The Modern Dating Struggles Every Introvert Can Relate To

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On dating apps, I described myself as an adventure seeker. What my matches didn’t know was that I lied.

In reality, my kind of adventure is nowhere close to skydiving or whitewater rafting. For me, adventure means buying a wrapped book without knowing how interesting the first chapter would be. Or, ordering a new ice cream flavour without tasting a sample (because I’m always too shy to ask).

Yup, that’s me – the great introvert.

If you’re as ‘adventurous’ as I am, I hope that book was a good purchase, my fellow introvert.

Modern dating is an intimidating field for introverts. We are constantly encouraged by our friends to put ourselves out there, meet someone new, and pray that chemistry happens. These dating rules may seem straightforward and easy, but not so much for introverts.

You see…

We’re comfortable being on our own

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Our appreciation for alone time is both a gift and a curse. It’s a gift to enjoy your own company because not everyone can be happy on their own. Instead of partying the night away, my ideal Friday night involves a quiet time with Netflix or an NYT podcast. This may sound pathetic, but it’s goddamn paradise to me.

Ever since my friend’s failed attempt at setting me up on a blind date, my alone time matters more than ever. A couple of months ago, my married friend Intan showed up for dinner with her male colleague. “Since you guys are ready to mingle, I figured you two should meet,” Intan said casually.

I thought Intan was kidding when she toyed with the idea of matchmaking me with her graphic designer. She could have warned me before I stepped out of the house with my beach sandals, but she didn’t. The stranger and I looked at each other and exchanged awkward smiles. And clearly, he didn’t expect me to be there too.

Suffice to say, dinner was awkward as hell.

He wasn’t interested to be there and kept quiet the whole time. Intan, our poor chaperone, even behaved like a doting mother raving about how cute we both looked. She also spent the entire hour desperately trying to find our mutual interests but failed.

Thankfully, he made up some excuse about feeding his sick cat and left. That was the last time I saw him, and the last man Intan tried to set me up with.

When I got home and cosied up in bed, I told myself that there’s no place I’d rather be.

But alas, the bed is not the place to go when you’re seeking for a relationship.

We have to get out there and speak to someone

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…and this is not easy for me.

Since school, my love life has consisted of me crushing on someone from afar, confessing it in a diary and never telling a soul about it. You might think that my confidence grew over time, but it followed me well into my thirties.

So you want me to approach a stranger in a bookstore? That person has to be an old friend or Cardi B for me to come up and say hi.

The great thing about modern dating is that you have apps for that. If destiny disappointed you long enough, you can swipe through a catalogue of dating potentials, specially chosen by the all-knowing algorithm.

At first, dating apps felt like a strange way to meet someone. Growing up with ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ and ‘When Harry Met Sally’, I do believe that you will meet the right person at the right time.

At the same time, there’s also the impatient side of me which asks, “Where the hell is this guy? When is the right fucking time?”

So dating apps are where we go to rush destiny.

Since I rushed destiny, I got what I deserved. I met a lot of duds. Not dudes, just duds.

In between episodes of Dark Tourist, I remember entertaining the same looping questions from my matches. “So what do you do?”, “What brings you here?” or “What do you like to do for fun?”

Repetitive and rehearsed, I realised something else that’s truly important for introverts.

We believe that meaningful conversations matter

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Cheesy, I know but it’s true.

For introverts, meaningful conversations matter because we know there’s more to you than the questions you asked. Were you truly happy when you sent a smiley? Did you actually find our jokes funny when you lol-ed at us? Were you being frisky or flirty with those winks?

With that being said, a text message can mean anything.

But when we have a genuine, face-to-face conversation with someone, it can change everything. Introverts can sense a connection when we see excitement, nervousness or vulnerability before us.

What kind of conversation topics piques their interest? What are their guiltiest pleasures? Which Frappuccino lights them up with glee?

Those are the kind of intimacy that introverts hope to see in a dating potential. And all that felt impossible behind the glow of our smartphones.

Sure, these modern dating struggles are something that introverts have to put up with. However, there’s always one thing that we have to remind ourselves.

We still need to go out there and date

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Another episode of Queer Eye can wait.

No matter how unfulfilling introverts feel about modern dating, there’s a common saying that you need to date a few duds before we find a diamond in the rough.

I understand the early texting phase of “How’s your day?” and “What have you been up to?” is awkward and dull, especially when you do it repeatedly. However, it’s a necessary step to take.

As an introvert, I’ve learned two valuable lessons from modern dating.

Firstly, we have to date at our own pace. Tune out those pesky aunties who question your relationship status or unfortunately, your Mom who is longing for a grandchild of her own. If you want to date once a month, so be it. If you prefer coffee than beer, go ahead. Date when you’re comfortable and don’t rush it.

Secondly, we have to leave the dating pressure at the door. If hookups are not your thing, let them know. It’s completely fine to want a serious relationship with someone.

I have met interesting guys on the app who unfortunately wanted sex and nothing else. It was disappointing at first, but it’s important to stick to your personal dating goals than trying to please a stranger from the app. I know that most dating apps are tailored for hook-ups, but never be ashamed of appearing like a hopeless romantic to someone.

Introversion is hardly the sexiest trait in the dating world, but there’s nothing wrong to love a quiet bookstore adventure or relaxing weekend read. In a bigger picture, these modern dating struggles are just small bumps on your dating journey.

After all you’ve been through; I bet you’d rather find a long-term Netflix partner than someone who only stays for the night.

For more articles by Cheryl, read What I Wish I Knew About Love and Relationships in My 20s, and One-Sided Love: The Stages of Having a Crush on Your Colleague.

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After being raised on a steady diet of chic flicks and Mum's spaghetti, I've decided to do the things I love most. So I bade farewell to my desk job, moved back in with my parents, and started my freelancing career. You can either wish me luck or read how I'm coping with taxes and annoying aunties on In Real Life.
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