When I first started looking for love, I noticed that one of my friends who I always saw getting dates had the opposite personality as I did. He is very extroverted and he loves to surround himself with people all the time. When he talks to women, he is very aggressive and makes the conversation overtly sexual very quickly.
That’s not me at all. I’m introverted, reserved, and gentle. After watching my friend succeed seemingly all the time while talking to women, I started to become afraid that I would have to change my personality to be more like his if I ever wanted to get a girlfriend.
I tried to behave more like my friend. However, I didn’t achieve any success even though I was basically doing the same things he was. I also started to feel like I was being an actor by going against my own personality.
What was I doing wrong?
Why a lot of flirting advice falls flat for introverts
What comes to mind when people talk about flirting? Stuff such as winking, sideways glances, small touches, and double entendre.
It’s true that these types of signals can be considered flirting. However, these only describe one kind of flirting. In his book The Five Flirting Styles: Use the Science of Flirting to Attract the Love You Really Want, Dr. Jeffrey Hall identified five different types of flirting:
- Playful: Flirting for fun without any expectations that it will lead to sex or a relationship.
- Physical: Flirting through body language and sexual communication.
- Polite: Flirting through proper manners and nonsexual communication.
- Sincere: Displaying sincere interest in the other person to develop an emotional connection.
- Traditional: Displaying interest through traditional courtship rituals and behaving in ways that are “gentlemanly” or “ladylike”.
(You can take an online test to find out which flirting styles you tend towards here. It’s similar to the Myers-Briggs and my results were polite + sincere.)
A lot of flirting advice is centered on the physical and playful styles of flirting. There’s a lot of readily available advice about how to approach women in bars and clubs, or what pickup lines to use, or how to get touchy-feely with someone you’ve just met. This kind of flirting style works well for people who are looking for short-term romance or just trying to have fun.
However, this style of flirting can be unnatural for introverts and highly sensitive people. We’re not a fan of using the bar and club scene to find romantic connections. We care more about having real relationships rather than short term romance or casual flings. When it comes to sex, we’re more interested in doing it with someone we really care about. Since we view sex as something that is mysterious and powerful, we dislike crude or dirty ways of flirting.
Which styles are better suited for introverts?
In his book, Jeffrey Hall identified the polite style of flirting as better suited for introverts. He says about polite flirts, “They are concerned about their friends and make sure that they are there in their time of need. They are also a bit introverted. Polite flirts don’t need to be the center of attention. In social interactions, they would prefer things to be a bit more controlled and formal.” That sounds a lot like me.
The sincere style is also well suited for introverts. We prefer conversing about meaningful topics instead of making idle chitchat. We’re private people and we only open up to those that we fully trust. As people with limited social energy to spend on other people, we look for a chosen few who are worth giving our time and attention to. Thus, this type of flirting coincides well with our nature.
What is the best way to flirt? The best way is to do so in the way that will attract the love that you desire and that is the most authentic to yourself. Some people enjoy flirting for its own sake or are looking to date a lot of people. You might see them in bars and clubs using the physical or playful styles and that’s totally fine. On the other hand, the polite and sincere styles of flirting are more suited for those of us looking for love and long-term relationships.
Flirting as an introvert
Flirting sincerely involves talking to women in the way that Dale Carnegie writes in his book How to Win Friends & Influence People. This means talking in terms of the other person’s interests and listening to them when they talk about themselves. This shows you’re interested in her values, attitudes, experiences, and beliefs. You’re interested in who she is as a person.
Try to find something that she would enjoy telling you about herself. A great way to do this is by asking open-ended or “why?” questions. When she tells you something about herself, listen to what she has to say. Then, ask some follow-up questions based on what she just told you or relate it to yourself.
If she is interested in you, then she would probably like to learn more about you too. Just like how we looked for things that she would love to tell you about herself, she will be looking to talk to you about the things that get you excited. Do you have an awesome job? An adventurous story? Read something unusual recently? Tell her about it!
When you’re talking to someone you’re interested in, pay attention to her flirting styles as well. Try to mirror her flirting style while still being true to your own personality. For example, my extroverted girlfriend took the flirting styles test and her results were playful, physical, polite, and sincere. My own style is sincere and polite. Since we’re both sincere flirts we both enjoy having a deep emotional connection. She is very touchy-feely as well. Even though I’m not normally as touchy-feely as she is, I do make an effort to give her a surprise hug every so often because I know that she appreciates it.
However, if you’re unable to mirror her flirting style without being inauthentic or if your flirting styles are drastically different then you may want to consider whether or not you are a good match.
Authenticity and flirting
So, what was I doing wrong that my extroverted friend was doing right? How come he was getting a lot of dates by being particularly aggressive and makes the conversation overtly sexual very quickly while talking to women, but when I tried doing that I ended up being unsuccessful?
As it turns out, women could sense that I was being inauthentic—and they were turned off by it. Could the way that extrovert friend hits on women be considered sleazy? No doubt about it! However, he was being honest and I wasn’t. The way he acts makes it clear that he’s only interested in casual sex rather than long term relationships. His behavior is congruent with his intentions, which appeals to other women who are also just looking for casual sex.
Similarly, I found myself succeeding when I behaved authentically. As an introvert and highly sensitive person, I care more about developing deeper, meaningful romantic connections than I do about short term flings. And I was able to succeed when I stopped trying to be someone that I wasn’t.