Welcome to a 101 guide to dating, from a self-proclaimed dating coach with minimal experience giving unsolicited advice for your benefit (hopefully).
Do you struggle to “put yourself out there”? Do you hate being around people but also crave affection but aren’t necessarily equipped to seek it? Well you’ve come to the right place. Because so do I.
When you’re an introvert, dating can be hard and even more challenging if you’re shy or just never leave the house. Now I’m no expert, but I will claim to be for the sake of this post.
There are many hurdles one must overcome when one is trying to market oneself as available. It’s not as easy as advertising the garden hose you spontaneously bought onto Gumtree because you live in a unit that doesn’t even have a garden, simply because you wanted the sales person to stop talking to you and because they promised it would provide even coverage over your lawn that you pretended to have because you accidentally made eye contact with them and could by default not avoid them as you were walking.
Now if that doesn’t make you anxious, dating should be a bit easier and you should just stop reading here. Otherwise, let’s begin.
So, one common fear (or maybe it’s just me), is that you run out of things to talk about, or worse, have nothing to talk about to begin with. That’s completely normal (at least I tell myself that). Consider taking a friend along – not to third wheel, but perhaps a double date. That way, if you need a little help continuing the conversation, you have two other people to help you get through it. Now if the thought of a double date scares you then maybe you could skip the conventional dinner date setting and do an activity together. This way, you’ll both be occupied with something but still spend time together. You’ll still get to know that person but in a different way. It doesn’t have to be mountain climbing, but if you have something in common that you both enjoy, go for it.
And if that doesn’t sound like a great idea (I won’t be offended), you can always do the classic “watch a movie” together thing. Now you don’t need to actually go to the movies do to this, so don’t worry if you’re not into leaving the house. Sometimes being in a familiar setting can help you with your confidence. You don’t have to dictate yourself to that classic movie date scene that paradoxically always happens in movies, where the guy awkwardly puts his arm around you if he’s interested and there’s always that other couple in the background making out and you try not to notice. But that might also have its downfalls, because then you’re not really talking at all and you don’t end up getting to know anything about them. Instead of just going to the movies or to dinner, you could do both. If you plan dinner after the movie, fill the silent void by debriefing about the film. Even better, you could do all of that, but in the comfort of your own home!
Now taking a step back, you might say, yeah that’s great and all, but how do I even get a date in the first place? That seems like a whole challenge of its own. If you’re one for seeking solitude in your own home on a Friday night, then meeting someone at a bar or nightclub might not be for you. Dating apps might be an option to consider. You don’t even have to leave your house! You don’t have to advertise yourself as being “outgoing and bubbly”, even if it seems like every third person seems like that. It’s a good way to test the waters.
It can feel discouraging if you’ve been trying for a while but being introverted doesn’t have to define your love life. As daunting as it may be, practising approaching people can help. It might feel embarrassing but it’s very courageous and it’s not always bad to step outside of your comfort zone. You can try to reassure yourself by saying, “if it doesn’t go well, at least I’ll never see them again”. It’s not the best affirmation but if it’s true, you can always press the reset button and try again.
Rejection is a common fear that comes with dating and I can understand. I mean who could say no to this? And if they do, it doesn’t mean you’re destined for eternal loneliness. You won’t always be compatible with someone and it’s ok. You’re still a boss and you can move forward, with the expectation that there is better to come. Don’t pressure yourself to seek something you’re not ready for either. Everyone has limitations and it’s ok to make those clear.
Hopefully, you have some sense of direction but if you still feel all over the place, don’t worry, it’s not something you’re expected to master overnight. Taking what seems like small steps, is actually a big achievement and there is no standard deadline for achieving something by a certain age.
Now go forth and conquer some dates. Or just stay home, up to you 😀
Fatema, YEP Crew Member