Dating when shy

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Post by The Wisp on Sat Oct 18, 2014 9:49 pm

I can relate to a lot of what coin-op has said.

I have social anxiety and a fear of intimacy. So, yeah, I'm definitely shy. To put it in perspective, I was almost selectively mute while I was at my high school. I could, with effort, force awkward sentences out if a teacher called on me, or if somebody said hi, but anything beyond that was impossible. I'd often go multiple days without saying a word to anybody besides my parents and the lunch lady. I've improved, but I've still got a ways to go. For instance, it took me three attempts in three separate weeks to finally walk through the door the philosophy club to attend a meeting of it. I had to meet my therapist before hand to help me (she brought her cute puppy, which helped as well Smile).

ETA: One thing about social anxiety and shyness, in my experience, is that they feel almost like outside forces acting upon you. Weakening your arm when you try to reach to open the door to the school club, for example. It sucks.

I suppose you could say I don't date while shy. I tried making small talk with my crush in my freshman year of high school. I should have won an award for how awkward those few attempts were.

I just repressed attraction of real people for many years after that until recently. I'm now considering dipping my toes into actually trying to date, as opposed to endlessly analyzing it a priori.

This forum (and DNL's writings) have been and continue to be a huge help in a myriad of ways. I have a clearer understanding of how the social world works, I now see the diversity of personalities among women, I know roughly what I have to do to date in theory (more than I could say two years ago), and I have had some of my baggage and toxicity exposed and challenged.

So, I recently redid my questions for OKC (though the rest of my profile is still blank, insuring that I don't get any messages before I'm ready) with much more care than I had in the past. I only answered questions on issues that were very important to me, and I told myself to be more open-minded when reading profiles. For me, a lack of interaction with real life women led me to doubt whether a lady my age would want the same things I do. In browsing my new matches, I've found that they do exist! That has made more interested in maybe actually filling out my profile and doing it right this time (I half-assed it in the past because I just wanted to see if I had the guts to make a profile at all and put it out there). Maybe, maybe, I'll message someone before the year is out! Maybe I'll post the profile on the OLD thread when it is done.

So, the point is, I think for people who were as isolated as I was, engaging with the social world at all is an important first step. Taking OKC seriously, posting on this forum, going to therapy, etc. have really helped me move forward. Even if it is online, that's still social. Even if it is a paid therapist, it is still social. Engaging with other people keeps you sane and allows you to grow.
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Post by kleenestar on Sat Oct 18, 2014 11:14 pm

What's hard for me is asking for things from other people. I can carry on conversation all day, and I love to help others, but oh man, when I need something? Or if I feel like I'm inconveniencing you? I clam up, my palms start sweating, basically I choke. I've been practicing for years with things like asking my husband to get me a glass of water instead of getting it for myself, but I'm still basically only at "able to do this with people I know well and trust." If I ever ask you for a favor, that's pretty much the most vulnerable you'll ever see me. Don't know whether that counts as shy.
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Post by Coin-op Adjutant on Sun Oct 19, 2014 1:27 am

The Wisp wrote:One thing about social anxiety and shyness, in my experience, is that they feel almost like outside forces acting upon you.

Oh sweet merciful Christ, yes.  I've noticed the longer I've gone in therapy, the more vicious my jerkbrain's backtalk gets.  I'm not joking when I say as of late I've repressed the urge to just completely freak out a couple of times.

I forgot to mention, but OLD is still a complete pain for me--it's easier to talk to others online, since I'm far more verbose without being on-the-spot all the time, but there's always the looming fear of "but what if we actually have to meet in person and I'm nothing like this person was hoping for"?  (FWIW, that problem has mostly resolved itself by pretty much everyone other than one person flaking on me.  In the year or so I've had an OKC account, my efforts have yielded one IRL date. So obviously I still have some work to do on that front.
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Post by nearly_takuan on Sun Oct 19, 2014 5:25 am

kleenestar wrote:What's hard for me is asking for things from other people. I can carry on conversation all day, and I love to help others, but oh man, when I need something? Or if I feel like I'm inconveniencing you? I clam up, my palms start sweating, basically I choke. I've been practicing for years with things like asking my husband to get me a glass of water instead of getting it for myself, but I'm still basically only at "able to do this with people I know well and trust." If I ever ask you for a favor, that's pretty much the most vulnerable you'll ever see me. Don't know whether that counts as shy.

I don't get to the point where I clam up and my palms sweat because I just can't/won't/don't do it.

I don't know if you're asserting something about yourself or just speculating, but I think what you're saying about vulnerability does apply to me. I don't like admitting that I need something, or want it, if I can picture even a brief disruption in someone else's plans (which is easy to do). I don't like when people pay any kind of cost on my behalf (even though I'm aware that people do it all the time and I just don't always see it). To the point where sometimes I try to wait to take out the trash/recycling until my roommate is gone because if he sees me start doing it he'll try to help and I'll feel guilty for him choosing to help me move his garbage outside. Other roommate had to talk me into letting her pick up hydrogen peroxide and gauze for me when she went to the store because I wasn't supposed to be walking for extended periods of time. Asking for someone else to fetch me a glass of water when I'm physically capable of doing it? Death, first!

Oddly, less innocuous things are...not easier, but more possible, if that makes sense. If I see it as sufficiently important and there's no other way of doing it (i.e. this is the path of least resistance) then I can sometimes work myself up to going through with it anyway. But it's still really awkward/uncomfortable and I think that comes through a lot. Stuttering being my "tell" for when I'm feeling rushed or uncomfortable in a situation doesn't help make me less self-conscious about it either.
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Post by Guest on Wed Nov 26, 2014 5:18 am

A bit late but, as a shy person who hasn't exactly dipped his toes into dating in the first place, I can at least approach this from general social interactions.

I fall into the 'cannot handle groups' shy people - this includes being in large groups or trying to make conversation in them. The moment there are too many voices for me I just shut up and speak only when spoken to.

Initiating conversation is incredibly nerve wracking for some reason. If other people initiate, I'm a little taken off-guard sometimes but I can talk. Actually putting my own foot in it? Yikes, brown trousers time. I sweat, shake, my poor speech is amplified etc. It's not pretty.

I can imagine a lot of my problems will actually just be talking to someone period as a first step. Can very well ask someone out without talking to them, can you? Can't very well ask them out without building a rapport either, but if I'm comfortable enough after initial contact with people then talking further is okay.

However, I've found that it doesn't matter how well I know a person, I can still find it very difficult to initiate conversation. There's tons of reasons - I don't know if they want to talk to me, I could be interrupting something, general anxiety etc. It's going to be one hell of a problem to fix.

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