How to get out from behind the computer screen

Dear Lisa,

I’m shy. Hide me behind a computer monitor though, and I have no problem getting that first date, be it via an online dating sites or, dare I say, Craigslist. Which solves the issue of never being able to meet a woman in person or at a club (which is still a problem I guess, but fine with an online bandaid for now).

I also find that my shyness gives the woman the impression that I am lacking the interest depth when in reality that is far from the truth. The irony of it all is the more I like her, the shyer I get. Any advice other than ‘grow some balls’ or ‘join toastmasters’?

–Herman the Hermit (♂ Surrey)


 

Dear Herman the Hermit,

Shyness has a variety of sources, but in this case my guess is fear; fear of rejection after making a bad impression and seeming stupidly shallow is making you shy around the women you enjoy most. To meet women in the way you desire, you need to be able to get through this fear and do what all dudes have to do despite it

The answer isn’t simple: it starts with recognizing the dependence between fear and self love. You have to like yourself enough to feel you have something to offer women, and then love yourself enough to recognize that those who don’t want it are probably not the sort of women you want to get close to anyway. The people I know who are most successful with this mind-frame have practiced taking chances and failing until they can honestly say that the woman just wasn’t for them.

For example, this story you have that because of your shyness, women find you to lack depth or interesting qualities, is just a story. A story! You made up this story (and you probably have heaps of evidence to justify it) that from my limited outsider perspective, seems to have an equally probable opposite; that perhaps women find you too deep, or too mysterious because of your shyness and likewise feel intimidated by your shyness.

The point is, when we’re afraid, we make up stories to justify our fears (think: what’s that sound? Oh god, it’s a bear. Right?) If you’re going to make up a story, make it good for you! Scaring yourself into a corner isn’t going to help you take the leap.

As you chip away at this self love thing (which takes time, I’m afraid) there are a couple of practicalities.

  1. Skills: Talking to people (not just potential mates) takes skills such as deep listening, maintaining conversation, expressing opinions eye contact, interpreting body language & facial expressions, empathy, helping others feel comfortable, feeling comfortable yourself(!), timing etc. and skills like these take…
  2. 2. Practice: You know that feeling when you’ve been cooped up inside all winter and you go to that first potluck or party of the spring… and you have no idea what to do with your hands when you’re standing, or what to say to start a conversation? That’s a version of what is happening when you slip out from behind your computer monitor – you’ve practiced being a hermit for a long time. You’re going to need some practice at being social.

You’re right, growing balls and joining toastmasters aren’t the only answers.

I suggest putting your computer skills to good use and looking up some how to’s for improving the social skills you lack, then trying them out with your friends and family. Once you get comfortable, test them out on a store clerk or gas station attendant. As you get more comfortable, you will find yourself looking for a challenge – such as a longer conversation with a stranger, or approaching that hot barista at Starbucks you’ve had an eye for.

As you put yourself out there, don’t forget about self love: remember that failure or rejection aren’t signs that you suck as a person, only that you need to keep on building and practicing your skills.

Lastly, want to address this idea of appearing interesting. My guess is that you worry that women find you uninteresting because… well, you find yourself uninteresting. Interesting people love their lives – they are passionate about their work, their hobbies and their causes. They deeply love their families and friends and are intensely invested in the moment. The closer you get to living this sort of life for yourself, the less you will find yourself hoping that you appear interesting, naturally.

Feel free to ask more about specifics & let me know how it goes for you!

– Lisa

 


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