Dating can be an absolute nightmare for shy people. You want to meet the right person, but you’re too scared to do anything about it. They want to shake your hand but you know it’s cold and clammy and probably even trembles. What’s a person supposed to do?
Shyness and confidence go hand in glove. As a shy person you know only too well how your brain freezes as you scramble to think of something to say. You fall apart as soon as you’re asked what you do for a living. You stammer. The heat rises in your face and under your arms. You’re suddenly incapable of forming a grammatical sentence. You think to yourself, ‘Why do I even bother, I come across like a total idiot.’
And now the good news. Shy people do succeed both in meeting new people and forming lasting, happy relationships. Plenty of potential partners actually find shyness quite attractive. So, with a little practice there’s no reason why dating can’t work for you too.
One of the first things to remember is that dating doesn’t have to be a long and drawn out affair. There’s nothing worse than being invited for a three hour dinner only to find you’ve got nothing in common, or in fact you can’t stand the other person. It’s understandable that you want to meet someone, but you do have control over people and places and timings. For instance, if you don’t like busy bars, then don’t sign up to meeting in one. If you’d prefer the first meeting was during the day and for a short period of time then why not arrange to meet for coffee somewhere and take it from there? If money is an issue then look around at what’s on and maybe meet at a free event. Here’s some tips:
Every conversation starts with openers so it’s useful to have an answer to the most common. ‘So (your name) what exactly do you do?’ is bound to come up, so have a ready answer. Just answer. ‘I’m a student,’ then, ‘what do you do?’ Almost invariably your answer will be the hook your date then uses e.g. ‘a student? what are you studying?’ Just remember, you’re not a boxer on the ropes. This is an interaction, a two way thing, so don’t wait to be battered by questions, get involved with your own.
A useful thing for shy people is to ask questions. Most people love to talk about themselves, so ask questions and this will help put you at ease. If needs be come up with a few ideas before you meet up. ‘You’re a (whatever), how did you get into that line of work?’ ‘Do you like music? Really, what kind?’ Ideas for first date conversation starters can be found all over the place. For example, here’s 50 of them from mensfitness.com
Turn it Around
A bit of an extension from the ask questions tip this. If you find yourself fumbling, turn the topic back to the other person. ‘Oh, I don’t know, what about you?’ or ‘I’m not sure, what do you think?’
Listen and Look
Very often shy types tend to be caught up in how they are appearing or they worry about what to say next, as a result they miss opportunities to keep the chat moving. There are nearly always natural pauses in conversations. Some people are comfortable with these but you might view it as a sign that your dating partner is losing interest. It’s an opportunity to draw on things you’ve seen. ‘I can’t help noticing you wear (a signet ring, a nose ring, a tattoo, etc).’
People respond well to people who smile. No need to grin like an idiot, but a disarming smile will get ’em every time. Smiling conveys friendliness and approachability. Show teeth whenever possible. Avoid looking like a figure at a wax museum by practicing in a mirror before you leave the house.
You don’t necessarily need to air your political views early on in dating but a handful of current events can make for good discussion points. It isn’t hard to find stuff online or in a newspaper that people have views about. Driverless cars, the latest gadget, the cost of something, and so on. And if all else fails there is always the weather.
If you make yourself appear confident you will actually start to feel that way. Confident behaviour leads to confidence inside. Just stand up straight. It’s the simplest, most effective way to look confident. Good posture, coupled with that great smile of yours and you’re winning.
Now none of these tips will help if you don’t leave the house. It’s just too easy to watch a Friends rerun for the umpteenth time instead of meeting people, but one thing is certain, you’ll never make progress if you don’t take a few risks. Dating is a skill and as with all skills you’ll become better at it over time.