Introvert Revelations – Part 1: Dating

I recently had a conversation with a fellow middle-aged introvert . . . she recently had a revelation about dating. That, in turn, provided me a similar revelation. What I’m about to share has been something, that for years, neither she nor I understood about ourselves. We though we were just weird.

phlegmatic dating

Her Story

In high school my friend moved around a lot, but landed in a high-school where she quickly caught the attention of the star athlete, and “big-man-on-campus”. He made it clear he was smitten with her, and she was quite taken with him. Not too long into their “boyfriend/girlfriend” days, he introduced her to his friends and shortly thereafter, he broke up with her. As a melancholy introvert, she didn’t understand and was deeply hurt . . . until recently when I posted the following on my Facebook page:

Introvert Problem #76 – People sometimes mistake you as an extrovert because you can be so outgoing

As her mind traveled back in time, the break-up now made sense! When an introvert is comfortable with a person (or group of people) he or she can be the life of the party. It isn’t painful for introverts to interact when they feel safe;  they are willing share the wonderful parts of who they are. One-on-one the new boyfriend made my friend feel safe and she easily opened up. However, when she was thrust before all his friends, her natural introvert kicked in. Boyfriend wasn’t expecting that and wondered where his “outgoing” girlfriend had gone and he expressed his confusion. Him not understanding who she was lead to the break up – a break up that she didn’t understand until all these years later when she read Introvert Problem #76. Knowledge of who she was finally liberated her. Better late than never, huh?

My Story

I was never popular with the boys in high-school. Like any young blossoming girl I wanted to be a guy magnet, but I just couldn’t put myself out there like my peers who easily flaunted the “right” feminine wiles and flirtatious ways. I now understand that sanguine females corner THAT market, while introverted girls (phlegmatic and melancholy) have the upper-hand in awkwardness when it comes to boys.

College was no different. No interest, no dates. Actually, there were a couple of guys who showed interest, but nothing with those crushes amounted to anything . . . except other girls getting boyfriends who quickly lost interest in me. For years I wondered what was wrong with me. There was a boyfriend in the picture for about 18 months, but we were friends long before we dated. Introverts are much more comfortable with guy friends than we are romantic prospects. Guy friends aren’t worried if you are awkward . . . they take the time to get to know you when dating protocol isn’t in play. It’s easier, I suppose for them to overlook introvert awkwardness or our need to be alone because they are not investing anything romantic or ego driven. They are just your friend.

My last year in college, long after breaking up with my first boyfriend, I had a class with the star quarterback at my school. Oh my, he was SO easy on the eyes and, even though I blush a little writing this, I loved walking out of class behind him. (Did I really just say THAT!) Anyway, he was cute, popular, and he was the desire of all the female co-eds on campus. But, like any campus stud, he dated the popular sanguine sorority girls . . .  of which I was not one. I was the girl in Taylor Swift’s song/video wearing T-shirts, sneakers and sitting in the bleachers.

So here’s the real personality part of my “admiration” for Mr. Quarterback. I could never bring myself to flirt with him. It was embarrassing and, besides,  “I wasn’t his type of girl”. I doubt he was interested, but there were a couple of times I wondered if maybe he was. The first time was when he called me for an assignment in the class we had together. It could have been an all business call on his end, and I never thought otherwise and conducted the “business” at hand. I gave him the assignment and promptly ended the call said good-bye, even though my heart was a-flutter. It was only later than it dawned on my that his best friend and roommate was in the same class! Why didn’t he get the assignment from his friend?

The second encounter was a bit more random. He walked into class one day and walked straight to my desk and put his head, like, right next to my face. He was close enough to kiss!! I figure a sanguine/choleric blend would have planted one on him, but I just looked at him and asked him what he needed. I was really bamboozled as to why did that. Was he flirting? Maybe. Maybe not, but I didn’t even open the door to find out! Now I understand . . . introverts often misses flirtatious clues if someone tosses them our way. I may have missed something IF  he was flirting, but being the “go-with-the-flow” phlegmatic it was easy to dismiss it and move on. Although I must admit I’ve pondered just what I may have missed . . . if there was something to miss.

Anyhow, if you are an introvert socializing is bad enough, but dating . . . talk about excruciating. And it’s only excruciating if you know what’s going on! I’ll end with Jane, the eldest sister in Jane Austen’s classic, Pride and Prejudice: Although she was completely in love with Mr. Bingley, her phlegmatic temperament was mistaken by Mr. Darcy as indifference. That lead to an entire subplot in the book that highlighted the typical phlegmatic when it comes to expressing emotions on the guy front. How many times have phlegmatic people missed out because they “just didn’t get it” or because the object of their affection didn’t know just how giddy the “poker-face” phlegmatic was inside. Thankfully, I did survive the dating scene and actually got married. But, get this, me and hubs were friends five years before we ever dated. He got to know me when there was not no pressure, and my introverted ME didn’t scare him off.

