Severe aversion to flirting
August 7, 2009 10:36 AM Subscribe
Help me overcome my fear of flirting.
posted by amillionbillion to Human Relations (18 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
Something in me utterly resists it. Whenever I meet a cute guy, I shut down. I can't meet his eye. I can't bring myself to smile at him, talk to him, even glance in his direction as I walk past. I ignore him even if my innards might be all aflutter. But it doesn't come across as sweet and shy. It comes across as "prickly cold bitch (who probably think she's too good for everyone)." I'm pretty, smart, funny, in my mid-20s - and it's been 4 years since I was asked on a date.
I think it has to do with irrational fear of rejection. I'm terrified that he won't smile back. And since I never put myself out there, I have yet to taste rejection, which just makes me dread it all the more. Every potential encounter becomes fraught, instead of just a casual opportunity for some light playful banter that doesn't have to go anywhere. Other reasons: I'm afraid of opening up / showing vulnerability / being seen as having so little dignity that I would hit on someone (yes...), so I overcompensate by being resolutely unapproachable. I'm painfully aware of how I behave and every time resolve to change. Yet in the moment, I choke and my body goes into automatic "ignore" mode.
Example: I have a crush on an owner of a popular expat cafe in town. I go there at least once a week. The first few times, I could sense his interest. Whenever I caught him looking, I'd snap my head back down. After paying (while coolly ignoring him, though my brain is screaming, "Turn head! Smile! Say hi!"), I stroll out past him. Pretty much as if he didn't exist. A few times he'd smile and try to say something, but something on my face would make his mouth snap shut. A few days ago, he joined a conversation I was having with my friend. The entire time, I alternated between barbed remarks aimed at him (incl remaining stone-faced during his amusing stories), or joking around with my friend. As if I wanted to put him in his place -- "Everyone else might think you're all that, but not me." As if I wanted him to hate me. Tonight, I finally smiled at him, too hugely and jarringly. He grimaced.
The kicker is that I go back to the US in a week. I have NOTHING TO LOSE flirting without expectation, and I STILL can't bring myself to do it.
How can I change my ways ... without hurting my fragile ego too much? (e.g. learning to put out feelers and recognize when a guy is and isn't interested, etc) The date itself would be the easy part. Daring to make the connection that would get me asked on a date is what feels scary and impossible.