens, drink orders and bathroom hideouts to recharge when I am drained or overwhelmed by crowds, loud noise or too much inane small talk. I don’t think that this is shyness per se ; more of a sensitivity in my case at least. That being said, I appreciate the gregarious extroverts in my life!

     

     

     

  14. 14
    Kari

    As I read through the comments, I wonder if there isn’t a conflation of shyness and introversion happening.  Shyness has everything to do with the anxiety one has regarding how they are perceived by others, often -but not always- in social situations. Even the most extroverted among us can feel shy, say, when having to network at a large gathering, but given an extrovert’s need to interact and be with others, it may express itself in a way different than that of one who is both shy and introverted.

    Introversion, however, has more to do with how one takes in the world around them, in particular, whether or not you are energized in solitude or being with others, or perhaps -as in  your case, Michelle- you gain energy from being with close friends and loved ones. That particular point, in my mind, is worth exploring. Apart from gatherings with friends and family, are there other contexts in which you feel comfortable and at ease? Shyness is something that hopefully diminishes the more you put yourself in situations -low pressure at first- that get you meeting and engaging with others. It doesn’t even have to be in order to meet a guy, it could be just to get to know someone new, just to strengthen the social muscle a bit.

    Online dating is a great way to expand your pool to be sure, but are there ways that you can meet guys at those gatherings with your friends (who maybe bring friends of friends)? I too, am introverted, (but not quite shy) so I get the wanting to not only be judicious with how I use my energy. Perhaps you can aim to go out not once a week, but not every week? Are there activities that really light you up and fill you with joy? In my case,  I love to dance, and when I’m out dancing I’m much more open, which makes it more possible for me to meet men and make friends.

    Your introversion gives you a beautiful predilection for depth over breadth, which makes the typical first date conversations challenging, since they can often be shallow. I sympathize with that, but I’ve tended to view it as a dance (a great metaphor for all things dating) of the seven veils in which you reveal a bit of yourself a bit at a time. Here as an introvert you have an advantage: After an initial attraction is established, mystery isn’t something you have to fake.

    I’d also recommend picking up Introverts in Love: The Quiet Way to Happily Ever After by Sophia Dembling, which is full of real-life cases of introverts (shy and not so shy) who found love with introverts, extroverts, and ambiverts and the strategies they used to honor their introversion while also opening themselves up to relationship. I hope that helps, and wish you the best in your dance (third time’s the charm) with relationship.

    1. 14.1
      Marika

      Kari,

      Just wanted to say, what a truly lovely and thoughtful answer. No condescension or generalisations, but just a well thought out comment,purely designed to help the poster. Really appreciate your contribution and agree with what you say about introversion v’s shy. I think you gave a lot of very useful suggestions to help both the poster and all people with introverted tendencies. Thank you.

    2. 14.2
      Michelle

      I don’t gain energy from interacting with friends/family. I think it is less emotionally draining, and yes probably because I am more comfortable. I think I am more comfortable because I can be myself, as far as not being judged for my reserved or intense sides.

      So even though I can be animated with them, it’s for short bursts, and they don’t project onto me when I’m quiet.

      I mean, frankly, I am in my head a lot by default. It’s not simply shyness, but an absent-mindedness because ideas preoccupy me. I guess I am more inclined to talk when I feel like that sort of thing will be well-received.

      Someone else hit the nail on the head when they noted the “pick up” or attracting someone is the biggest hurdle. The few times I have tried to be more assertive, it seems I may have come across as masculine. I notice the advice is for women not to chase, and perhaps I don’t know how to flirt without an obviousness that looks like chasing or without a subtlety that looks like nothing.

