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Guys: Is nervousness in a girl always a turn-off?
February 2, 2014 6:40 AM   Subscribe

Sometimes I just feel so awkward when I meet a seemingly eligible, nice guy. I feel certain that it is obvious that I am nervous and then I start feeling self-conscious about my nervousness. I feel like there is a stereotype of the sort of sweetly nervous, somewhat awkward nice guy that girls may like because his sweet, nice, nervousness means he is a nice guy who likes you. Does this go the other way at all?

I just feel like there is some expectation that women should be aloof and laid back and not care if a man likes her or not. I am just not good at embodying this . . . not that I am totally unable to carry on a conversation with someone I like or anything, just that I find myself getting a little shifty eyed and shy when I am talking to someone I would like to go out with. Something to work on, sure, and it probably has something to do with confidence (though I feel like I like myself well enough most of the time, sometimes I just feel like I have habits left over from when I was being younger that maybe make me seem less confident than I am). But I am just curious if this is necessarily a turn off for guys. Thanks!
posted by thesnowyslaps to Human Relations (24 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Not a problem.
posted by jon1270 at 6:49 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]


It's amazing what guys are oblivious to! I say that with love. And really, most people, especially when we're young are so self-critical and inwardly focused that we don't notice peculiarities of the people around us. So, first off, relax. Breathe. Slow your roll. Men are people, too!
posted by amanda at 7:04 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


I would think that behaving in any way other than who you truly are at any given moment, especially with someone you are attracted to, would be more of a turn-off for them.
posted by Danf at 7:08 AM on February 2 [2 favorites]


This question is really a bit broad. It's not that I don't empathize, it's just that it really depends on the guy, it depends on what your actual behaviors are like, which we don't know, and it also depends on how the guy feels about you.

I do think that shyness and nervousness can be read as disinterest by both men and women, though. And I don't think that people who are aloof, while they may be seen as attractive, are seen as approachable. So cultivating aloofness is probably not the way to go.
posted by bearette at 7:08 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


I feel like there is a stereotype of the sort of sweetly nervous, somewhat awkward nice guy that girls may like because his sweet, nice, nervousness means he is a nice guy who likes you. Does this go the other way at all?

I just feel like there is some expectation that women should be aloof and laid back and not care if a man likes her or not.


If anything, I would say it's exactly the opposite — that women are the only ones who are allowed to be nervous and awkward, and there's much more pressure on men to be cool and confident.
posted by John Cohen at 7:11 AM on February 2 [7 favorites]


Depends on your age. I would say up until about age 77, it is not a problem at all. In fact, some would consider it a turn on. After 77, time is too short to be nervous about some other old coot.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:11 AM on February 2 [22 favorites]


I find myself getting a little shifty eyed and shy when I am talking to someone I would like to go out with.

What guys are looking for is some indication or signal that you will be receptive to his overtures. I can imagine that some guys will read your reactions you describe as a desire to get away from him, so some guys will not pursue things any further of they see you reacting to him that way.
posted by deanc at 7:16 AM on February 2 [5 favorites]


Awkwardness is usually more of an internal feeling than an external behavior. Most of us, men and women alike, feel super awkward on the inside, especially around someone we're attracted to. It rarely shows as much as we think it does. And when it does, it's often forgivable. You're fine!
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:20 AM on February 2 [2 favorites]


If someone really llikes you, whatever you do will be interesting or attractive. Anyone who loses apparent interest because you are shy/friendly/aloof/chatty/nervous/silly/serious etc. isn't really someone you want to get to know.

You want to get to know people who like you just the way you are. Some people will even be fascinated by the way you are, so keep a look out for those!
posted by Locochona at 7:33 AM on February 2 [10 favorites]


Not once in my life have I heard a guy say "I met this girl who was awesome but then I noticed how nervous she was, and, then, naah." The real concern could be if nervous behavior is obscuring your intelligence, beauty, approachability, or humor, any of which is certainly possible, especially approachability.

Also -- aloofness is an attractive thing to have organically (appeals to that status-hungry primate in all of us) but a counter-productive thing to cultivate (a choosy kind of approachability is going to get a lot more people actually trying to get to know you better).
posted by MattD at 7:43 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]


It really depends on the guy.

Some guys would find it insanely endearing and adorable. Some guys would find it awkward and odd and not want to approach you.

I think that in society, we have an impression that being shy or nervous is really really bad and must be eradicated. Everyone wants confidence! Everyone wants someone who doesn't need anyone but themselves, etc. Suddenly 'sweet, awkward, nervous, and 'nice' are the ultimate insult. It didn't used to be-- but it is now. Especially for men, but I feel women are taking a hit too.

I think it's important to deconstruct these beliefs, as they too often are notions that people should all be the same. That there is a 'right' way to be (everyone likes confidence!) that isn't necessarily true.

