Where to start? (adv)

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Where to start? (adv)

Post by Dannyboy on Fri Jun 05, 2015 4:58 am

Hello, I'm new here, trying to improve my life, and I'm kind of overwhelmed.

I just recently graduated college as a history major, and I intend to go on to the graduate school to get my masters in library science. The thing is, I don't have any friends and I haven't since my freshman year of high school. I've had plenty acquaintances, I talked to my fellow students and I'm friendly with my co-workers, but I Haven't hung out with anyone besides my immediate family and occasionally my brothers' friends (yes, I am that pathetic, lol). I have tried to make friends, I joined a couple of geeky clubs in college but never became much more than the quiet guy who occasionally told jokes. Part of my problem is that I'm initially shy, especially in clubs where everybody is already friends because I feel as if they probably wouldn't want to add me to their group of friends. The other part of the problem is that, even though I've had lengthy, friendly conversations with people,I've never gotten to the stage where we hung out together.

My other problem, of course, is that I've never had a girlfriend. I don't have a problem talking to girls, even attractive ones, but I've never talked to one with the intention of trying to seduce them. My parents have tried to prod me to flirt with several girls, but I honestly feel like there would be no point because I know that they would probably reject me. I've thought about trying online dating but, since I'm short (5'6), I'm don't know if I should even bother.

Anyway, the point of all this rambling is this: I know that I have problems connecting with people because of my shyness/low social skills, and I know that I need to learn to approach women if I don't want to die alone...but where do I begin. Should I start by spending several years building up my social skills in order to make friends before I start approaching women? Should I first learn some great skill that'll make me attractive to women and friends? Should I just...join every social club I can and see if I make connections?

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Re: Where to start? (adv)

Post by Enail on Fri Jun 05, 2015 12:20 pm

Welcome, Dannyboy!

I think where you should begin depends on what you'd like to achieve! You talk about what your parents want, and what you don't have, but what do you want? Would you like to have friends? Are any of your friendly acquaintances people you'd like to be closer to, or would you rather meet different potential friends? Do you know women that you would like to ask out or be able to flirt with? Do you want to meet potential girlfriends?

It sounds to me like you already have a fair set of social skills, if you're having long friendly conversations with people. If you want to make closer connections, a good next step might be to practice ignoring your assumptions that you wouldn't be wanted and stepping up to do the inviting yourself. If you think someone's cool and you seem to get on well, you're allowed to just suggest doing something together, you don't have to wait for some mysterious stage where it somehow just happens automatically or until the Coolness Fairy comes by and gives you your badge of Popularity!
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Re: Where to start? (adv)

Post by Caffeinated on Fri Jun 05, 2015 5:31 pm

Dannyboy wrote:I Haven't hung out with anyone besides my immediate family and occasionally my brothers' friends (yes, I am that pathetic, lol).

Hi Dannyboy, welcome! I'd like to chime in to say that it's not pathetic to hang out with your brothers' friends. Maybe it seemed that way when you were all kids, especially if there was an age difference of more than a year or two, because when you're a kid the whole same-age thing is a bigger deal. But one of the ways people make friends is hanging out with people who are in their network, like friends of a friend or family member. If you get along, no reason not to become friends.
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Re: Where to start? (adv)

Post by jcorozza on Sat Jun 06, 2015 9:28 am

Agree with Caffeinated - hanging with a sibling/sibling's friends is fine, especially after high school. Also, the whole, "oh, shit, I don't have friends/a social group" is something a lot of people experience post-college. I was mostly sick of my college friends by graduation, but ended up making really close friends in my grad program- depending on how large your grad cohort is, this can be a huge asset. Annnnd then I moved and had to do the whole thing over.

As far as online dating...there's a lot of things that can influence this. If you live in the middle of nowhere, and there's no civilization for 50 miles? Yeah, you probably won't be successful. But if you live in the suburbs/in a city, even if it's not a major one, there are usually a decent amount of people. As for the short thing, one of the two boyfriends I met online is 5'5". He met his current girlfriend pretty quickly after he broke up with me. He certainly didn't have a hard time because of it, because he didn't go into it seeing it as a huge handicap. Yes, there will be people who won't consider you because of your height. They aren't the majority, though. So if that's the only thing holding you back, go for it. You may like it, you may not.
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Re: Where to start? (adv)

Post by Guest on Sun Jun 07, 2015 4:03 am

Start improving on your social skills (If that's what you really want). The benefits of having a good social foundation will permeate into other areas of your life (Making social connections in a new place, making good impressions to a prospective employer, finding good dates etc.)

