Out going yet Socially Awkward around romantic interests.
August 24, 2011 9:28 AM   Subscribe

Socially Awkward around women

I'm generally a really out going guy, I have lots of guy friends, I can network (professionally) like crazy, I generally am an easy guy to talk to, to just about anyone. I have many friends, old, young, my age, etc... of both sexes. I'm straight if that helps anything.

BUT... When I start getting interested in a woman, I freeze up. No more Mr. Socially out going, I can barely manage a "hi".

So when it comes to talking with romantic interests, I just don't do them in person. I use the internet to find romantic interests and that hasn't turned out well; I've met only the crazy ones. The one time I did talk to a romantic interest and just blurt out "want to go out sometime?" type thing, I made a really good friend.

Any suggestions?
posted by snow_mac to Human Relations (19 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
This may be a result of bigger and deeper issues than you realize, or it may not; it's tough to say without talking to you for a while.

But here's my advice. If you're normally socially adept and comfortable and outgoing, I get the impression that however you're putting yourself "out there" in those situations makes you feel good, but that another kind of openness seems threatening or uncomfortable. So, is it possible that you feel confident being a friend or business contact, but being seen in the way a potential partner would see and evaluate you makes you feel bad in some way? Extrapolating further: do you feel you have a lot to offer to a potential girlfriend or partner? Do you feel like you're an attractive guy?
posted by clockzero at 9:48 AM on August 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

"advice" s/b "shots in the dark" obvs
posted by clockzero at 9:49 AM on August 24, 2011

Talk to women that you are interested in basically the same way you talk to the ones you aren't, or to other men.

For me, this was a big change of mindset. I used to think I had to be suave or something, but really I just had to be the me that other people seemed to like just fine.

I went through a number of years single, yet I definitely had occasional interest, and it almost always surprised me because it was from women that I had never "tried" to get to like me.
posted by utsutsu at 10:03 AM on August 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

So what's getting you so tongue-tied? What's going through your mind when you establish that someone's a romantic interest? Are you suddenly dreaming up a whole life together and the excitement of "maybe this is the one"? Are you desperate to impress them and get flustered by trying to figure out the perfect thing to say?

The first step is to work on squishing that overeager reaction like a bug. Calm down and force yourself to see this new girl as a person you just want to make friends with because she's interesting. Your objective is no longer to try and impress her, but to ask her about herself, get to know her and what she thinks. If it takes telling yourself she couldn't possibly be interested in you romantically, so you've got nothing to lose, so be it. And in this way, you'll come across as a cool, confident, relaxed guy.

Once you've established how to rein in your reaction and talk to the girls you're interested in, then we can work on flirting and reading their signals. If you're a really outgoing guy and have several female friends already, odds are good your ability to pick up flirting signals suck if you're complaining about your lack of a love life.
posted by lizbunny at 10:04 AM on August 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

You're in good company - just think of the story of Cyrano de Bergerac.

It may help to simultaneously formalize and relax the process. Take woman out on actual dates, and set expectations that you would "like to get to know them better." Set expectations with yourself: not every woman is going to be "the one". That way you won't freeze up thinking about the possibility of failure, because if things don't work out you can just say "it wasn't meant to be" rather than thinking it's your fault.

Treat romance as something that comes in its own good time, after a period of dating. Treat dating like networking. I'm a networker and I meet a lot of people for lunch or coffee. Sometimes we hit it off, sometimes we do not. People I hit it off with, I will meet again. People I don't, I do not. It's not a big deal.

People I really hit it off with networking, I usually end up working with. This might happen every couple of years. So it's a lot like dating, don't you think?

Just treat the first date as a way to figure out shared interests and personal chemistry. It may not work out. Be open and up front - "I'd like to get to know you better." At the end of the date, if you like the person, say something like "I really enjoyed spending time with you. Would you like to do it again?"

Kind of formal, but this helps relax your own internal stresses.

As for actually meeting women, if the internet is not working for you, join a club of some sort. Volunteer doing something you're passionate about.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:05 AM on August 24, 2011

You don't say how old you are, but this is one of those things that I think is more about time than about anything else. What do I mean by that, and how can it help you?

I mean this: you say that you're fine around "just about anyone" until you're romantically interested in them. This is likely because once you realize that you're romantically interested in them, you have mentally raised the stakes on every interaction with them. You pressure yourself to be your best self. That kind of pressure, though, keeps you from being your best self, which is your natural, relaxed self.

Over time, and with a few romantic relationships under your belt, you'll learn that romance, while awesome in many ways, is also commonplace and really no big deal. (It's a paradox: many of the most awesome things are also commonplace and no big deal. Dogs, for instance, or friends, or pasta.)

