August 11th, 2013 by Jessica
All right. We talked about the initial introduction in last week’s post. This week, I’d like to talk about the ACTUAL date part.
First, I’d like to reiterate a few things I touched on in the first post
A few tips for socialization.
Active listening is harder than you think. It’s so easy to get caught up in the inner monologue. Pretend those inner voices are that annoying commercial you hate (Old Navy, how I hate you). Tune it out, and focus on the words being spoken to you. Tune them in. It takes thought and concentration to listen to others when you feel anxious and uncomfortable. Focus on it like you’re Clark Kent trying to figure out how his laser eyes work.
Personal space is important. Just imagine everyone has a bubble around them, and try not to pop it. If it’s hard to hear, lean in with your ear to the person so they know you are trying to listen. It’s a universal signal for “TALK LOUDER PLEASE”. Women especially can feel threatened if a strange man stands too close, so try to keep that in mind.
Don’t stare. Of course, you may be working up the nerve to talk to someone and that is totally natural. But try and look in their general direction, and not directly at them while doing so. While you’re in your head trying to encourage yourself to walk up to them and speak, all they see is the creeper staring at them.
When conversing, try and make eye contact. This can be difficult for some, so compromise by looking right between their eyes on their forehead.
Try and keep those things in mind. They are very small things that make a big difference.
OK, for the date itself. I have a few recommendations.
My favorite is the Group Date. It sounds unconventional, but I swear to you group dates are the BEST.
What’s a group date? It’s when you and a couple of friends meet up with that person and a couple of their friends and everyone goes and hangs out somewhere. No pressure! Tons of other people! A group date to a place like an arcade or theme park or museum or something like that is perfect. An activity that everyone can partake in and get to know each other. Not only do you have moral support leading up to it, but everyone can help carry the evening together. If it’s a disaster? You aren’t alone! If it goes well? You and that person can hover in a corner chatting, or go off on your own to look at something or whatever.
No pressure, moral support, easy out…it’s the ideal way to get to know someone new for an introvert.
However, maybe a group date is not possible. Or, maybe the group date goes great and you get a one-on-one! What do you do then?
In that case, I’ll point you to a piece I wrote for Tech Republic last winter: Places to take an introvert on a date. (http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/geekend/great-places-to-take-an-introvert-on-a-date/)
Great ideas for places that introverts can go where they will feel comfortable, be able to really get to know someone, and have space to gather themselves if they get nervous.
Sometimes, however, the asker has a plan that they don’t clue you in on. Sometimes that works out great, and sometimes not. Either way, the unplanned happens. A few tips for dealing with the inevitable surprises and uncomfortable moments.
1. Deep breaths. It’s a simple thing, but it makes a difference.
2. If you’re prone to being really uncomfortable in certain situations, be honest UP FRONT. Don’t try and pretend you are something you’re not! This person has to date YOU, not the you that you wish you could be. Just say “Hey, I’m not great in big crowds, so maybe we can go somewhere quiet on our date.” Easy peasy. TRUST ME, they will appreciate your being honest up front. And if they don’t, they’re a jerk anyway. If someone isn’t willing to work around your feelings and anxieties, they were never going to be right for you. It’s better to know that at the start.
3. Take time if you need it. Step away to the bathroom and sit in a stall for a few minutes if you need to. It sounds silly, but sometimes a bathroom stall is the only place you can get away from people and have four walls around you.
4. If it gets bad – be honest. Apologize for not being up front about your feelings before the date, and then explain what you need. If the person is caring at all, they will want to help you feel better, BUT most people who don’t suffer from our anxieties have a lot of trouble understanding it. Get out of the situation quickly, and explain when you have more time. Be specific about your needs. Once you are out of the situation and no longer freaking out, it will be easier to explain yourself. Keep in mind, this conversation is always easier before the date has been planned, so try and go for #2 if you can.
No matter what happens, you deserve congratulations. Dating is HARD. Don’t let anyone tell you different. But getting out there, making an effort, will be so worth it in the long run. If nothing else, you’ll conquer your own fears and get out into the world meeting people. You never know where that will take you.
Try and look at it as a challenging adventure. I sincerely hope that these tools will help you to experience it as something fun, rather than something to be endured.
Thanks so much for reading. Comment below with any questions or comments you may have. Let’s all help each other!
Next week I’ll cover Networking!
August 3rd, 2013 by Jessica
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.
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.
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?
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.