Social Guides for the Socially Awkward Part 2: Dating – First Things First

I know I was going to post about Networking this week, but I got to thinking about dating as an introvert with anxiety, started to freak out at the thought of it, then decided to write about that instead.  In more than one post, because it’s a HUGE topic.

Dating: Say it with me friends…




I start having panic feelings just thinking about saying HI to a stranger, not to mention actually setting a date, worrying about said date until it happens, feeling nauseated all day, going on said date, freaking out about whether or not the conversation is flowing well enough, does my laugh sound too obnoxious, I feel a booger in my nose, is it showing? Should I go to the ladies room and blow my nose? Oh god, what did he just say?

Nope, nope, nope, nope.  I’d rather sit in the back corner of the coffee shop with my headphones on and my face buried in my laptop while tweeting with the hashtag #ForeverAlone than deal with that kind of nightmare.  Seriously.

However.  I am sure we are all aware that we are not an island and that a functioning relationship can be a wonderful, life enhancing experience.  We should all make an effort, if we do want someone in our lives.  So….  Here we go…with dating.

Telling socially awkward people to relax is useless advice. Hopefully mine is better

Telling socially awkward people to relax is useless advice. Hopefully mine is better

First Things First:

Here’s the thing.  Those of us with social anxiety have such a hard time doing things that are so easy for others that we can sometimes put more weight into things than other people do.  Walking up to that person, the barista you see every day, the fellow dog owner you nod at from across the park…it’s a huge deal for us.  A HUGE DEAL.  We think about it.  We plan it out.  We rehearse what we’re going to say.  Because of that, we can take what we perceive as rejection very, very hard.  All that work, just for them to blow us off.  That kind of let down can put us right back in that #ForeverAlone hashtag for who knows how long.

First off, you can’t take it personally when you try and talk to someone and they don’t react the way you’d hoped. Does it suck? Yes. Is it because you are hideous/repulsive/worthless/stupid?  Probably not.  A million and one factors go into every single interaction with another person and most of them are beyond your control.

When a person you are trying to talk to for the first time acts curt or disinterested or in any other way disappointing to you, remind yourself of all the times you’ve reacted that way to someone else.  Why did you do it?  Were you stressed about an exam? Did you not sleep the night well the night before? Were you pissed off at the person you spoke to RIGHT BEFORE and take it out on someone else?

These things happen all the time.

The second thing you need to do before trying to jump into the dating pond is to change the way you perceive the initial interaction itself.

Every time you go to ask someone out, don’t think of it as the first step to getting a date.  Try and think of it like leveling up.

I’m being totally serious.  You’re not asking someone out…you’re pushing yourself.  You’re going for that extra rep at the gym, you’re climbing three feet higher than you did last week, you’re walking into Bowser’s Castle.

It’s practice.  It’s getting comfortable talking to strangers.  Is it going to be hard?  Yes.  But by accepting that this isn’t about finding a date, but simply about having a nice conversation with someone, you are no longer holding that person you are asking up on a pedestal.  When it takes us three days to three weeks to get up the nerve to say hi to someone cute, the eventual interaction grows and grows in importance in our mind and starts to become vitally important.

That’s too much for any human to live up to.

Here is a Universal Fact about Socializing.  That person you are talking to poops.  They eat asparagus and get stinky pee.  I don’t care how hot they are, how smart they are, how intimidated you are… they fart in bed.  And if they are any fun at all, they have Dutch Ovened a significant other at some point in their lives.

Please do not allow rejection to demoralize you and make you feel like you will be alone forever.

So go talk to someone cute. Just say hi.  Think up an ice breaker, practice it if you want to, and give it a shot.

My tips:

A) Smile.

B) Try to stay outside of their personal space bubble.

C) Keep your opening lines short. “Hi, I’m so and so. I see you here all the time and just wanted to introduce myself.”  Boom.  Done.  Non-threatening.

D) Maybe this is the first time you’ve seen them. Same thing, but ask a question. “My friend’s wife would love that shirt. Where did you get it?” “This is my first time at this comic shop, do you know if they have blah blah?”

Keep it simple to start with.  Open a conversation. It’s possible the person you dreamed of from afar is actually dumb as a box of rocks.  If you lead with asking them on a date before you talk to them, then you could end up stuck on a date with an imbecile. Plus, a conversation gives THEM a chance to get to know YOU and discover that they would like to get to know you better…perhaps on a date.

