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Social wallflower? How to get over it (and get on a date)

Posted by Karyn Polewaczyk  March 12, 2014 12:25 PM

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How can shy types and wallflowers get up off of it and become socially successful? Neely Steinberg, Ed.M, has the answer in today's "Ask Neely."

Dear Neely,

I like the idea of being 'entrepreneurial' in my dating life—I'm very shy. How do I get over my meekness and get on a date, already?


Dear Wallflower.

The good news is that anyone can date entrepreneurially. At the heart of being an entrepreneur —in business or love—exists a trial and error mindset that empowers you to identify opportunities, manage change, and take control of personal goals. Traditional entrepreneurs, as I like to call them, have all sorts of different personalities. Harvard Business School professor Howard Stevenson, a pioneer in entrepreneurship education, says that personality has little to do with who can be an entrepreneur: “The entrepreneurs I know are all different types. They’re as likely to be wallflowers as to be the wild man of Borneo.” You can be shy, extroverted, or anywhere in between.

Now that we've settled that debate, start picturing your love life like it's an entrepreneurial venture. It means you’re responsible for creating, building, and shaping your vision; say, a healthy, happy relationship. While you move forward, you'll need to tackle a host of obstacles, starting with your belief system. As I wrote in my book, often times traditional entrepreneurs are held back by a variety of limiting beliefs (Can I do this? What if I fail? Am I good or smart enough to make this work?). You have to understand what's behind these beliefs to consciously make different choices, and take action—maybe start with online dating, let’s say—in spite of those limiting beliefs. In turn, you’ll create new, more empowering beliefs, which will ultimately replace the ones that no longer serve you.

There's nothing wrong with being shy, of course—and ultimately, you want a person to fall in love with you for who you are—but it sounds as if there could be something going on beneath the surface. Are you shy because you're afraid of someone really getting to know you, seeing you for who you really are? Are you meek because you're afraid of what dates will think if you speak up and voice your opinions? Where does that come from? Get to the root of these questions and then start pushing yourself to experiment out there with new ideas about who you can be and how you can create more dates for yourself.

Maybe different ways to meet new people, like joining a meet-up group or volunteering with a charitable or political organization. Sign up for online dating. Through these experiences, you can start practicing skills that might not come easy to you, such as speaking up more and articulating your passions. You incrementally work on certain skills without putting too much pressure on yourself.

Remember: This is your life and you are responsible for moving it forward. Good luck!

Neely Steinberg is a dating coach and founder of LoveTREP, a service geared to help women make the most of their romantic lives. She's been featured as an expert in places like the Huffington Post, Fox 25, Men's Fitness, Cosmopolitan, and Boston magazine, among others. Her first book, Skin In the Game: Unleashing Your Inner Entrepreneur to Find Love, is available for purchase on Amazon. Have a question for Neely? Leave it in the comments below. Answers will be provided in upcoming posts.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About this blog

Karyn Polewaczyk lives and writes in Boston, and believes that heading out into that good night, like any adventure, begins with the first step. Let's Go Out is a conversation about dating and nightlife in our notoriously chilly city, with first-hand tips from the trenches. Karyn's writing, which focuses largely on women's lifestyle topics, has appeared in the Weekly Dig, Jezebel, xoJane, Northshore Magazine and, among others. Follow her on Twitter at @KarynPolewaczyk.

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