Flickr (Creative Commons)
Source: Flickr (Creative Commons)

Some people still think of online dating as desperate. I prefer to think of it as determined and proactive. You're taking matters into your own hands rather than waiting for someone to drift into your life. And let's face it, as introverts, we're not all that excited about meeting new people out in the real world either. Might as well see who's out there in cyberspace. At least they can't corner you and talk your head off.

In some ways, online dating is a perfect match for introverts. We tend to be good at expressing ourselves in writing and many of us have active online social lives so we're comfortable with computer mediated communication. We're good at "getting" people we meet online, good at reading between the written lines.

But like anything else, there's a learning curve to successful online dating. Here are a few tips I gleaned while writing Introverts in Love: The Quiet Way to Happily Ever After.

  1. You get what you pay for. Sites that cost are likely to attract people who are serious. And you might find you have to experiment with various sites before you find one that feels right for you.
  2. Be as ungeneric as you can in your profile. If you enjoy spending your free time editing Wikipedia, or have a pet tarantula, or have taken up tap dancing, say so. Everybody loves walks on the beach and cuddling by a fire. Ho hum. You're looking for someone who finds your particular quirks and interests charming and fascinating, so if you have any kind of a freak flag, now is the time to let it fly.
  3. Look for important clues in profiles and emails. Are all the person's photos at parties? Is that what you're looking for? (Not as odd as it sounds—some introverts prefer relationships with extroverts, who do the heavy lifting for their social life.) Do grammar and spelling matter to you? Is the person responsive to what you say?  Be as selective in the online winnowing out process as you are in making friends in the real world. Don't succumb to what online-dating coach Kimberly Dawn Neumann calls "supermarket syndrome"—filling your cart with everyone who seems remotely interesting. You'll just end up overwhelmed.
  4. Introverts love communicating in writing, but we can get carried away. Don't email too long before meeting. It's a bummer to get all interested in someone in writing, then find you have no chemistry in person.
  5. You still have to go out on first dates. There's no way around it. But one-on-one is where introverts can shine, so try not to sweat it. And if you spend a little time (but not too much!) getting to know the person via email, your first dates might be a little less chitchat and a little more real conversation. One good first-date tip: Dress to be comfortable, not to impress. I'm not saying you should schlepp out in sweats, but wear clothes that you know you feel good in. It's hard to relax and be yourself when you're all dolled up in your fanciest pants.
  6. Consider planning an activity for your first date rather than just sitting and talking, which can put pressure on your conversational skills. One guy I spoke to for Introverts in Love said his second date with a woman he met online was OK but nothing special, until the bar they were at started a trivia contest and they decided to join in. He and his date found they worked well together, things clicked, yadayadayada, they're married now.
  7. Be patient. This might take a while. Don't give up, but take breaks when it all starts getting wearing. Suspend your profile for a while and get on with life. Maybe somebody will drift into it after all.

Check out my books, Introverts in Love: The Quiet Way to Happily Ever After; The Introverts Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World; and 100 Places in the USA Every Woman Should Go. Support your local independent bookstore; click here to find an indie near you.

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