  15. 15
    Barbierella

    As an ambivert with a strong aversion towards small talk and formulaic questioning that has gone and done hundreds of dates, I can tell you that just speaking your mind is a great ice breaker and builds mutual trust and natural conversation with room for organic silence. If you feel nervous, say so. If you don’t feel ready to answer a question, say “Oh, I don’t feel I know you well enough to talk about this now, maybe I’ll tell you in half an hour.” If the person doesn’t take such requests very well, you have a bad one on your hands, one who’s just not ready to take your comfort into account. How to proceed: get rid of them asap, and be thankful when they chose to leave. Don’t feel bad for not following a script. There is no script!

    Anything you know about yourself as a clue to your functioning is something that will interest a person who is into getting to know you and sharing this is essential for building all kinds of relationships. Person’s faults are what people fall in love with, and not an acted image of perfection.

  16. 16
    Johnycomelately

    Here’s a little secret, sometimes it’s chemical.

    A little trick people on social anxiety forums use once in a while is sleep deprivation, it loosens you up big time. The exact cause is difficult to pin but certain neurochemicals fire up on sleep deprivation (gaba, dopamine etc) or maybe some quite down (histamine).

    If it’s histamine (got food intolerances or hayfever?) could mean you’re an undermethylator and b3, tmg, vitamin c, methyl b12 and magnesium could help  (it’s a complicated topic with a lot of trial and error). Look up Dr Pfieffer and anxiety.

    Anyways, food for thought.

  17. 17
    Helene

    Hi Michelle – firstly, take heart! Many introverts successfully meet men and get married – I am very strongly introverted and am now on my third husband…(seriously!) All 3 have been extroverts but in true extrovert form they really don’t mind if you’re an introvert, extroverts just like PEOPLE – any people, all people… they’re not fussy! The more the merrier…

    As to whether to “fake it” or “be yourself” I think this is an unhelpful way of viewing things – my take on it is that what is needed (and this applies equally to introverts and extroverts) is to learn how to behave appropriately in different settings. If you go to a formal dinner, you will use napkins and various sets of cutlery, not eat with your fingers etc..etc… It may not feel “natural” if you don’t go to these dinners very often, but neither is it “fake” just because its not the way you eat dinner at home – its just behaving in an appropriate manner for the context. In the same way, the appropriate way to behave when you are at parties or social gatherings is to smile, offer compliments to others on their appearance, compliment the hostess on the food, ask people how they know Sue and Dave, and tell a few lighthearted funny stories, preferably making fun of yourself rather than others. Believe it or not, extroverts don’t find this stuff particularly riveting either, but its WHAT YO DO to make an initial connection with new people. The fun bit comes afterwards, once you have established a few areas of common interest “you like hiking too? Have you ever been on the machupicho trail…?” “Photography? you must come over sometime and let me show you my new super duper zoomer lens….” its not necessary to be gushy and bubbly – we can’t all have the personality of an  Australian waitress –  just pleasant and communicative is all that’s needed. Yes, you will find it tiring at times but I guess its all about what you want in life – there ARE lifestyles that are ideal for introverts, such as  solitary goat-herding in the Alps…

     

  18. 18
    GoWiththeFlow

    Hi Michelle,

    The problems you are having in group situations may be due to poor, closed off body language.  Without knowing it, you may be sending off “keep away” vibes and may not be approachable.  Take a look at some of the tutorials (some free, some cost $) at scienceofpeople.com.  Vanessa Van Edwards is fabulous.

    Good Luck!

  19. 19
    Silvia

    I had the same problem, though probably not as bad as you.

    My boyfriend and I were in the same friend group first. Afterwards he told me that he felt intimidated by me, and that I always seemed reserved, like I didn’t need anyone.

    Then one time all our other friends left early and we decided to stay for another drink. I’m a lot better in one on one situations, so I felt more at ease, and I told him about some problems I had at work, about my insecurities… all things that you’re not supposed to bitch about at a first date 🙂

    But afterwards he told me that that was the first time he saw the vulnerable side of me, instead of the one that seemed cool and aloof. It made him realize that I was a person like everyone else, and thus approachable like every other woman.

