Ask a friend: “I’m back on the dating scene after the pandemic but forgot how to flirt. How can I let go of awkwardness? “

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Q: I’m back on the dating scene after the pandemic, and I find it really embarrassing. I think I forgot how to flirt and feel uncomfortable trying to approach someone. I’m usually pretty shy anyway and used to meet people by going to events and talking to them, but meeting people in bars is always a pressure. I’m also not a heavy drinker and I don’t like being around really drunk people because it feels messy to me. Most of the events I attended are not yet operational after the pandemic, so I don’t have the comfortable spaces I’m used to. I feel lonely and I really want to meet someone because it’s been a long time since I last had a relationship. I feel like my shyness is holding me back and I’m sick of feeling so uncomfortable on dates. I end up feeling frustrated and like I haven’t shown who I am and what I really am. I want to give up dating but at the same time I really want to meet someone special. How to overcome this blockage?

Dr West replies: I don’t think you’re the only one who feels embarrassed about dates and finds them stressful. This is part of the reason why people meet in pubs while drinking, as it can give a feeling of confidence. However, it’s really hard to pass an accurate judgment on someone when we’re under the influence, and humans are often known to make bad choices when they’re drunk, like eating a whole kebab at 3 a.m. or kissing. someone we’re not really into.

You seem to be the type of person who enjoys getting to know someone in a relaxed environment while talking about common interests. Rather than continuing to spend time in uncomfortable spaces and, frankly, a waste of time, spend time researching upcoming events in areas that you love. While not all of the events you went to before may not be back, new events may have arisen or appear different from what they were before. Sites like meetup.com have tons of events across the country for a wide variety of interests, from kayaking to comedy and beyond. These are usually touted as ways to meet and find new friends, but they also have dating specific events.

Daytime events will also usually be sober events, which can take some pressure off for you. Sober dating has also increased during the pandemic, and there is a huge increase in outdoor dating, daytime dating, and coffee instead of a pint. There are also some explicitly sober events happening all over the country, so checking them out on Google might allow you to find one near you.

Dating apps can provide a way to explore digital intimacy and find new partners outside of a pub. Make sure your profile has a few clear, smiling pictures of you that reflect who you are and what interests you. sense of the kind of things that interest you. Make sure you fill out your profile – not too long, but not too short either. Explain what you like to do, what you are looking for and a little more about who you are as a person. Dating apps can often lead to endless conversations, but if you want to meet someone, try to meet them within a week of first contact. This time frame is important because, once you meet them, you can determine if you are interested and want to take it further, or end things if that is not what you are looking for. This means that you don’t waste your time texting people who aren’t really for you, and you can practice your conversation skills on multiple dates.

You can also get creative with the dates. If you find someone online that you want to meet in real life, suggest meeting at an art gallery or a very public place like the Botanical Garden (not an open space where you are isolated). It will also give you something to talk about right away rather than enduring awkward silences, and moving around will prevent you from sitting directly in front of someone and being stressed out by eye contact.

Online forums for your interests can also allow you to chat with people, although this comes with the caveat of reminding you that not everyone is what they say they are on the internet. They can provide a way to practice flirting anonymously, which can help build your self-confidence because you know you will probably never see this person in real life. Alternatively, they can be a space for you to get to know people before a real event and therefore make you feel more comfortable because you will already have an idea of ​​what people are like.

Working on ways to improve your self-confidence will help you more than just improve your dating life. A healthy sense of trust will improve your friendships, your professional life, and your overall feeling of happiness. This self-improvement work might look like therapy, public speaking classes, life coaching, a new hobby to push you out of your comfort zone, or resources like podcasts. or books on how to improve your confidence and self esteem. It won’t happen overnight, but it will take time and effort. You don’t have to be the perfect person to date someone, and we’re all work in progress as we move through life. Loving and being kind to ourselves is a difficult process for some, but it’s not impossible – just an ongoing process as we grow older.

Dr West is a sex educator and host of the Glow West podcast, which focuses on sex. Send your questions to [email protected] Dr West regrets not being able to answer questions in private

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