Project Dream Dating 2007: Background on Shyness

by Brad Isaac on August 5, 2007

I am the son and the heir of a shyness that is criminally vulgar — The Smiths

Before we get into some of the dating strategies I’d like to give a little bit of a personal background.

But first, if you haven?t read part one and two of this series, please go back and read them now. Here are the links:

Project Dream Dating 2007

10 First Date Blunders That Blow It Every Time

When I was in my teens and early twenties I was what you would call severely shy. Called ?social phobia? today, I had an intense fear of talking and interacting with other people.

I was and still am on the introverted side. I am content working alone on projects and am happy spending time alone.

But back then, I felt my shyness was a killer. I am from a long line of shy men. My father was shy, my grandfather was shy and his father was shy too. That’s not to blame them for my shyness, I am only pointing out there is a family history of it.

Socially, my shyness lead me to feel unable to talk to people I didn’t know. I stuttered sometimes and felt terror at the idea of talking to a woman I found attractive. And ask her on a date? Forget about it!

I was the third wheel a lot during my high school and college years. A buddy and his girlfriend would sometimes have me tag along when they went out. This gave me the occasion to get a woman’s perspective on what might be wrong with me. And what I needed to change about myself to attract a girlfriend.

Although I would get responses to my questions like “Brad, you have a lot to offer, you are intelligent, caring and have a great sense of humor. You just haven’t met the right girl.” In the back of my mind I thought “I haven’t met any women. How am I going to meet the right one?”

The answer to my second question was even more disheartening. I would get obvious advice like “Just go up to someone you like and talk to her.” Ahh…. It seemed so easy to say, but to have my shyness you might as well have told me “Brad, your answer is easy. Just hitch a ride on the space shuttle and when you return to Earth she’ll be waiting.”

Talking to women was my Achilles heel. I’d start to feel fear bordering on panic at just the thought of speaking to a woman I didn’t know. My friends would try to be helpful. “The worst she can say is no.”

A quick calculation in my mind revealed that no the worst she could do would not be say ?no?, but she could throw a drink, scream, laugh loudly and catcall “LOOOSER” as I sulked back to our table.

I hope you are seeing how disabled I felt. Yes, I wanted to meet people, but felt like a hostage to my shyness and in many ways, I felt hopeless I would ever get past this time of my life. I read stories of 40-year old men who had never had a girlfriend because of not being able to conquer shyness. The idea of that happening to me was something I didn’t like to think about.

Yet, to my own credit, there was something in me, a little voice that told me this family legacy of shyness had to end with me. I owed it to myself, my future — and possible future children to break this curse.

You know I?m an avid reader, back then I turned my reading toward finding a “cure” for shyness. I remember spending many late nights in the library, reading the psychiatric journals that presented shyness case studies and the differing approaches to treating it. Sprinkle in some layperson?s guides and pop-psych books and you?d get a good picture. I devoured everything I could on the subject.

To make a long story short, I found much good information on how to conquer shyness and plenty of bad. As it turns out, what I found worked best was a combination of different methods.

Through much trial and error and refining I finally had my answer. My discovery about shyness was that unlike my original plan, I did not need to kill it, but to work with it. The shyness was a symptom of approaching and interacting with people in an unnatural way. Once I realized this all the lights went on and the game was over.

Where did this get me? Basically, more dates than I could handle. Not immediately mind you, but after trial and error and learning about myself and others, I finally hit the breakthrough I was looking for. To quote a friend of mine, who noticed my change “If there is one guy I’d want to be, I?d want to be Brad. He’s with a different woman every week!”

Before you get the wrong idea about me being some sort of ?player? or ?dog?, you have to realize I could never date more than one person at a time. It just turned out back then I was meeting and going out with a lot of women. It probably appeared more spectacular than it was.

Part of finding the right person will likely mean going out with a few who are near-misses. Ultimately, what you?ll learn is you’ll be able to root out the people you are compatible with and who you are not quickly.

To complete the story, I’ll say I did find the love of my life – my soul mate. We both knew we were right for each other right off the bat. And we are going on 15 years of a happy marriage.

good image of kim and me

Kim Isaac with some non-bearded guy.

If I were to put a frame around my approach it would be to call it How to like the real you enough to share. I don’t want you to think for a moment that you are going to become someone else or feel like you have to act or practice some sort of hypnosis on the other person that some of the dating gurus preach.

Nope, you are going to be you, “warts and all” as Shakespeare said and people are going to love you for it.

If you are one of the people blessed with shyness, then I think you are going to benefit greatly from this series.

If you are not so shy, you’ll still benefit. You may be confident but find you attract the wrong person. I’ll show you how to spot people who you are incompatible and how to move them into the “friend” category while spotting the people who are real gems.

One more thought about shyness?

If you are shy, take hope. My goal for you is not to erase shyness from your life. I am still shy to an extent and I embrace it. Shyness can be a benefit. I can meet with anyone, be him a janitor or a foreign dignitary and avoid putting my foot in my mouth. I see the direct opposite of shyness as being abrasive. I’d much rather lean toward the shy side any day.

As you follow through the series, it’s important that you not skip around. Study each part and try to get the principles.

Meeting and forming relationships is not something that you will need to change yourself to do. You are not going to find any great pickup lines, tricks, hot makeover techniques or ways to hypnotize someone into falling in love with you. So you can banish that thought today. Tricks aren’t going to do it. And think about that a second. If you have to pull the wool over someone’s eyes to date them, then they’ll eventually come out of the trance ? and then what?

Nope, you are great the way you are. You do NOT have to change who you are as a person. We’ll just discuss ways for you to awaken parts of yourself that shyness or socially you shut down.

While I’m talking about it, I’ll say that sometimes we are not taught good relationship skills from parents. Not to blame them, but with divorce bordering at fifty percent, arguing, fighting and hostility is a norm in many marriages. The kids witness this and end up with a warped sense of what a relationship is.

Instead of a partnership of give and take, some become a partnership of take and take some more. There are others who feel they need to be the “victim” in each relationship. And many more oddities that are outside the scope of this series. But I just want you to get a feeling for how I will be shooting for “normalcy” in this series.

TV and movies present beautiful people forming relationships in strange and warped ways. Not that you believe everything you see on TV, but almost through osmosis, we take something easy like forming interacting with other human beings and make it difficult and cheap. Much of what we see taints our expectations about dating. We?re to believe oddball pickup lines, anonymous sex, measuring the worth of people based on looks and looks alone is the norm ? when the reality quietly whispers otherwise.

I want you to find the Mr. or Miss Right for you. This person may surprise you, he or she might be right under your nose but because you were living with some fantasy of what a real relationship is, you never saw the other person for who they were.

If nothing else, I want you to come from this series feeling that you are fine, no? great, the way you are. I want you to see that you are valuable and worthy of meeting a person who is likewise worthy of your great qualities?

In the next installment, I’ll detail the first step in finding a compatible partner.. this is the step everyone should take before they venture out into the dating world. But guess what? Most people never do it, thus they set themselves up for failure from the get go. Be sure to bookmark this series (ctrl-d) or subscribe to my RSS feed so you don’t miss anything.

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