    So my advice: bitch about work problems! No seriously: I’d suggest get to know men first in social settings with others around, so that you already know them and feel at ease. And don’t be afraid to show you’re vulnerable side, resist the urge to hold up a facade because it feels safer.

  20. 20
    Rampiance

    From personal experience and from watching my daughter’s efforts to make friends, I suggest getting a job that calls for being personable in a place where you value the work being done.

    My work waiting on tables at exclusive clubs (country club, Elks, golf/athletic club) gave me a “script” of sorts to follow. I had to interact with lots of people although I was not expected to make inane small talk if it wasn’t my style. I had the opportunity to watch other waiters do their jobs and evaluate their skills. The restaurant environment gave me MANY vignettes to watch, many examples of successes and failures by other people in real life. And then I could practice with not much downside, because each practice session was naturally limited.

    My daughter got a job at a health foods store where she interacts with hundreds of people a day, and is expected to smile at each one as part of her job. She likes people so it isn’t a strain to do that, but it took her months to learn how to exchange small pleasantries. She took it on as learning a new skill, and I have heard feedback that she is a favorite among customers now, although she is not exuberant, bubbly, gushy ~~ she is her warm, sweet self with more self-assurance among people now.

    Get a job at a place where you can learn people skills by modeling from other employees. You’ll see a large menu of behaviors to like and to dislike. Then apply what you like and don’t apply what you don’t like.

    Good luck to Michelle!

  21. 21
    Rampiance

    I will add to my previous post that my daughter and I worked at places where the customers make efforts to get to know the employees ~~ it makes a big difference that there was some effort coming from the customers to be kind and friendly.

  22. 22
    B

    I believe you can take all three of the main points here and apply it OP. There are some great answers here but yes you can do all three: FAKE IT, BE BEST VERSION OF YOURSELF, and ACT LIKE YOURE MEETING  A FRIEND. Take a little of everything and use it to your advantage.

    I was  terrible first date when I started dating but I was super inexperience and I came off cold, mean, reserved, very aloof but I knew inside I was much more than that. I need to connect with the girl inside of me who was warm, understanding, intuitive, nurturing, funny, engaging, and curious! Yes that ‘girl’ was me, not this cold aloof exterior I had on. I had to bring her out, I had to hold her hand and literally bring her from inside out. I PRACTICED PRACTICED PRACTICED. And I was always a curious human being! I wanted to know everything and everyone, even if I didnt verbalize it, I thought it. And I had to practice to put it all out.

    I used online dating and joined several sites. I continuously scheduled dates from 1-9 guys per week and I rotated dating. I stopped thinking and started opening up. I chosed to be human and try to have a connection, from talking about movies to favorite super heroes, to food and travels and loves and etc. It was amazing. It took me a year but I got better. And then suddenly being more extroverted and social  became second nature and it felt more natural than ever. It was authentic, I wasnt giggly or fake, but I was engaging and warm and I knew these guys knew that and it had a wonderful impact on them and me.

    I have probably met close to 300 men from online dating and I went on to even make great friends. I am 26 now and have a great dating life. How I approach dating is, the inital contact can be slightly fake, YES I smile and hug right away as an introduction. I treat these guys like they old high school buddies and were just catching up, but its feels more natural than it sounds. Once conversations pick up, the real me appear and we have best conversations and I always end up having the best time. The best dates are those I learned something about myself while I am learning more about them. And usually by end of date, I hug them bye and thank the guy for a great time. I also learned you cant go wrong by being polite or cordial as well, so many guys meet cold women that theyre surprised politeness is a  thing some women still believe in while dating!

    From your letter to Evan, I can see a warm curious intelligent girl who feels trapped inside. Practice, practice, practice and also you got to WANT this. I wanted to become more and be the version of me and I knew the cold exterior wasnt me. NOW the engaging, funny, articulate girl on the outside is the REAL me. Its a journey and its also an incredibly fun one. Dont forget to have fun too lol. Good luck =)

     

  23. 23
    E

    Yeah, this is me.  I recommend reading “The Highly Sensitive Person,” which I found only 2 weeks ago and am still digesting.

