Being overly shy can really put the brakes on your love life. Not being able to make conversation, flirt or feel at ease on a date really knocks your confidence and self-belief. Shyness often shows itself in dating through an avoidance of relationships and dates. It can mean you are too frightened or nervous to speak to someone you fancy or feel ‘sexually shy’ in bed. Your body image frequently takes a knock, and even if you are actively dating your worries about appearance progress quickly to a halt in the bedroom. Though this is one of the most common problems faced by people every day, overcome shyness when dating will lead you to more fun and enjoyable experiences.
Dating is brave
Allowing ourselves to dream of a new life with a loving partner is a brave move to make. The dating world can feel brutal and when entering the dating game we need to accept early on that finding a partner can be challenging. Searching for that special someone is a numbers game and it takes time. We must have the resilience to keep going, knowing always that we will find that person, we just need to continue to look for them.
Where does shyness come from?
Though many people believe they have always been shy, few people are shy in every area of their lives. Often, shyness in dating stems from a lack of knowledge and experience, damaging past experiences or low self-esteem. Perhaps you’ve had little experience within relationships and now find yourself wanting to meet someone. Many people concentrate solely on their careers in the 20s and don’t seek a relationship until their early 30s. When they finally do so, meeting someone can feel like a mine field. Though these challenges can feel overwhelming at first, with practice you can work to gain knowledge and experience and build confidence.
Does being shy limit you?
There is a key difference between a quiet, introverted, unassuming and timid person and an overly shy one. If shyness limits you, then it’s important to work to overcome this. If, however, you are, simply a quiet person who is able to express their thoughts, emotions, wants and needs then this is simply your nature. Shyness is only an issue if it stops you from moving forward and achieving the things you want.
When working to overcome shyness, you need to accept yourself first. Acceptance is key to this process and knowing what you want and what you don’t want will help you build confidence. Ask yourself what you are looking for in a relationship. Don’t consider whether this is ‘normal’ or not, simply work to accept your wishes and desires. From a sexual perspective, examine your needs – what turns you on? What do you like in bed? What tickles your fancy? You can write a list of 5 things that really excite you about a partner. For example, are you PDA lover (public displays of affection)? Does nothing excite you more than walking down the street holding hands and being super-close? Are you looking for someone who makes you laugh or who you can talk to for hours on end without ever getting bored? Writing a list of your wishes might feel uncomfortable because underneath this you may feel you don’t deserve these things, but expressing them and accepting that these are the things you are looking for is the most important first step.
You and your body
Did you know that approximately 91% of women are unhappy with their body? Though men tend to struggle less with body image, the figure for men is rising and more and more men are feeling self-conscious about their looks and appearance. Bear this in mind when dating. If you don’t feel sexy and attractive, you are unlikely to want to get naked with another person. Again, in terms of our body image, acceptance is key. You need to work to accept those gorgeous parts of your body and appreciate the things you cannot change. It helps here to think back to times when you’ve received a compliment about your appearance – what feedback did you receive? Did someone compliment your eyes or your smile? Work to accentuate those positives and walk into a date loving the parts of your body you are proud of.
Before entering a sexual situation ensure you’ve double-checked your myths about sex and intimacy. If you indulge in the media rhetoric about all-night sex sessions and body image you will feel incredibly awkward in a sexual situation. True intimacy is built on connection. There is simply nothing more intense than a deep conversation about how we feel. Women often complain about a lack of foreplay in the bedroom and this includes talking. Kissing, holding hands, sharing intimate thoughts and vulnerabilities is a key to intimacy. Talk about your feelings and express your sexual needs and wants. Ditch the idea about the perfect body and marathon sex sessions. Set your own expectations and goals.
The right person
If you feel pressure to ‘perform’ then consider if this is the right person for you. You need someone kind, affectionate and soulful, not a measuring stick. Remember ‘comparison is the thief of joy’. The right person will accept and love your body. They will be compassionate and kind and listen to you. They will accept your vulnerabilities and insecurities and not seek to change you.
If you think a date will leave you tongue-twisted, practice ahead and write down conversation topics, stories and interesting facts you’d like to share. If you get stuck, ask lots of questions, this takes the pressure off you and gives your date the opportunity to talk. Don’t feel afraid to admit that you are a bit nervous and shy, you may be surprised by your date’s response. Being shy is not a bad thing, it’s actually very endearing and gives the other person a chance to understand you. Don’t feel afraid to be your true self. Prepare for dates, practice to what to say, wear comfortable clothes and pick a venue where you feel comfortable.
Shyness is a common problem to many people. It can be overcome through your own effort but sometimes you may need some additional support. A therapist can help to build confidence and work through shyness in preparation for a date. Asking for support to overcome shyness or any other dating related issue is a courageous thing to do. The support of a professional can accelerate your learning and set you on the right path to love.