Believe it or not, being shy doesn’t have to get in the way of initiating conversation with people. A study done by the University of Indiana Southeast between 1979 and 1991 found that 50 percent of respondents saw themselves as being “chronically shy.” Many shy people are able to manage their shyness and allow themselves to take the first step of dating: engaging in conversation.
Accept Your Shyness
Shyness is a form of fear of communication, according to clinical psychologist Alexander Avila, author of “The Gift of Shyness: Embrace Your Shy Side and Find Your Soul Mate.” You must acknowledge that you have a fear of initiating conversation with guys in order to overcome it. In the moment that you're faced with speaking to a guy you'd like to talk to, verbally acknowledge your fear. Say, “Hello, fear of initiation. There you are again,” recommends psychiatrist Bonnie Jacobson, in “The Shy Single: A Bold Guide to Dating for the Less-Than Bold Dater.” This will take some of the power away from your fear.
Though you may feel silly, don’t be afraid to visualize a situation where you may talk to a guy. Imagine talking to a man at a bar or the new guy at your gym. Stick to simple conversation at first; don’t feel pressured to attempt a joke or intelligent conversation. Be aware that you may not always get the reaction you’re expecting -- but don’t take it personally. He may have had a bad day or may not be in the mood to speak. The response you get may not have anything to do with you. When visualizing the conversation and the possible outcomes, visualize a positive response, as well as a less enthusiastic response. For the latter, picture yourself smiling with confidence and not letting it get to you.
Focus on the Moment
Many shy people get anxious about making conversation because they anticipate all the ways that it can go wrong. When speaking to a guy, focus on him in the moment. Don’t get ahead of yourself by imagining how you will respond to a request for a date or worrying about asking him out yourself. Take it one step at a time. Thinking too far ahead about a potential date or relationship with the guy may cause extra, unnecessary anxiety. Just focus on the moment of conversation.
Repeat a Mantra
Come up with a mantra that you can repeat to give you the confidence to be who you want to be. For example: "I am a smart person who is interesting and has a lot to say." This will help combat the negative thoughts in your head that are keeping you from talking to guys. If you keep repeating it to yourself, your mind will eventually believe it.
- The Shy Single: A Bold Guide to Dating for the Less-Than-Bold Dater; Bonnie Jacobson, Ph.D. with Sandra J. Gordon
- Living Fully With Shyness and Social Anxiety: A Comprehensive Guide to Gaining Social Confidence; Erika B. Hilliard, MSW, RSW
- The Gift of Shyness: Embrace Your Shy Side and Find Your Soul Mate; Alexander Avila, Ph.D
Sarah Casimong is a Vancouver-based writer with a Bachelor's degree in journalism from Kwantlen Polytechnic University. She writes articles on relationships, entertainment and health. Her work can be found in the "Vancouver Observer", "Her Campus" and "Cave Magazine".
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