Now, after two years of being single, I constantly waver between thoughts of “I know exactly what makes me happy in a relationship and I will be patient” and “I will be alone forever (sigh).” All of my (few) friends are married, and I often look at their relationships, trying to figure out what they did differently and why I’m not coupled up like they are.
People tell me I’m attractive, smart, funny, interesting, etc. I have days when I wonder why I’m not involved with someone romantically. Then I have other days when I would much rather be by myself and not fret over not being in a relationship.
And then I have moments when I try, very hard, to step outside myself and enter the dreaded dating world. These are the biggest struggles I encounter as an INFP trying to navigate this crazy world of dating apps and the subsequent nerve-wracking meetups. INFPs aren’t the only personality type that experiences struggles like these, but I believe INFPs (and other sensitive introvert types) will especially relate.
(What’s your personality type? Take a free personality test.)
Dating Struggles of an INFP
1. If I don’t make an authentic connection with my date, I’m done.
Dates are awful for introverts for one major reason: It’s small talk for at least an hour — and we hate small talk. I listen and smile and force answers to questions about my job, where I went to school, my favorite ______ (fill in the blank). And I’m usually capable of asking similar questions of the guy.
But usually, my mind is racing and distracted with things like: Does he like me? Do I look okay? Am I making enough eye contact? Am I making too much eye contact? Should I say everything I’m thinking? Can he tell I’m bored?
What should I do when it’s time to leave? Hug? Handshake? Walk (or run) away in terror?
Do I text him when I get home? What if he wants a second date? What if he doesn’t? What if I don’t?
It’s always awkward. And it’s always weird, no matter how much I like — or don’t like — the guy. I know this about myself: I have to find an authentic connection with my date, otherwise, I’m done. And more often than not, I don’t feel a connection with him and have a really hard time faking it for the rest of the date.
2. I feel compelled to hold back…
This is true for a few reasons. I hold back because I am an introvert. Instead of blabbing on and on about myself, I would much rather listen and observe my date so I can get a sense of who he is and feel comfortable with him. And I usually date extroverts, so this works out fine — they’re always willing to chatter away!
Another reason I hold back is because I can go from zero to deep in about two seconds. That backfires more often than I’d like, so if I get a sense that the guy can handle my weird, quirky sense of humor or my truthful, passionate feelings about everything from poetry to professional basketball, then I’ll dip a toe in and float out a “weird” story. If I don’t get that vibe, I remain wrapped up in my own thoughts and want to get the hell out of there.
3. …and holding back can send the wrong message.
I, like most humans, have been hurt badly in a romantic relationship. It always seems that once I let the metaphorical walls down and become attached, the guy detaches. So I am very cautious about reciprocating amorous feelings or words right out of the gate. Pair that with my introversion, and I am the romantic equivalent of a sloth.
For example, I recently dated someone for about six months, and his criticism of me after a couple of months was that I was somewhat aloof in person. Yet over text, I was much more affectionate and expressive. I tried to explain that I was extremely interested in him; I just sometimes needed time to describe my feelings in words.
4. I am in search of soulful depth.
I’ve often described myself as extremely intense, unfiltered alcohol (or coffee, if you prefer): I feel like most people cannot handle me at my most full-on level without some dilution. As mentioned, I want to be deeply connected to someone. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen often in this video game-like day and age where guys (and ladies, too; I’m definitely guilty of it) make quick work of your dating profile by swiping left, not responding to female-initiated conversations, or sweet-talking you initially but then by message three are asking for your number so they can barrage you with X-rated texts.
Plus, the fact that there are so many options out there leads a lot of people to (totally understandably) stop conversation without warning or move on quickly because there’s always another face to swipe. So the odds of finding something deep are, at least it seems to me, very low.
5. I see the best in people — almost to a fault.
I am very realistic at times, but as an INFP, I dream most hours of the day and have very optimistic thoughts. If I meet someone with whom I connect deeply, I don’t want to give that up, so I’m much more willing to overlook faults or things that might make others question dating him.
While I understand when my friends and family want to tell me to stay away from certain guys because of their faults, I don’t think I can ever be the type of person who just discards someone when I care about them — even if just a little. I respect myself and know my worth. I just can’t seem to turn my back on people who have a glimmer of amazingness.
So where does this leave me? Struggling, quite honestly. I don’t know if I ever will find unconditional romantic love. But the idealist INFP that I am has to believe that it’s worth the search, no matter how agonizing it is.