Dating as a gay man can be challenging enough as it is. Add shyness or introversion to the mix as well and the gay dating scene can seem positively intimidating. Only about 25-33% of the entire population is introverted by nature, so you’re already outnumbered by at least three to one. Plus, quite a few introverts actively pretend to be extroverts in order to fit in better, so it’s hardly surprising if you sometimes feel like the only introverted gay guy on the planet.
Even so, dating as an introverted gay man isn’t impossible. You will probably need to put a little more forethought and effort into things if you’re serious about having the quality experiences you deserve though. The following tips can help take the guesswork out of the process.
1. Just be yourself.
If you’re like most introverts, you’ve probably spent the great majority of your life being told by extroverts that you should want to change and be more like them. You may even be one of the introverts mentioned above that actually pretends to be an extrovert, so the rest of society stays off your back. If that’s the case, it’s officially time to stop.
Pretending to be someone you’re not is only going to make it harder to connect with guys that actually get you and appreciate you for exactly who you are. Despite what so many extroverts would have you believe, there’s nothing wrong with being introverted, so just be your wonderful self. You’re awesome just the way you are and the right guy for you will think so too.
2. Know what you’re looking for.
There are two types of introverts in this world. The first kind enjoys dating other introverts because they prefer the company of folks that can empathize with them and relate to their point of view. The second kind would actually rather date an extrovert because extroverts are fine with always being the one to speak up, take the lead when socializing, or step into the spotlight when needed.
Figure out which type of introvert you are. Then update your dating profiles and general approach to dating accordingly. Be honest about not only your own personality and worldview, but what you’re looking for in a potential boyfriend, friend, or hook-up partner as well. Believe it or not, some awesome guy out there is looking for exactly what you’re willing and able to offer.
3. Social networking is your friend.
Now that we’re living in the internet age, you don’t have to psych yourself up to go to a bar and interact with strangers in person every time you want to connect with someone new. Social media and online gay dating apps give modern introverts and extroverts alike a really convenient alternative they can access anytime they like, so definitely put those resources to work for you.
Just make sure you’re also embracing online interfaces in the understanding that they’re a means to an end when it comes to dating. Grindr, Scruff, or even Facebook and Instagram can be great places to comfortably chat up someone that grabs your attention. They’re no substitutes for one-on-one, in-person interactions though. Sooner or later, you’ll need to bring that promising online connection into the real world if you’re serious about establishing a real relationship.
4. Pay attention to your body language.
Chances are you don’t spend a lot of time thinking about your body language, but it’s nevertheless something you’ll really want to become aware of if you’re available and looking. Your body language communicates volumes to onlookers that might be checking you out. For instance, closed body language (e.g. folded arms, hands in your pockets, or slouched posture) can give a guy the impression that you’re not interested in talking even if you totally are.
Body language can have a direct effect on how confident you yourself feel as well. Quite a few studies have shown that standing in a power pose (open body language with hands on hips) actually causes your system to release hormones associated with confidence. Not only do you look more approachable and confident, but you feel that way too, so it’s a real win-win!
5. Ask the right questions.
If there’s one gay dating situation that pretty much every introvert dreads, it’s conversation that falls flat or screeches to a grinding halt because neither person can think of anything to talk about. Thankfully there’s a fine art to comfortable, stimulating conversation that flows easily and it’s something absolutely anyone can learn.
It’s all about asking the right questions when it’s your turn to show interest in your chat partner or date. Avoid asking anything with a short yes or no answer. Instead, ask open-ended questions that encourage ongoing dialogue. Make sure you’re asking questions you really want the answers to as well. Great conversations revolve around interesting, engaging topics that both people enjoyed discussing.
6. Choose an actual activity for your date.
So let’s say you’ve met someone that you really like. You’ve both decided you’d like to see more of each other and have agreed to go on a date. What now? If it falls to you to decide what you’re going to do together, what should you suggest ensuring both of you have a great time and continue to bond?
For most people, the obvious choice for a first date with a gay person they don’t yet know well would be dinner, drinks, or both. While it’s fine if you really would like to go that route, keep in mind that dates like that are nearly 100% conversation-based which can be anxiety-inducing for an introvert. Consider choosing an activity to enjoy together instead. Local events like fairs or festivals are not only fun but come complete with an endless stream of built-in conversation starters. Alternatively, you could go to a movie or museum, both places you’re not supposed to be talking much anyway.
7. Or you can keep things short and simple.
If the mere idea of spending an entire day or evening with someone you really don’t know that well makes you anxious, you can always choose a shorter, simpler activity to enjoy together instead. That way you’re covered in the event the two of you really don’t hit it off after all.
In other words, a first date with someone you’ve barely spoken to is probably not the best time for a 10-mile hike or a long drive out of town. You’ll also want to avoid open-ended dates with no set itinerary or end point in place (e.g. just “going out” for the evening). Instead, choose a familiar place to meet that makes you feel completely at ease (like your favorite coffee shop) and set a time frame for the date. If you’re having a great time, you can always suggest going somewhere else once your time’s up.
8. Practice makes perfect.
While you should definitely embrace yourself for the wonderful, naturally introverted person that you are, it’s important to be proactive about dating. Don’t wait passively for other guys to notice you and take the initiative to reach out. If you see someone you like, take a chance and make the first move yourself, even if that’s not normally what you’d do. You’ll miss out on too many great opportunities otherwise.
Of course, that’s easier said than done for most introverts, but practicing a little can help make things easier, especially over time. Step outside of your comfort zone occasionally and show up at the hot new gay bar in town or go solo to a community event that catches your interest. (Alternatively, you can bring an extroverted friend along as a wingman.) Practice your conversation skills by having a friend role play with you or chatting yourself up in the mirror. The more you flex your socializing muscles, the easier dating and making conversation will ultimately become.
9. Strike the right balance with extroverts.
It’s definitely an extrovert’s world out there, so most introverts find it helpful to develop a few extroverted skills and qualities at some point in their lives. Knowing how to make conversation, be outgoing when need be, or socialize when necessary won’t just help you in your dating life. It will make it easier to snag promotions at work, take your turn playing host to the rest of your friends, and much more as well. It’s important to make sure you’re not accommodating extroverts to a fault though.
The trick is to strike a comfortable balance between stepping outside of your comfort zone and doing what simply comes naturally to you as an introvert. Make the most of your unique personality and definitely live life on your own terms. Don’t make a habit of simply going along to get along when it comes to the extroverts in your life or society at large. You deserve to get what you want and to positively influence the world around you in service of your own agenda as much as anyone else does.