    Is there a self-esteem component to the way Michelle comes off in the world?  There certainly is for me.  I have a hobby that puts me in contact with a lot of teenagers (I am 35).  It is the only place I feel like “myself.”  When I am engaged in this hobby, I feel confident and powerful and fun.  The teenage boys notice – last month one of the newcomers mistook me for an NBA cheerleader!  But elsewhere, I shrink into myself because I have such low self-esteem.  At 35, I cannot remember a man hitting on me once – I am invisible. And I go out alone to bars and dinner at least twice a week!  I’ve told interested men (friends, colleagues) point-blank that they can do better than me, and I mean it.  Younger.  Prettier.  Less baggage.  No stray gray hairs:)

    I think I am too old to change but maybe Michelle isn’t, and maybe she also has more reasons to feel better about herself than I do.

     

     

  24. 24
    Dandy

    For the OP – I can tell you from experience that faking it does not work (at least for me).  I tried being bubbly and extroverted and I was told I was irritating, annoying, and was once actually asked to please go away.   And it doesn’t help that I don’t have a “typical” female voice.  Just be yourself and you will find someone eventually.

  25. 25
    KM

    I agree with B.  Combine approaches — and practice a lot.  Go easy on yourself and acknowledge each time you get out of your comfort zone.  I’m 48 now, so have had years to practice and it’s gotten easier to be in social situations without feeling drained, but to do well, I have to “psych up” or be with my good friends who absolutely can’t believe I consider myself an introvert, with how much I can talk.

    My career has me interacting with many different people each day (healthcare).  To me, Introversion means that interacting with many people is draining, and spending time away is recharging.  Doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy working with and helping people, just have to be careful not to become drained.

    However, being an Introvert is not the same as coming across as cold, aloof, etc.  To me, that’s a separate aspect related to communication and body language.  I think one can be introvert and be perceived as approachable — and also as unapproachable.

    Often I have to pretend to be more outgoing than I’d be naturally, because this is what most patients expect.  I don’t consider that to be “faking,” because this is how I’d be with my close friends.  I just have to use greater effort to go against my introvert nature.  And I acknowledge that in order not to burn out, there is a maximum number of people I can interact with in one day without burning myself out.

    Keep practicing, observe what works for others (do they smile more, ask certain questions, open body language), and practice until it becomes more natural.  It’s a process.  Maybe consider a coach for public speaking or something along those lines that can give feedback on voice and body language.  You’ll get there — take one step at a time, and don’t give up.

  26. 26
    DP

    I’m in the same boat as a shy introvert.  Honest friends and men I’ve dated say that their first impression of me was that I was aloof, bitchy or snobby.

    I have found personally that a lot of extroverted men really like introverts, you just need to get past that initial first impression.  Online dating worked for me because like many introverts written communication is my strength.  I did however, only go out with extroverted men.  It’s just a dynamic that worked for me.  Practice made it easier and as a bonus I got to meet a lot of cool people on top of making new friends and meeting my current boyfriend.

    As far as men asking me out in real life situations I found it tends to happen more when I get out of my head and be in the moment.  Often times I come across as a woman on a mission because I’m  wrapped up in my internal world.

    I never fake small talk or being bubbly.  I just talk about things that interest me and usually that works well enough for most men.

  27. 27
    Sum Guy

    Hi Michelle,

    I understand your story, I’m an introvert and until my mid-30’s I found small talk hard…or more precisely even when I could fake when viewing it as just another intellectual challenge, I didn’t really care for it.  I’ve a different view now and much more comfortable with extroverting, so it’s very possible one day you’ll get there.