I think it's important to recognize that your shy sides of you don't need to be eradicated and are not something 'bad' necessarily. It's okay to be a little nervous. It's okay to be shy. As long as its not interfering with your life, embrace it as part of you. It's better than acting like something you're not.

As Locochona said, anyone that would make you feel bad for you being you is not worth associating with anyway.
posted by Dimes at 7:47 AM on February 2 [14 favorites]


Guys are just people. The kind, nice ones that you probably want to go out with would probably not view this as a problem, or at worst, would look on it with compassion. And you don't want to waste your time with the others anyway.
posted by navizzar at 7:56 AM on February 2 [2 favorites]


While no one can speak for all guys, personally I don't mind at all (as long as it isn't so extreme that it is interfering with our interaction), and it can even be reassuring in a way. "Oh, good, I'm not the only one who's nervous here!"

Also, what Locochona says.
posted by lharmon at 7:57 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


The real problem from the guy's end is deciding if you're interested but nervous (great!), or uncomfortable and just trying to be nice until you can get away (awkward). The jitters, by themselves, aren't a turn off at all.
posted by bonehead at 8:10 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]


It depends on how the nervousness manifests itself. If it's cute nervousness it's not a turn-off, but if it's creepy nervousness, it is.
posted by BabeTheBlueOX at 9:14 AM on February 2


I've always been insecure socially. When I was single, I was usually intimidated by women, at least at first. Nervousness was an endearing trait to me, as it made the woman seem less threatening.
posted by alex1965 at 9:25 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


Aloofness really really doesn't work. Guys are looking for a signal that its ok to approach, and aloofness turns all those signals off.

So if you're shy or nervous and aiming for aloof, it's probably coming across as really unapproachable or even mean.

Instead aim for being really kind and nice. I'm guessing a lot of guys out there will find a shy smile really attractive. And certainly approachable!
posted by susiswimmer at 11:13 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


If I'm interacting with anyone, a man, a woman, a kid or for that matter a cat or a dog and I see that they are apprehensive it does make me worry that I'm presenting as agressive. People adjust their behavior all the time in response to how they feel themselves to be percieved though.
posted by vapidave at 12:05 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


Is nervousness in a girl always a turn-off?

The corollary of this may be 'Is confidence always a turn-on'? The answer is pretty much the same.

No, but usually.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:17 PM on February 2


It would make me think that the girl liked me.
posted by Sebmojo at 12:42 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


The real problem from the guy's end is deciding if you're interested but nervous (great!), or uncomfortable and just trying to be nice until you can get away (awkward).

Bonehead's belying his username, here, and is right on target. Do your best not to totally fail at signalling interest, and the rest can usually work itself out. I've just hit 12 years of dating + marriage to the guy who was convinced on our first date that he must have completely blown it over dinner, because I had a small but highly awkward silent panic attack upon realizing that I didn't just enjoy flirting with him, I really liked this guy and didn't want to blow it.

If you can, contextualize your nerves for the target of your interest, sooner rather than later. "Sorry, I'm really into you and it's making me more nervous than I expected!" can be really sweet - and a huge relief, if the dude's starting to wonder if everything's okay/if you like him/if maybe you actually can't stand him.
posted by deludingmyself at 1:48 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


I would actually like it - it's a sign that you like me, and cute. As long as I could tell it was nervousness and not just that you were uncomfortable or avoiding because you disliked me. And there's your problem.
posted by ctmf at 3:12 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


Does this go the other way at all?

Yes, entirely. I think this is something that feels pretty similar to both sexes.

This is a kind of analytical way to say it, but: Confidence is a very attractive trait, but so is emotional engagement, right? If you're normally cool and collected but you're nervous when talking to me that means you actually care about the conversation, that you're present. If I'm attracted to you, this is endearing and maybe gives me the hope to keep talking to you, ask you out, whatever. Even if I'm not attracted to you, it's cute (as long as it doesn't look like you're playing the ditz; intentionally acting nervous or awkward comes across as fake and manipulative, IMHO).

As deanc and ctmf say, though, don't let it get in the way of indicating whether you like the guy. It's not always clear to him whether you're nervous because you're thinking "I really like this guy, don't screw this up" or because you're thinking "this guy's a creep, how do I end this conversation" or "this guy's OK, but the guy I actually have a crush on is over there and WTF he's talking to that other girl oh no".

Summon the confidence you feel at other times and keep talking— but if he realizes you had to overcome some nervousness to do that, it's not going to turn him off. Possibly the opposite: realizing that you have the gumption to approach him despite being nervous can make you seem … more confident.

In conclusion, dating is a land of contrasts. Thank you.
posted by hattifattener at 4:32 PM on February 2 [4 favorites]


JohnnyGunn: Haha.
posted by thesnowyslaps at 12:57 AM on February 3


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