dear sharideth: Oh my gosh, I have NO idea what I’m doing.

Dear Sharideth,

I’m kind of hopelessly socially awkward, to an extent that I had my first and last boyfriend was when I was fourteen. I’m almost twenty now. It’s okay, you can laugh. Most of my adolescence was comically awkward. So basically, I wanted to ask you how to get into a relationship. Is there a pamphlet? A how-to guide? Ten Easy Steps to Finding an Un-Creepy Male with Reasonably Good Hygiene? I know it’s kind of dumb.

There is one guy I kind of like a lot, but I’m pretty sure he’s not interested in me except as a friend, cause he dated my friend, but then he broke up with my friend and now I don’t know if he knows I ever liked him, or if he has no idea, or if he just thinks I’m weird, or if he likes me as a friend and nothing else. How’s that for a run-on sentence?

Did I mention he sits next to me in one of my classes? (Makes hyperventilating noises) And, of course, I feel like kind of a douchebag for wanting to snatch him up after he broke up with my friend. Help?

Sincerely,

Oh my gosh I have NO idea what I’m doing.

dear OMGIHNIWID,

i’m going to call you OMG for short.  k?  k.

i’m going to take your last question first because it’s easier to answer than the first part and i’m all about avoidance.

being into someone who has recently broken up with your friend can be touchy.  there’s some things you need to know before proceeding?

does she still have feelings for him?

would it upset her if you dated him?

has she known all along you liked him?

if she still has feelings for him, then you need to lay low because you could lose a friend over it.  if she knew all along you liked him and dated him anyway, then it kind of doesn’t matter if she would be upset because she doesn’t have a whole lot of high road there.

if she’s over it, go for it.  all’s fair and all that.

now to the first part…

oh man.  if i had a definitive answer to how to get into a relationship and stop being awkward, i’d write the book and get rich.  actually that sounds like a pretty good plan…

unfortunately, i don’t have an answer that will work for everyone.

the best i’ve got is this:

you won’t stop being awkward with men until you stop viewing yourself as awkward.

confidence comes from within.  it can be learned, but it also has to be believed.  how do you learn it?  good question.  i’m glad i asked it.

i don’t know.

hang on!  i’m not totally going to leave you twisting in the wind.  i have some suggestions.  but the truth is, until you stop telling yourself you’re awkward and start focusing on the things that make you awesome, it’s not going to work.  it’s you against you.  but try these things to get you started:

1.  hang out with and watch people who are confident.  pay attention to what they do and how they interact.  notice when they listen, when they speak, when they crack jokes, when they make fun of themselves and especially when they are teasing someone else.  begin to emulate the behavior.  don’t panic.  you don’t have to jump right into the deep end.  small steps are awesome.

2.  read Miss Insecurity and use the techniques i teach guys to help girls gain confidence and turn them on yourself.  learn to say no.  learn to take a compliment.  stop telling yourself you are less than you really are.

3.  move out of your comfort zone.  initiate conversation.  go to places or events you’ve avoided out of fear.  it’s not so bad.  you’ll see.

4.  give yourself a makeover. oh man, there’s nothing like upgrading your wardrobe, getting your hair did and buying a whole new set of makeup to perk you up.  not sure what to do about fashion, hair and/or makeup?  you’ve got a friend that does (everyone has) and i would bet dollars to donuts she would jump at the chance to have at you.  don’t fear the reaper shears.

i know all of these things sound easy for me to say.  my confidence could probably stand to be brought down a couple of notches.  but the truth is, i was you.  for reals.  i’ve been there, but i learned.  i got tired of being the doormat, the wall flower, the girl everyone took advantage of.

you don’t have to be her any more either.

once you find yourself, are proud of yourself, are secure being just who you are without a guy, the men will follow.  men will see your value, but they will assess it as high as you do.

set the bar high.

oh so sincerely,

sharideth

what else would you guys say to our friend?

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12 comments on “dear sharideth: Oh my gosh, I have NO idea what I’m doing.

  1. Great advice as always Sharideth – I especially liked the “Miss Insecurity” post you linked to (not sure how I missed that one before). Great stuff.

  2. caitlinmuir says:

    Fantastic advice, Sharideth.

    I would tell the girl to stop believing her worth is tied up with her relationship status. That it’s okay to be awesome just to be awesome, instead of as a way to secure a man. She’s loved by God. When that sinks into her soul instead of skimming the surface of her head, that will bring a whole lot more confidence.

  3. HM says:

    What are you doing in my brain? Honestly, I was just thinking yesterday, “How is it that I live in a world where I am 25 years old, 25 years single, and NOT being asked out by anyone around me?” I started a journey out of my awkward stage last year, but it’s still a work in progress.
    Really, though, I’m feeling just as clueless as OMG. My brain leaps between “God is faithful in His timing” and “What in the world is WRONG with me?”

  4. kp says:

    As long as you’re not drooling on yourself, farting uncontrollably, smell bad, or completely unable to speak when you talk to this guy, I find that being awkward can kind of work to your advantage. I agree with Shari, that you should push yourself to talk and do things that are uncomfortable. I’m into a guy right now, and he has this ability to make me turn bright red. It’s something I used to do when I was younger, and had honestly forgotten that I did this when it came to the opposite sex (I’m another formerly awkward girl who lacked self confidence). But, I’ll push myself to say something bold, and wait for his reaction, then blush. Some guys find awkward girls attractive, however they’ll never know you like them if you don’t let them know.

  5. I like all the advice except point 1. I think that for some types of people anyway, hanging out with confident people and watching them just leads to feelings of “Argh, I could never be like that, I’m DOOMED to awkwardness!” And sometimes, of course, trying to emulate their behaviour just ends up becoming even more awkward than not.

