First dates are awkward, but what’s even more awkward is going on a first date when you plainly identify as an introvert. Small talk is not your cup of tea. You already don’t do well with many people and putting yourself out there feels more like a compulsion than an adventure.

Being an introvert, you enjoy your own company; make your own fun. The pigeonholes around you, of course, like to think you are a weirdo, but that’s OK. You’d still rather hang out with your soul than deal with their overenthusiastic lifestyle. Over the past, you have gone on occasional dates, but you always end up panicking and having an awkward “good time.” Even then, you’re still the hopeless romantic who craves the delightful feeling of being loved – someone who appreciates who you really are.

So as you think about your upcoming date, you are faced with the self-conflict between the desire to connect with your date and the need for your alone time. You can’t help but relive your past clumsy first dates – your short, direct answers to questions, overthought responses, sweaty hands, and inept conversations. Your stomach growls. “I will screw this up, again!”

Read 10 Things You Should Never Say About Yourself on the First Date

Lucky for you, we are here to help. With these simple introvert dating tips, we will guide you on how to own your character and turn your personality into a dating asset.

Picking a time and place

As an introvert, the timing and environment will play a big role in safeguarding the success of your date. Pick a day you’re most relaxed, such as a free weekend or a holiday. If you know you will be tired from work or another busy day, give yourself some time to breathe to avoid draining yourself too much on the date.

Again, you want to pick a venue you are most comfortable in. A familiar restaurant or a park you often hang out in would be appropriate. This will help you concentrate on your partner and the conversation during the date instead of being too focused on your surroundings.

“I prefer to go to a place know or have been to before,” says Stephanie Combs. “It makes me more comfortable knowing the area, what kind of food they serve etc, so I can focus on the person and talking to them rather than the atmosphere or what I will order.”

Dating event and Dress Code

First impressions do matter (don’t let Facebook quotes fool you). Being your first date as an introvert, you will need to find a compromise between looking good and feeling comfortable. Dressing as you normally would to any other event is good for your confidence, but should you settle for an entirely new outfit, choose something that you will be comfortable in. The last thing you want is feeling self-conscious half-through the because of the way you look.

For the dating event, eHarmony’s Rachel Dack recommends a short but fun occasion. “Meeting for drinks or attending a short fun fare together is usually the best first date option for an introvert.” Short dates are usually less-involving in terms of planning and conversation. This way, you get to deal with less stress of having to keep up with the flow of lengthy conversations and concentrate on the very basic essence of a first date; getting to know each other. If you build the anticipation right, you short first date can always be extended into a deeper (and hopefully intimate) experience.

Picking the right activity

Choosing the venue is not enough to guarantee the success of your date as an introvert. Sure you may already be familiar with table arrangement in your favorite restaurant or the best corners in your chill out place, but this time, you will not only be interacting with your environment but also your date.

Contrary to what popular belief will lead you to think, first dates don’t always have to be done in a hotel. If making conversation with your date sited across the table is too awkward for you, you can always pick an activity you enjoy engaging in most. Skating, a wine tasting event, a music fest; just anything that reveals your real personality.

“For a first date, pick an activity where there is a focus – something to do or see – that still allows you to talk,” says Buzz Feed’s Eofw. “During the awkward silences, you can just get on with your activity, but making conversation is still possible.”

Ask interesting and open-ended questions

Questions open up conversations. Being the first date, you are here to get to know each other better, and asking questions is the best way to set off that boat. You will need to demonstrate good listening skills as you ask these questions and navigate through the conversation. You want your partner to see that you have a genuine interest in knowing them. Maintain eye contact, smile, and nod when listening, use your hands and facial expressions – all these will allow your date to open up and show you who they are too.

Read Expert Speed Dating Tips for Men that Work Like a Charm

“Ask fun questions about their likes and interests,” says William Gallagher. “Best concert you ever saw? Books you’ve read twice? Where would you go if you could travel anywhere tomorrow morning?”

Then again, be discreet when asking questions. Start off light and build the dialogue slowly. keep your questions open-ended to allow better sharing from both ends (avoid yes or no questions – they are conversation killers). Remember, this is not an interview; so practice the art of reciprocity – give back as much as you receive. Avoid firing question after question out of nervousness. Instead, keep it discreet and draw stories out of each question.

“Don’t forget to return questions!” advices Courtney. “I’m awful for this. Someone will ask about my family or work or something and I will answer, but forget to ask the same question.”

Be Authentic. Hiding your introversion pointless

Being an introvert is not something you should be ashamed of. Your personality defines you, and the sooner you accept who you are, the simpler things become for you. Instead of hiding your introversion and faking an extroverted character (which you suck at by the way), focus on letting your date appreciate who you really are.

“Don’t be afraid to be upfront about being an introvert with your date,” says Emily Weeden. “Introversion can be misread as a lack of interest to some people, so it’s always better to say ‘I’m an introvert’ than to let them think you aren’t enjoying their company.

Obviously, you don’t have to blurt out that you are an introvert (that would be weird). Be clever. Leave some pointers for your partner to take the hint. You can also share your introverted hobbies; reading books, watching the stars at night, curling up on the sofa during weekends, etc. understand that you deserve a partner who appreciates your personality and doesn’t exhaust you while you struggle to keep up with their fast-paced lifestyle.

Ultimately, your dating goals should resonate around being comfortable and having fun with your partner while still replenishing your introverted nature through some quality alone time and space. For some introverts, dating another introvert seems like the most logical thing to do, and for the most part, it works for them.

“For me, I’ve found it much easier to fate other introverts,” explains Hayley. “They understand that I’d almost always rather have a low-key date at home than a night out, and they don’t try to force me out of my comfort zone when I’m not prepared for it.”

Less awkward, more Pizza and Netflix, right?

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