This may be a useful place to start: http://www.succeedsocially.com/

Dannyboy wrote:...but, since I'm short (5'6)...

Oh geez, I wouldn't have said that Loopy

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Re: Where to start? (adv)

Post by Hirundo Bos on Sun Jun 07, 2015 6:36 am

Hi, and welcome. Hirundo here. Somewhat sexually and romantically active in my twenties, but not at all for the last many years. I am someone who frequently have trouble knowing where to start with things. The world can be noisy, blurry, confusing, I get overwhelmed by all the possibilities, and all the work I see ahead of me... but when I find a starting point, I find I can narrow all of that down. Reduce all the possibilities to a few, comprehensible ones. Reduce all the work ahead to just the next step, and the next, and the next after that. And things tend to fall into place surprisingly fast after that... and then I find a new starting place, and a new one.

I've also found that although I haven't quite reached the goal of establishing sexual and/or romantic connections, the work has given me so many other rewards. I've learned to deal with myself in better ways, to nudge at my own limitations in ways that doesn't drain me or scare me back to where I started, to reconnect with old friends, to start to make new ones, to enjoy myself at social gatherings, to pick up and make progress with my writing, and I've recently found a place to live and moved out of my mother's apartment.

Or in other words, I think that exactly where you begin is less important than finding somewhere to begin. And that the best guide is your own feelings, your own curiosity. Some smaller thing you'd like to accomplish, something you're enthusiastic about, something where you can sense your own progress. After a while, hopefully, small changes will start to accumulate and turn into larger ones, probably in unforeseen ways.

It can be hard, frustrating, provoke anxiety, but in my experience, there's a lot of fun and rewards to be had along the way as well.
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Re: Where to start? (adv)

Post by PintsizeBro on Sun Jun 07, 2015 1:06 pm

Online dating gets best results if you have some good pictures of yourself and are good at expressing yourself in writing. Being short is a handicap, but not a game-ender.

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Re: Where to start? (adv)

Post by Dan_Brodribb on Sun Jun 07, 2015 3:05 pm

Dannyboy wrote:I know that I have problems connecting with people because of my shyness/low social skills, and I know that I need to learn to approach women if I don't want to die alone...but where do I begin. Should I start by spending several years building up my social skills in order to make friends before I start approaching women? Should I first learn some great skill that'll make me attractive to women and friends? Should I just...join every social club I can and see if I make connections?

It sounds like you believe you aren't 'good enough' socially yet and you believe you need to reach a certain level before you can be in a relationship.

If so, I have some experience with that line of thinking. The problem I found was that 'good enough' was a moving target. If I made eye contact with a woman and smiled, I was mad I didn't talk to her. If I talked to a woman, I was mad I didn't ask for her phone number.

Even once I got into relationships, I tended them to see them in 'technical' terms, like there was a correct way of doing them that I didn't know about and if I could just learn the right things to say and do in every possible situation, I would 'do the relationship right' and we would be happy together and I would never feel badly again.

Over the years I've found it more helpful to accept that all I can do is the best I can with the knowledge, skills, and experience I have available to me at the time. I've also been pleasantly surprised to discover that my best is often more than I think I'm capable of.

The specific thing that helped me the most was to go out and make contact with at least three strangers every day whether I felt like it or not.

Some days it went well. Other days it didn't. Sometimes the best I could manage was to make brief eye contact and smile. Other days, I would see someone from a distance and the thought of interacting with them left me so nervous  I would start to walk in another direction so I would have an excuse not to talk to them.

Other days though, things went really well.

It was great because I got social experience, learned how to talk to people, and read cues, etc. But it was also valuable because I got experience with things going wrong and realized that I would survive if I was rejected or misunderstood or said something stupid or awkward. I also learned other people aren't made out of glass and are going to shatter into a million pieces if I accidentally make them feel uncomfortable or creeped out.

So yeah. I would make contact with three strangers a day and see what happens. And if you have energy to do more beyond that (online dating, joining clubs), do those things as you feel comfortable or the ones that seem the most interesting to you.

Have fun!

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Re: Where to start? (adv)

Post by Dannyboy on Tue Jun 09, 2015 10:47 pm

Thanks for all of the replies everyone!

