Extroversion or flirting?
October 21, 2009 12:27 PM   Subscribe

How do you tell the difference between someone who's an extrovert and someone who's romantically interested in you?

I (male) met a female friend of a male friend visiting my city last winter. After that we talked on line a bunch. (With her initiating a good part of the time.) We met (briefly and not one-on-one) up when I was visiting her city a few months later. There's been some Facebooking in between.

Recently, we chatted on line and she suggested we talk on the phone that week. When we did, at the end of that conversation said we should talk regularly on the phone and suggested a fairly definite schedule.

I'm pretty introverted and in the past I've dated (though not much) people who've either been introverted or explicit about their intentions at the beginning.

I'm having a hard time telling if this is just her extroversion coming through... or if I should take this as a sign of romantic interest. If I had just made a female friend, I would be hesitant to contact them so often for fear that I was sending the message that I was interested, if I wasn't.

Any tips on navigating this introvert extrovert divide would be appreciated.

Some more info:

We're both very close to the friend who introduced us, but they're not romantically envolved (I asked him, in part, because I wanted to be sure I wasn't interfering with a prior romantic pursuit of his by what I was thinking might be her interest in me) and he's not the matchmaking type, so I'm reluctant to put him further in the middle of this...

(This isn't really a question about long-distance relationships, I like the area where she lives, have lived there previously, and may even move there in the next couple of years regardless.)

All the people in this question are in their twenties and out of school, including me, but I'm a couple years older.

Throwaway e-mail: INVEVQM@gmail.com
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (23 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I continue to struggle with this and the answer, per my therapist, is that "you just know." You don't even have to ask. However, I think the situation would be clearer if you had more en vivo contact, where you could see things like body language. Also, I don't think anyone would go out of their way to schedule phone convos if they didn't really want to talk to the other party. It sounds like she is def. interested in being your friend and maybe more.
posted by ShadePlant at 12:34 PM on October 21, 2009

If she wants to talk on the phone regularly, I think that means she's interested as more than friends.

And as an introvert, I've found relationships (friendships and otherwise) with extroverts to be very easy to begin and usually easy to maintain-- they do most of the work! As long as they listen to you when you talk and respect your boundaries, there's not much to worry about (and if they don't, then you probably don't want to be close to them anyway).
posted by oinopaponton at 12:35 PM on October 21, 2009 [3 favorites]

You cannot tell. I advise against trying to "read" people's complex intentions. To obtain actionable information, you must either ask, or take action (kiss) that requires a response.
Since it is too early in the beginning to tell if this is a person you would be more interested in, I'd wait a bit to find out what this person is like before asking or making a move.

You can, however, at some point, steer the conversation to dating and find out if she is seeing anyone. That will at least give you some starting information that could help you.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:36 PM on October 21, 2009 [3 favorites]

Why don't you ask your mutual friend to gently scope this out for you?
posted by np312 at 12:51 PM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Man up, take some initiative and ask her out on a date that's just the two of you.

You'll get your answer shortly thereafter, either in the response to the invitation or the date itself.
posted by de void at 12:56 PM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Nthing np312. I'd ask the mutual friend one time, and one time only, what they think. Just a light question. Then leave it at that as far as involving the friend.
posted by jgirl at 12:57 PM on October 21, 2009

Kind of sounds to me like she's an extrovert who's romantically interested in you.

I think you'll get a good feeling about it one way or another next time y'all can be in the same place at the same time.
posted by Neofelis at 1:08 PM on October 21, 2009

I don't think you can tell at this point, but I also think it doesn't matter.

Talk to her a few times, see if you like her, then decide what _you_ want. If you want to explore something romantic, ask her. If not, be friends with her.
posted by amtho at 1:27 PM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Don't invite her out on a date unless you want a relationship. If you do, and she doesn't, you're SOL. But if you set up a date, don't want a relationship, and she does, you're sending her completely the wrong message.

Meet her in person. You'll be able to tell a lot from her body language, without having to embarrass anyone by asking them. If you do get the impression that she might be interested, try to drop it into the conversation that you're not interested (or that you are) as quickly as possible, so she knows where she stands.

