If you are on the shy side, it can be hard to make an approach to someone you like the look of. But inhibitions are there to be overcome.
The thing is that her crippling anxiety is hard to understand: she is nice-looking and, as is evident to people she knows well, is a bright and amusing person - in fact, friends and colleagues are not quick to feel sorry for her or to get protective about her. Her apparent assurance can cause problems when it comes to getting to know men. Her reserve can get misinterpreted as arrogance.
Looking to escape
We all have our insecurities. Most of us will have been through the experience of being the new person at a place of work, of feeling as though everyone was looking at us and of having damp palms when it came to shaking hands. But someone who is really shy is constantly assailed by this kind of anxiety. They get embarrassed and blush, or they can appear cool and distant. Claudia reached the point of refusing invitations to parties or avoiding dates with men who were interested in her - purely because she was afraid of somehow showing herself up. In situations like this, shyness is a manifestation of a desire to escape. It’s even programmed into our genes: Neanderthals were afraid of sabre-toothed tigers; we’re afraid of making fools of ourselves in a social context. What a shy person feels on a first date is akin to fearing for his or her life. But the good news is that it is possible to manage your panic reflex.
It’s cool to be shy
Shy people generally react to stressful situations with avoidance tactics or by assuming a mask. Parship psychologist Sabine Wery von Limont particularly advises against the latter tactic: “If a man assumes the persona of a great ladies’ man, or a woman tries to pretend she’s seen it all, it soon becomes clear that they’re playing a game. Von Limont recommends that, if you are shy, you should acknowledge this as part of your personality - and also make it part of your armoury. Just think how woman who are brimming with confidence play a little coy hide and seek to increase their appeal, while many low-key men still manage to find the right woman. On the whole, people don’t hold it against someone for being shy. This knowledge can help to take the stress out of first dates: If you’re shy, and you’re feeling a little uncomfortable for that reason, don’t be afraid of letting the other person know. The chances are that he or she is also more than a little nervous - and might well find your shyness rather appealing.
Getting the better of shyness
Do you have to resign yourself to a life of shyness, though? Sabine Wery von Limont doesn’t think so: “There are lots of ways of building your confidence,” she says. You can take away much of the anxiety of a typical situation by playing it through in your head - with you in the starring role. So if you find yourself in a real-life situation that follows a similar scenario - say if someone tries to chat you up in a bar - you will feel much more relaxed.” And there are other ways of getting used to dealing with people you don’t know … even by asking another customer in the supermarket where you can find the washing-up liquid, or by asking your way in the street. These small interactions will help build up your confidence in a social situation. And if you finally make it to talking to the man or woman of your dreams, it’s a good idea to open with a question that doesn’t work on too personal a level: “How’s your drink?” for instance. It helps to be on neutral ground.
Getting the right result
Another option for shy people is to turn to the Internet. That’s what Claudia did. Once she’d registered on Parship and taken the compatibility test, she found that she was comfortable with breaking the first barrier by establishing contact online. Emails and even phonecalls weren’t a trial for her, but when it came to actually meeting Keith, a 35-year-old man who’d caught her imagination online, she kept delaying the first date. When he made a point of asking her why she was being elusive, Claudia took the bull by the horns and explained about her shyness. This developed into a correspondence about their respective weaknesses, and by the time they met, she had worked through her anxieties and was able to do herself justice on the date.