When I was a kid, I had "introvert" written all over me.
I had friends, but I didn't love talking during class; I was busy listening.
When I got home from school, I went straight to my room and spent hours there. Sometimes I did homework, other times I drew, read or just sat still and looked out the window. I needed time to myself so I could reflect on the day behind me and feel energized and ready for the next one ahead.
Before I continue, let's get one thing straight: Being introverted isn't the same thing as being shy. Introverts simply get their energy from spending time on their own, while extroverts get their fuel from spending time with others.
Despite the fact roughly 50 percent of people in the United States are introverted, our society isn't one that really understands the nature of an introvert.
The kids who talked in class got the attention and praise from my teachers, and by the time high school rolled around, I started passing up party invitations because I craved a night in with a good book. My friends started calling me "lame."
So, I adapted. By the time I entered the "real world," I learned to speak up in meetings, and I started acing interviews.
I learned as long as I had some really close friends who I could have deep, meaningful conversations with on a regular basis, small talk wasn't so bad. Alone time was still a necessity, but I needed a little less of it.
Maybe I morphed into an extrovert!
Then, online dating happened. Everyone was swiping left and right, obsessively checking their OkCupid profiles and going on multiple dates a week. I was single, so I thought I'd give it a try.
After my first Internet date, there was no question about it: I was most definitely still an introvert.
So, if you think you may have fallen for an introverted guy or girl, here's what you need to know about dating that person.
Small talk is tough for introverts.
Maybe you can talk about the weather for hours on end, but small talk is difficult for introverts. They're stimulated by deeper, more meaningful interactions, which is why they're prone to having a few close friends rather than large groups of acquaintances.
Every time a Tinder date suggested "grabbing a drink," it sounded harmless enough, but once I actually got there, I usually found myself exhausted within the first five minutes.
Of course, I was vaguely interested in what my date did for work. His summer plans sounded pretty cool, as did his cat.
But after a while, it was hard not to yawn or act at least a little disinterested. Why couldn't he just tell me about the things he worried about when he couldn't fall asleep at night?! That was a conversation topic I could get on board with.
If you want things to work out with your introverted crush, spare him or her the constant comments about how crazy the weather has been this winter. Try taking the conversation to the next level.
Introverts think before they speak.
Introverts don't just blurt out the first things floating into their heads. They listen, they reflect on what was said and then they respond.
For an introverted person, I went on an impressive amount of dates before getting together with my current boyfriend.
Aside from the particularly silent fellas out there, I was almost always the quieter one on the date. It wasn't because I was nervous or wasn't having fun, I just wanted to make sure I could fully understand what was said so I could respond in a meaningful way.
Truth be told, it was exhausting, and I often sent the wrong message.
So if your date talks less than you, don't take it as a bad sign. Your date just wants to make sure when he or she does speak, it's meaningful.
Introverts don't love phone calls.
If you are one of the few people out there who still picks up the phone and calls someone to ask him or her out, good for you!
But if an introvert is the object of your affection, you may want to rethink that one. Introverts see the ringing of their phones as intrusive and view phones as vehicles for much-dreaded small talk.
Take it from me: Send a text.
Introverts approach conflict differently.
Obviously, this one applies to when you've gone on more than a few dates with someone, but introverts need some time to think when it comes to arguments and fights.
This can be frustrating for extroverts, who have no problem saying everything they feel as they're feeling it, but introverts need time to process what they're upset about.
When I'm dealing with conflict, I need time to think through and process the problem. Sometimes, I need to go home, write about it and then think some more before voicing what I'm angry about.
I can see how this can be frustrating for anyone who doesn't deal with conflict this way (trust me, it drives my boyfriend nuts), but it's just the way introverts roll.
Introverts need time to decompress.
One thing I noticed a lot after first dates was even if I had a great time, I really wanted to go home.
Often my date would ask if I wanted to grab a drink at another bar or some food. I almost always said no, which put a lot of guys off.
But it wasn't personal. Even if I liked the guy, I hated the small talk. I was completely exhausted! I needed some time to gather my energy and be alone with my thoughts.
To be totally honest, I think, sometimes, I didn't get second dates because of this very quality. Their loss!
Introverts are amazing listeners.
Introverts love to listen. This is why they crave deep conversation so intensely. They want to know about your hopes, your dreams, your worries and your fears.
So if you're sitting across from a guy or girl who you suspect is an introvert on a first date, you never have to worry he or she isn't listening to you. Your words are more than heard.
I may be a little biased, but I think being a good listener is a super important quality in a relationship. Don't let a little silence here and there put you off.
Just a little note to all you extroverts out there: If you related to this article, you may be a lot more introverted than you thought.