“So many people are shut up tight inside themselves like boxes, yet they would open up, unfolding quite wonderfully, if only you were interested in them.” — Sylvia Plath
A young man I worked with had extreme social anxiety.
He was terrified of parties, paranoid about being negatively judged, avoided any form of social interaction. He came regularly to his therapy sessions but you could tell every minute was agony for him.
It was The Longest Hour for me too, I confess. He couldn’t look at me, blushed scarlet at every question and seemed tortured in his responses, which were as clipped as possible.
But one day he came in with big news: he was dating. He couldn’t believe a woman had spoken to him, let alone liked him. “She thinks I’m the best guy ever,” he said, shaking his head in disbelief.
When a client reports a significant life event, it’s helpful to shape your work around it, to use therapy to make sense of it. Which in his case was to explore why he might make a great partner.
Is Shyness A Barrier To Dating?
While this young man was at the more extreme end of the scale, many people struggle with feeling tense and awkward in social situations. Studies show as many as 40-60% adults describe themselves as shy or socially anxious.
While shyness has links with genetics, environmental factors including life experiences are more influential. My client had been badly bullied at school, which was a significant contributor to his struggles.
Because shy people fear negative judgment and rejection, they tend to avoid situations where they might meet and get to know people. And that means many potential partners don’t get to see who they truly are. Which is a pity.
So if you’re shy, here are the top reasons you’re worth getting to know.
8 Reasons Shy People Make Great Partners
1. You allow other people space to talk.
You’re not accustomed to filling all the air time and you don’t need (or want) to be the centre of attention. So other people have the space to be themselves around you. And that’s hugely attractive to them.
2. You show you’ve heard what others say.
Being a good listener is s a (great and rare) skill borne of spending time on the sidelines. You worry about being too quiet (or boring or not having anything interesting to contribute) — but it’s okay. Truly. Being able to listen well, and respond empathetically, is the most important component in good communication.
3. You don’t need others to function well.
You’ve spent a lot of time alone so you’re used to it. You have things you enjoy doing on your own and you LIKE alone time. You don’t rely on the energy of others to motivate yourself or have a good time.
4. You think before you act.
Your worries about being judged prevent you from being rash and impulsive. That quality — the ability to think things through before storming in — may make you a thoughtful and considerate partner. It will also save you from making a few mistakes!
5. People trust you not to blab their secrets.
You might fear others’ judgement but one thing they know about you is that you will not gossip; you will not use their secrets to get attention. That gives you a reputation of being safe and reliable — and, maybe best of all, not mean.
6. You’ll give your best to your partner.
If you get into an intimate relationship, you’ll value it. And that means you’re likely to speak and act in ways that make your partner feel good and worthy. Remember, kindness and consistency trump confidence. Every time.
7. You only open up when you feel comfortable.
You could never be accused of rushing into a relationship. You take your time getting to know someone. Which means you have more time to notice any red flags and you don’t expose your vulnerabilities too soon — so you’re more likely to choose a decent person who will value you.
8. Great people come in all sorts of packages.
Shyness does not have to define your character — even though it can feel that way. You have lots of other qualities too. So focus on being the best person you can. You might be surprised how far that takes you.+