An introvert in an extrovert's world - Teach a perennial shy guy how to navigate dating and relationships
Early 30s male who's shyness/introversion is causing ongoing issues when it comes to dating and socializing. I tried everything (talking to friends, reading books/articles, even trying therapy) and I've come to the conclusion that I have three closely related problems:
1) I'm generally a bit quiet. I've always been painfully shy, and while I used to hate it, I've finally come to accept it as a fundamental part of my personalty these past few years. The shyness isn't debilitating - I still maintain a small circle of friends, go out to many social events and will maintain communication with friends and family, but I still have to be "drawn out" of my shell a bit when around people I don't know well. Not good in dating situations at all.
2) I'm extremely timid. It's not that I'm gutless (far from it actually - I've done a lot of brave/stupid things in my life), it's just that I'm an introvert who usually doesn't feel the need/desire to assert myself in social situations. As a result, I tend to rarely intrude on people, and won't make conversation with someone I don't know unless they talk to me first. Again, not good in dating situations at all.
3) Perhaps the biggest issue: I rarely (if ever) feel the desire to actively chase
potential romantic interests, even if I find them attractive! As you can probably guess from the first two points, I'm not exactly assertive, and this seems to be a major problem in the world of dating. I generally don't flirt or show serious interest (like ask for a phone number or follow up on a first date) unless I am getting extremely
clear, unambiguous "I am very much interested" signs. Unfortunately, such signs are kind of rare, so I miss out on a lot of "maybes" that I should have probably kept pursuing. But even if the chemistry is reasonably good, I still sometimes get doubts (what if I come on too strong, etc) and won't actually follow through. Obviously this is a rather major issue - for better or worse, us guys are expected to be the ones doing the chasing.
I've talked to a few female friends about these issues in the past, and they all seem to agree with the above. Unfortunately, the suggestions I get are always vague and not very useful ("just talk to them, don't be shy!") ("be more of a flirt! they won't mind!"). At least I seem to get the impression from them that I'm an excellent catch in all other aspects: I dress nice and get told I'm attractive, I love kids, I'm well-read and travel frequently, I have a stable high-paying job I love, and I'm generally friendly and thoughtful (and sometimes even a bit fun/jovial once I'm comfortable around you) - but I just can't get past the timid shyness.
I know everyone on here is going to suggest online dating - I've tried it and honestly I'm burned out on it. While I'm a good writer and do fantastic with the initial contact, I virtually always hit a brick wall when we meet in real life. Yes it is a great tool for us introverts, but I feel I've gotten everything I can out of it and need to focus on meeting and developing romantic interests offline.
On a side note, I noticed many similarities between myself and the guy in this recent thread
- the original poster's less-than-stellar opinion of him is giving me even more motivation to figure this out.
So any suggestions to beat the shyness and have a shot at normal relationships? For that matter, can shyness be "beat" at all, or is this one of those things you just have to learn to live with?