©2013 Shona Neff


Tags: , , , , , ,

This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 7th, 2013 at 4:22 pm and is filed under Personalities - Did You Know?, Personality Stories - Melancholy, Personality Stories - Phlegmatic, The Personalities - Let's Learn!. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


7 Responses to “Introvert Revelations – Part 1: Dating”

  1. Kelley Says:

    Oh, how I can relate to this! What’s different in my case is that I married very young, as a senior in high school (though not for the reason everyone thought), and it was only after I married that I found out how many guys in high school liked me but were intimidated by me. Why? Who knows. LOL I could flirt on occasion, but if I really liked a guy it was as if my mouth were glued shut. In fact, when we first started dating my husband asked, “Do you ever talk?” LOL Thankfully he wasn’t put off by my naturally quiet personality. Maybe it was because we wrote lots of letters when we were dating because we didn’t live in the same town and the phone system where he lived at that time made talking on the phone pretty much impossible. We were each impressed by the fact that the other could spell, construct readable, grammatically correct sentences, and had good penmanship. The mutual melancholy admiration society. 😉 It probably helped that he is also a natural introvert, although he is still more outgoing than I am.

  2. shona Says:

    That’s funny that he asked you if you ever talked. I guess two melancholy people dating have the edge with each other…although even phlegmatic personalities and melancholy personalities each have different traits that could confuse the other. For example, phlegmatic indifferent and go with the flow, melancholy sensitive and and dramatic.

    Thanks for sharing, Kelley.


  3. Kuzco Says:

    Hi, Shona. It’s refreshing to see a Christian who does take personality into consideration
    and doesn’t just pawn it off as the Holy Spirit’s job. anyways, I’ve been doing my research,
    trying to find what my problem is and I found that being sanguine doesn’t allow for depth in
    relationships, hence, my non-commitment. Pretty much all the guys who ever asked me out I said no to.
    I can’t just imagine spending the rest of my life with one person and at the same time, I can’t imagine myself
    dating so many guys, so, I’m caught betwixt two. I wanna have fun, I wanna play but I can’t just do tho9se stuff.
    I guess what I really want is a change of scenery. A sanguine person should never be let to study medicine. five yearsdown the road and I feel like pulling out. Focusing has become more difficult I want a boyfriend
    who’s very quiet and listens and who sees the details. From another race, from another country.
    I’m tired of the same old!!! Help! ; ) A little dramatic, aye?

  4. admin Says:

    Kuzco, sorry for the delayed response…no excuse, but being the laid-back phlegmatic that I am doesn’t help. What you describe about yourself makes total sense for a sanguine personality. They are interested in so many things and easily distracted that it CAN be hard for them to focus. It often works that way in relationships, too. Funny that the description of a quiet boyfriend who listens and sees details is often the type of boyfriend/spouse sanguine personalities are drawn to….melancholy. No matter one’s personality, we tend to marry our opposite personality because they have the traits we lack….it’s like they “complete” us.

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing :)


  5. Tracy Says:

    I am a melancholy girl married to a sanguine male and I am miserable….I thought I could handle his by the seat of his pants, but his spontaneous purchases and lack of attention to me and our marriage is too draining for me. Both of my parents have passed away in the bought without tellling me…..I cannot handle the isolation casued by this selfish man…help! We have been married 21 years and he travels alot for his work which is probably why we have worked because I had time alone with the kids to do things my way but weekends with Dad are crazy, draining whirlwinds….now one in college and the other driving in high school and I look at him and think no way! How can I ever feel loved by this wacko person??

  6. Tracy Says:

    Saw my post, some of my words disappeared…..after parents…away in the last 9 months and his spontaneous purchases drive me, the accountant crazy! He just bought a VERY expensive motor without telling me and all I can think about is the fact that both of my parents have been cremated in the last 9 months…he is soooo selfish…not there for me at all….

  7. admin Says:

    Tracy, the personality differences can be hard on a marriage. The sanguine spontaneity and your measured melancholy often don’t mesh well. I’m so sorry it’s having such a dramatic effect on your relationship. I’m not a counselor, but sometimes just understanding personalities can be a tool to start addressing serious issues or just having an idea where another person is coming from.

    I’ve had peers who, once both partners understood how their personalities affected the dynamic of their marriage, have come back from the brink of divorce. However, others, by understanding personalities has seen that they needed to seek more help in the form of professional counseling. I don’t know how serious your challenges are, but maybe by reading about personalities they can be a tool to help you see what decisions would be helpful for you situation.

    Sorry I’m not qualified to help you delve deeper, but I do hope that maybe my information on personalities will be a tool to help get you started in the direction that works best for you and your husband. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope I’ve helped you just a little.


Leave a Reply