As a twenty-something the dating pool can feel a bit overwhelming, singles are everywhere and ready to pounce but navigating bars, internet dating sites and parties is exhausting; for introverts the casual dating scene is often too much. Introverts tend to stay single or opt for long term relationships while extroverts have an easier time dating around casually. While there is certainly nothing wrong with single life or the love shared in a committed relationship, introverts are missing out on the casual dating scene.

Casual dating has many benefits for young women. Women can find companionship, adventure and sexual compatibility while still focusing on their careers, friendships and individual goals. Casual dating can teach you about what you want in a partner; dating around before settling down can help assure you you’ve made the right choice rather than settling for the first man who makes you feel pretty and loved. Those who identify as introverts often opt for a night in with Netflix, a meet up with a friend at a coffee shop or other activities outside of the social scene. While no one is purely introverted or purely extroverted, those who identify as more introverted are less likely to end up at bars, parties or other social mixers that allow for casual dating encounters.

Introverts gain energy through their inner world meaning they need more alone time to reflect and recharge. Extroverts gain energy through external stimuli like that you would find at a party or get together. Young introverts may struggle in social settings, come across as shy or reclusive by avoiding such activities all together. In reality introverts need companionship and enjoy close relationships just as much as extroverts. Rather than feeling out of place by pushing themselves into extroverted activities, introverts should approach dating differently. To enjoy the benefits of casual dating introverts should work with their personalities rather than against them.

Meeting Potential Dates

Rather than looking to meet cute guys at parties you don’t want to attend, focus on meeting potential dates elsewhere. Don’t be afraid of meeting a date at the gym, at a coffee shop or even through work. If you find you are unable to meet potential dates in your day-to-day life, you may want to try online dating. Many introverts like the opportunity to test out the waters with a date before meeting in person. There is nothing wrong with telling your date you are an introvert and what being an introvert means to you. He will probably appreciate knowing a bit more about you!

Once you’ve met someone you want to spend time with try and steer him towards a one on one date rather than meeting up at a party. As an introvert it can be overly intimidating to join a new date at a party with unfamiliar faces. Unless you’re confident you may end up with unnecessary social anxiety. Until you are more comfortable, dinner, coffee, or even heading to a movie or museum together is a safer option.

On a Date

A few nerves prior to a first date (or second, or third) is perfectly normal. Avoid cancelling on your date due to nerves, even extroverts experience first date butterflies, it’s part of the fun! To ease your first date jitters set yourself up for success. Suggest a restaurant or coffee shop you already know you love and feel comfortable at, or better yet suggest an activity-based date. If you’re busy painting and sipping wine you won’t have as much time to overanalyze and fret. The activity is a built in default conversation saving you from the awkward silences all introverts fear!

Once you’ve settled on an activity spend a few minutes prior to meeting up to brainstorm a few topics of conversation. In the moment introverts sometimes freeze up and forget what to talk about (even though we have plenty of conversation ideas). Think about your date’s job, hobbies, hometown and family life. Even do a little social media stalking to help you generate a few open-ended questions you can pull out in a bind. Likewise, think about yourself. Have you gone on any interesting vacations recently? Did you read a fun article you can’t stop thinking about? What are your goals for the next year? Remind yourself how interesting you are! Save a few anecdotes, or conversation topics in the back of your mind. If you’re really nervous you can even write a short list in your phone and check the list in the bathroom or when your date steps away to refresh your memory. Chances are you won’t need it, just knowing you have it can be a relief.

Dating an Extrovert

Introverts are commonly drawn to extroverts admiring their ability to seamlessly jump from conversation to conversation without stressing or over analyzing. Extroverts admire introverts for what they see as deep thinking and complex analysis. The saying “opposites attract” is true in this scenario but doesn’t come free of issues. Your extrovert date will want to grab dinner with friends after a long day; an introvert prefers a low key night at home to unwind. In a relationship these differences are bound to cause tension at some point. Search for balance and respect each other’s differences. Allow an extrovert to introduce you to new experiences. Look for ways to show your extroverted partner(s) the deep and meaningful conversation you crave. Just because you’re dating casually doesn’t mean you must confine conversations to small talk.

Finding time to Refresh

Casual dating is sometimes synonymous with serial dating. If you find yourself lining up date after date (you go girl!), you may become exhausted. Introverts need alone time to reflect and recharge. Be honest with yourself about how much time you need alone to feel healthy and balanced. Schedule alone time like you would schedule a dinner date and do not cancel on yourself! Casual dating is supposed to be fun, if you overbook yourself you will drain yourself mentally.

Dating as an introvert presents a unique set of challenges your extroverted friends won’t be able to relate to. Still, single life can be as free, fun-filled and rewarding as it is for the extroverts out there. By focusing on understanding yourself you will be able to better prepare yourself for dating. Understand what you need to be happy and be forth front with your desires, being an introvert is not a flaw.  Susan Cain described the strength of introverts appropriately, ““I also believe that introversion is my greatest strength. I have such a strong inner life that I’m never bored and only occasionally lonely. No matter what mayhem is happening around me, I know I can always turn inward.”  Be proud of your quieter, perhaps softer nature, and look for men that appreciate your introspective personality. Casual dating is a different experience for an introvert than for an extrovert but that doesn’t mean it can’t be positive.