I walked into the noisy bar and immediately found the face I was looking for. He didn’t look quite the same as he did in his dating profile (a little shorter, a little less muscled), but no one ever did. He recognized me right away, too, and I quickly became self-conscious. In what ways did I not measure up to my pictures? He bear-hugged me and smiled warmly. Then came the small talk. “How was your day? What do you like to do for fun? Where did you grow up?” He fired off the questions, one after another, in rapid succession. I tried my best to keep up, answer quickly, and match his level of enthusiasm. The night went on like this, and soon I became exhausted. My brain was no longer working. I tripped over my words. My sentences came out like molasses.

My date didn’t miss a thing. “You’ve only had one drink!” he laughed when my speech slurred ever so slightly. And that was true. It wasn’t the alcohol that was making me dumb. I was on the verge of an introvert hangover. I was overstimulated by his high energy, along with the “newness” of the situation—a bar I had never been to and a person I wasn’t yet comfortable with. Eventually, we said an awkward goodbye and left the bar. Soon after I got a text. “It got a little awkward at the end, didn’t it? But I know you were tired. Let’s get together again this Friday.”

Still feeling self-conscious about his “awkward” comment, I flounced into the coffee shop on Friday, wearing a short pink dress. I was determined to be flirty and fun. This guy was everything I wanted, wasn’t he? He was creative, interesting, and fun. He was a filmmaker who had built a successful business from scratch. And let’s be honest. He was cute. Really cute. I wasn’t going to let my introvert tendencies sink my chances with him.

We went to a nearby park, hiked around, and got ice cream afterward. I was having a good time, but just like on our first date, social burnout struck. When he dropped me off at my apartment, I bolted from his car and into the quiet solitude of my apartment, where I lay on the couch in silence, recharging. This went on for several weeks.

He wanted to hang out four to five times a week, and always at noisy restaurants, bars, or concerts. “I love being out of the house and doing things!” he told me. Often we met right after work, and our dates stretched well into the evening. Then I had to get up early the next morning for work and do it all over again. Each time we got together, I was always the one to call it quits and head home because I was tired. He started to tease that I “didn’t know how to have a good time.” Once, I got him to agree to a low-key dinner date at home, but he acted bored as if he was just doing it to oblige me. The relationship lasted for about two months before it fizzled out.

In retrospect, I was never my best self on those dates because I was almost always overstimulated. The way my mind and body reacted on our first few dates should have been a clue to me that as much as I liked the idea of a relationship with him, it wasn’t right.

I needed someone who would not just tolerate a night in but relish it. Someone who would understand that we don’t need to chatter constantly to stay connected. Someone whose words and presence would energize me, not drain me.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that introverts and extroverts shouldn’t be in relationships together. I’ve dated some extroverts, whose company I really enjoyed. I chose to share this story with you because it taught me a lesson I’ll never forget: whether introvert or extrovert, the right person for me is someone I feel good being around.

If you’re a single introvert who is dating, you hold a special place in my heart because I know what you’re going through. I’ve suffered years of awkward first dates, flings that went nowhere, unrequited love, and serious heartbreak.

On one hand, being single and dating was one of the most exhilarating and personally meaningful times of my life. I found myself growing and changing in ways I had never imagined as I met new people and had new experiences. But on the other hand, it was simultaneously the loneliest, most difficult period of my life. I worried that my introversion held me back. That I was too weird or quirky to be loved. That my high standards meant I’d be forever alone. - The Secret Lives of Introverts