    I would say that it’s better to figure out the things in yourself that already feel confident and find ways to focus on that feeling while using those things in new ways (which is where point 3 about moving out of your comfort zone comes in).

    I’ve been awkward for the majority of my life, these are the things I’ve been using the past few years to get less so.

  6. bethagrace says:

    Good advice. I would also tell our friend that there are a lot of non-awkward people actually *in* their 20’s who haven’t had relationships. I felt kind of lame in college for the lack of male attention until I look around at all my pretty, smart, funny friends. If *they* hadn’t dated, the problem was clearly with the guys on campus.

  7. JBen says:

    I’d be careful with the “watch confident people.” A lot of confident people are just really insecure people in disguise. And sometimes it’s really hard to tell the difference.

    But the whole “don’t think of yourself as awkward” is brilliant. Our perception of ourself, and the events of our day (like whatever happened in class), may not be anywhere near as awkward or awful to other people.

    Dwelling on, thinking about, and talking about how awkward something was or is only makes it awkward.

    So I am going out on a limb and guessing that you are not nearly as awkward as you think you are.

  8. laurie says:

    For reasons not to date your friends ex I’d like to add something. If he was an asshole to your friend and treated her like shit, and that’s why they broke up. DONT DATE HIM!! I know that seems like common sense, but there are women who think he wouldn’t do that to me.

  9. sarahoskay says:

    Man oh man, best quote I’ve ever heard about awkwardness: “you won’t stop being awkward with men until you stop viewing yourself as awkward.” Reaaally need to work on that. Or, if that doesn’t work, we could always view ourselves as cute Zooey Deschanel awkward, yes?

    Also, @OMG – I’m nearly 24 and have never had a boyfriend. EVER, not even one of those fake preschool boyfriends. So don’t feel too bad 😉

  10. Sarah says:

    Great advice – confidence can be a “fake it till you make it” kind of thing. It grows on itself.

    But here’s what I would want to tell her – It is so not weird or unusual to not have a boyfriend at 20. Seriously. I had my first serious relationship at 32. Let me repeat that. THIRTY-TWO YEARS OLD. Yes, it was horrible getting there. I felt like a reject for a long, long time. (I am not the only person I know in this situation either – I know a lot of beautiful, smart, funny, women still single in their 30s)

    But my first real relationship turned into marriage just 10 months after our first date. And he is amazing and wonderful and so incredibly God-given!!!!!!! God knew what he was doing – I was so desperate for a relationship that had one come along earlier, I would have married someone who was less than perfect.

    I know you don’t want to hear it – I never did! – but God’s timing is better than ours. And he has a great, great plan for your life. It just tends to be not on the timing that we imagine it will be 🙂

  11. So I’m a little belated in getting here, but OMG (Your name, not an exclamation), you’re a bit like the girl I’m currently dating. OK, a lot. Down to the fact that I was dating and had a horrible break up with none other than her roommate.

    I can tell you a handful of things regarding that sort of situation:

    It took me a bit to come to grips with the break up and get over it. Four months and some odd days to be precise, and there was this awesome girl standing with me and encouraging me through all of it.

    She liked me before I was clear of the past relationship, but was patient and didn’t tell me. She proceeded to not tell me while I spent another two months talking with her continuously before I proposed anything beyond friendship. She came close and I was honestly very suspicious long before I acknowledged that I liked her too, but she didn’t tell me because she wanted me to be free of the past before going any further.

    This meant the world to me. Was it a little awkward talking with her right after the break up with her roommate? Sorta, but it was more like a breath of fresh air I wasn’t expecting.

    So what practical advice can I offer?
    1. Be patient. Don’t rush him, and unless he’s totally oblivious, let him make the first move. It should help his confidence, seeing how the last time he was with a girl ended. Unless he didn’t get his heart broken somehow, he’ll be at least a touch apprehensive about being close to a girl. Not to say you have to keep a huge distance, so I’ll move on the the next tip.

    2. Be there. It’s tough, but if he talks about his ex a bit (not extensively and lamenting or needy all the time, mind you), he’s probably sorting it out, and if he still likes her or vice versa, you don’t want to get into that. But listen and talk and simply be the most awesome friend you can be. This will mean a lot to him – it shows you care.

    3. You’re in a good place if you know you’re not perfect and feel awkward. If he likes you and is a decent fellow, he won’t care and will be the first to tell you he’s not perfect either.
    4. My girl told her friend a bit about me and our conversations and tried as a group to figure out if I liked her. I did, and I didn’t mind that she did this.

    5. With a good guy, gentlemanly instinct kicks in more prominently around girls we like. If we insist on you deciding something instead of deferring to us, open doors for you, try to make you smile when you’re down, that’s a good sign. Yeah, gentleman ought to open doors for all girls and at least offer to carry heavy stuff for them, but we like it best when we are attracted to that girl because it’s our way of saying we care.

    -On a sub-note here, in my experience, a sign that a guy likes you is he’ll agree to a “not-date” somewhere down the road, if you really can’t figure him out. For example, my girl has a lot of family in one town way north and it’s her home away from home. It’s also right by where my family goes camping/vacationing. So she offered to give me a tour of the town sometime when we both were in the area – perfectly innocent and not a date, but it’s indicative of interest in a least long term friendship.

    6. God’s timing is ALWAYS best. Can’t stress this enough.

    Oh, and if you do start dating, tell your friend (his ex) in person or via a phone call and explain that it’s nothing against her. If she’s a quality friend, she might sigh a bit, but she won’t bite your head off for it. My girl regrets not doing that.

    Good luck, and sorry for the novel above; I hope it helps

    ~Jeshurun

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