It’s tough to get into a relationship if you can’t even convince yourself to talk to the person you’re interested in. Shyness is a tough hurdle to overcome when you’re ready to start dating.
It can be overcome, though. With a combination of the following tips and some determination, you can figure out how to succeed at dating when you’re shy.
Let’s start by looking at why people experience shyness. Shyness is usually tied to a lack of self-confidence. It’s different from being an introvert, where you may be perfectly comfortable getting to know people but need some alone time to recharge your batteries.
Shyness actually makes a person feel uncomfortable when they have to draw attention to themselves. Since drawing attention to yourself is pretty unavoidable when you’re trying to date, many shy people end up avoiding the situation all together.
Does that mean you’re doomed to be alone forever if you’re shy? No, of course not. It does mean that you’ve got to be willing to take a few risks. The good news? The rewards are well worth the effort.
One of the biggest hurdles shy people have to overcome is their own thinking. If a lack of self-confidence is keeping you from dating, you’re going to have to build up your own self-confidence before you’ll get anywhere. On the plus side, you have a lot more going for you than you’re giving yourself credit for. That’s the nature of shy people – they’re focused on bad things that might happen rather than good things that have happened.
To start building your self-confidence, try these strategies:
-Make a list of things you’ve done that you’re proud of. Keep the list where you can look over it and add to it. Mentally give yourself credit for what you’ve accomplished in your life, and remind yourself of all you’ve done when you’re feeling uncertain or shy.
-Create an affirmation. Depending on your personality, this may sound perfectly reasonable or perfectly hokey. Whatever your opinions of it, it works. Think about what your best self would be. Creative, funny, courageous? Write it out in a sentence or two like this: “I am creative, funny, and courageous. I live my life without fear or regrets.” Repeat your affirmation to yourself several times a day, every day. Do it when you’re calm and can focus on the meaning of the words, but also use it in situations where you’re feeling nervous or shy. It won’t happen overnight, but you will slowly come to find that you believe and practice your affirmation.
-Deliberately do something you’re scared of. Nothing builds confidence more than proving to yourself that you can and will survive a tough situation. Pick something you’re scared of. It doesn’t have to be related to your shyness, although it can be if you want. Do whatever it is that makes you scared. Don’t focus on the outcome – it doesn’t matter whether you do it perfectly or not. Focus on two things: you were capable of doing it without quitting, and afterward, you’re doing okay.
As you’re building self-confidence internally, you can also work on the image you’re projecting externally. Your appearance and body language send all sorts of silent messages to everyone around you. Knowing what messages you want to send and how to send them can help you connect with other people.
Let’s start with your physical appearance. Here’s a simple truth: it doesn’t matter if you’re naturally attractive or not. It’s easy to tell yourself that it matters, that you haven’t had success with dating because you’re not as beautiful or handsome as the next girl or guy.
That kind of thinking is protective. There’s nothing you can do about your looks, right? They’re just what you got from the old gene grab-bag. It’s not your fault you aren’t a super model.
Sorry, but no. The possibly painful truth is this: the looks you’re born with don’t matter nearly as much as the image you project. Now, part of your image is tied to the clothes you wear, how you do your hair (and mainly for girls, how you do your make-up). But those things are under your control.
Even if you don’t know how to pick out flattering clothes or pick an attractive hairstyle, you can either learn or get someone to help you. (Hint: Try YouTube videos about how to do hair and make-up, plus Pinterest boards dedicated to your preferred style and body type.)
When you make an effort to look good, you send signals that you’re confident in your own appearance. After all, if you weren’t confident in your appearance, you probably wouldn’t bother to look good at all, would you? Interestingly enough, you also start to feel more confident.
Even more important than your style choices is your body language. Avoid “frightened” or “threatened” body language like hunched shoulders, crossed arms, or keeping your head down. Show confidence by keeping your head up and your body relaxed.
It’s also good to know what kind of body language sends “I’m into you” signals, both so that you can read them and send them yourself. Look for body language like:
-Holding eye contact longer than usual (but don’t stare daggers at them – hold their eyes for 3-5 seconds as you smile).
-Checking them out. Run your eyes over their face from left to right, down to the mouth, and back to the eyes, almost like a “Z” pattern that trails up at the end.
-Touching your hair. For girls, the over-the-shoulder hair flip is a sign of interest. For guys, smoothing down or fluffing up your hair (depending on the hairstyle) sends the same message.
-Smiling. It seems obvious, but don’t underestimate the simple smile. While it may not mean you’re ready to spend your life with someone, it at least signals friendliness. And for girls, the “look down as you smile, then back up” move is a strong signal of interest.
Let’s say you’ve spotted someone. You’ve both sent some silent signals across the room that let each other know you’d like to get to know one another better.
For a shy person, this moment can be terrifying. What if you screw it up? What if they’re completely turned off by you? What if you have spinach in your teeth?
The best advice for the spinach issue is to pause at the restroom and check yourself out before you go somewhere that you might meet someone. As for the other concerns, try focusing on the other person rather than yourself.ÿ
Shy people tend to get caught in a mental loop where the picture themselves doing something or being treated in some way that causes them embarrassment. In order to avoid the embarrassment, they avoid the situation. In this case, though, you want to be in the situation. You want to talk to the person you’re interested in.
To break out of the loop, don’t think about yourself. Think about the other person. Focus on what they look like, their name, details they share with you as you talk. Basically, keep your mind on them and not on yourself. As a bonus, the more you seem interested in them, the more they’re likely to like you.
Once you’ve broken the ice, you may find it easy to carry on a conversation and let your personality shine. If not, try this trick: have some “conversation fillers” in the back of your mind. It could be books you’ve read or movies you’ve seen, current events, or something related to the activity you’re doing when you meet the person. Having something to talk about when the inevitable conversation lull happens can relieve some of the pressure to be entertaining that can leave a shy person feeling tongue-tied.
Also remember that people usually love to talk about themselves. Ask questions that show you’re interested and occasionally share your own opinion or similar experience. The conversation will take on a life of its own.
Whether or not you decide to see this person again, you’ve overcome a huge hurdle: you put aside your fears and connected with another person. It may not be a whole lot easier next time, but at least you know you can do it. And it will get easier as long as you continue building your self-confidence.