Interested in an Introvert? Be Tactful
If you have ever been interested in someone who is more reserved than gregarious, who does not radiate the warmth of approachability, you might have wondered how to best break the ice. If you identify signs of introversion, consider that you might be dealing with a loner, and should proceed with reservation and respect.
What is a loner? Sometimes, simply someone who likes to be alone. Research has long established the potential benefits of privacy, and that some who enjoy solitude actively seek it out. Many people genuinely enjoy their own company, and relish the time alone to rest, relax and recharge.
With respect to romantic intentions, consider that someone who prefers flying solo might not be looking to climb onto a bicycle built for two.
Yet if you know that is not the case, and barring other relational exclusions (make sure you are setting your sights on someone who is single), the next question is whether dating a loner is right for you.
If your idea of a great date is a crowded party or networking mixer, a loner might not be a good match. If you are comfortable one-on-one, read on.
Romancing a Recluse
Many loners are homebodies, not hermits. Viewing their residence as a cave or castle (or both), they experience time at home as a staycation, not house arrest. And regarding the motivation to mingle, some reclusive individuals simply prefer the sanctity of solitude over social activity.
If you are interested in building a relationship with someone who enjoys spending time at home, you might start with electronic communication.
And if you want to talk, try an old-fashioned phone line instead of a Zoom link, because people comfortable at home don’t live camera-ready.
Inviting a loner out to dinner or to a social event is often not an invitation well-received, unless he or she knows you very well first.
Conversely, if after a period of remote relationship building, a loner asks you out for coffee or lunch, consider that a bright green light.
But what will it be like to be in a relationship with a reclusive romantic partner?
Private Individuals and Public Displays of Affection
Do people who prefer privacy publicly display affection?
It might depend on why someone prefers to spend time alone.
Xia Jiang and Bi-hua Zhao (2017) found a negative correlation between preference for solitude and positive affection, moderated by the ability to be alone.
They concluded that having an ability to be alone decreases the negative impact of solitude preference on positive affection.
Other research notes that some people not only have the ability but the desire to spend time alone, and feel anxious when they do not get enough privacy.
Robert J. Coplan et al. in, "Seeking More Solitude" (2019), introduced the concept of "aloneliness," described as "the negative feelings that arise from the perception that one is not spending enough time alone." Coplan et al. (ibid.) found that an affinity for aloneness (not the same thing as shyness) was associated with wellbeing.
Taken together, these studies appear to indicate that understanding why someone spends time alone might be key to maximizing quality time together.
Loving a Loner
Apparently, it is possible to have a healthy, wholesome, happy relationship with a loner — who values spending (some of their) time alone.
Respecting boundaries, perceiving social preferences, and expressing nonjudgmental acceptance will facilitate your ability to cultivate a satisfying relationship of trust and mutual respect.
This article was originally published in Psychology Today.
Wendy L. Patrick, JD, MDiv, PhD, is an award-winning career trial attorney and media commentator. She is host of "Live with Dr. Wendy" on KCBQ, and a daily guest on other media outlets, delivering a lively mix of flash, substance, and style. Her over 4,500 media appearances include major news outlets including CNN, Fox News Channel, HLN, FOX Business Network, and weekly appearances on Newsmax. She is author of Red Flags (St. Martin´s Press), and co-author of the New York Times bestseller Reading People (Random House, revision). On a personal note, Dr. Patrick holds a purple belt in Shorin-Ryu karate, is a concert violinist with the La Jolla Symphony, and plays the electric violin professionally with a rock band. Read Dr. Wendy L. Patrick's Reports — More Here.
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