Being shy and awkward around your crush is totally normal. When we have feelings for another person, it’s easy to want to be perfect around them and naturally, that puts a lot of pressure on yourself. Your body’s natural reaction is to become self-conscious and retreat so you don’t risk putting yourself in a potentially embarrassing situation (such as getting a negative response).
Add being gay on top of that, and it makes talking to your crush that much harder.
Both Chia and I have been there before. The great news is that this is something you can definitely work on and overcome!
Getting to know someone you like and having deep conversations with them requires stepping out of your comfort zone and being willing to put yourself out there.
Here are a few tips that have helped us get over our awkward phases:
Do things that will increase your self confidence.
One of the best things that I ever did to help overcome my shyness was to develop more confidence in myself. But becoming self-confident doesn’t happen overnight–just because I wish for it doesn’t mean it’ll happen if I don’t actively work on it.
It took me an entire summer during my puberty years to work on things like my appearance, public speaking, personality, etc. before I felt more confident about myself and consequently, more at ease when speaking to my crush. Though it might sound superficial, there’s truth to the saying that “When you look good, you feel good.”
When it comes to things like your personality, you don’t have to reinvent yourself, but focus on bringing out the best qualities in you that will help you shine. Whether it’s your sense of humor, the fact that you’re a good listener, or a kind and thoughtful person, etc.
But be aware that there’s a difference between confidence and arrogance. The former is one of the sexiest qualities in someone while the latter is something that will quickly repel others away from you.
Build rapport with that person.
1. Be a good listener.
Most people think that the opposite of not being shy is that you’re constantly talking instead. In reality, everyone likes being around a good listener who asks interesting questions and encourages them to talk.
This can work to your advantage if you’re shy since naturally, when you like someone, you’re genuinely more interested in what they have to say. Thus, if you treat having a conversation as just getting to know your crush better, it becomes easier to ask them interesting follow up questions as you’re listening to them.
If you need help coming up with interesting questions to ask, try some of these questions. Another tip is to pay attention to things that they mentioned earlier in the conversation and refer back to them later on.
2. Open up about yourself.
While being a good listener is one of the best ways to build rapport with someone, you also have to reciprocate and be willing to open up about yourself. Sharing your secrets with someone will naturally make them feel closer to you.
To help make talking about yourself easier, be prepared to have a few stories in your back pocket–think of any childhood stories, recent events, hobbies or skills that you’re passionate about. Keep things concise and entertaining without being too verbose. Most importantly, be yourself–people value authenticity more than anything.
3. Be conscious about your body language.
Humans are very social creatures and we tend to mimic what others are doing while remembering how others make us feel.
People will forget what you did, but they won’t forget how you made them feel.
By smiling and laughing during conversations, you make others feel happier and want to be around you more. Lean into a conversation if it's around a more intimate topic and if your crush gives you a hug, don’t back away, but reciprocate.
4. Leverage shared hobbies or mutual friends.
Additionally, if there are any opportunities to find common ground with that person (for example, if they are in the art club and you're also interested in art), then use those to spend more time together. This will hopefully take the pressure off of thinking about which topics to discuss without any context.
As a lesbian, I also had a lot of female friends and naturally, my girl crushes would share many of the same circle of friends with me so it was much easier to all hang out together and use that as an opportunity to get to know her and build rapport.
Practice with people who aren’t your crush.
If you feel a lot of social anxiety around your crush, it might be easier for you to first practice having conversations with people who you’re more comfortable around or who you feel neutral about.
Nowadays social media and technology has made it much easier to hide behind a text message or screen and while it’s helpful for shy people to leverage these tools to get to know someone, be sure that you’re also practicing having real in-person conversations.
While you're practicing asking interesting questions or talking about yourself, also try to notice any bad habits that you might have (i.e. are you staring at the ground, biting your nails, etc.) and practice correcting them. One thing that helped me when I was younger was running through different scenarios and conversations in my head with my crush.
Remember, that one awkward interaction is not the end of the world.
You might think that a conversation you just had with your crush was very awkward and that you’re going to die from all the awkwardness. But I’m here to tell you that the world always goes on and in general, we usually don't remember the awkward things other people have said or done as much as we do for ourselves, so don't be too hard on yourself.
If an interaction didn't go as planned -- there's always another chance and sometimes we can unnecessarily be our own harshest critics.
Getting to know someone and feeling comfortable around them takes time for both parties especially if they are also naturally more guarded. And being shy is likely an identity that you’ve cultivated over many years as a result of small actions that have led you to believe that you’re a shy person. Consequently, progress takes time. Having a little patience and persistence goes a long way!
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