I’m pretty shy and am 33 (I’m a PhD student). most f the girls on campus are too young for me, and the only other social life around here revolves around bars which I refuse to do because I don’t like loud music and I don’t really drink. Sometimes there are group parties but these are not so great for me because of my shy personality. The only dates I’ve gone on to date were from an online dating site and a speed dating session, and i haven’t found anyone that way. So I guess I’m a loser on those fronts, too. Sometimes I spend all night dozens of messages, get maybe one response, and then a couple messages later the messages just stop. It is just so ego-deflating. What little self-confidence I had is diminishing fast. Another issue I have is that I’m pretty intellectual and my interests are esoteric. I don’t really like popular culture, and I don’t want to fake it. I doubt too many people are going to be interested in the books and music I’m into, but those things are important to me. There is one woman in my class, closer to my age, who seems to be single and she seems kind of nice. I would like to ask her out but I’m afraid that if she rejects me, which she probably would, I would have to face her and that rejection the rest of the time we’re in school together. I don’t know if I could handle that. I think it’s just pointless. I am at the point in life where even my mother thinks I’ll end up a bachelor, but the thing is, I really don’t want to spend the rest of my life alone. I used to think it would be ok, but now I’m just frustrated by it. I could really use some advice.
Tony’s Take: As an academic, you should have already realized that the larger the sample size, the more likely you are to find an appropriate match. Your problem is you try things once, and expect immediate gratification. Here’s a clue: women want to date you as much as you want to date them, For the purposes of this discussion, there are as many women out there as there are men, so all you really need to do is connect on a mutual level.
You say you like some music, then go to live events where they have that type of music. If you don’t go, you are not going to meet anybody. The problem with being shy is that to an outsider you come off being desperate or uninterested, therefore, you need to be more casual and stop looking at females as potential partners since that makes them feel like a commodity. Women as strange as they may seem to you, are human also and if you treat hem like friends, if you are open and stop looking at them as a commodity to be consumed then you can get close enough to them to find out whether there is chemistry beyond friendship. Obviously, all of our standard dating advice applies, you need to be approachable, which means you need to look other people in the eye, ad smile at them. You need to get them talking and put them at ease which is easily accomplished by someone who is shy by just asking about them and their own life. Women, like most people, like to talk about themselves. With respect to the woman who you mentioned, talk to her and ask her out for coffee, just to discuss something that is in your mutual experience. A coffee date is a very light social arrangement so there is not the loss of face that would happen if she rejected you for a real date, since this is just a casual invitation. Do not ask would like to go out for coffee sometimes but do ask, this project wit]ere sis difficult, can we meet this afternoon for coffee to discuss it? then she has a reason to go with you. Then, the rest is up to you.
You say that you have been writing women in the middle of the night and that although it starts out, it peters off and dies. Again, as an academic, have you done an analysis on what you have written and their reaction to it? Obviously, if you can’t keep the conversation going, then you’re doing something wrong. You must engage them and make them feel listened to and important for them to want to continue corresponding with you. You must care about them as people in order to identify with them and for them to identify with you. Yes, you may meet a number of women who ultimately you don’t wish to pursue, but you are working for the chance that one of them is going to be the one who brings you joy and happiness.
Alison’s Take: I hear your frustration and I feel for you. Being shy can make social life difficult no matter what your age. If you are highly educated and intelligent, with esoteric interests and specific requirements, that will make finding the right person for you more challenging, but not impossible. If might surprise you to know that both Tony and I fit into that category and we have found long term relationships despite this.
As Tony wisely said, without effort there is no gain. There are women out there who you will find attractive and who will want to be with you, but shy people don’t do well is certain sorts of social situations that are considered “popular” for the meet market (e.g. bars and clubs).
So what can you do to make the hunt for Ms. Right, easier?
First, realize that you can’t feel sorry for yourself and call yourself a loser. If you think you’re worthless, why would any woman want to date you? Be analytical. Start by sizing up your good qualities. Those are the ones you want to showcase when you meet new people. Keep in mind that what you think are your greatest assets, or liabilities, may not be the ones other think are the best ones. Others may see you very differently than you see yourself. For example, the fact that you have esoteric tastes in music or literature may limit the types of people you are seeking but it could be a huge turn on for the very woman you want to attract. After all, a woman who only liked comic books or trashy novels is probably not the type of intellectual you want to date for a lifetime partner, anyway. A woman who is intellectual and educated, will find you a breath of fresh air after having listened to a number of men ramble on about their favorite football teams, or sports cars or that Stephen King book they couldn’t put down.
And it goes without saying that you can’t hide inside if you want to meet someone special. You can and must reach out if you want the ultimate goal, which as you stated, is to find someone and not spend your days all by yourself. For starters, as Tony also suggested, do things that you enjoy. If you are doing something you like, whether it’s a volunteer group, a hiking club or even a book club (these are always full of women are there are never enough men-some may be targeted to the types of literature you enjoy), at the very least you’ll have a good time even if you don’t meet anyone special, and if you do meet someone, that person is more likely to share your interests. Going to bars if you hate them, or suffering through activities that require you to be extremely outgoing (like speed dating) will only make you feel overwhelmed and terrible. Take a cooking class (these cater to singles and at the very least you will know how to make a good meal when you do meet a woman and finally ask her over for dinner). Get a dog (if you can commit to one) for a dog is good company and also a chick magnet — you’ll get exercise and it’s a natural conversation starter. You can’t imagine how many women will be coming up to you if you have a cute dog.
Shy people tend to do better when they’re in small groups of people, surrounded by others they know. While one on one dating might be a big challenging for you right now, going out in a group of friends with some “new” friends (female friends of other people you know included) is a nice way to get to know new people in a non threatening setting. Maybe arrange for some of your friends to bring one new friend each and have a group dinner at a local restaurant, or a group picnic at the local park, or bring your dogs to the dog run. If there is an activity to focus on, everyone is doing something together so there is a basis for camraderie and conversation….and the chance to see if there might be some compatibility.
As to the woman in your class, Tony’s suggestion of a coffee date (I’d call it a work meeting) is a good one. Trump up a reason if you must to get together “for work purposes” and she is likely to accept. While the initial intent of the “meeting” will be for the class project you are working on, the conversation will naturally flow into other and more personal areas. From there, you can find out what she’s into. If she says she loves sushi for example, you might (casually) suggest that you’ve been eager to try that sushi place downtown but haven’t wanted to go alone…would she want to come with you? Does she like Japanese taiko drumming as much as you do? Great…then find out when there will be a performance and make sure you tell her you would love to take her as your guest. Do not appear too eager… just throw it out as a suggestion. If she seems amenable, just wait on it. Then next time you see her in class, ask what her schedule is like that week and suggest a day when the two of you might go “test out” that sushi or tell her that the next performance will be at town hall in three weeks and you’d like to get tickets for the two of you would that work for her? From there, the rest is up to you.