Have a read of The Introvert Advantage. It's got lots of tips for introverts. I find being clear about boundaries and getting enough decompression time very helpful for dealing with extroverts.
posted by Solomon at 1:33 PM on October 21, 2009 [2 favorites]

I'm pretty extroverted, but I don't suggest regular phone dates with new friends who I only wanna befriend. Either she wants ongoing advice about a project or something like that, which actually requires a schedule, and which I assume isn't the case because you didn't mention it. Or, more likely, she likes you! Go get'er, tiger!
posted by twistofrhyme at 1:33 PM on October 21, 2009

I am a true extrovert and I think it is the case that you just know. I try to not exude flirtatious energy toward people I am not interested in despite us talking for a long time. Certainly, I have been accused of victimizing people when my words have been perceived as flirtatious and then moving my attention to someone else. In an average night at a club or party, I might talk to 25-50 people but may be physically or emotionally attracted to one or two or none. However, that won't stop me from being interested, encouraging, or asking for a follow-up conversation - all of which can be perceived as flirting.
posted by parmanparman at 1:41 PM on October 21, 2009

I have said it before but it's worth saying again: Most women prefer introverts.
posted by parmanparman at 1:41 PM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

There's a lot of potential overlap here, so as a general rule I'd say that you watch how they act with other people to see if they're extroverted, and you watch for differences between how they treat you and how they treat other people to see if they're interested.
posted by davejay at 3:01 PM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

First question: What do YOU want to do? Do you want to date her or not? If so, make a move. If not, then just go with the flow.

Second question: Is she dating someone? This is key and definitely something you want to check on at some point after you've met, FB'ed, talked on the phone and made plans to have regular conversations on the phone.

I have no idea if this girl likes you and neither does anyone else responding. She could be extroverted and really like you as a friend, she be thinking "Oh he'll be useful for this project", she could be interested, she could be thinking "Oh god, just do me already!", nobody knows 'cept her. Our interactions with each other are composed of a thousand little intricate dances that occur, some of them important, some of them not. It's highly probable that she would describe the situation different from you, even if she is interested.

My point here is not make this seem hard or overwhelming, but to note the answer you seek is right before you. Ask her, something like this maybe: "I'm kinda clueless sometimes, and making plans to talk sounds like a date, so I'm just wondering, is it?" Don't worry about sounding foolish or appearing dumb. If she likes you, then you'll just come off as adorably cute and months later when you'll reminiscing about how you got together she'll remember it all over again and want to do you right then and there and you'll be like "Honey, we're grocery shopping!" and she'll just point at you and say "You. Car. Pants off. NOW!" and all will be right in the world. If she doesn't like you in that way, then you have your answer and the answer is cleared and ya'll can go forward in friendship.

I say this as an almost 40 year old male introvert. Just ask the question and make things clear in your head, rather than trying to piece it together like a puzzle.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:14 PM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm charmed to see that one of the Google ads appearing on this page (for me, anyway) reads "Introvert = Loser. Being Yourself Isn't The Solution, It's The Problem". We can ignore that, for starters.

Apologies for the digression. I don't really have anything to add to the sensible advice here... which is to figure out what you yourself feel and act accordingly. And it doesn't sound like she's just being extroverted to me, either.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 5:37 PM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Quite surprised to see people readily classifying themselves and others as introverts and extroverts, though, as if these characteristics were as unproblematically meaningful as "tall" or "short". Doesn't it depend on the situation, how you're feeling, who you're with? I'm confident and outgoing in company, except when I'm not. Speaking in public doesn't bother me, except when it does. Maybe this is another question. Maybe she's not an extrovert at all, just sure that you're worth the effort.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 5:42 PM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Proposing a regular schedule for phone chats sounds like more than just extroverted wanna-be-friendsness to me.
posted by Quietgal at 5:47 PM on October 21, 2009

By asking.
posted by delmoi at 6:21 PM on October 21, 2009

Kiss her and find out.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:14 PM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

If an extroverted person is being friendly, he or she will be friendly towards a lot of people. This is not the same as romantic interest.

If the extroverted person treats you differently then other people that he or she is friendly with ... then maybe there's something there.
posted by Comrade_robot at 8:14 PM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

parmanparman is fantastically unhelpful in the second response. People respond to other people, often without regard to whatever categories they place themselves or the other person in. That's why you have to make a move to find out. You just don't know yet and we can't tell you.

I would recommend doing this straightforwardly, because it took me several reads of the question to figure out that (I think) you are interested in this person.
posted by lackutrol at 10:51 PM on October 21, 2009

Quite surprised to see people readily classifying themselves and others as introverts and extroverts

The Myers-Briggs test is so commonly-used by colleges, HR departments, etc. that I imagine most folks have been classified as being introverted or extroverted, whether they really identify with it or not. Mind you, I don't need a test to confirm that I'm an introvert.

posted by mumkin at 10:04 PM on October 22, 2009

OP here w/ a followup from a new anon account:

She was not intentionally trying to send me signals. My saying something was a surprise. But, I suggested a date and she said she'd like that.
posted by ThisIsNotMe at 3:17 PM on November 16, 2009

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