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Question: Overcoming extreme shyness in social situations

Dear Robyn,

My wife and I entered into the lifestyle about six months ago and we enjoy going to lifestyle events. Although we have had great parties and wonderful experiences we havenít been able to make any friends. Our problem is that Iím very shy and it is very difficult for me to start a conversation with new people even after a couple of drinks. My wife on the other hand is very sociable and easygoing, however, since she is aware of how I feel she tries to take it slow when meeting people at the parties. Before I get some confidence with new people I am usually very quiet, what could be confused with lack of interest which off course is a turn off for the other party. Sometimes I am not even able to come out of my shell and I even turn off my wife.

We have noticed that at the events we usually run into the same people and it worries me that Iím giving the wrong impression about us. Some members, that we consider might be a good match, have mailed us before a party expecting to meet us, but even though we replied showing interest, once at the party I canít get the confidence to talk to them and I turn my face away or hide when I see them. I am aware that because of my problem we are not taking full advantage of what the lifestyle has to offer and we are missing opportunities to make good friends. This is frustrating for me and my wife and I really want to work on fixing this problem. Do you have any advice?

Thanks,


Sincerely,

(Anonymous)

  
Dear (Anonymous),

I can see how this can be a major hindrance in the lifestyle. If by chance, you make it to the bedroom with another couple, this condition could lead to performance issues. So, let's start at the beginning by building the foundation.
Your wife is doing the right thing by taking the lead and going slowly. That would be exactly what I would have advised if you had not mentioned it.
She may also want to take that a step further by mentioning to others that you are shy and it takes you some time to come out of your shell. This would be best done via e-mail before even meeting. People won't get the wrong impression from you if they know beforehand that you're quiet at first. Consider putting it your profile as well, if you haven't done so already.
Since you're both very new to the lifestyle, this may just be a matter of experience. Down the road, your comfort level may increase, allowing you to open up a bit more.
Social nervousness is very natural and can be overcome in time. Being nervous in new situations where you don't know others, or you don't quite know how to conduct yourself yet is normal. This natural reaction is fine, as long as it doesn't get out of control. You're still relatively new to this scene, and it can be overwhelming. However, being overly shy is usually rooted in some kind of self-consciousness. You have to train yourself to focus your attention on other things. When someone speaks to you, truly focus on them. Show a genuine interest and ask questions when they speak. Try to memorize key information about them as they talk to you. Not only does this help you keep focus on them, but it diverts your self-conscious tendancies and allows you to gather information that you can use as a conversational springboard if you run into them again. Great socializers always keep the focus on those with whom they speak.
If you are succumbing to the internal processes that are hindering your social skills, the best way to overcome this is by focusing on anything and everything in your environment. This will also allow you to learn more and get a better feel for the interactions that occur.

In the meantime, acknowledge your greatfulness to your wife for being patient and willing to take the lead. She is definitely your biggest asset, and can help you along the way.
Social interaction will take practice for you. Just like anything that doesn't quite come naturally, focusing and practicing will allow you to become more skillful. Don't allow your wife to carry you completely. Use her as a support and do your best to gently get your footing. It doesn't have to happen all at once, but gradual attempts will help boost your confidence and your overall experience in the long run.


Footnote:
Do you experience these kinds of reaction in 'normal' social situations as well? Have you been shy most of your life? Is any of this persistant of chronic? If so, you may want to do a little research on social phobia/social anxiety disorder. There are treatments for this, if you find that you fit the characteristics.

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