    That, however, doesn’t change my advice.  Even though I can do the social scene, and have fun at it, introversion is how I recharge and it is still in my soul.  I want to fond someone who aligns with that.  I’ve found the best way is to find someone you can have deep conversations about things you love.

    Even when I was shy, if I met someone at a party that shared an interest (say in physics or history, two of my favorites) can talk easily and for some time.   I’d suggest going to meet-ups where people share an interest or using Marks 2/2/2 rule I saw to see if your potential date shares one of your interests.  Then talk about that.  I suspect after talking about that for an hour you will feel comfortable talking some about other things.

    Lastly, here’s a real bonus for an introverted woman in the dating/relationship world.  Men like to spend time on their hobbies, which most of the time means being off without their girlfriend.  It is so common to hear men complain how this stresses their relationship.   Certainly there are insecure and controlling women (as their are men) but for the sane folks I think it is more an extrovert/introvert thing.  Extroverts have a harder time accepting their partner spending time away from them to have fun.  Introverts, on the other hand, well understand that you sometimes just need alone or apart time and it does not mean your partner is loved any less.

  28. 28
    Ana

    Two words: online dating.

  29. 29
    Mary

    As a typical introvert, I’ve done a boatload of reading, introspection and meta-analysis about introversion and have learned a lot about it and about myself.  I now consider myself an evolved introvert, meaning, I’ve fully accepted my nature, and have figured out what works best for me in social situations, which is to split the difference, so to speak, or “fake it” (a bit) as someone above suggested (I think Susan Cain even recommends the “fake it” approach).   I know I’ll never be the engaging life of the party, but neither do I need to hide in the bathroom the entire time avoiding interaction.  If I’m at a public event where I don’t know many (or any), eye contact and a gentle smile go a long way as far as helping to dispel the air of aloofness as I work my way around the venue.  If conversation is required, I find a way to turn it back around to the other person(s), by being observant of what’s around me and what I hear people saying, so that I can make an observation to be commented on, or better yet, ask an open-ended question, and get the other person(s) talking.  If I can channel the attention away from me, I find the interaction a bit less draining.  So I try to make any conversations I have mostly about the other person, if possible.

    I think I’m like most introverts in that we are drained by superficial chit-chat but are energized by deeper connections and conversations, and so if possible, I look for openings & opportunities in conversations to make deeper connections with someone — explore something we share in common or perhaps discuss a more deeply-felt conviction we both might share about something.

    Humor also helps – I can occasionally come up with funny quip to interject based on an observation of what’s around us and that doesn’t require much more than a few words and help break the ice.  I get a few laughs, and I move on.  I’ve contributed, made a tiny connection with laughter that’s been fun, rather than draining.

    Granted, some social situations are so loud, noisy, crowded that they’re prohibitive of anything more meaningful than very superficial chit-chat, and if you’re a soft-spoken introvert like me, that makes it even harder to make oneself heard, much less make a connection.    In those situations, I have found that I’m better to cut my losses and leave, if it’s at all possible and socially appropriate to do so, after I’ve eked out all fun and/or usefulness from the event, even if it’s fairly early and the extroverts in the room still have hours of social energy left to expend.   More power to them!

    Meeting potential romantic partners at these things doesn’t seem to work for me and I’ve made peace with that.  Instead, I use those events for other purposes – enjoyable music, food & drink, an interesting speaker, professional networking, etc.  I do much better getting asked out via online dating, and since dates are typically one-on-one, where an introvert typically shines, I do okay from that point….

  30. 30
    Mel

    As an introverted introvert, my advice is to be yourself. You probably get excited and therefore would be perceived as warm/open/approachable when you’re talking about/doing things that are really interesting to you…so do those things with people you like. If what you like is being alone and reading books or staying home alone, you’ll have to add some outside-the-house activities. You have friends, so if you don’t know what you like (besides solitary stuff), glom on to their hobbies for a bit to find something. After having “faked it” for many years, I’ve finally realized that authenticity is way more attractive than an act.

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