Are flirting and socializing not your thing? Do you dread mixers, speed dating, and loud clubs with banging dance music? Tired of “the scene" and swiping on your phone until your thumb falls off? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Being single can be hard enough some days as you watch your friends march down the aisle, or scroll through endless engagement and baby photos on Facebook. Add being socially awkward into the mix and it’s enough to make you want to throw in the towel, renounce the world, and become a monk/nun.
Before you run off and join your local monastery/convent, read this and see if these three tips might help you to break your single streak once and for all.
Meet Up Groups: Socializing With A Focus
Once the stomping ground of weirdos and expats, the meet up scene has expanded and improved dramatically. Meet up groups have popped up globally in every city. Unless you are living under a rock out in the middle of nowhere (in which case, this might also be part of your problem), you can easily find a group that suits your interests, whether it’s writing, knitting, running, movies, music, or book clubs.
There are apps galore for meeting people with similar interests. Go out and see what happens, and just enjoy being around people who enjoy something you do.
First, the good news is that groups are usually small, and have a moderator to facilitate introductions and alleviate nervousness for newcomers. Another great aspect about meet up groups is that some of them can be super niche. Underwater basket weaving your thing? Vampire cosplay fan? Hiking in a tutu? There’s probably a group for that. Believe me, you will find your people.
Second, since they focus on a particular interest, when you show up, you’re not struggling to break the ice. This removes the guesswork of trying to find common ground, or worrying about awkward silences. You can hop right into a conversation knowing that the person you’re talking to is interested in the same thing you are. Meeting someone new like this can definitely help give you a boost in the confidence department.
Lastly, this is a pool of people you have probably never met before. That’s a good thing. Having friends set you up is nice, and going to spots where you know everyone is definitely less stressful, but you will never meet anyone if you hide behind familiar people and places.
You might not know anyone, but at least remember that you all have a similar reason for being there. Work with that and it will make things easier. This takes half of the discomfort factor out of the mix.
Full disclosure: I met my partner at one of these meet ups and I wasn’t even looking for someone to date at the time! I just went out to have a nice night and it happened rather accidentally. Awkward dater, this could be your happy accident!
Go Out ALONE!
Contrary to popular opinion, ditch the wingman (or wingwoman) when you head out. Sound counterintuitive? It’s not when you think about it. While having a close friend with you might seem like a good idea because you’re socially awkward and they can help move the conversation along, it can actually hamper your chances of meeting someone.
For one, if you bring an outgoing, extroverted friend, there is a good chance they might steal your thunder. It can be completely unintentional; they’re just being their charming, chatty selves, but this means they might end up in the spotlight, while you stand in their shadow, watching them chat up the person you fancy. Nothing is more frustrating than going out with a friend to meet people, only to have the person you like leave with your mate’s phone number, while you come home $50 poorer, and empty-handed.
Second, friends can be a distraction. You’re there to meet people, mingle, and get a helping hand with making small talk. Your friend is there to get smashed and blow off some steam from a bad day at work. Two competing agendas that definitely don’t mix. This can end up as a total fail on the dating front, with you spending most of the night babysitting your drunk friend, and not getting the chance to chat to anyone.
Or, conversely, they might egg you on to the point where you get distracted from the goal and end up getting too drunk to speak to anyone coherently. Unless you are both there for the exact same reason, you might want to head out on your own so you get a real opportunity to shine, and stay on track.
What’s the best way to go about that if you’re terrified of socializing? The best way to go about it is to brave an event on your own. Yes, that’s right, alone. I know you’re shy, socially awkward, rubbish at chatting people up, a terrible dancer, and tell bad jokes – the laundry list of excuses can go on, I’m sure. It doesn’t matter. What matters is getting out there.
You know what else matters? WHERE you go… which brings me to my next point…
If you’re socially awkward, don’t go out to places you hate because you think that is where you should go. Why would you ever think that you’re going to find your dream guy or girl by spending time and money in a place you absolutely hate? It just doesn’t make sense. It’s a bad strategy that almost everyone gets sucked into when they try to date outside their comfort zone.
They force themselves into situations that they think are the right place to be because ‘everyone goes there’ to meet people, but the reality is, you’re not everyone (which is why you’re reading this blog post!). If your social skills are next to nil, or your social anxiety is really high, it certainly won’t help by putting yourself in situations where you clam up or cause more stress that necessary in an already nerve-wracking situation.
Now, this doesn’t mean going to your local pub and seeing the same people you always see – it means going places that are different, but, places you enjoy being. Like the opera? Great, go see one, then mingle at the bar with people who also enjoy opera. Like museums? Go to one on your own and strike up a conversation about the painting or object you’re looking at with someone. Attend an exhibit opening, or a curator’s talk, and hang around and chat to people who are there because they share the same interest.
Like running? Join a running group, then catch up over quiet conversation at a coffee shop or pub. You’re much more inclined to be yourself, be relaxed, and meet someone who you actually like if you frequent places YOU want to be at, not places your friends say you ‘have to’ be.
Remember: you don’t have to do anything other than be yourself, and if that isn’t going to a loud bar or nightclub, then that’s perfectly fine. You will strike out if every fiber of your being is screaming for you to get out of that environment; so simply put, don’t go to those places.
Dating is hard. Getting out of your comfort zone is hard. There is no need to exacerbate these two things by being where you don’t want to be, around people you have nothing in common with, or even like. People often make that mistake when ‘going out of their comfort zone.’
It means doing something differently, because doing the same thing only produces the same result, but what it doesn’t mean, is doing absolutely crazy things that you’ve never done before just to prove a point. That’s a dare, a one time event that has zero longevity.
The aim here is to get your socially awkward self comfortable with dating long term. So while going to a place you like might not be new, the going alone bit and chatting will be. It’s a baby step, but it certainly counts as going outside the box.
Socially awkward people often make the mistake of trying to take dating advice from people who aren’t like them. Most dating advice is geared towards extroverts and outgoing types, so it makes dating for the socially awkward person a nightmare. The best advice is not to take that advice, do what feels right for you: socialize with a purpose, step out on your own so you can truly shine, and be where you like to be.