Romancing an Introvert: Striking Up a Conversation

Four Letters for you:  I-N-F-J.   If you’re familiar with the Myers Briggs test or other personality tests, you will most likely understand this to mean:  Introversion, Intuition, Feeling, Judgment personality.  A recent job interview called for me take the test and no, I don’t agree with every characteristic of this personality, but I can definitely identify with comparisons to other famous INFJs, such as:  Mother Teresa, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Well that just leaves me with my new favorite letter : A for AWKWARD.  I’ve recently come to terms with the fact that I am an awkward, black, female introvert.  I’m a homebody that likes my solitude and quiet because that time of reflection allows me to reenergize.  Social situations are a bit more complicated as I tend to expend energy.  I prefer small groups of close friends to large crowds.  Nothing makes me happier than being left alone with a new notebook, a pen, and fresh baked cookies.  But I love to socialize and still have that feeling every now and then when I NEED to be around people.

Once upon a time I used to consider myself an introverted extrovert because although I am painfully shy (Many introverts are not), when my guard comes down (or after one glass of wine) I’m usually the center of attention and I like it!  You usually can’t shut me up. But typically there is an abnormal anxiety to that initial “Hi.  What’s your name?”  Introversion can be rooted in so many things, but that shouldn’t mean that introverts don’t live life to fullest by any means or even share their lives with someone.

Love is complicated enough without the need to over analyze everything.  But for me, going with the flow is usually not an option.  Black female introverts have a harder time in society because we don’t seem to quite fit anywhere.  We’re the complete opposite of the stereotypical loud, uber extroverted black woman.  If you’re quiet and reserved, many black people will see you as stuck-up, sneaky, or the classic “trying to act white”.  Sadly, around many non-blacks we don’t typically fit the social image they perceive so they don’t know what to do with you or what box to put you in.  People tend to focus on the negative instead of the positive.  And in a lot of cases, your awkwardness is perceived as weakness, but let’s be honest it’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for.

I feel in the realm of interracial dating that miscommunication will go deeper. Most of the time introverts lack the social skills to interact romantically.  In my case, quietness will be perceived as a signal to “go away”, when it really means I want to talk to you, but I just don’t know how.  If I approach you, it comes off as desperation because I’m literally pushing myself out of my comfort zone to talk to you because I like what I see.  So, how do we bridge all this awkwardness?

For the most part, it’s finding “safe” common ground.  For example how I met my best friend was pretty much like this:

Well actually we were 15, the only black girls in an accelerated summer pre-calculus course, and we bonded over our weirdness and mutual love for white boys.  Okay, it was really our obsession.

But although it can be a hurdle, striking up conversations with introverts means no small talk.  So you’re walking straight into “What is your passion?” territory.  Interest in meaningful conversations welcomes introverts to be themselves and welcomes you into their world.  We aren’t trying to avoid you, we’re just trying to figure you out by observing you.  It builds a strong friendship, which opens the door for a beautiful relationship.  So please, if you see someone you like, don’t automatically be put off by their weirdness.  You may be surprised to find something you like, just might take a little more work.  Here is an article by Jonathan Rauch from the Atlantic on “Caring for your Introvert”.

Supposedly the best romantic interest for INFJs are:  ENTPs ( “The Visionary” – i.e. Barack Obama and Jon Stewart) and ENFPs (“The Creative Enthusiast” i.e. Steven Spielberg and Sir Richard Branson).  With these amazing examples,  I look forward to the day I find the right person to share my little bubble with.

Do any of you, ladies or gentlemen, identify as an introvert?  If so, how do you work through it?  How is it being an extrovert dating an introvert?  Have you as an introvert dated another introvert?  Legitimate answers please. For those of you who just say get over it and start a conversation, obviously I will consider you outside my bubble.


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