Think about lowering the stakes. How would you do that? Maybe you could internalize the idea that, in all likelihood, you're not going to create and deepen a romantic spark with _this_ interaction. That's not your goal: that isn't what's at stake. Your goal is to be the decent, interesting person that you are.
posted by gauche at 10:07 AM on August 24, 2011 [4 favorites]

I have many friends

Do you have female friends?

Take a look at your friends. Any that you're particularly compatible with? Yes, that one who you keep talking to at two in the morning. Consider asking her out for significant coffee.

For that matter, do any of them seem like they might be holding a torch for you? Like me, you may be clueless enough not to notice it until she's felt that way for quite some time.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:15 AM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

I read somewhere that the reason this happens is because there is the element of risk of loss. That is, from a reptilian-brain, survival-of-the-species perspective, you have spied a female for potential breeding and now there is the chance to loose the opportunity. The more genetically viable (read: beautiful) the female, the worse it gets (i.e., more to lose).

Of course, your modern, sophisticated, conscious brain doesn't think in those terms but that's what's raising your blood-pressure and making your brain freeze up.

To counter, follow utsutsu's suggestion.
posted by trinity8-director at 10:31 AM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Just like getting to Carnegie Hall. Practice, practice, practice.

I made it A Project to get better at talking to random people and it was rough but successful. Dating was similar. You just need to commit to it.

As far as the crazies, don't put that off on online - finding romance is the ultimate example of Sturgeon's Law that 90% of everything - or in this case, everyone - is crap. I met my wonderful wife online, as did several of our circle of friends. It can be done.
posted by phearlez at 10:33 AM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

P.S. It worked for me 30+ years ago with Mrs. Director.
posted by trinity8-director at 10:34 AM on August 24, 2011

Best answer: Stop trying to date women. Honestly. Just decide "fuck it, I'm going to take six months, and not date any women, period." Then, when you find yourself meeting a woman, even when you are interested in her, just remember that it doesn't matter anyway because you aren't dating right now. Be upfront and honest about this, if the opportunity arises: I'm taking a break from dating for six months, and focusing on myself.

Six months later, of course, you might find you are still interested, and if she's still around, then you're probably really comfortable with her, and she'll probably know that you're coming off your six-month hiatus. Giving you the perfect opportunity to say "in the last six months, I haven't been dating, and I've met a surprising number of fantastic people -- many of them women -- in that time. Now that I'm getting back into the dating frame of mind again, I realize that I've only met one woman I'd be interested in dating: you. Would you be interested in a romantic dinner date to see if we're compatible in that way, or would you prefer to stay in the friend zone?"
posted by davejay at 4:02 PM on August 24, 2011 [5 favorites]

I'm exactly the same way. I don't really have any advice, just that its frustrating to be able to be friendly and 'on' socially but still be hopeless with women.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:51 PM on August 24, 2011

Stop trying to date women. Honestly. Just decide "fuck it, I'm going to take six months, and not date any women, period."

posted by pompomtom at 6:48 PM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

It's very hard to know what to say without knowing your age. If you're in your teens or early 20s this is basically pretty normal. What gauche said above is basically right -- it will go away with time and experience. You just need to have a few flings and normalize the whole thing. Hang out, try to relax, and stay observant -- if you're not notably ugly or weird then a couple of women a year will subtly express romantic interest in you. If you can pick up on that then you're more than halfway there.

It might be useful also to talk with some of your friends who are romantic "naturals" and ask their advice.

Whatever you do, don't get all bitter and angry.
posted by zipadee at 8:52 PM on August 24, 2011 [4 favorites]

if you're not notably ugly or weird then a couple of women a year will subtly express romantic interest in you.

And even if you are, or think that you are, notably ugly or weird, please keep in mind that nobody is a) perfect, or b) defined by their worst traits. Everybody has a worst trait, and a best trait, and a lot of features in between. You have friends, which means you have positive traits that people like and appreciate.
posted by gauche at 9:25 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'm 22. And I am going to a state university.
posted by snow_mac at 8:51 PM on August 26, 2011

Response by poster: Advice to those reading (I'm now engaged)

1. Don't be weird or crazy
2. Find someone who loves you for you
3. Don't be afraid to ask someone out
4. Use online dating
posted by snow_mac at 12:55 PM on August 13, 2012 [31 favorites]

Mazel Tov!
posted by bilabial at 5:28 PM on August 13, 2012

Now there's a MeTa thread about this one.
posted by knile at 12:01 AM on August 14, 2012

« Older How screwed am I?   |   Should I get rid of my password? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.