Fearful of Relating to Guys
Q: I've have had several guys like me and want to pursue a relationship. However, I have this block for some reason. I've never been in a relationship with a guy, and I think I am just scared. I don't want to mess anything up or do things wrong. I want a boyfriend, but when I'm around someone I like, I freeze up. Do you have any suggestions on how to overcome this problem? -- Nicole, 19
Dr. Susan: It could be that your phrase "do things wrong" points to the source of your difficulty. You seem to be a perfectionist, fearful of not doing things some "right" way that everyone else agrees is the "right" way. Relationships aren't necessarily like that. So long as you're kind and thoughtful, the worst thing that can happen is that a particular guy won't react the way you hope he will. You won't get arrested or blacklisted or anything. If your self-esteem is healthy, you won't feel terrible for very long if someone doesn't respond positively to you. It's all part of the dating game.
You might want to joint some clubs or groups where you can interact in a natural way with guys. Your fear comes from having romantic feelings about someone whose reaction you have no way of judging. Guys go through that all the time, and they mostly learn to live with the possibility of rejection. You need to learn to speak up and be your real self in safe ways that don't really matter. You're putting too much importance on whether some guy likes you, and that only makes your perfectionism worse. In time, it will get easier for you. Even shy introverted women do find compatible guys. Think in terms of asking questions and showing genuine interest in the guy. Guys like that.
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Advice for Her
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.