Things may not go well, or as planned, but at least you did it!  You won’t always wonder what would have happened if you had talked to them. Not only that, but with every small introduction and conversation, you’ll LEARN something and apply it the NEXT time you talk to someone cute.

Eventually, one of them is going to like you.  They may even say yes to a date.  And THEN what are you going to do?

Good Question

I’ll talk about that next week.  Thanks for reading! Please comment with any questions or thoughts of your own.  Let’s all help each other.


11 Responses to “Social Guides for the Socially Awkward Part 2: Dating – First Things First”

  1. Josh Z says:

    this blog series is really great. I have a lot of social anxiety issues that I’ve struggled with throughout my life. Dating is like the number one thing that causes crippling fear for me and that has greatly negatively affected my life. I’ve never had a girlfriend because of fear of rejection and the wierdness of the whole dating thing. Its weird, I know, but now ifts harded and harded a thing to get past, plus the lack of experience in that whole department because of that. I’m trying to get better and seeing blogs like this at least give me hope that I’m not as alone as I think. This really has some great and constructive advice. Thank you and keep up the great work. #ForeverAlone #hopefullynotforever

    • Jessica says:

      Thanks so much for commenting! It really helps to know these blogs are good for others. They’re hard to write!

      I hope things get better for you. Start really small, and work your way up. If you start out with the objective of just talking to someone new, and maybe making a new friend, it’s a lot easier than starting out with a hope of a future relationship, etc. All that mess just adds pressure!

      Take it easy, be kind to yourself, and START SMALL! Thanks so much for reading and commenting! <3

  2. Adam says:

    Fantastic post, Jessica! ^^ Great advice and…So much to relate to! I read the previous too and, appropriately, it’s an effort to even write this for a comment. And it’s across the ‘net board, with all the Tumblr-ing and Twitter-ing I do…Always wondering how things will be read or be taken and worrying if I’ve posted/said something I shouldn’t have…

    But as with in-person interaction, I eventually just think; ‘go for it, because you never know…’ (Though to be fair, online has been relatively more successful for me, I think)

    So, here goes! ^^ And the end of the day, it’s always comforting to know that we’re not alone. So, as ever, thanks for being a wonderful beacon of inspiration! ^^

    (That didn’t sound too corny, did it…? Argh! Done it again! XD)


    P.S. I don’t eat asparagus… :P

  3. Deb says:

    my social awkwardness is that I talk too much and don’t think about what I’m saying… Often, I will make a friend but I don’t hang onto them. I am a mix of overconfidence, blundering, and obnoxiousness. What about me?

    • Jessica says:

      In my first post, I talked about Active Listening. It’s something that isn’t as easy as it sounds, and can take practice. Active listening forces you to stop talking, stop thinking about what you’re going to say next, and simply concentrate on the person speaking to you and what they are saying. I would recommend you start there. I think, over time, you’ll find you get a lot more out of your interactions with people, and feel less of a need to overcompensate.

      A lot of times I start to babble when I’m afraid there will be an awkward silence. I don’t know why, but I’m TERRIFIED of awkward silence. The cure, in my experience, is to stop talking, ask a question, and actively listen. It really does enhance your interactions, and helps to narrow your focus so that you feel less nervous in an unfamiliar situation. At least, it has that effect on me.

      Good luck, and thanks for reading! I hope that helps.

  4. John says:

    Thanks for these articles. It’s always reassuring to know this isn’t just one of those weird traits unique to me one me. People who are good at social interaction have a hard time understanding why I’m shy or why I can interact at work (good acting and not having to truly interact on a personal level with people). It is good to read that someone who is so awesomely geeky not only understands but lives it. Thanks for being a great role model. It inspires me to get out, and not only help myself but others too.

    • Jessica says:

      Thank you so much! That’s exactly why I blog about my issues. I’m so thrilled that it helps you and inspires you to help others. Educating people is key. Those who suffer like we do, and those who need to understand where we’re coming from. :-)

  5. Mariah M. says:

    Nicely put. I know this is a little off topic but I can see the usefulness of this in a future meetup I’ve been planning. I had been stressing about approaching the people I want to invite and this reminds me that its not so bad after all. Which I already know it shouldn’t be a stress factor, but I love love love having reminders like this. Thanks so much. They’re just people like me. Geez. Don’t know why I always overthink it. Worst they can say is no.

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