Dating while Shy in an Aggressive World

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The dilemma of shyness

Dating is increasingly seems to be an aggressive activity. The most forward people go on the most dates. The shy often feel hopelessly outside of the world of dating, destined to watch the others pair up around them as they shuffle off alone. When the shy seek advice they are often told to become aggressive. How useful is that? It's like telling a right-handed person to become left-handed. If they could suddenly stop being shy, they would have done so.

Turn shyness upside down

If you can't overcome a weakness, often the best strategy is to embrace it. Many weaknesses have complementary strengths. Identify the strengths that are the flip side of your shyness and play to those. For example, shy people are typically more honest than aggressive people. They are often more compassionate and more accepting of others. They are usually more introspective and intuitive. They have many positive characteristics that are very important in building and maintaining relationships. Those qualities are not highly visible and so they are less useful in meeting new people and gaining their initial interest. But they can always be used to overcome some of the barriers that shyness creates.

You still have to try

You already know that your natural wonderfulness is too subtle to attract the attention and admiration of the people you want to meet. Shy people have to initiate and/or respond to the overtures of others just like everyone else. Shyness does not prevent you from approaching strangers or responding positively when they approach you. Shyness only makes this more uncomfortable and less smooth. Ultimately there is no way around this if you want your dating life to improve.

You are not as awkward as you think

The shy are hyperaware of their shyness. They see every awkward body movement and word pause in magnified detail. That awareness makes their natural awkwardness even worse. But the truth is that most people are much less aware of such things. All humans communicate awkwardly and most all of it goes unnoticed. If you're focused on the other person and not on your own nervousness, you will be less nervous and they will notice little of the nervousness that does come out.

Don't take awkwardness so seriously

If you do find yourself getting nervous such that you're doing or saying foolish things, don't take this so seriously. Act on your honesty by owning up to your nervousness and lack of dating experience. Make a joke about it to break the ice (which is mostly on your side anyway). Push through the nervousness to complete what you want to say. If you can turn the focus back to what is important to you, chances are the other person will forget about those early awkward moments.

Protect against ambiguity

When someone who is not shy asks out someone who is, the muted response is often misleading. The paralysis of shyness can be confused with rudeness, arrogance, indifference or dislike. Shyness is usually the last cause they consider. Again the solution is not to try to stop being shy but to own up to it. Not only does this relieve the asker of any sense of rejection but it enables him or her to ease that person out of their shyness. If successful, this is a good sign for a possible future. If they don't know how to handle shyness, then it probably wouldn't work out anyway.

Seek out shy-friendly people

If you had an especially bad experience asking someone out or responding to someone trying to ask you out, that was obviously the wrong person for you. There are plenty of people who like shy folk. You have friends so you know what some of these people are like. When in doubt, approach another shy person. He or she is not likely to judge you for your shyness. It's best not to approach people who are especially smooth and charming, not because they'll make you look bad but because they are probably not good matches for you.

"No" is not a personal rejection

Shy people often make such a big deal out of asking a particular person out that the action starts to feel monumental. Being turned down will destroy you forever! The truth is that there are many reasons why people turn down dates. An assessment that you're the scum of the earth is not going to be one of them. Yes there are such people but they don't typically have problems with shyness. Realize that most of the reasons for turning someone down are not because of personality defects. If someone does turn you down because they dislike you than consider yourself lucky to be spared their company!

The worst case scenario is not that bad

Shy people imagine that their invitations will be met with derisive laughter. If this happened then you clearly did an awful job trying to feel out the other person. Yes, the head cheerleader or frat president might laugh at you. But why on earth would you approach them in the first place? If you approach nice, thoughtful, open-minded people, most who decline will do so politely. Many will feel flattered that you asked. It's actually kind of nice to be turned down like that, at least nicer than never having asked. Yes, some shameless people do succeed by arbitrarily asking out large numbers of others. You on the other hand will rarely misread people so badly that you encounter someone who makes you feel stupid for asking.

Dating is not a competition

Shy guys and girls have the unfortunate tendency to compare themselves to the more confident. They compare their own weakness to the strengths of others rather than the other way around. The whole point of dating is not to see who goes out on the most dates. In fact, this is not at all a good thing. The point for most of us is to find someone for whom you can give up dating altogether. What matters are your goals and experiences.

Stop worrying what others think of you

Regardless of what happens when you try to date, the specific incidents don't matter in the grand scheme of things. So what if a stranger responds badly to you? Why do you hold the opinion of strangers as more valid than the opinions of those who know you best and love you for it? Shouldn't it be the other way around? Ultimately don't you want someone who will love you for who you are rather than who they think you should be instead? Aren't you more likely to find that person by being yourself openly and honestly?
Dating while Shy in an Aggressive World
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  • Anonymous
    A great article. We need more of this on here.
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