Enail: I don't know... I want to have some people out there (besides my immediate family) that I could hang out with, share problems with, a group of people to fight for. I'd also like feel love, to have some to hug, kiss and snuggle with... although I admit a great part of my desire for a girlfriend comes from social pressure. Anyway, I don't know anyone who could be a potential friend (or girlfriend.) I'm trying to find clubs with similar interests to mine but I honestly don't know if I have interests. I like video games, obviously, I enjoy hiking and biking non-competitively, I enjoy classical literature when I can find the will to tear myself away from my computer, I'm an aspiring writer, and I have left wing political views. Are these interests, things that can help me meet friends? Or do I need to bring something to the table like some great skill (i.e. ability to play guitar, ability fix cars, etc.).

Anyway, I've done some things in the meantime to try and meet people. I found two groups on meetup.com that I hope I might fit in with. The first one is a feminist group which is meeting next week, it seems like an interesting group but I'm afraid they might think I'm just there to pick up chicks. The second one is a "bike and beer" club, in which members take long, non-competitive bikes rides and then stop at pubs. I like to bike and a like to drink (though maybe a bit too much... but that's another thread), so I might fit in there, though I'm still not sure. In addition I signed up with the local Red Cross to meet people and hopefully help others. I'm bit wary though, because the last I volunteered was at a soup kitchen and they had so many people volunteering there that they just gave me a make-work job, I felt like everything I did there was pointless and didn't help anybody.

Caffeinated and Jcorozza: Yeah, I realize that was unnecessarily self-deprecating. My older brother's friend was the closest thing I had to companionship in High School, they'd invite me to their get togethers and stuff like that. Unfortunately now he's in Montana and my older brother doesn't really hang out with anybody in person nowadays. I enjoy hanging out with my little brother, and I get along with his friends okay, but their still in High School so I don't hang-out with them.

As far as online dating goes, it appeals to me because the idea of talking up a stranger uninvited in public for the purposes of having a romantic relationship with them feels really alien to me. I asked about height thing because I've heard a lot of short men complain about online dating, its good to know I might have a chance at success on a site.

Hermit The Toad: Thanks for the link! That site is very informative, I've spent hours looking it over. As for the height thing, what shouldn't I have mentioned that?

Hirundo Bos: I have to say that I admire how much progress you seem to have made. I can't seem to get started on my story ideas, and I sadly still live at home (my job can't pay for both an apartment and my student loans). Thanks for that inspiring story! I know that I have to take small steps, I just feel so behind my peers, its hard not to try and do everything at once.

Dan Brodribb: Thanks for the advice! So, you're saying that I should just, randomly talk to strangers while I'm out? Or should I just join a group where socializing is expected?

Thanks again for all the replies guys. So for this being all wordy and weird.

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Re: Where to start? (adv)

Post by Enail on Tue Jun 09, 2015 11:20 pm

Dannyboy wrote:
I'm trying to find clubs with similar interests to mine but I honestly don't know if I have interests. I like video games, obviously, I enjoy hiking and biking non-competitively, I enjoy classical literature when I can find the will to tear myself away from my computer, I'm an aspiring writer, and I have left wing political views. Are these interests, things that can help me meet friends? Or do I need to bring something to the table like some great skill (i.e. ability to play guitar, ability fix cars, etc.).

Those absolutely count as interests, and it helps that you've got some interests that lend themselves well to socializing! And I don't think skills really make much difference to a friendship. I mean, not that most people would object to a friend being amazing at guitar or being able to fix their car, but a friendship is going to be based on enjoying each other's company, which means it's your personality that will decide if you click and common interests will help you find topics to connect on or activities to enjoy together. Someone who enjoys your guitar-playing or car-fixing but not your company is not a friend, but the reverse is.


Anyway, I've done some things in the meantime to try and meet people. I found two groups on meetup.com that I hope I might fit in with. The first one is a feminist group which is meeting next week, it seems like an interesting group but I'm afraid they might think I'm just there to pick up chicks. The second one is a "bike and beer" club, in which members take long, non-competitive bikes rides and then stop at pubs. I like to bike and a like to drink (though maybe a bit too much... but that's another thread), so I might fit in there, though I'm still not sure. In addition I signed up with the local Red Cross to meet people and hopefully help others. I'm bit wary though, because the last I volunteered was at a soup kitchen and they had so many people volunteering there that they just gave me a make-work job, I felt like everything I did there was pointless and didn't help anybody.

