First dates are stressful enough for anyone, but when you’re an introvert, it’s absolutely nerve-wracking to sit down with a stranger and hold a conversation. When I first started dating, I used to sit quietly and try to reduce the awkwardness by staring at the menu and talking about the food. Even when my date tried to keep the conversation flowing, I would reply with one word answers — not realizing that I appeared disinterested.
If you’re like me, fret not! With a little bit of homework and these five tips, you can have a great date while staying within your comfort zone.
Don’t try to drastically change your appearance just to impress your date. I used to put on new clothes when going on a first date. This turned out to be a big mistake because I would end up spending the whole date feeling self-conscious and worrying whether the dress fit me right. It’s best to stick to a look you’re comfortable in when going out with someone new. Just be yourself and own it! This doesn’t mean you have to blurt out that you’re an introvert when you first meet your date, but be truthful about your interests and hobbies. Your introverted traits will naturally show when you’re being yourself.
Choose a place that you know
While trying out a new café or bar on your first date might seem like a good idea, it can turn out to be very overwhelming for introverts. This is especially true if the place is crowded and noisy, as introverts are sensitive to external stimulation. Choose a place that you’re familiar with and one that is relatively quiet, so that you can fully focus on the date without feeling anxious. Going to a place that you know well also provides a conversation starter, as you can recommend the must-try dishes to your date!
Visualize the date
Neuroimaging studies reveal that introverts are wired to be better at remembering, planning, and problem solving. This probably explains why a lot of introverts feel uncomfortable with spontaneity and prefer to plan ahead of time. While you can’t predict how a date will unfold, it definitely doesn’t hurt to visualize the possible ways it could go. I find it really helpful to run through the small details in my head before going on the actual date. Are you driving or is he/she going to pick you up? If the date goes badly, do you have an exit plan? Pre-deciding on simple things like these helps to catch potential problems ahead of time and avoid being caught off guard.
Practice makes perfect
Introverts usually prefer one-on-one talks. However, we don’t necessarily open up easily to new people, which can make first dates especially stressful. I found it a lot easier to go on first dates once I started spending more one-on-one time with friendly acquaintances. I would ask them out for coffee and treat it as an opportunity to get to know them better. The more I did this, the better I got at asking stimulating questions that kept the conversation flowing. Additionally, these platonic dates also helped me to build confidence. By the time I went on my actual date, I was less self-conscious!
Scientific studies reveal that introverts tend to process more information per second than extroverts, regardless whether they are resting or occupied. This may explain why many of us have a tendency to overthink. While it’s nice to recall the fond memories of a date, it can be painful to replay an awkward conversation or blunder in your mind for years to come. If you’re inclined to ruminate on things, give yourself a break. Overthinking often leads you to negative conclusions. Focus instead on the good points of the date so that you’ll be more confident for the next one!