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How do I get over this particular road bump?


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Okay, imagine a scenerio: I see an attractive girl, I want to go over and talk to her, but I'm frozen in fear. She smiles and me and tries to make eye contact, I look down in fear and don't look her way. She therefore takes this as a sign of disinterest, and even if, later on, I get up the guts to talk to her, she has already written me off as someone who's 'undatable.'


How do I get past this?


I've been diagnosed with social anxiety, and this is definitely relationship anxiety. I've never had so much as a first date, and in high school, I never asked out a girl face to face. I would either track down her number and call her at home, or write on a slip of paper, "I like you, would you like to go out?" As you can imagine, I was always rejected, and I haven't gotten up the nerve to ask out a girl since I was 18 (and a senior in high school.)


Now, even though I'm older, I'm surrounded by girls who are attractive and who I would like to pursue at college. I know that the age difference doesn't matter, and experience doesn't matter either, because for all extents and purposes, I'm just as experienced as an 18 or 19 year old. The issue is, how do I get over how beautiful and attractive they are, and how do I not freeze in fear when I'm faced with a girl that I want to ask out?


When I'm at home, and I'm thinking over the situation, I can imagine myself having fluid and relaxed conversations with these girls. There isn't an ounce of anxiety in my mind, when I'm alone and imagining the scenario, however when I'm actually placed into the scenario, it's like a nightmare that I can't get out of. I want to get over my fear of women, I just don't know how to do it. ](*,)


Anyway, any advice for a 27 year old who's hopeless with girls? And don't say turn gay, or any crap like that. I am not gay, and I imagine that if I was, I would be nervous around other guys instead.

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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) treats phobias, no matter what they are, the same way:


Exposure to the said phobia, which desensitizes the fear/panic reaction that is universal to all phobias. It's a method even being used now to treat PTSD, in groundbreaking ways (digitally recreating the scenes veterans were exposed to, and having them face the fear that's in their minds by getting a simulated experience of being there again, and repeating that continuously, until the brain "gets used to it".)


There is only one way to break this cycle, and that is to EXPOSE yourself to the trigger. To make yourself experience it, and for your brain to realize that it wasn't so bad.


I think you should first just start this process by making very short, idle chit-chat with girls at any opportunity you get -- they don't even have to be very attractive or beautiful to you. Without the aim of asking anyone out. Start with making a comment here or there -- with eye contact -- with someone standing next to you in the store, waiting in line, etc. It doesn't matter if you seem "overly friendly" to them, for the occasion...this is your practice "mat." This is you doing an exercise for yourself. Be ready for any kind of reaction, from total disinterest to a reciprocally friendly comment. Do not discriminate between the girls you speak to in terms of looks, but gradually attempt it with girls you find more and more intimidating. The main rule is, keep the eye contact (this doesn't mean an unblinking stare without moving your eyeballs, it means acknowledging them with eye contact with your first words, and in many moments of these short interchanges, as well as at the end. Make the beginning and end moments eye contact ones, for sure.)


I'm not suggesting that you force yourself into someone's face, but at an idle moment when you're in close proximity to someone and they are by themselves, this is a good opportunity.


Practice, practice, practice. Again, a whole range of reactions will occur, so this way you'll desensitize yourself to expecting any particular one, or outcome. This should not be about asking a pretty girl out, now. It should be about reducing the hold of your phobia and being able to approach a girl, and feel you're able to make small talk, make eye contact, and round up the convo in a way that you feel was socially appropriate.


Then after you start feeling more confident in this, you can graduate to starting one of these convos with someone you'd potentially ask out.

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So should I force myself into social situations? What if I come off creepy, because I'm so awkward?


That's what's stopping me from approaching girls. I don't want to be known as 'the creepy guy who hit on her.' All the other guys my age, or even younger, are better experienced at this than I am.

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Yes. Force yourself into social situations, but as I said -- also make some judgment calls.


For instance, if you're filing through a doorway and bump up against someone, it's a good moment to say something like, "Whoa, this is like salmon going upstream here." That's not creepy, that's cute and sweet.


Creepy is you're eating lunch at the mall and a girl next to you eating alone looks your way, and you say, "Hey, you have beautiful eyes. Can I come sit and join you?" (I can just hear it now, some eNAers will think this is a good way to cold approach someone, but I disagree; it's too forward, too much, too soon, no warm-up and you're already anxious, OP.)


You have to feel it out. Say something completely non-related to you sizing them up physically, and 100% related to a thing both of you can have a laugh about, or a shared roll-eyes about the immediate situation; or something just random that you notice around you. If you don't make it about them (unless it's to commiserate about something unfortunate that just happened to them, like some idiot just ran into them, running past -- it's okay to commiserate or say something sympathetic if it involves them physically), it won't be creepy.


We're talking really, REALLY brief interchanges, here.


Also, weren't you in therapy for this diagnosis? What has your therapist done to treat you for social anxiety?

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