These sound like good ones to try, I think you've got the right idea! You might do better to just focus on making friends rather than trying to flirt or ask women out at the feminist group since you're worried about giving the wrong impression. Do keep in mind that it can take some time to develop friendships from people at a shared activity, so be patient - look for a friendly group and an activity you can enjoy in its own right rather than expecting to meet best friends right away (but move on and find something else you'd like better if you don't like the overall group vibe or will find it a waste of time if you don't make friends quickly).
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Re: Where to start? (adv)

Post by Guest on Wed Jun 10, 2015 7:24 am

Dannyboy wrote:
As for the height thing, [why] shouldn't I have mentioned that?

Because that topic never really had a history of being considered with respect.

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Re: Where to start? (adv)

Post by Caffeinated on Wed Jun 10, 2015 2:43 pm

Dannyboy wrote:...I'm an aspiring writer...

Anyway, I've done some things in the meantime to try and meet people. I found two groups on meetup.com that I hope I might fit in with. The first one is a feminist group which is meeting next week, it seems like an interesting group but I'm afraid they might think I'm just there to pick up chicks. The second one is a "bike and beer" club, in which members take long, non-competitive bikes rides and then stop at pubs. I like to bike and a like to drink (though maybe a bit too much... but that's another thread), so I might fit in there, though I'm still not sure. In addition I signed up with the local Red Cross to meet people and hopefully help others. I'm bit wary though, because the last I volunteered was at a soup kitchen and they had so many people volunteering there that they just gave me a make-work job, I felt like everything I did there was pointless and didn't help anybody.

Meetup is a good way to meet people, especially since you want more friends/a bigger social circle in general. I looked at meetup for your city, and a bunch of good ones jumped out at me. Definitely give some meetups a try, and don't worry if you try one a few times and don't like it. Just pick a different group and go to some of their things. Repeat until you find the right mix for you.

Also, aspiring writer? Join a writers' group! (Or start one.) Great for both socializing and getting motivated to write.
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Re: Where to start? (adv)

Post by Dan_Brodribb on Wed Jun 10, 2015 3:32 pm

Dannyboy wrote:

Dan Brodribb: Thanks for the advice! So, you're saying that I should just, randomly talk to strangers while I'm out? Or should I just join a group where socializing is expected?

There's no rule that says you can't do both Smile

I would say it comes down to how much time, energy, and commitment you have. I noticed consistency helped more than time--a few minutes every day was more valuable than doing hours once a month.

The nice thing about strangers when you're out is that you can do it while you're doing other things anyway, so being social becomes part of your everyday life.

I'd encourage you to start small if you need to and also to expect to feel anxious--sometimes strongly anxious. It's a normal thing, and for me it never totally went away.

But my social skills grew by leaps and bounds and I learned a ton about myself as well. And it can be quite a rush when you do something you didn't think was possible.



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Re: Where to start? (adv)

Post by Dannyboy on Wed Jun 10, 2015 6:37 pm

Caffeinated wrote:
Meetup is a good way to meet people, especially since you want more friends/a bigger social circle in general. I looked at meetup for your city, and a bunch of good ones jumped out at me. Definitely give some meetups a try, and don't worry if you try one a few times and don't like it. Just pick a different group and go to some of their things. Repeat until you find the right mix for you.

Also, aspiring writer? Join a writers' group! (Or start one.) Great for both socializing and getting motivated to write.

Alright then, good to know I'm headed in the right direction! Yeah, I was hoping to find a writing group, I had a lot of fun in my local library's teen writing group when I was but a lad, but sadly the one on Meetup only meets on days when I'm working. Still, I might try to find one outside of Meetup. Thanks for replying!

Dan_Brodribb wrote:
There's no rule that says you can't do both Smile

I would say it comes down to how much time, energy, and commitment you have. I noticed consistency helped more than time--a few minutes every day was more valuable than doing hours once a month.

The nice thing about strangers when you're out is that you can do it while you're doing other things anyway, so being social becomes part of your everyday life.

I'd encourage you to start small if you need to and also to expect to feel anxious--sometimes strongly anxious. It's a normal thing, and for me it never totally went away.

But my social skills grew by leaps and bounds and I learned a ton about myself as well. And it can be quite a rush when you do something you didn't think was possible.

Well, I'll try it out, though I'm really uncomfortable approaching complete strangers. But, like you said, you gotta face your fears if you're going to improve. Thanks again for the advice, I'll it out when I go biking next Smile .

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Re: Where to start? (adv)

Post by PintsizeBro on Wed Jun 10, 2015 7:07 pm

Being short is really not that big a deal if you're doing well in other areas.

Trust me on this one. Wink

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