Social Guides for the Socially Awkward – Dating Part 2
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!